With President Obama’s visit to China this week from Singapore, many speculate that the United States must address China’s economic concerns regarding the health care proposals emerging through Congress. China, however, has also agreed to have a dialogue about its human rights issues that key players in the international community have raised.
Unlike the majority of pundits and politicos in the United States, the Chinese government’s interest stems not from changing governmental philosophies or the new administration – instead, they want reassurance that their money will be repaid, and how health care reform will impact the debt of the U.S. government.
Any proposal that emerges from this war-ravaged political process in the Senate is inevitably going to be partially funded by the Chinese government through U.S. Treasury bonds.
And as China continues to assert itself as the sole country that can challenge America’s international prominence as a superpower, the Obama administration is cautiously treading a thin political tight rope.
During his campaign, President Obama accused China several times of currency manipulation to make Chinese goods significantly cheaper than American products. In addition, much of the rhetoric against the Chinese government was spent queuing the growing laundry list of human rights grievances that he and the Democratic Party have been adamant about pursuing through international organizations.
Now, almost a year through the first year in his term, President Obama would not meet with the Dalai Lama because of the timing of his trip to China.
The Obama team does have a very valid point, however, in noting that United States policy towards China has been shortsighted and narrow; it has been concentrated heavily on North Korea and international terrorism, and less so on the human rights abuses that countless in the international community such as the Dalai Lama have been exposing for decades. For years now, the
And, as reported in The New York Times, the president will not be met with the gleaming adoration and vibrant crowds that met him in Europe, Cairo and Ghana. The Chinese people know better than to try and support the American government. Instead, a quiet, mutual respect and a sobering tone will meet Barack Obama as he addresses mainly economic concerns on his trip. However, the Chinese have also agreed to engage in a human rights dialogue with the United States.
Today, with Obama’s arrival in Shanghai, reports emerged that the Chinese government clamped down on local markets, banning a popular shirt depicting the president in iconic Chinese Communist Party uniform with the phrase “Oba-Mao.”
President Obama promised a new degree of openness, tolerance and communication with America’s rivals – and he certainly has been delivering. Whether or not this refurbished diplomacy will support America’s best interests in Asia, however, has yet to be proven.