Fresh from the results of a special election that consumed California political life for the last few months, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is taking a break from the local scene to lead a delegation to mainland China.
The governor’s trek to the Middle Kingdom on Nov. 14 reflects a willingness to promote California nationally and overseas. “It is certainly standard for this governor to travel around the country and around the globe to promote California,” said Vincent Soleto, a spokesperson from the governor’s press office.
Other trips have included places spanning as far from the borders of the Golden State as Israel, Japan, and the eastern U.S. seaboard.
Topping the governor’s agenda is trade, and promoting California tourism, agriculture, and raising the profile of intellectual property rights.
While China’s burgeoning economy and large market seem to be a target for Schwarzenegger’s wooing, some activists are saying that China’s dismal human rights record should be included on his agenda. Chime Lamo, Tibetan Association of Northern California president, is among them.
“Many countries who want to help relations with China will leave behind human rights issues and try to have good trade relations,” said Lamo. “For many the economy is very important, and of course economy is important, but the basic rights of human beings should go hand in hand with the economy,” she added.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of State released its annual Religious Freedom Report, listing China among those nations with the worst religious freedom.
Independent human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also noted many cases of torture, extrajudicial killings and other abuse perpetrated against underground Christians, Tibetans, democracy activists, Uighur Muslims, and Falun Gong practitioners in China.