House members urge D.C. to name street for imprisoned Chinese dissident


Next month marks the 25th anniversary of the pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. (Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A bipartisan group of House members — including Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) — has called on Mayor Vincent Gray and the D.C. Council to rename part of a Northwest Washington street that runs by the Chinese Embassy in honor of imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

The lawmakers said renaming part of International Place NW after Liu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, would bring “renewed international attention to Chinese human rights violations.” The precedent for the move was the renaming of a street in front of the Soviet embassy in Washington for anti-Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov.

“June 4 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre,” the 13 House members said in a letter obtained by the Loop, and “egregious Chinese human rights violations are regrettably as much a reality” now as they were then.

“In light of these realities,” the letter said, “we write to seek your partnership in bringing renewed international attention to Chinese Human Rights violations.”

The letter was also signed by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) , James McGovern (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.); Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) and Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.).

UPDATED: China is none too pleased with members of Congress for this, viewing the effort as a blatant contempt for its laws. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang called it “very provocative and ignorant behavior,” according to a Reuters story Friday.

 

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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