When Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Washington on Thursday, a 21-gun salute sounded, heralding his arrival.
Champagne flowed Thursday night into the White House crystal as President Obama toasted the leader of the authoritarian regime at a private dinner at the nearby Blair House — closed press, of course.
Having just been delivered a sloppy wet kiss from the business and tech community out west, Xi could hardly have been surprised that the smooching continues in Washington. And Friday night, the big enchilada, a state dinner at the White House. Welcome, leader of an oppressive regime.
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No matter that China is in the midst of strangling its citizens with tough new restrictions, and has imprisoned hundreds of religious activists, political dissidents, and journalists, according to multiple human rights groups. Little of substance on this score will be discussed between the two leaders during Xi’s visit.
Strategic partnership? Uh, not so much.
“This is very typical of the administration,” Michael Auslin, resident scholar of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, told LifeZette. “Pretending that this is a working relationship between the two countries, when of course, it’s not.”
Any criticism of the current Chinese government’s human rights violations during meetings between Obama and Xi will most likely be delivered in a whisper.
Any criticism of the current Chinese government’s human rights violations during meetings between Obama and Xi will most likely be delivered in a whisper, and couched as more of a friendly suggestion from one world leader to another, rather than any actual demands, true to his “engage them, don’t enrage them” foreign policy style.
Afterward, the White House will say the two leaders shared a “frank” discussion. As it always does. Of course, no one will know what that conversation included. And that’s by design.
For the record, here is Obama’s Jan. 11 statement on China, at a joint appearance with China’s then-president, Hu Jintao: “There has been an evolution in China over the last 30 years since the first normalization of relations between the United States and China. And my expectation is that 30 years from now we will have seen further evolution and further change.”
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., had a different take.
“Not since Mao Zedong has there been a Chinese leader who violates human rights with such impunity,” said the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on human rights. “And our president will be smiling broadly for him.”
Says Auslin: “This is this president’s global pattern, one of American retreat. Obama has failed to deal with Iran and its abuses, has completely and willfully misunderstood Putin, and will now back down from China’s human rights abuses and spying activities out of fear — fear of impacting trade, and fear of retaliation.”
As part of the Xi rollout, the administration performed a bit of whitewashing, trying to demonstrate its concern by meeting with dissidents’ relatives. At least one was unimpressed. Chinese dissident Gao Zhisheng’s wife, Geng He, refused to attend a meeting Wednesday between Secretary of State John Kerry and relatives of Chinese dissidents.
“They haven’t talked to us in five years, for all the time we’ve been here, so why should we attend a meeting now?” Geng He told the Associated Press. Her husband still lives in China, refusing to leave.
Meantime, the supposedly “progressive” and “socially responsible” high-tech community on America’s left coast was at fever pitch upon Xi’s arrival, as excited as if they were welcoming a rock star.
Geekwire live-streamed Xi Jinping’s arrival on Tuesday, noting on its website, “China’s president just landed at Paine Field in Everett, Wash., and will soon be welcomed by a committee that includes Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.”
China is an “authoritarian regime” that has “unleashed an extraordinary assault on basic human rights and their defenders with a ferocity unseen in recent years.”
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They must have missed Human Rights Watch’s latest report, in which they termed China an “authoritarian regime” that has “unleashed an extraordinary assault on basic human rights and their defenders with a ferocity unseen in recent years.” And memory also fails when it comes to both traditional spy methods as well as recent data hacking by the Chinese government.
Back at the White House, the Obama administration continues to assert that human rights issues will be raised, and asks those pesky human rights advocates for patience.
“Let’s let the summit happen and see what is actually said before we render judgment,” Tom Malinowski, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, told Politico.
To solidify vacuous PR efforts, on Tuesday the White House publicized a meeting between National Security Adviser Susan Rice and representatives of groups that would be affected by a new and restrictive Chinese law that is in the works, one that would negatively impact non-governmental organizations, charitable organizations, and others.
But in Seattle, mingling with the barons of technology, Xi made no apology for the planned law.
“So long as their activities are beneficial to the Chinese people, we will not restrict or prohibit their operations,” he said in typical Sino-Orwellian fashion.
Obama hasn’t threatened China with any specific penalty in response to the pending Chinese law. Nor will he, Auslin said.
“This is a very typical visit between Obama and world leaders,” he said. “No accountability from China will be asked for, whatsoever.”
As China’s financial fortunes have grown to bursting during the past generation thanks to liberal economic policies by its communist regime, U.S. businesses have benefited, so any non-laughable condemnation of China’s human rights violations is doubtful from that quarter.
“The reason that the U.S. and China have a nearly $600 billion trading relationship, large amounts of U.S. investment in China, and increasing amounts of Chinese direct investment here, is because there are many areas where our national and business interests align,” former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told Xi at a business forum on Wednesday in Seattle, according to a copy of his remarks obtained by the Associated Press.
So much for those annoying human rights violations. Between the current administration and the American business and tech sectors, those who suffer under a totalitarian regime may just have to, as the administration implies, be patient.