Rep. Chris Smith: Obama Administration is ‘AWOL’ on Human Rights Violations in China

By Patrick Burke | July 25, 2012 | 5:10 PM EDT

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) ( photo/Penny Starr)

- Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) slammed the Obama administration Tuesday for not adequately raising human rights atrocities in China with the Chinese Communist regime.

“They have been AWOL,” Smith told “And that’s putting it mildly. I believe they’ve been enabling of human rights abuse in China.”

The chairman of the House subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights and a longtime advocate for human rights in China, Smith made his comments at an event in Washington, D.C., celebrating the 10th anniversary of the human rights organization ChinaAid, led by Founder and President Bob Fu.

Human rights violations that take place in China include forced abortions, censorship and the detainment of human rights lawyers.

Smith cited what he called the Obama administration’s “disregard” for measures such as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the Kemp-Kasten amendment, which prohibits U.S. taxpayer dollars from going to pay for coercive abortions or involuntary sterilizations.

Smith also blasted what he said was the president's refusal to acknowledge the situation with human rights and pro-life activist Chen Guangcheng.

In early May of this year, Chen made headlines when he escaped from his home where he was held under house arrest, and sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing.

Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist in China who exposed abuses under the government's one-child policy, has been under house arrest since his release from prison in September 2010. (AP Photo.)

Chen was ultimately permitted to enter the United States, and is currently a law student at New York University.

“Barack Obama was asked about him [Chen] and rather than waxing eloquent about this great man, and saying we’re trying to work it out with the Chinese -- or whatever -- he says ‘I have no comment,’” Smith told

“It’s not even on page 4 or page 5 anymore of their talking points. It is a non-issue. And that tells the Chinese government you have nothing to worry about from Barack Obama.”

Smith was referring to what President Obama said on May 1 in response to a question about Chen: “Obviously, I'm aware of the press reports on the situation in China, but I'm not going to make a statement on the issue.”

Smith also cited as evidence the president’s response to a question he was asked in January 2011, when Chinese President Hu Jintao came to the White House.

During a press conference with the two leaders, Obama was asked by a reporter: “Can you explain how the United States can be so allied with a country that is known for treating its people so poorly, for using censorship and force to repress its people? Do you have any confidence that as a result of this visit that will change?”

The president replied: “China has a different political system than we do. China is at a different stage of development than we are. We come from very different cultures with very different histories. But, as I’ve said before and I repeated to President Hu, we have some core views as Americans about the universality of certain rights -- freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly -- that we think are very important and that transcend cultures.”

Obama then added: “I have been very candid with President Hu about these issues. Occasionally, they are a source of tension between our two governments. But what I believed is the same thing that I think seven previous presidents have believed, which is, is that we can engage and discuss these issues in a frank and candid way, focus on those areas where we agree, while acknowledging there are going to be areas where we disagree.”

Rep. Smith said President Obama’s response was more than just a dodge.

“It was shameless. Absolutely shameless,” Smith told

“Here was an opportunity to speak to all the suffering people in China. And some of it would’ve been blipped out of course by the censors. A lot of it would’ve gotten through,” he said. “And Obama ‘cut-and-run’ and would not stand with the oppressed. He stood with the oppressor, Hu Jintao.”

Along with Reps. James McGovern (D-Ma.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Smith was a recipient of the Defenders of Freedom Award, presented by ChinaAid.

Although he was not present for the celebration, Chen Guangcheng passed along his congratulations to ChinaAid and Pastor Fu for the 10- year milestone.

“Congratulations to the founding of the 10 years of ChinaAid. And now ChinaAid has grown to be a giant tree into the clouds. Human rights is the root of human beings. If you stick to this root, you will clear out all the clouds until you see the sky,” said Chen in a written message, as interpreted from Chinese by Fu.