Every time a US president visits his Chinese counterpart, or vice versa, there’s always the same tired chatter in the media about “human rights,” as in: “President Red White & Blue is expected to give a stern talking-to to President Red over his country’s human rights violations.” Alas, this time is no different:
The formal White House arrival ceremony – the 21-gun salute is reserved solely for visiting heads of state — was a display of pomp and circumstance that stood in stark contrast with the tough rhetoric the Obama administration is employing in its relationship with China on issues from trade to currency and human rights.
And indeed, Mr. Obama did not entirely abandon that rhetoric Wednesday morning. After promoting the virtues of Chinese and American cooperation, the president – the 2009 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – used the ceremony to deliver a gentle reminder to China, which is holding the 2010 winner of the prize, Liu Xiaobo, as a political prisoner.
“We also know this,’’ the president said: “History shows that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful and the world is more just when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld, including the universal rights of every human being.’’
Ooh, boy. Watch out for that “tough rhetoric”! Of course, Hu could just as well have lectured Obama, and Shrub before him, about the human rights violations committed around the world by the United States on a daily basis, otherwise known as US foreign policy, but apparently Chinese politicians don’t have quite the same appetite for hypocrisy that American ones do. Not to mention that if Obama were really concerned about “the universal rights of every human being,” he might give a little shout-out to, in addition to the political prisoner du jour, the virtual slaves who toil their lives away in Chinese factories so Americans can stay awash in cheap consumer goods.