WASHINGTON – Rep. Constance Morella and seven other members of Congress will return Saturday from a 10-day human rights fact- finding trip to China, Thailand, Cambodia and Hong Kong.
Morella, a Montgomery County Republican, and other members of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus left Washington for Beijing on Jan. 8. While there, the bi-partisan group tried to determine how well the U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia is working. Radio Free Asia broadcasts news and has a budget of $9.3 million.
The delegation, headed up by the caucus co-chairman, Rep. John Edward Porter, R-Ill., also stopped in Bangkok, Thailand, to meet with human rights advocates about conditions in Burma, a country the delegation was denied access to, said Dave Kohn, Porter’s press secretary.
Morella is particularly interested in advancing the education of young women and girls in countries such as Thailand, where young girls are often sold into prostitution, said Mary Anne Leary, her spokeswoman. Many of the women and girls die of AIDS because of their circumstances, Leary said.
After leaving Thailand, the delegation was to stop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and Hong Kong, which will pass from British to Chinese control on July 1.
Kohn said the delegation was concerned about whether democratic institutions would survive in Hong Kong. They would also talk with Asian journalists about their current conditions and how things might change with the transfer of authority.
The trip was funded by taxpayers’ money, Kohn said. The cost of the trip could not be determined. Some spouses accompanied the delegation, including Morella’s husband, Tony. -30-