The session has been described as a successor to a similarly focused series of meetings with the Chinese begun during the Bush administration by the former Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson, Jr. Though the previous meetings were limited to trade and economic issues, Secretary Clinton — in view of common U.S.-Chinese concerns over Asian matters such as North Korea's missile launches and nuclear testing — had campaigned for the State Department to take an equal role in the sessions.
Obama underscored this priority when he stated at the meeting: "Neither China nor America has an interest in a terrorist acquiring a bomb or a nuclear arms race breaking out in East Asia."
Britain's Telegraph reported that both Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, who sent a message to the meeting, appeared to have collaborated in advancing a new slogan, both stating that they sought a "positive, constructive, and comprehensive relationship."
A Washington Post report summarized the economic concerns that the two nations bring to the talks:
With the revenue generated by huge trade surpluses with the United States — and policies that keep its currency artificially low — Beijing is the largest single investor in U.S. Treasury bonds. That $1.5 trillion stake means that China is critical to Obama's efforts to boost the U.S. economy through deficit spending, though Chinese officials have expressed worry that the value of their holdings will fall if the U.S. deficit is not brought under control. [Emphasis added.]
The writer's description of "Obama's efforts to boost the U.S. economy through deficit spending" is classic Keynesian "economics," the discredited socialist economic policies largely responsible for the dire straits in which Americans now find themselves.
During his address to the attendees, President Obama stated that although we cannot predict what the future will bring, "The relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world."
Taking a look backward, Obama noted:
During my time in office, we will mark the 40th anniversary of President Nixon's trip to China. At that time, the world was much different than it is today. America had fought three wars in East Asia in just 30 years, and the Cold War was in a stalemate. China's economy was cut off from the world, and a huge percentage of the Chinese people lived in extreme poverty.
Farther along in his speech, Obama praised the Chinese for "lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty." According to statistics provided by WorldSalaries.org, the average monthly net pay for a construction worker in China in 2004 was $122. In contrast, a construction worker in the Republic of China on Taiwan took home $1,079 a month in 2005, demonstrating the difference between a communist-ruled economic system and a free-enterprise system.
In summarizing fears that might exist in both nations against forging stronger bonds, Obama said:
We know that some are wary of the future. Some in China think that America will try to contain China's ambitions; some in America think that there is something to fear in a rising China. I take a different view. And I believe President Hu takes a different view, as well. I believe in a future where China is a strong, prosperous and successful member of the community of nations; a future when our nations are partners out of necessity, but also out of opportunity. [Emphasis added.]
Obama's reference to the trip to China by President Nixon 40 years ago is an excellent indication that U.S. accommodation of China's totalitarian rulers has long been a bipartisan affair. During his famous journey to China, Nixon's toast to the brutal dictator Chou En-lai included "the hope that each of us has to build a new world order." It was perhaps the first public use of the phrase by a U.S. president. "Our action in seeking a new relationship with the People's Republic of China will not be at the expense of old friends," Nixon promised at the time. Only three months later, the UN expelled the free government of Nationalist China on Taiwan — a founding member of the United Nations — and admitted Communist China, the world's most notorious dictatorship, to take its place. U.S. opposition to the betrayal of our long-standing ally was all but nonexistent.
Once Nixon set the precedent, a succession of U.S. presidents — Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush — continued lending the dignity and prestige of the U.S. presidency to the leaders of the worst tyranny in the history of mankind by making officials visits to the communist-ruled nation.
What has been the human cost of China having been ruled by communist tyrants? The Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security released The Human Cost of Communism in China, an official U.S. government report in 1971. The report was written by Professor Richard L. Walker, a lifelong student of Chinese affairs, with an introduction by then-Senator James O. Eastland (Democrat of Mississippi). A statistical table contained in the report provided estimates of human casualties in China ranging from 34,300,000 to 63,784,000!
With its power long consolidated and no strong domestic threat to its rule remaining, the need for the Chinese government to execute millions of enemies of the state no longer exists. But its human rights record remains appalling. Among areas of human rights violations by Chinese officials cited by critics have been its one-child policy (and resultant forced sterilizations and abortions), the policy of Han Chinese cultural integration towards Tibet, and the lack of freedom of religion and the press.
During his address, President Obama stated:
Support for human rights and human dignity is ingrained in America. Our nation is made up of immigrants from every part of the world. We have protected our unity and struggled to perfect our union by extending basic rights to all our people. And those rights include the freedom to speak your mind, to worship your God, and to choose your leaders. These are not things that we seek to impose — this is who we are. It guides our openness to one another and to the world.
It is not necessary for the United States to "impose" human rights on other nations. The desire for freedom is written in the human heart and will impel humans to struggle for — and usually achieve — freedom, whenever they are allowed to do so. However, it would help the cause of freedom in China if the openness of our government were directed toward the nation's oppressed masses, and not the oppressors.
Photo: AP Images