- NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

The 114th Congress and Human Rights in East Asia

By Frank Jannuzi


This brief addresses human rights issues in East Asia and identifies actions that the 114th Congress can take to address them.

Main Argument

Human rights is an important consideration for U.S. foreign policy in East Asia. First and foremost, the 114th Congress must address issues in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), with its egregious violations, and in the People’s Republic of China, a country under special scrutiny with two congressional bodies devoted to examining its record on human rights and rule of law. Elsewhere in the region, the complex “history questions” bedeviling Japan’s relations with neighboring China and Republic of Korea (ROK) will test Congress’s diplomatic skills, while stalled reforms in Myanmar, a coup in Thailand, and the twentieth anniversary of the normalization of relations with Vietnam will further animate debate on democracy and human rights.

Recommendations for the 114th Congress

  • Congress should both pressure and engage the DPRK on human rights issues. On the engagement side, Congress should consider steps designed to improve the lives of the North Korean people, including backing the ROK’s Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative, and support multilateral engagement that aims to expose North Koreans to the outside world.
  • As the world marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Congress should encourage Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to make efforts to heal the diplomatic rift that has opened between Japan and its neighbors over Japan’s actions during World War II. Otherwise, human rights wounds from the past could imperil important steps forward for the U.S.-Japan alliance, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and finalization of new alliance defense guidelines.
  • Congress should carefully address issues of autonomy and human rights in Hong Kong and Taiwan, paying heed to the 1979 Taiwan Relation Act and the 1992 Hong Kong Policy Act.
  • Congress should assess the trajectory of human rights in Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam and ensure that diplomatic and economic engagement supports further reforms.


The 114th Congress will confront a raft of human rights issues in East Asia, from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), with its egregious violations, to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), a country under special scrutiny with two congressional bodies devoted to examining its record on human rights and rule of law. Elsewhere in the region, the complex “history questions” bedeviling Japan’s relations with neighboring China and Republic of Korea (ROK) will test Congress’s diplomatic skills, while stalled reforms in Myanmar, a coup in Thailand, and the twentieth anniversary of the normalization of relations with Vietnam will further animate debate. This brief begins with an examination of the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy before touching on six of the more compelling issues in East Asia likely to draw congressional attention: human rights in North Korea, Japan’s World War II history, human rights and rule of law in China, Myanmar’s political reforms, the military coup in Thailand, and the anniversary of the normalization of relations with Vietnam.

Human Rights and Foreign Policy

The U.S. State Department proclaims on its website, “The protection of fundamental human rights was a foundation stone in the establishment of the United States over 200 years ago. Since then, a central goal of U.S. foreign policy has been the promotion of respect for human rights, as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” [1] This statement, however, is dubious at best. Advancing human rights has rarely been a “central goal” of U.S. foreign policy. It was not until the adoption of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975 that the United States and the Soviet Union embraced the notion that human rights issues were a legitimate subject of international relations. [2] At the State Department, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and its annual human rights reports only exist because Congress demanded them in 1976. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton candidly noted on the bureau’s 35th anniversary, “It did have a rocky childhood, plenty of critics at post and in this building who thought you had no business pestering anybody about human rights. That would only get in the way of real diplomacy. Even getting an office on the seventh floor caused howls of protest.” [3]

The United States formally integrated human rights into its foreign policy in the mid-1970s. Jimmy Carter was the first president to embrace advancing human rights as a central tenet of his foreign policy. [4] He defined human rights broadly, drawing on the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its associated binding covenants enumerating civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights for inspiration. In this, he joined a chorus of domestic and international NGOs. [5] President Carter acknowledged, however, that he might not always be able to put top priority on human rights: “We live in a world that is imperfect and which will always be imperfect—a world that is complex and confused and which will always be complex and confused.” [6]

As the 114th Congress gets organized, it will discover, like those congresses before it, that it has only limited tools with which to advance human rights. These tools include moral suasion (often in the form of hearings, letters, and resolutions shining a spotlight on injustice); foreign assistance (for good governance, rule of law, education, and economic development); trade agreements (which increasingly include provisions mandating respect for labor rights and environmental protection); restrictions on assistance (to include especially limits on military training and arms sales in accordance with the Leahy Law and other legal provisions); and sanctions. The methods chosen will vary depending on the circumstances.

Human Rights and East Asia Policy

The intersection of human rights and U.S. foreign policy in East Asia has long been imperfect. With his eyes fixed on detente with the Soviet Union and other geopolitical issues, Henry Kissinger did not utter the phrase “human rights” when negotiating the opening to China. Washington also maintained close relations with authoritarian governments in the ROK, Taiwan, and Indonesia during the Cold War, avoiding criticism when they infringed on basic rights, suppressed democratic freedoms, or, in the case of Indonesia, invaded and occupied a neighbor. [7] In the post–Tiananmen Square, post–Cold War era, the United States has attached greater importance to advancing human rights, but Washington’s approach is multifaceted, animated only in part by a desire to advance democracy, good governance, and respect for human rights.

While it is always possible that new priorities will emerge—who predicted that East Timor would erupt in violence leading to UN intervention in 1999? —the issues discussed below will likely top the human rights agenda in East Asia for the 114th Congress.

North Korea: “Off the Scale”

For more than twenty years, the international community has struggled to rein in the nuclear ambitions of the DPRK and largely turned a blind eye to the suffering of the North Korean people. Congress elevated the humanitarian issues in 2004 with the passage of the North Korean Human Rights Act, but attention remained focused on denuclearization. However, with the publication in 2014 of the report of the United Nations’ Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea, and with North Korea allegedly directing a cyberattack against Sony Pictures to protest the release of a movie depicting a CIA-directed assassination plot against Kim Jong-un, human rights issues are now front and center.

The UN report documented a litany of abuses by North Korea. As Amnesty International commented, “the gravity and nature of human rights violations are off the scale.” [8] The DPRK wasted no time denouncing the report and the distinguished Australian judge who led the inquiry, saying his mission was “to manipulate ‘evidence’ on the orders of Washington, lie about (North) Korea and oppose the republic under an international alliance that is controlled by the United States.” [9] The DPRK’s responses to the UN report and Sony hacking charges demonstrate that Pyongyang is sensitive about its international reputation. As Secretary of State John Kerry said at the UN, “On some level, North Korea’s leaders do understand that their behavior brings shame on their country in the eyes of the world.” [10]

Congress now has a chance to be heard. A combination of pressure and engagement might have some effect. On the pressure side of the equation, Congress will consider new sanctions, including possible restrictions on dollar transactions modeled on the financial sanctions against Iran. However, given the weak implementation of existing sanctions—the North somehow manages to import not only cognac but also the sensitive dual-use components it needs to enrich uranium and build ballistic missiles—it is not clear how effective new sanctions would prove, especially if China fails to cooperate.

On the engagement side, Congress may consider the following steps designed to improve the lives of the North Korean people:

  • Pressing China to cease the practice of forcibly returning DPRK refugees to North Korea
  • Backing the ROK’s Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative, a process modeled on the Helsinki Final Act designed to promote security, economic ties, and human rights
  • Providing modest, carefully monitored food aid or medical assistance, with an emphasis on reaching some of the estimated 120,000 men, women, and children incarcerated in North Korean prisons
  • Resuming joint U.S.-DPRK recovery operations for the remains of U.S. servicemen left behind at the end of the Korean War
  • Supporting broadcasting, Internet access, cell-phone coverage, people-to-people visits, and educational exchanges (given that the DPRK’s efforts to seal its borders suggest that information may be Pyongyang’s Achilles’ heel)

Ultimately, multilateral engagement—the subject of congressional Helsinki Commission hearings in 2013—may offer the best hope of creating an environment conducive to peace and security and respect for human rights in North Korea. A generation of North Koreans who have more contact with the outside world and a deeper understanding of the failure of their own government to deliver justice and economic development might convince their leaders to change course.

Japan and History—Old Wounds Reopened

2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the commencement of an era of peace between Japan and its neighbors. The year also marks the 50th anniversary of normalization of relations between Japan and the ROK, two U.S. allies who have much in common, including a commitment to democratic values, market economics, and human rights. But a long-simmering dispute over Japan’s conduct during the war has strained relations between Tokyo and Seoul. The core issue is the forced recruitment, at the instigation of Japanese authorities, of sex slaves, sometimes referred to as “comfort women,” to serve in brothels frequented by the Japanese military. The tiff has spilled over onto U.S. soil, where both the Japanese and ROK governments and civil society groups are debating everything from the content of high school history textbooks to the names of geographic features on maps. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial visits to the Yasukuni Shrine and his efforts to revise the interpretation of Japan’s constitution to allow collective self-defense have brought fresh scrutiny from neighbors of his government’s stance on Japan’s wartime record. [11]

Congress waded into the “history question” in 2007, when the House of Representatives unanimously approved HR 121 urging Japan to “formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force’s coercion of young women into sexual slavery.” [12] The Japanese government in 1993 acknowledged that women were coerced into sexual service against their will, and that the “Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women.” [13] But Japan’s neighbors have interpreted subsequent actions by Tokyo, including the Abe administration’s decision to review the factual basis for the 1993 Kono Statement, as attempting to revise history and minimize Japan’s culpability. Last fall, Prime Minister Abe created a special commission “to consider concrete measures to restore Japan’s honor with regard to the comfort women issue,” further distancing his administration from the more clear-cut acceptance of responsibility embodied in the Kono Statement. [14]

The debate over history may intensify as Congress moves to commemorate 70 years of partnership with Japan and as Tokyo and Washington finalize a historic Trans-Pacific Partnership and prepare to issue revised defense guidelines expanding the scope of the alliance. The expected visit to the United States by Prime Minister Abe in spring 2015 will likely be accompanied by heightened attention to this diplomatic rift between two of Washington’s most important Asian allies. Without attempting to mediate between Japan and its neighbors, Congress should consider a resolution reminding all parties of the accomplishments of the past 70 years and stressing the importance of deepening cooperation and commitment to shared values, particularly on human rights.

China: Of Golden Geese, Canaries, and Black Swans

No country in East Asia presents a more profound and complex human rights challenge than does the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The past 25 years since the Tiananmen Square crisis have seen both progress and setbacks on the human rights front, with an expansion of some basic freedoms—travel, information, worship, and certain forms of speech—coupled with intense efforts to construct a “great fire wall” on the Internet and stifle speech that questions the legitimacy or authority of the Chinese Communist Party. The imprisonment of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo for his online democracy manifesto (Charter 08) and the arrest of Ai Weiwei for “subversive” art are only two of the more dramatic examples of the Communist Party’s campaign to silence its critics. The party has also jailed human rights lawyers and imposed visa and travel restrictions on foreign journalists in an effort to deter criticism.

In October 2014 the Congressional-Executive Commission on China issued its most recent report on the conditions of human rights and rule of law in the PRC. Its conclusions were sobering, finding little if any improvement. [15] The United States and China periodically convene a human rights dialogue, but in recent years these conclaves have degenerated into tit-for-tat exchanges and cries of hypocrisy. There is mounting frustration as human rights advocates inside and outside China grasp for ways to influence Beijing’s behavior on issues ranging from religious freedom and genuine autonomy for Tibet to the formation of independent labor unions.

China’s troubled human rights record has been brought into stark relief on the streets of Hong Kong—a city normally thought of as a bastion of civil liberties. Hong Kong is a unique experiment in democratic governance, rule of law, and market capitalism inside China—part goose that lays the golden eggs, part canary in the coal mine. [16] Last fall, and again in early 2015, protesters demanding broader democratic participation in the selection of the city’s chief executive occupied Hong Kong’s central business district. At issue is the interpretation of Article 45 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which states that “the ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.” Beijing has dictated a “broadly representative nominating committee” that effectively guarantees its ability to exclude candidates it deems undesirable—hence the fierce reaction by some in Hong Kong who aspire to greater self-rule. How this tug of war is resolved will do much to reinforce or undermine global confidence in China’s ability to navigate its way toward a more open, democratic system that respects international norms.

Congress seems poised to join the fray but may be wary of doing anything to lend credence to Beijing’s claims that unrest in Hong Kong is the result of foreign provocateurs. Congress could revive the scrutiny of Hong Kong called for in the 1992 Hong Kong Policy Act. [17] The act stipulates that the human rights of the people of Hong Kong “are of great importance to the United States and are directly relevant to United States interests in Hong Kong.” If the president determines that Hong Kong “is not sufficiently autonomous,” he can issue an executive order suspending Hong Kong’s privileges, including special trading rights, access to technology, and visa-free travel. In other words, if China unduly infringes on Hong Kong’s autonomy, Washington reserves the right to garrote the goose.

As important as Hong Kong is to the future of U.S.-China relations, the main event probably lies seven hundred kilometers north and east. Taiwan’s leaders have been edging closer to Beijing for years, but the people of Taiwan have explicitly rejected the “one country, two systems” formula Beijing favors as the basis for unification. Recent events in Hong Kong have set back Beijing’s efforts to court Taipei, providing evidence that Beijing cannot be trusted to respect the rights that the people of Taiwan won in arduous struggle against their own authoritarian regime.

This matters for U.S.-China relations because a cross-strait conflict remains one of the few fuses that could ignite a war between China and the United States. It is U.S. policy under the 1979 Taiwan Relation Act to consider any attempt to determine Taiwan’s future by other than peaceful means to be of “grave” concern to the United States. [18] Moreover, the Taiwan Relations Act obligates the United States to provide “such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.” If Hong Kong chief executive officer Leung Chun-ying and his masters in Beijing fail to restore confidence in their management of Hong Kong affairs, they may not only imperil the goose and the canary but even summon a black swan, an unexpected and undesired confrontation between Beijing and Washington over the fate of Taiwan. [19]

Burma/Myanmar: Mission Not Accomplished

After decades of sanctions and political isolation, Myanmar has taken its first tentative steps along the path toward political and economic reform. But the country is not far down this path, and its progress has already proved reversible. Continued progress depends for now on the good will and political authority of President Thein Sein and his administration.

The United States has been carefully nurturing Myanmar’s transition from military dictatorship toward a more open, plural, and democratic society. The Obama administration has normalized diplomatic relations, opened a USAID office in Yangon, resumed direct contact with Myanmar’s military, and begun the process of unraveling the strict economic sanctions—including the JADE Act of 2008 [20]—imposed in an effort to coerce the nation’s military junta to yield power. But the enthusiasm that greeted the release of pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in 2012, along with hundreds of other political prisoners, has been tempered by the realization that the country may take decades to develop genuine democracy and respect for human rights.

Myanmar faces many difficulties as it emerges from years of mismanagement and civil war. The once prosperous nation is among the poorest in East Asia, lacking even basic infrastructure, not to mention modern schools and healthcare facilities. Tens of thousands of refugees remain in camps in Thailand, and hundreds of thousands more remain internally displaced—reminders that Myanmar is an ethnically diverse nation long affected by conflict between the state and the country’s ethnic groups. A wide array of ethnic groups—Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Chin, Wa, Shan, Mon, and Rakhine—dot the map from Mytchina to the Irrawaddy Delta, many with both political and military arms.

During the 114th Congress, two issues to watch in Myanmar will be the plight of the Rohingya and efforts by the National League for Democracy to revise the nation’s constitution. The Rohingya Muslims who reside in Rakhine State in western Myanmar are effectively stateless under Burmese law, and discrimination and violence are only spreading, imperiling the livelihoods of this community, economic development, and progress toward civilian rule. Separately, the National League for Democracy and its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, want a chance to contest the upcoming presidential election, but the constitution blocks anyone whose spouse or sons are foreign citizens from leading the country. Suu Kyi’s late husband was British, as are her two sons. International support for Myanmar’s transition will erode swiftly if Suu Kyi—the face of the democratic opposition—is prevented from participating meaningfully in the nation’s political institutions. Even as it considers steps to unravel the knot of sanctions that limit U.S.-Myanmar economic and security relations, Congress should preserve U.S. leverage by calibrating military-to-military relations to steps taken by Myanmar to reduce the military’s role in politics and bolster civilian rule. Congress should also boost funding for groups providing training and capacity building on rule of law, with a special emphasis on minority rights and civil liberties.

Thailand: The Lingering Coup

In Thailand the overthrow of a democratically elected prime minister and the imposition of martial law have set back human rights and tarnished the nation’s reputation. Thailand has experienced numerous coups over its history, but this one seems different and has already lasted longer than most. General Prayuth seized power in May 2014, ostensibly to end simmering violence associated with the political impasse between Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Pheu Thai Party and supporters of the opposition Democratic Party. Clashes between “red shirts” and “yellow shirts” had turned violent in 2013, with widespread property damage and loss of life in the capital of Bangkok.

Responding to the coup, Washington initially cut a small portion of military assistance and suspended joint training exercises with the Thai military. But Washington has walked a fine line, being wary of alienating the Thai masses or the monarchy and trying to avoid pushing Thailand into the arms of China. Daniel Russel, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, traveled to Bangkok in January 2015, where he reaffirmed U.S. support for the alliance even as he explicitly called for restoration of democratic rule and, to the dismay of the generals, met with the ousted prime minister Yingluck. Following Russel’s visit, the Obama administration announced that it would proceed this spring with a slightly scaled-back version of the annual Cobra Gold multilateral military exercises hosted by Thailand. This decision coincided with the visit of China’s defense minister Chang Wanquan to Bangkok and the announcement of enhanced Thai-PRC military cooperation.

General Prayuth and his caretaker government have laid out a “reform roadmap” that envisions restoration of civilian rule eventually, but the government has also banned public protests, arrested many of its critics, and generally stifled a once vibrant free press. Hovering over all of this is an awareness of the fragility of the world’s longest-reigning monarch. Popular love for King Bhumibol, now 86, has given Thailand a measure of stability during past coups. But the king is hospitalized and is physically incapable of exerting much influence this time around. Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn does not command the same loyalty that his father inspires, adding another ingredient of uncertainty into an already murky political stew.

The United States cannot dictate Thailand’s political path, but Congress should consider targeted investments in the pillars of liberal constitutionalism, including rule of law and a free press. Even modest budget increases for organizations such as the Asia Foundation, the East-West Center, the National Endowment for Democracy, and other groups investing in human capacity building would strengthen the capacity of the Thai people to safeguard their own freedoms and promote good governance.

Vietnam: At an Inflection Point?

While Thailand struggles to resume democratic governance and restore respect for human rights, nearby Vietnam also appears to be at an inflection point. This year, Vietnam and the United States are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations, and the sides are considering moves that could affect Vietnam’s strategic direction for decades to come.

Vietnam’s economic, security, and human rights conditions are in flux, and the next few years may prove decisive. Although Vietnam has developed rapidly since adopting the doi moi market reform policies in the late 1980s, growth has stalled, and analysts inside and outside the country have recommended further economic liberalization. Vietnam is one of eleven nations with which the United States is working to finalize the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The trade pact would require major changes to Vietnam’s labor laws and would further open its economy to foreign investment and trade.

On the security front, Vietnam is locked in a bitter territorial dispute with China over portions of the South China Sea believed to be rich in oil, gas, and other natural resources. It is seeking closer security ties with its neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) neighbors, with Japan, and especially with the United States. In fall 2014, Japan provided six vessels to boost Vietnam’s ability to patrol its coastal waters, while Washington partially lifted a ban on lethal weapon sales and is expanding training and other forms of military assistance.

On the human rights front, Vietnam has a new constitution that promises enhanced protection for basic rights. For the first time in 25 years, Hanoi welcomed a delegation from Amnesty International to discuss the country’s human rights record and the moves Hanoi could make to comply with international obligations. [21] Vietnam has taken several concrete steps—such as releasing some political prisoners and moving to ratify the UN Convention against Torture—long called for by human rights activists inside and outside the country.

Still, according to the U.S. State Department, Vietnam’s overall human rights record remains poor, [22] and efforts to strengthen U.S.-Vietnam economic and security ties have drawn scrutiny from activists who worry that Washington may be moving too fast and squandering its leverage. The advocacy director of Human Rights Watch Asia, John Sifton, posed several questions following the partial lifting of the U.S. arms export ban:

    Has Hanoi taken any meaningful steps or shown any real willingness to undertake legal reforms to remove penal code provisions criminalizing political speech? Have Vietnamese leaders taken any meaningful steps or shown any real willingness to undertake legal reforms to allow independent trade unions? Has Vietnam taken any meaningful steps or shown any real willingness to deregulate and decriminalize independent religious activity, or stop persecution of religious minorities? The answer to each of these questions is no. [23]

As Congress commemorates the anniversary of normalization and prepares to consider the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other initiatives designed to more closely link the United States and Vietnam, it will make its own assessment as to Vietnam’s trajectory on human rights and the role that the United States can play in encouraging Hanoi to follow a roadmap of continued economic and political reforms over the next twenty years.

Congress can help illuminate the path forward by increasing support for the engines of reform in Vietnam. Specifically, Congress should fully fund the new Fulbright University contemplated for Ho Chi Minh City. Building on the success of the existing Fulbright School, the new university would give future generations of Vietnamese access to a high-quality education unfettered by Communist ideological restrictions. Congress should also extend funding for the Vietnam Education Foundation, slated to cease operations in 2017, in order to ensure that the best and brightest from Vietnam continue to have a chance to pursue graduate studies in the United States, where they will be exposed to the benefits of a free society.


[1] “Human Rights,” U.S. Department of State,

[2] The text of the Helsinki Final Act is available from,

[3] Hillary Rodham Clinton, “Celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor” (remarks at the George C. Marshall Center, Washington, D.C., June 8, 2012),

[4] Jimmy Carter, “University of Notre Dame—Address at Commencement Exercises at the University,” American Presidency Project, May 22, 1977,

[5] Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for its global human rights advocacy.

[6] Carter, “University of Notre Dame.”

[7] William Burr and Michael L. Evans, “Ford and Kissinger Gave Green Light to Indonesia’s Invasion of East Timor, 1975: New Documents Detail Conversations with Suharto,” National Security Archive, George Washington University, December 6, 2001,

[8] “North Korea: UN Security Council Must Act on Crimes against Humanity,” Amnesty International, February 17, 2014.

[9] James Pearson and Ju-min Park, “Fall 2014 Annual Report on Human Rights and Development of Law in China,” Congressional-Executive Commissions on China, Fall 2014,

[10] John Kerry (remarks at an event on human rights in the DPRK, New York, September 23, 2014),

[11] The Yasukuni Shrine is a private shrine that honors those who lost their lives in defense of Japan. In 1978 the shrine secretly added the names of fourteen Class-A war criminals, including General Hideki Tojo, to the list of souls honored, a move that drew bitter protest from China and South Korea in 1979 when this information became public. Emperor Hirohito protested by refusing to visit the shrine—a boycott continued by his son, Akihito, the current emperor.

[12] The text of HR 121 is available from,

[13] “Statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on the Result of the Study on the Issue of ‘Comfort women,’” Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Japan), August 4, 1993,

[14] “The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth,” New York Times, November 11, 1014,

[15] Pearson and Park, “Fall 2014 Annual Report on Human Rights and Development of Law in China.”

[16] Jeffrey Wasserstrom, “Hong Kong as Golden Goose and Coal Mine Canary,” Newsweek, October 18, 2014,

[17] The text of the United States–Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 is available from the Consulate General of the United States (Hong Kong and Macau),

[18] The text of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act is available from the American Institute in Taiwan,

[19] Ted Piccone, Steven Pifer, and Thomas Wright, “Big Bets and Black Swans,” Brookings Institution, January 2014,

[20] The text of the Tom Lantos Bock Burmese JADE (Junta Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008 is available from the U.S. Department of Treasury,

[21] The author was a member of the Amnesty International delegation. For more information about the delegation, see “Amnesty International Visits Viet Nam for Human Rights Dialogue,” Amnesty International, Press Release, February 20, 2014,

[22] For the most recent State Department assessment, see U.S. Department of State, “Vietnam 2013 Human Rights Report,” 2013,

[23] John Sifton, “Fixing the United States’ Human Rights Misstep with Vietnam,” Diplomat, October 9, 2014,

Frank Jannuzi is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mansfield Foundation. He previously served as Deputy Executive Director (Advocacy, Policy and Research) at Amnesty International, USA. From 1997 to 2012, Mr. Jannuzi was Policy Director, East Asian and Pacific Affairs, for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he advised committee chairmen Joseph Biden and John Kerry.