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OPINION: US Awards to Jailed Chinese Activists Could Hurt Relations

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The presentation of pro-democracy awards to two jailed Chinese rights campaigners could damage relations between the nations at a time of escalating tensions, according to an international relations expert.

NEW YORK, MAY 29 (RIA Novosti) – The presentation of pro-democracy awards to two jailed Chinese rights campaigners could damage relations between the nations at a time of escalating tensions, according to an international relations expert.

Adam Hersh, a China expert at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning US think tank, was commenting on awards that were due to be handed out in Washington on Thursday by the government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

The prize winners are Liu Xiaobo, who was jailed for subversion, and Xu Zhiyong, who is imprisoned on public order offences. The activists will receive the awards in absentia at an event that was due to be attended by the US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“The National Endowment for Democracy is one of the tools and instruments of US foreign policy,” Hersh told RIA Novosti. “China has similar institutions, and it puts out its own reports about human rights and cyber-hacking and other issues that are problems in the United States.

“To me, it shows why the leaders need to get together and find real solutions across this broad portfolio of issues in the relationship about what is expected of countries that lead the world stage in geo-politics and geo-economics.

“We need to take an integrative approach to understanding where each other is across all the issues and how they are all related – from human rights to the economy and military issues.”

The National Endowment for Democracy has been criticised for being selective in its support for overseas pro-democracy groups and for seeking to exert unfair influence on the politics of such countries as Egypt and Venezuela.

“The National Endowment for Democracy is proud to honor two of these voices – Liu Xiaobo and Xu Zhiyong – both locked in Chinese prisons because the regime views the power of their ideas as an existential challenge,” NED President Carl Gershman said in a statement.

The awards come as human rights groups commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing and amid growing tensions between the two countries of cyber-hacking allegations.

The National Endowment for Democracy was founded in 1983. The organization acts as a grant-making foundation, which annually distributes funds to private non-governmental prganizations (NGO) that apply for support and work to promote democracy abroad. NED supported the democracy programs in China, Central America, Iran, Ecuador, Venezuela.

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