Appointment signals pressure for Beijing to live up to international commitments Civic Exchange founder and former legislator Christine Loh Kung-wai has become the first Hong Kong citizen to be appointed to co-chair the New York-based Human Rights in China organisation. She will hold the position with prominent China observer Andrew Nathan, a Columbia University professor of political science. Founded by Chinese students and academics in March 1989, the group has been vocal in reporting human rights abuses on the mainland and appealing for attention in the international community. It was formerly chaired by exiled Chinese astrophysicist Fang Lizhi and human rights advocate Robert Bernstein. Speaking after her appointment, Ms Loh said human rights was now 'fundamental to how China moves forward' and said there was still plenty of improvement required. 'The organisation is doing some terrific work, and human rights in the context of China's modernisation is one of the hardest areas,' she said. Ms Loh heads Civic Exchange, a public policy think-tank which speaks out on issues concerning Hong Kong's urban development and environmental matters. In April, she was appointed a director of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Human Rights in China wants to mould Ms Loh's skills for capacity-building and strategic planning with Professor Nathan's knowledge of the organisation. Ms Loh said yesterday that while the mainland had come a long way in a short time, there were many issues that still needed to be addressed. She cited recent cases of non-governmental organisations and environmentalists being harassed and journalists being expelled as examples of the difficulty in promoting human rights. 'Freedom of information, availability of information and the existing state secrecy framework are important now whether you are working in business, in public health, for an NGO or doing civil rights or media work,' she said. 'We cannot forget that China has now signed on to a host of international norms and regimes and is a member of the UN and a signatory to its Universal Declaration of Human Rights.' Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai said Ms Loh was known as not only someone who had worked tirelessly for human rights, but as someone who always got things done. 'This is a great opportunity for her and she is eminently qualified. This organisation is very active in human rights advocacy and very influential on a global scale,' he said.