Hillary Clinton forget her diplomatic manners when remarking about China's
abysmal record on political rights, 'They're worried, and they are trying to
stop history, which is a fool's errand. They cannot do it. But they're going to
hold it off as long as possible'? According to this column by Li Hongmei of
China's state-controlled People's Daily, Clinton's comment was an insult
that itself is an abuse of human rights.
Just as the third round of the
annual Sino-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue came to a close, U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sharpened her tone in
an interview with TheAtlantic magazine when talking of China's
human rights. "They're worried, and they are trying to stop history, which
is a fool's errand. They cannot do it. But they're going to hold it off as long
The world's two largest economies
wrapped up the wide-ranging meetings held on May 9-10, with the United States
pressing China to let its currency appreciate further and with Beijing seeking
an easing of U.S. controls on hi-tech exports [aka/dual use items that can be
used in weaponry].
Clinton defended the U.S.
policy of seeking to cooperate with China on a range of global issues, saying:
"We live in a real world." It was this same Clinton who told Beijing
in early 2009 on her maiden trip to China as top diplomat, when the superpower
was bogged down in the quagmire of financial crisis that she pled for China's
continued purchase of U.S. government bonds. At the time, she said, "We
are truly going to rise or fall together. We are in the same boat and,
thankfully, we are rowing in the same direction."
She may have thought the
vessel of Sino-U.S. cooperation has already passed through the shoals and eddies
of crisis and back into calm seas. Mrs. Clinton thereby feels capable of again turning
the cannon of human rights on China.
But even if the U.S. considers
human rights its life-long passion and handiest cudgel for dealing with
countries like China, that are walking steadily and briskly but on a different
development path as the U.S. and with different values and ideologies, it
should respect the truth that China has been committed to human rights and has
made remarkable progress in that regard since the People's Republic of China
was established in 1949. And furthermore, no country - including the United
States - has a perfect human rights record. In some respects, it's only natural
for China and the United States to see human rights differently. But they
should address these differences on the basis of equality, mutual respect and
non-interference in one other's internal affairs.
Understandably, the U.S. always
finds fault with China, considering the core of America's global strategy is to
prevent other powers from rising to a level that makes them capable of challenging
its otherwise overwhelming superiority. Now that China has grown to be the
world's No. 2 economy, the U.S. naturally keeps a vigilant eye, fearing China will
one day overtake it.
This also explains why some
American politicians tend to hype "the China Threat," as a tactic to
win votes and allies. In stoking fears toward China, Uncle Sam looks more like
a protective umbrella to its smaller allies, and in sowing suspicion of China
at home, U.S. officials win the right to "act on the public will" to
wage a rhetorical war against China, satisfying the needs of certain interests
groups to invested in containing China's growth.
In actuality, through more
than three decades since the two nations established diplomatic ties, the U.S. has
always put classified China as a "Frenemy," - a friend when in need, an
enemy when conflict occurs.
The double-faced tactics of
American politicians are well illustrated by Clinton's undignified comments on
China's human rights record. In an online poll conducted by the People's
Forum, 79 percent of respondents believed that her remarks had badly
violated "diplomatic etiquette."
Next time, when Mrs. Clinton can't
resist blurting out her discontent, it would be advisable for her to give consideration
to the feelings of China's people. The right to speak should be respected as a human
right, but as a self-proclaimed "human rights defender," America's top
diplomat should never trample on the human rights of others by forcing them to listen
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