Commenting or criticizing diplomacy is a hard task. By definition, diplomacy is conducted behind the scenes, it’s filled with half truths and the real wheeling and dealing does not become apparent for years, when the veil of secrecy is lifted. Which is why I am prepared to give our current Administration the benefit of the doubt in their dealing with the Chinese government over the issue of the Chen Guancheng, otherwuse dubbed the “blind lawyer”.
Could this be another case of American naiveté? So eager to have the scheduled bilateral talks go smoothly, did American diplomats really believe Chinese officials when reassured that Chen and his family would be allowed to live and work freely in China, provided he left the US Embassy where he had taken refuge following a daring escape from informal house arrest? This is where I am prepared to give our Administration the benefit of the doubt because I am loathed to have to agree, even on just one issue, with Republican criticism that we are too soft on human rights when it comes to certain countries, China being one of them (that Republicans actually care about human rights and that they are politicizing the issue during a Presidential campaign is another matter).
But it is true that, in an effort of cooperation with the economic powerhouse du jour, America has been skittish, if not downright lame, in drawing attention to the ongoing trampling of human rights in China, be they Ai Wei Wei’s imprisonment on fictitious tax charges, Chen’s virtual house arrest or the rights of Tibetans. With China owning a sizable portion of our country, be it real estate, businesses or debt, it’s understandable that a confrontation is not desirable. Yet, this country was built on an effort to right a wrong and has mostly acted accordingly over the last couple of centuries. Unless it’s more convenient to turn a blind eye, picking and choosing whose rights we wish to sponsor.