Blinken says U.S. supports rights of protesters in China, Iran, after GOP calls response 'weak'

Blinken is traveling to China early next year.

Updated: December 5, 2022 - 3:35pm

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration supports the rights of peaceful protesters in Iran and China after Republicans, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, criticized the White House's response as "weak" and "cowardly."

When asked Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" about whether the Biden administration supports protests against China's "zero COVID" policy, Blinken said: "Of course we do. We support the right of people everywhere, whether it's in China, whether it's Iran, whether it's anyplace else, to protest peacefully, to make known their views, to vent their frustrations."

Sen. Rubio and Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) late last month said: "The Biden Administration's weak rejection of the CCP's zero-Covid policy and refusal to call out General Secretary Xi's totalitarian grip is nothing short of cowardly."

Blinken is traveling to China early next year. "We want to make sure that there are no misunderstandings, no miscommunication, that we have a floor under the relationship," he said.

Blinken said that during his trip he plans on reiterating to Chinese President Xi Jinping that "human rights and basic civil liberties go to the heart of who we are as Americans, and no American government, no American president is going to be silent on that."