The Obama administration has yet to agree to a request from human rights groups that President Obama meet with persecuted Chinese activists ahead of his Chinese counterpart's state visit in Washington next week.
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, confirmed on Tuesday that Obama will host Chinese President Xi Jinping for a state visit on Friday, Sept. 25. The meeting could provide some tense moments for the two leaders, who have found themselves increasingly at odds over issues such as China's cyber attacks, human rights abuses, and militarization of manmade islands in the South China Sea.
The "visit will present an opportunity to expand U.S.-China cooperation on a range of global, regional, and bilateral issues of mutual interest, while also enabling President Obama and President Xi to address areas of disagreement constructively," Earnest said in a statement.
In a letter last week, a coalition of rights groups led by Human Rights Watch urged President Obama to invite Chinese lawyers, writers, activists, and religious leaders to the White House before Xi's visit. Such a move would help the Obama administration "stand with civil society against Beijing's repression," the groups said, including constant threats of "arbitrary detention, torture, harassment of family members, and being disappeared."
"The Chinese government under President Xi has launched an assault against this community with a ferocity unseen in the past two decades, perceiving and treating them and their efforts as fundamental threats to the state," they wrote.