China’s development depends on respect to the judiciary, the rule of law and freedom of speech said the outgoing US Ambassador to China on Wednesday.
In his farewell speech, Gary Locke also called for Beijing to guarantee human rights for peaceful activists.
“China has a great future ahead of it. But reaching its full potential will depend on a neutral and respected judiciary, an active set of dedicated lawyers, wise leadership but most of all, reverence toward the rule of law,” said Locke speaking at the American Centre in Beijing.
“It will also depend on respect for the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech for all and open internet, a well informed citizenry willing to engage in unrestricted dialogue on how best to build a stable and progressive future for China.”
Locke has enjoyed a lot of attention in China since arriving in 2011, when photographs of him and his family carrying their own luggage went viral on social media.
He was the first Chinese-American to head the US Embassy in China.
He leaves the task of bridging the relations between the world’s two largest economies to former Democrat Senator Max Baucus, who was sworn in on February 21st.
Locke called on China to “guarantee peaceful activists the protections and freedoms to which they are entitled under China’s international human rights commitments”.
“US is deeply concerned over recent pattern of harassment, arrest and prosecutions of good government advocates, of public interest lawyers, of activists, internet journalists, religious leaders and even others in China,” he added.
Locke summarised economic achievements, as well as trade and investment ties between China and the US, highlighting recent cooperation in military matters that will enable joint maritime exercises later this year.
He also raised concerns over the treatment of foreign journalists in China and asked Beijing to guaranteed their freedoms.
Later on Wednesday, Beijing denounced Locke’s comments.
The Ministry of Affairs said China has taken concrete measures to make progress and opposes any efforts to interfere in its internal politics.
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