'Human Rights Won’t Get in the Way': The Selling Out of a Chinese Dissident
There are two truths about the US that come clearly to the fore in the current diplomatic blow-up between the US and China over the case of people’s lawyer Chen Guangcheng, though neither is really getting stated in the corporate media coverage of the story.
The first is that the US does not, and has not really ever, cared about the issue of human rights abuses in China, and the second is that the Obama administration, including the supposedly “tough” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, doesn’t know squat about how to negotiate -- not when it comes to dealing with Republicans in Congress, and certainly not when it comes to China.
In the case of human rights in China, it is certainly true that the US has helped certain brave democracy advocates in China, like the astrophysicist Fang Lizhi who was a mentor to many of the Tian An Men activists of 1989 and who was holed up in the US embassy for three weeks before a deal was cut to get him out of the country, or several of the Tian An Men activists who were spirited out of the country with the help of the CIA following the government’s bloody June 4, 1989 crackdown on the movement. But the motivation behind these actions of support at the time by the US government, which was headed by first Ronald Reagan and then George H. W. Bush -- two men notoriously not noted for their concern about human rights in the Third World, as witness their support for the death-squads of El Salvador or the murderous Contras in Nicaragua--was not promoting or defending freedom in China. It was undermining the government of China -- a far different thing.
Now we have something arguably worse: an administration so focussed on helping US corporations invest in and reap profits from China, where they are eager to ship millions of US jobs, that they are ready to sell out any brave Chinese activist who might try to turn to America for help under the mistaken belief that the U.S. actually takes its oft touted ideals of freedom and promoting democracy seriously.
When the blind self-taught lawyer Chen made his brave dash for freedom from his house imprisonment in rural Shandong Province, leaving behind his wife and two children, he naively believed that the US Embassy and State Department would stand firm in his defense, helping him to win some justice in his own country, where he hoped to stay and continue to use the law to help establish freedom and the rule of law. He naively believed that the US would stand firmly in defense of not only him but of his very vulnerable family.
Poor Chen should have paid attention to the statements of Secretary of State Clinton, who days after his escape from home confinement was due to arrive with banker’s hack Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to talk business with China, and to try and win Chinese diplomatic support for American action against North Korea and Iran, two allies of China.