Barack Obama, often portrayed as a change agent, changed nothing in his recent visit to China as the U.S. President. Heck, he didn't even bring back a Panda, much less any freed prisoners of conscience!
Feckless on human rights, Obama may also prove to be feckless on the economy, because a better U.S. economy begins with recalibrating U.S.-China policy.
Whether we speak of human rights or speak of the economy (or speak of the communist agents who were passed off as college students in Obama's "town hall" in Shanghai), Obama displayed a blithe lack of awareness for the state of affairs between the U.S. and China.
And now, Wei Jingsheng is calling out Barack Obama about these matters. Wei, often described as China's most famous dissident, lives in the United States since his 1997 release from 18 years' imprisonment in Communist China.
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Why Did Obama Come Back from China Empty Handed?
-- Wei Jingsheng
What we all have been most interested in this week, is US President Obama's visit to China. That is because we all had great expectations of this US President's visit.
Chinese at home or Overseas have hoped that President Obama could do something regarding Chinese human rights. Ever since Hu Jintao came to power, the human rights situation in China has been deteriorating. Many people have been arrested, put in jail, and abused. Those who are out of jail also experience more pressure than in the past, to the degree that it is hard to breathe. The Chinese Communist regime controls the media, blocks the Internet, and tightens the room of speech. The Chinese people more than ever wondered if the US president could help them to reduce some of the pressure. In the past, the pressure from a US president always had some effectiveness, because the Communist regime is most afraid of the human rights diplomacy of the USA.
It seems Americans care most about the exchange rate between the US dollars and the Chinese currency RenMinBi. This is the key to reducing the trade deficit. Even 10 years ago, most of Americans already knew that the unfair trade system would increase the trade deficit and thus result in unemployment. But some politicians who were bought out by the big business enterprises forced the passage of the Most Favored Nation status (later on named Permanent Normal Trade Relationship to reduce the attention and pressure) for the Communist regime. At that time, the Americans still enjoyed a pretty good life with a trade deficit of less than 57 Billion dollars, so most Americans took it. After all, we have to respect the democratic system and respect the law.
But now, the US economy has deteriorated with increasing unemployment and depression in every corner. The trade deficit between the USA and China has skyrocketed to more than 268 Billion dollars. Many Americans know that is due to the fact that the Chinese government manipulated the currency exchange rate, in addition to an unfair trade system. Just as the US senator Charles Schumer pointed out: the whole economic crisis started with the Chinese government's manipulation of the Chinese currency. If we do not solve this root problem, other efforts are meaningless.
Yet, President Obama did not bring back anything from China. The United Kingdoms' Times article today has a title: "President Obama returns home from visit to China almost empty handed". This result is indeed totally out of people's expectations. When the strategic advisors in the White House designed the topics for Obama, they felt that these core issues are hopeless. So they left a lot of room to play, such as environment, troops in Afghanistan, etc, even to the details of Iran's nuclear facility. They were not even expecting any substance from the Chinese Communist regime, but simply wanted to express its attitude on these issues.
But President Obama did not even get these issues done in China. In the human rights front, he did not even get the Chinese government to release a few political prisoners just to make a show. Hu Jintao really did not give Obama any face, not even a human rights show, except to waste Obama's trip to China. In comparison to the previous a few terms of not so successful presidents of the USA, Obama seems to be the least successful in dealing with China.
Not mentioning conservative news media, even news media that lean to the left such as the Washington Post published commentaries strongly criticizing Obama for not doing anything to reduce the trade deficit. It went so far as to review the Permanent Normal Trade Relationship that President Clinton signed for China, and narrated in detail how the huge increase of the trade deficit with China is the result of politicians and businesses selling out America. If we read these words in the past, we might have thought the Post was a Republican newspaper attacking the Democrats.
Why did President Obama, who could give eloquent speeches is so popular in Europe, fail so much in China? We could name a list of reasons, but there are two root reasons. One is that he and his advisors do not know either China, or the Chinese. They thought that they are dealing with a democratic country. The diplomacy between democratic countries is the diplomacy of gentlemen. If you release a signal of kindness, then the other must return with the same. Or we could use a popular way to describe it as a "cooperative diplomacy of mutual compromises and mutual benefits."
However, if you ever hear an American president referring to the Chinese Communists as a cooperation partner, then you know that they do not know about the Chinese Communist Party at all. Even those Western diplomats who speak good Chinese do not know that this "cooperation partner" is an error of basic concept. The logic of the Chinese Communist Party is a "philosophy of struggles" that believes "when the enemy retreats, we shall invade". If you retreat, it will believe you are afraid of it. If they do not take a step forward, they will be teased within the Communist Party, even be attacked as a result. In dealing with the Chinese Communist Party, it is totally wrong to practice this spirit of compromise and cooperation that the Western democratic societies are accustomed to. So if we view the stand that Obama offered to China before his trip, we could tell that his visit would come to a total failure.
The second most important reason is the impedance from the business community. The biggest beneficiary of the trade deficit with China and unemployment in the USA is big business in both America and China. Ever since many years ago, these businesses have voluntarily defended the interests of the Chinese Communist party. In these issues of unfair trade and manipulation of currency, they share the interests of the Chinese Communist Party. Just ten years ago, they were already able to manipulate both the US Congress and the US administration to the degree that they went against the desires of the majority citizen voters in the USA. Even with the prerequisite of being unable to hide from the public, they were able to pass a resolution that the majority of voters were against and thus offered free trade to the Chinese Communist Party unilaterally. Now, their benefits are already 4 or 5 times more dependent on business, so the average voters have even less power to against them. Even President Obama has a hard time to go against the businesses' will. This is one of the root reasons that the US President had to put down his posture in front of the Chinese Communists.
Therefore, the US-China relation is not just an issue of economy, or Chinese human rights. It is already testing the Western democratic system. Both Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were unable to dissolve the Western democratic system, yet the current Chinese Communist Party is in its effort to realize Lenin's wish: to make the "American imperialism" be the last stage of capitalism. It seems to be successful so far. This is why this one time visit of the America president to China received so much attention from the people. People are not only caring about the issues of currency exchange and unemployment. People are concerned mainly if the Western democratic system as represented by the USA will be defeated by an autocratic Communist system.