The United States has urged China to grant clemency to demonstrators sentenced to death in Beijing and Shanghai and to pardon those who were arrested in pro-democracy protests, the White House said today.
"Sentences of death in Shanghai and Beijing could only deepen the wounds of the past few weeks," White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater said in announcing that the U.S. appeal had been delivered to Chinese Ambassador Han Xu on Monday night.
Fitzwater declined to say what, if any, steps the United States might take if China goes ahead with executions.
The White House announcement came on the heels of demands in Congress and elsewhere that the United States intensify its condemnation of Chinese repression and consider further sanctions against the Beijing government.
Fitzwater said Han was called in to the State Department to hear what the spokesman called "the strong United States position."
Hinting at worsening relations between Beijing and Washington, Fitzwater said "the United States raised this subject in the spirit of a country that has worked with China over the past two decades to improve relations."
"We believe that human rights are universal, and our duty to comment on them is great," Fitzwater said.