With over 145 human rights lawyers and campaigners detained in China as part of a government-led campaign against civil society, activists are urging U.S. President Barack Obama to cancel the upcoming visit from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
A petition sent to the White House claimed that China’s human rights record had worsened since President Xi came to power, reported The Guardian.
It also urged the U.S. to suspend all official exchanges with the Chinese government until this matter was resolved.
Wen Yunchao, a prominent pro-democracy blogger, said that the U.S. and the West had a moral responsibility to react against China’s crackdown, adding that it was the only power in the world that could counterbalance China.
The petition, which has garnered almost 1,500 of the 100,000 signatures required to receive an official response, was filed after Chinese security officials began what activists have called an ‘unprecedented’ crackdown against human rights lawyers, dozens of whom have been taken into custody in less than a week.
Those arrested include some of China’s most respected rights lawyers.
The detentions, which form the latest episode in an already severe crackdown on perceived Communist party foes that followed Xi’s rise to power in 2012, has drawn international condemnation.