President Donald Trump interacts with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago state in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017.

Carlos Barria | Reuters

President Donald Trump interacts with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago state in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017.

While U.S. policy on the matter has long remained non-confrontational, “the current dismissive attitude towards human rights is jarring,” Margaret Lewis, a professor specializing in China’s legal system at Seton Hall University, said in a Wednesday note published by the Council on Foreign Relations.

On June 4, 1989, mainland troops violently targeted pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s famed Tiananmen Square and to-date, the detention of political activists and enforced disappearance of critics remain among the top social challenges weighing on the world’s second-largest economy.

Other issues include poor employment standards, limited freedom of expression through strict online censorship and media controls. This week, China Labor Watch activist Hua Haifeng was arrested and accused of illegal surveillance after investigating alleged conditions of low pay and potential misuse of student interns at a Chinese company that produces Ivanka Trump-brand shoes.

Around 250 rights lawyers and activists have been targeted in a crackdown by the Chinese government that started in July 2015, according to Amnesty International.

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