Five young women testified before Congress Thursday with the same desperate plea to the White House: help us free our fathers imprisoned in China.
The hearing before the House subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations came as Vice President Biden closed a two-day trip to Beijing as part of a tour through three Asian countries.
The five women, all in their late teens and early twenties, joined together to call on Biden to speak with the Chinese government on behalf of their fathers, all of whom are being held over their political activism in the country. They also requested an Oval Office meeting with President Obama to plead their case.
Lisa Peng’s father Peng Ming, a human rights activist, has been imprisoned for nearly 10 years. She said at the hearing she is fighting with her “sisters” to meet with Obama to share their stories.
“I know that my dream to be reunited with my father and my father’s dream for his country can come true with your support, persistence, and affirmation of the universal and fundamental values of our country: freedom, democracy, and justice,” Peng said.
Another of the women, Grace Gao, told the subcommittee that though she is grateful to have gained freedom by living in America, she is pained that her father does not enjoy the same rights.
“Freedom has not yet come to my dad, so it still has not genuinely arrived for me and my whole family,” Gao said. “I wish that President Obama and Vice President Biden could mention about my father’s name Gao Zhisheng in public occasions and urge the immediate release of my father without conditions.”
On Thursday, Biden met with American journalists working in Beijing after publicly criticizing how they're treated by China's government.
Biden listened to concerns from journalists who may be forced to leave China in what some have perceived as retaliation for stories that have reflected poorly on the government. U.S. news organizations have warned China's actions could have a chilling effect on hard-hitting journalism and the ability for American reporters to operate in the country.
"Innovation thrives where people breathe freely, speak freely, are able to challenge orthodoxy, where newspapers can report the truth without fear of consequences," Biden said earlier Thursday as he addressed U.S. business executives in Beijing. "We have many disagreements, and some profound disagreements, on some of those issues right now, in the treatment of U.S. journalists."
The Associated Press contributed to this report