Obama’s Silence on China

by Matt Gurney
FrontPage Magazine
11/19/2009

President Obama this week embarked on his first trip to China, but so far he has little to show for his visit. Wrapping up a three-day stay in the Asian powerhouse, the president secured impressive photo ops, spouted lofty rhetoric, and made vague statements about future plans. Yet he has done absolutely nothing to defend American interests or to stand up for the Chinese people who continue to suffer under communist tyranny.

For an unapologetically liberal leader, President Obama had surprisingly little to say to China on the contentious issue of human rights. While China has enthusiastically embraced capitalism, it has ignored the Western world’s demands that it improve the treatment of its own people.

The facts are bleak. An estimated half-million Chinese are currently being held without trial or legal recourse; religious freedoms are suppressed; and the Chinese press is vigorously censored. The minority Tibetan and Uighar peoples are oppressed. Prisoners face torture and swift execution. While China may excel at wowing the world with dazzling events such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it remains a deeply repressive country.

And yet, President Obama has tip-toed around these issues, doing his best to avoid antagonizing his hosts. He has not met with Chinese liberals, with spiritual and faith leaders, and certainly not with the Dalai Lama. The spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama has been a thorn in China’s side ever since China occupied Tibet, and yet has always been feted in the West as a champion of freedom and human rights. President Obama hasn’t exactly repudiated this position; he’s simply refused to meet with the Dalai Lama until after the summit, hoping to play both sides of the coin. Apparently, the president believes that it is possible for America to find a balanced position between the oppressor and the oppressed…

…It is unfortunate that President Obama has shown the same disinterest in the plight of Chinese dissidents that he did in the fates of Iranian reformers. For all his talk of optimism and hope, Obama clearly values building relationships with dictators more than supporting the people they oppress. This would be difficult to swallow even if it had conveyed any advantages, but ignoring the Iranian protesters has done nothing to improve relations between America and Iran, and will do no more to improve America’s standing with China…

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