Ah, yes, the “change we can believe in”… aka “Clinton re-hash”.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in China this week. Following her husband’s policy of “throw them some nice rewards and maybe they’ll behave without us actually having to nag them,” Mrs. Clinton had the following comment on U.S. relations with China:
“We pretty much know what they are going to say [on human rights issues]… We have to continue to press them. But our pressing on those issues can’t interfere [with more important issues]… the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crisis.”
(Is it just me, or has the candidate of HOPE and CHANGE become the president (and administration) of CRISIS CRISIS CRISIS in a head-snapping shift of public persona?)
That’s right, it’s much better to argue about global warming. In fact, in an article a year or so back in Smithsonian on underground coal fires, one expert said that eliminating the hundreds of underground coal fires in China alone (which are extremely difficult to extinguish) could drastically reduce our carbon emissions. Of course, there’s also the fact that anything we do in the U.S. to reduce carbon emissions will be more than offset by the swelling ranks of car owners in China. Not to mention the fact that most of China still burns coal in their homes (I got some really picturesque photos of guys with molded coal bricks on bike carts in China). Somehow, I doubt they have any form of exhaust control, air scrubbers, etc.
It’s much easier to discuss security issues. China does have a sizeable, and uneasy, Muslim population in its western provinces; there was an attack on a group of police shortly before the Olympics last year by a Muslim group seeking autonomy or something. Of course, China is also involved in propping up regimes we’re trying to isolate, including Sudan (which has a lot of oil, which China needs, pesky genocide charges or not). Given the last administration’s efforts to curtail the Chinese-Sudanese cooperation, we also know what China will say about that, so is Madame Secretary going to ignore the Chinese enabling of the genocide in Sudan, too?
Obviously, we need to discuss the global economic crisis with China, since they hold a huge chunk of our debt. Plus, our lack of spending means that tens of thousands of workers have already been laid off in the factories in the coastal cities. Let’s see, out of work, twenty-somethings roaming the country in search of work… not good for internal stability.
None of this, however, means that we should shove China’s varied and egregious human rights abuses to the “back burner.” Clinton assured everyone that she doesn’t have a “lesser concern” over human rights, just that… well, there are more important things to talk about.
The problem is, if you don’t push the issue, or at least bring it up forcefully and consistently, then nothing will happen. If you just smile and agree to disagree because “everyone knows what we’re going to say,” then you will get the status quo, guaranteed. President Clinton granted China “most favored trading nation” status during his presidency; I was in the Naval Academy at the time and the general consensus among the history and political science faculty was that this was a stupid, naive move. “You just gave them what they wanted, without a single concession from them. Why on earth do you think they’ll just improve their human rights practices now that you’ve already rewarded them? Out of the kindness of their hearts?!?”
And now, here comes Mrs. Clinton, handing out carrots again: Don’t worry, China, we won’t pester you with that boring discussion about human rights; as we say in the U.S., the culture wars are over! And, of course, by declaring it so, nobody will worry about it anymore, right? We won’t mention the continuing reports of women dragged in for forced abortions, or the house demolitions and arrests of elderly family members to coerce women to come out of hiding for “voluntary” abortions. We certainly won’t mention that blind lawyer who was rude enough to let the international press in on the abuses rampant in the Chinese government’s “family planning” institute; of course you had to send him to prison on some trumped-up charges. We have our own infrastructure problems; we won’t question your heavy-handed silencing of the grieving parents who lost children in the school collapses in Sichuan, even though it’s pretty obvious sub-standard school construction had a lot to do with the deaths of so many schoolchildren when the apartments and offices largely held up. And who seriously cares about a bunch of grumpy monks in Tibet? We have noisy religious nutjobs who won’t shut up and do what they’re told, either.
And, if you think, well, everyone knows about China’s abuses, so why keep dragging this out? I just came across a blog (I will not give her traffic, so no link), named… get this… “My One Child Policy Homeschool” Why? Well, she explains, she’s living in China (American, I think), she has one child, she homeschools (Charlotte Mason method), she wanted to show off her photos of China, and, hey, it’s “my attempt at a joke.”
Millions of coerced abortions. Involuntary sterilizations. Homes destroyed. Elderly relatives arrested and threatened with starvation. Infanticide. Millions of “missing” girls because parents need a boy and can’t afford the fines if the child is “only” a girl. Mushrooming sex trade, trading in “corpse brides”, etc. driven by the lack of women to marry. And it’s just a joke!?!
I am still livid over this woman’s sheer blindness to the situation. “Hey, it doesn’t affect me, so why not laugh at it?”
Because it’s wrong, you heartless jerk. Because it is never moral to laugh at someone else’s misery and heartbreak. Because we should use our freedom to defend the freedoms of others, not just laugh at them because we’re immune by reason of not being a citizen of the oppressive government in question.
Even worse, we now know that our new Secretary of State is under the same impression: “It ok, it’s not us, so why not worry about something more politically expedient? Come on, I need some nice photo ops, here. All that morals and ethics and encouraging freedom around the world junk is so last administration.”