There has been talks around AIUSA about getting a Dear Colleague letter for Shi Tao to circulate in the House of Representatives for quite a while. I thought the idea was dead until I was told about its go-ahead about 3 weeks ago. It took another week to finally get the Dear Colleague and the letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice out to the House. By the time I had a moment to send emails to other activists, there was less than two weeks left to urge Representatives to sign the letter to Secretary Rice by the March 12th* deadline. The time frame is short but I am glad it is happening. (*Update: The deadline has been extended to March 26th.)

I’ve already heard from two AIUSA members about calling their Representatives. I didn’t have time to call my Representative during the day so I sent a fax from home in the evening. If you want to do the same, use this template to print a letter to your Representative.

In past years, Congressman Tom Lantos had often been the one releasing a Dear Colleague letter on China for AIUSA. Since his passing, I wonder who will pick up this work. Congressman Frank Wolf co-sponsored Resolutions and Dear Colleague with Lantos for years in criticizing China’s human rights records. However, the current letter was introduced by Dana Rohrabacher. He is another Republican getting involved in the issue of Internet censorship in China in addition to Chris Smith reintroducing the Global Online Freedom Act last year. Where are the Democrats? Is this a new trend?

Update: Secretary Rice visited Beijing on February 26th. The Dear Colleague letter is a little late. On the other hand, Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang supposedly sent a letter to Secretary Rice before her trip that mentioned the cases of Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning but she has yet to see it. The credit should now go to the Secretary herself as she raised several cases including Shi Tao during private sessions with China’s Foreign Minister.

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