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  • Obama's Man in Beijing

    It is nice that the President is reaching across the aisle for an Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. Foreign policy should be bi-partisan. It is a demonstration to the Chinese that there is more that unites Americans than divides us. The selection of Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr., a businessman and free trader, will also send a positive signal regarding the central importance of truly free markets in our interaction with the Chinese. Of course, from the President’s perspective, choosing a Republican is probably also an effort to reserve political squabbling for issues more central to his agenda.

    But the person is only part of the equation, and not the most important part. What matters most are the principles Ambassador Huntsman packs for the trip.

    We’re not talking about the China policy catechism: the three communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). Of course, he’ll virtually be checked at the airport to make sure he has the communiqués with him. He must also give the TRA and, for good measure, Reagan’s 6 assurances a good read. The TRA is the law of the land after all, and Reagan’s interpretation of our obligations is a critical part of U.S. China policy.

    But what we’re really talking about is another Reagan-era principle: what countries do is more important than what they say.

    It is important to remember as the Tiananmen massacre anniversary approaches that the human rights situation in China has gotten worse, not better, in the ensuing 20 years. China’s economic success and the importance of our economic relationship make this fact inconvenient today, but we can’t wish it away and we can’t abandon our historic obligation to rectify it.

    And while we should welcome reduced tensions across the straits, let’s not lose sight of the coercive elements that are involved: China’s uncompromising claim to sovereignty over Taiwan, an aggressive military posture featuring, among other things, more than a thousand missiles aimed at the island, and a relentless effort to shrink Taiwan’s diplomatic space.

    Decisions about Taiwan’s relationship with the mainland should be decided by the people of Taiwan free from coercion. It should not be made by the US, and certainly not by the PRC.

    The Chinese will come after the TRA and our commitments to Taiwan early and often in Ambassador Huntsman’s tenure. He should be prepared to explain to them the facts of America’s bi-partisan commitment to Taiwan as well as articulate our human rights concerns, ever vigilant that a nation’s actions speak more loudly than its rhetoric.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Obama's Man in Beijing

    1. Horsham says:

      One of the biggest untruth about China is that human rights in China is getting worse since the Tiananmen days.

      Yes, China is not a democratic country, dose not espouse free speech, free election, and free election. But Chinese people are experiencing more (yes, not enough) freedom in personal and societal life. The progress is much too slow for people like you and me would like to see, but to say it's getting worse is just a ignorance (or willful lie). So, please preserve your credibility by respecting the facts, even if the facts are not black and white and are very inconvenient to your theory.

    2. Joseph, So. IL says:

      There is nothing bi-partisan about Obama's pick of the Utah Gov to serve in China. Obama is taking him out of the 2012 POTUS race by serving up the position. It would be difficult for Huntsman to counter-punch Adminstration policies when he was a part of the beast. Besides, how many DEMs can speak Mandarin? You could send Hank Pauleson back, but I think our very own Uncle Fester has made enough of a mess of the US banking system for now. Maybe Pelosi, she can't speak Mandarin, let alone English, but she'll be out of work soon and could use the job. Actually, the Kale-forn-ia Gov would be my first choice, he can't speak English either, but the Chinese would love Arnold.

      Times have changed since Reagan put forth the 6 assurances. The men in charge of the PRC at that time, some had endured the Long March w/Mao and hated the Nationalist. With good reason, wished to eliminate them, they still do, but to a lesser extent. Taiwan's ackward democracy and China's economic power are more of a factor than any US arms sales to the Nationalist. However the Reagan 6 are applicable as to NOT meddle and not cave to the PRC, something Obama is demonstrating he is not capable of. Good Luck Gov Huntsman, Jr.

      Tiananmen Square Massacre, our obligation to rectify? What arrogance and elitism you display with that statement. The college age adults during the Cultural Revolution (the Red Guards) caused untold damage and death. The current leaders of the PRC lived through that in the 60's and some were Red Guards. They have a legitimate concern and if a nuclear capbale country of 1.3 billion people explodes… man-o-man. So back off, grow some perspective, when referencing Tiananmen Square. No monday morning quarterbacking or pontificating from some tenured position.

      Is it the Chinese obligation to rectify the the Trail of Tears, the Massacre at Wounded Knee, Kent State, Clinton/Reno event at Waco, TX or the Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge? I think not. So we should mind our own business. The PRC holds 1 trillion usd of our debt, lets not tick them off too much, ok. Besides, if you mind your own business, you won't be minding mine, right?

      So what exactly is the measuring stick for the decline in human rights, in China, over the last 20 years? The fact that all 1.3 billion of China's residents do not have a cell phone yet (most do). Or, is it the fact that guanxi is more prevalent in business and government than the rule of law? If you hang your hat on the Rule of Law or the Constitution, you should start at home. Obama seems to be using his Constitutional Law education to circumvent it. So, people who live in glass houses…, we'll let's clean upown mess first.

      China is not going to shoot up Taiwan, they will squeeze them economically. Obama will do nothing about it(he has one testical less than Hitler). It is our obligation, based on a bad decision decades ago (so much for the OSS report), to support the Nationalist. It is policy to support the Nationalist and it does give a certain counter-chip when talking with the CHI-COM's. Plus the PRC belongs to the WTO now, so more than one way to deal with them.

      Huntsman, Jr. is a good Kat, he'll make a great POTUS someday. He's only 48, but sooner than later would be nice.

    3. mike says:

      I agree that the bipartisan approach to China is a Janus-like policy that makes sense if the administration is to find depth in its understanding about the middle kingdom. The status quo with China now has a long history of uneven trade relations and political interferences by the regime in Beijing. In the name of realism, the policy feet have been firmly planted in the air, as too little has been required of China in exchange to so much overlooked. I've seen analysts, like many multinationals, lose any sense of national loyalty to the US in their bizarre conflicts. Over at Analystblues.com there is a piece calling a China analyst (w/ vested interest in pleasing Beijing in his business role) to task for his concessions. It is a political analysis, not so much economic, but with China, the two cannot be separated. Specifically, here it is:


    4. Pingback: Urgent Indeed! Obama’s Unexpected Pick For China Ambassador Gets Raves - China Journal - WSJ

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