Washington Times on March 31, 2016, in a commentary by Chris Smith treated the abandonment by the Obama administration of those best and brightest in China who are suffering jail, torture and death for freedom. It is a colossal strategic mistake. Excerpts below:
The Obama administration cannot meekly “raise” human rights concerns when it is increasingly clear that US security and economic interests with China cannot be ensured without dramatic human rights improvements and advances in the rule of law.
Rights lawyers and labor organizers are jailed; Hong Kong booksellers disappear; journalists and religious leaders are harassed and detained; even the family members of overseas journalists — who dare to print information critical of President Xi — are targeted. Under his leadership, the Chinese government has pushed through new laws and drafted legislation that would legitimize and further curtail civil liberties and civil society and expand censorship of the Internet.
Draconian population control policies also remain in place and gendercide — the extermination of the girl-child through sex-selection abortion — is a massive, festering problem that has catastrophic social and economic consequences.
President Xi’s shift toward a hard authoritarianism is a disturbing development. More than any time in recent memory, China is becoming a garrison state, with security forces empowered to silence dissent and drive a wedge between the Chinese people and the international community. These facts have real strategic and diplomatic consequences.
The Obama administration cannot continue to engage in the fantasy that avoiding human rights will somehow bring about a change of heart in Beijing. It will not. A new approach is needed. The U.S. administration must raise human rights because U.S. interests and better U.S.-China relations depend on it.
There are also clear strategic imperatives for the United States to prioritize human rights and democratic governance in China. A government that does not respect the rights and basic dignity of its own people cannot be assumed to be a responsible actor in the global arena. A government that brutally crushes the yearning of its citizens for fundamental freedoms cannot be a trusted partner able to work on a number of pressing bilateral and global issues.
U.S. officials must not shy away from meeting with the Dalai Lama or other dissidents. We must use visa bans on Chinese officials who egregiously violate human rights. We must connect Internet and press freedoms as both economic and human rights priorities. And we must demand, repeatedly and clearly, that the unconditional release of political prisoners and an end to torture in detention is in the interest of better U.S.-China relations.
Human rights concerns are not issues to be sidelined in a bilateral relationship. They are vital to furthering the safety and protection of our private citizens and businesses, essential to global security and peaceful dispute resolution, and critically important to ensuring the prosperity and freedom desired by both the American and Chinese peoples.
Rep. Chris Smith, New Jersey Republican, is the chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Global Human Rights and International Organizations.
Comment: As the importance of China for world economy is diminishing one can only hope that the new American president from 2017 will focus more on human rights in China. The Chinese people wants both prosperity and freedom. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 clearly demonstrated that Marxism-Leninism all over the world is headed for the rubbish-heap of history.