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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

China comes calling

Freedom should be on agenda when Chinese leaders visit

I couldn't agree more. The delegation, which includes Bo Xilai who is responsible for implementing the persecution of Falun Gong in China, is scheduled to meet Pelosi this Thursday--she should have a few good things to say to them.

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Democrat & Chronicle: (May 22, 2007) — A high-powered diplomatic delegation from China is in Washington this week to talk about the many economic barriers, mostly on the Chinese side, that have created a troubling trade deficit. Discussing trade with the most populous nation in the world makes sense.

But human rights should be on the agenda every time China comes to these shores to talk about partnerships and relationships of any kind.

This might not be a topic that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson feels equipped to raise with his guests. But President Bush and Vice President Cheney, who maintain that everything they have done in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East involves bringing freedom to the oppressed, should, if they're serious, impart the same message to the Chinese, whose government has one of the worst human-rights record in the world.

Persecution of the Falun Gong sect continues and the government represses at every turn the pro-democracy movement, most of whose champions are in prison, in exile or in hiding.

China's antagonism to human rights was on display in Sudan, where, as a major trading partner of the government, it chose not to interfere to help end the civilian bloodshed in Darfur province.

China has backed off a little in Sudan, in part because it does not want bad publicity as the 2008 Beijing Olympics approach. Now is a good time for Bush and Congress to stress the points about human rights and basic freedoms — free press and free speech, tolerance of dissent — and to remind China that, as a nation, we take these issues as seriously as we do trade barriers and undervalued currency.

Ronald Reagan's a good model in this regard. He invited a relationship with the old Soviet Union but he never stopped urging an end to totalitarianism. Reagan's spirit should be evident in Washington this week.

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