As one of the founders of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, the late Congressman Tom Lantos was the guiding light of the Caucus. What would the Caucus be like post-Lantos? While it is too early to have a good overall picture, the first hearing on China’s human rights since Lantos’ passing is scheduled for tomorrow:

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China will hold a hearing entitled “The Impact of the 2008 Olympic Games on Human Rights and the Rule of Law in China” on Wednesday, February 27, 2008, from 2:30 to 4:00 PM in Room B-318 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

All CECC hearings are open to the public and the press. News media representatives should note the final paragraph of this announcement.

China has asserted that hosting the 2008 Olympics will lead to broader progress in the areas of human rights and the rule of law within China, by accelerating domestic reform and fostering positive political, economic, and social change. China’s promises for the Olympics include improving the environment, combating corruption, increasing transparency, giving greater freedom to foreign media, and protecting intellectual property. Progress in any of these areas could benefit China’s citizens now and after the games.

It remains an open question whether the Olympics will in fact bring lasting benefits to Chinese citizens, or have a negative impact on their human rights. Already, Chinese citizens who have tied the Olympics to their peaceful criticism of China’s human rights record have been detained. And China’s security preparations have raised concerns about its impact on political activists, migrant workers, and religious communities, among others.

This hearing will examine the likelihood that the 2008 Olympics will have a lasting impact on human rights and the rule of law in China. It will focus on the commitments and preparations China has undertaken for the Olympics and the openness with which China has allowed the rest of the world and its citizens to monitor them on this account.

Witnesses:

Roger R. Martella, Jr., General Counsel, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Sharon K. Hom, Executive Director, Human Rights in China (HRIC) and Professor of Law Emerita at the City University of New York School of Law.

Bob Dietz, Asia Program Coordinator, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Sophie Richardson, Asia Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Robin Munro, Research Director, China Labour Bulletin.

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For news media representatives: If you have no special equipment needs, you do not need to register in advance. If you need special equipment or services (e.g., malt box, audio feed), please contact Judy Wright at 202-226-3767 not later than close of business on Wednesday, February 20.

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