The Obama administration seems to have a new motto: “don't bite the hand that feeds you.” Or maybe that has been their motto all along.
Either way, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's recent visit to the United States only solidified this impression. The Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party has selected Xi to become China's next president, to help them maintain their stranglehold on the world's second-largest economy and most populous country.
Did the Obama administration take this opportunity to reaffirm American principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Did they seize the moment to put pressure on China's dictator-in-waiting to correct his Party's wrongheaded persecution of political dissidents, Catholic believers, pregnant women, ethnic minorities, etc. Did they bring up any of the myriad human rights abuses that his Party commits against the Chinese people?
Not really. They mainly just talked about money.
Britain's The Telegraph summed it up nicely when it referred to the visit as a “carefully choreographed” state event that represented little more than a “‘relationship-building exercise’ before Mr Xi takes the reins of power in Beijing this autumn.” Let all make nice, in other words.
A look at Obama's own remarks make this even clearer. His speech focused almost entirely on the economic ties between China and the United States. He praised what he called the “very extensive strategic and economic dialogues between our two countries,” without mentioning that these talks have produced very little of value. Astonishingly, he claimed that a “strong and prosperous China is one that can help to bring stability and prosperity to the region and to the world,” without mentioning that China's growing economic and military might is a threat not only to its neighbors, but to the existing world order dominated by the United States.
Obama had virtually nothing to say on the entire area of human rights. At one point, glancing airily away from Xi, he said that the United States would always stress the “importance of recognizing the aspirations and rights of all people,” a comment so vague as to be meaningless. What aspirations? What rights? What people? Obama does not say.
In fact, Obama said very little of substance about anything (something that he excels at). He did not even bring up China's blatant manipulation of its currency, which is costing the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade deficits. All he said about China's unfair trade practices in general was that “we want to work with China to make sure that everybody is working by the same rules of the road when it comes to the world economic system.” This is like witnessing an armed robbery in progress and merely shaking a finger at the gunman: “You really should play by the same rules as everyone else.”
Vice President Biden, in his commentary, did manage to bring up the question of human rights, although he was hopelessly vague on specifics. Advocacy for human rights is “a fundamental aspect of foreign policy,” he said. America has been “clear about our concern over the areas in which from our perspective conditions in China have deteriorated and about the plight of several very prominent individuals.” He came off sounding apologetic for even bringing up the subject. Moreover, it is perfectly clear to everyone with more than two neurons to rub together that China is becoming more and more of a police state, and that the Obama administration has been mostly silent as Vice President Xi and his partners in crime continue to ruthlessly crush all dissent.
But the emphasis on money über alles went far beyond the repeated — and deferential — mention of America's trade relationship with China. Xi was taken on a tour of farming facilities in Iowa, before being whisked away to Hollywood to talk to prominent figures in the film, business, and sports industries. The message in the bottle? Please buy our agricultural products and, by the way, please don't forget to pay royalties on our intellectual property.
China, Inc. pirates billions of dollars in American movies, songs, and software every year. Senior Chinese officials profit from this illicit trade, while the Obama administration mumbles platitudes.
China is a rich nation as a result of its “beggar thy neighbor” policies, and is growing richer every year. Cheap money, cheap labor, and willingness to violate international agreements gives them an unbeatable advantage in the marketplace.
Meanwhile, we continue to spend ourselves into poverty and are reduced to begging this band of thugs to buy our debt. Hillary Clinton set the tone of this administration in 2009 when she famously assured China that human rights concerns would take a backseat to financial considerations.
Even as the organized crime syndicate that controls China continues to pick our pockets.
Steven Mosher is the director of the Population Research Institute. Colin Mason writes for PRI.