Expressing concern over threats to freedom of expression in China, a bipartisan US Senate resolution today called for greater freedom of press in the country and condemned Chinese actions to suppress it.
The Senate resolution urged US President Barack Obama to use all appropriate instruments of American influence to support, promote and strengthen principles, practices, and values that advance the free flow of information to the people of China without interference or discrimination.
The free flow of information should include the Internet and other electronic media, it said.
The resolution condemned the Chinese actions to suppress freedom of the press, including increased harassment of Chinese journalists, international journalists through denial of visas, harassment of sources, physical threats and other methods.
"Press freedom is a fundamental human right that exists to protect people from oppressive, corrupt and overreaching governments. Ensuring the free flow of information and opinions must be a key pillar of America's global human rights agenda," Republican Senator Marco Rubio said.
"People, societies, economies and entire nations benefit when criticism is encouraged as a means to achieve progress. The Chinese government should not fear the great benefits to be gained from greater political and religious freedoms," Rubio said.
Senator Ben Cardin said, "As we look to re-balance our policy toward the Asia- Pacific region, the US has a responsibility to promote respect for universal human rights. We urge the President to use all appropriate tools to improve and promote freedom of the press in China. We urge China to abide by internationally accepted norms for human rights, including freedom of the press."
"A country that engages in routine censorship and online blocking, harassment, reprisals, detention of journalists, visa delays or denials for journalists not only fail its own people but also fail the international community. The ongoing crackdown on journalists and members of the press reporting in China is troubling," he said.
Noting that an open press is the hallmark of a thriving society, Senator Robert Menendez said the Chinese people are being denied these freedoms by their own government.
"A great nation embraces opposition and dissent, welcoming honest and critical news reporting. Press freedom is an essential element of good governance, not a hindrance and the Chinese government should take proactive reforms to encourage an open and independent media in China," he said.
Senator Bob Corker said, "The assault on press freedom in China is a serious problem that demands a forceful US response. While first and foremost a human rights issue, censorship also has economic consequences for news organisations losing money when their websites are blocked.