President Obama is scheduled to visit China next month, and with tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters on the streets of Hong Kong, the Emperor hopes that human rights could force itself onto the agenda between the U.S. and the Chinese in a way not seen in many years. But that’s not the case.
But President President Xi Jinping knows that Mr. Obama’s lecture about human rights will all be a hypocrisy.
With Washington eager to work with Beijing on a list of priorities — from climate change to curbing Iran’s nuclear program — officials in both countries are eager to keep it that way.
The White House is not reconsidering Mr. Obama’s visit, the official said, though it has been calibrating how best to signal its concern for the umbrella-wielding protesters in Hong Kong [which the Obama Administration said it’s funding], especially after the police began roughing up the crowd on Sunday.
The United States knows that it has little leverage over China in the dispute over a proposed voting law in Hong Kong, which the Chinese government regards as a strictly internal matter. Chinese officials, including the foreign minister who visited Washington this week, have told their American counterparts, politely, to mind their own business.
The tensions in the American position are evident in how it responded to the clashes on Sunday, when the police used tear gas and pepper spray on the protesters. The American consulate in Hong Kong issued a statement urging both sides to show restraint and making no reference to the desire of the crowds for more democracy. Did Mr. Obama make any statement about the violent police assaults across the US?
Now, Mr Obama, consider what legitimate law enforcement goal could possibly require an officer to disperse a chemical weapon directly into the face of an unarmed female protester at point-blank range? Though we don’t know precisely what chemical agent was in that spray, those with allergies to capsicum can go into anaphylactic shock when exposed to pepper-spray. There’s a reason these weapons are characterized as “less-lethal,” and not “non-lethal.”
“We do not take sides in the discussion of Hong Kong’s political development,” the statement said, “nor do we support any particular individuals or groups involved in it.” Really? What about “funding”?
Worried that the United States looked as if it were bending over backward to avoid offense, the White House sent out the press secretary, Josh Earnest, to urge the Hong Kong authorities to show restraint and declare that the United States supported “a genuine choice of candidates that are representative of the people’s and the voters’ will.”
Critics also note that the United States has said little about Mr. Xi’s broader crackdown on civil liberties. Should the U.S. say it with the government record of violating civil liberties?
Mr. Obama raised the issue of Hong Kong, but the statement made it clear that he did so only after a long list of other issues, including the Ebola outbreak and the military campaign against the Islamic State.
In a meeting with Mr. Wang at the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry also mentioned Hong Kong, expressing “high hopes that the Hong Kong authorities will exercise restraint and respect for the protesters’ right to express their views peacefully.” Sure, just like your government did in Occupy Wall Street and many other cities in the U.S.
Here comes China’s Boom! The Knockout!
Mr. Wang, however, left no doubt that China did not welcome the scrutiny. “Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs,” he said, using time-tested language. “For any country, for any society, no one will allow those illegal acts that violate public order,” he said. “That’s the situation in the United States, and that’s the same situation in Hong Kong.”