And in recent years, without the U.S.
raising an objection, over 4,000 Uighurs have been executed by the Chinese,
frequently without due process. “China has opportunistically
used the post-September 11 environment to make the outrageous claim that individuals disseminating peaceful religious and cultural messages
in Xinjiang [where most Uighurs live] are terrorists who have simply changed
tactics,” Human Rights Watch found in an extensive 2005 report
on the Uighurs. Despite explicit concerns raised by the State Department
about the situation, the White House has twice
declined to sponsor U.N. resolutions condemning Chinese human rights abuses--an
abrupt shift from previous U.S.
policy: The Clinton administration had backed similar U.N. resolutions nearly
every year in office.
Bush also paid little attention to
human rights on his trip to China
in 2005; he didn’t once mention jailed Chinese activists. Again, this was a
departure from the norm: Senior U.S.
officials with the Reagan administration made a habit of visiting with Russian
dissidents on trips to Moscow, and President
Clinton was quite successful in highlighting individual dissidents in China,
eventually getting many of them released. As one top former Clinton
advisor told me, the president and Madeleine Albright repeatedly pressed
then-president Jiang Zemin to loosen restrictions in Tibet and engage in a dialogue with
Bush’s record has only gotten worse
since then. Last year, in an interview with Chinese television, Bush did not
mention human rights in China
as one of his priorities. And on his most recent meeting with Hu, in 2007, Bush
even lavished praise on the Chinese leader just for using the words “democracy”
and “rights” in public--even though nearly every human rights organization,
from Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch, agrees that repression
continues to get worse under Hu.
Then, on a point of huge
international concern--and to the delight of Chinese leaders--Bush has promised
to attend the 2008 Beijing Olympics just as a “sports fan,” though that is
essentially impossible for the American president. As it stands now, there will
be no speeches about China’s
behavior in advance of the Games, no meetings with dissidents or any other
activists or religious figures--just silence.
Lastly, on Taiwan, Bush has acted even more
cravenly. Early on in his administration, the White House allowed Taiwanese
president Chen Shui-bian brief but substantial visits to American cities like New York, where
Taiwanese-Americans welcomed him like a conquering hero.
But in recent years, Chen has only been allowed to stop in remote locations
and just long enough for his plane to refuel. Compared to its previous support
State Department officials have issued blunt criticism of Taiwanese leaders
over the past three years, including during appearances on Chinese state
television. The White House has also reversed its position on Taipei’s campaign to join the U.N. According
to Dan Blumenthal, a commissioner on the U.S.–China Economic and Security
Review Commission, the administration has excluded Taiwan from “the global
community of democracies that the Bush administration has touted, [while]
including countries like Egypt,” a nation that hardly meets the definition of