Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), taking with him his ideas of the “Chinese dream,” will soon be feasting at a state banquet, courtesy of US President Barack Obama.
However, given Xi’s rather boorish behavior, both in China and overseas, Obama needs to be firm with the Chinese leader and have a word with him about democracy, human rights and international responsibilities.
Obama has good cause to do so, but Xi seems to be wanting to include the values of democracy and rule of law into his Chinese dream.
Obama cannot allow him to talk of such things with his alternative definitions of what they mean, cheapening Western democracy abroad and pretending to govern the nation according to the rule of law, while actually suppressing human rights.
In a society governed according to the rule of law, there has to be lawyers who specialize in safeguarding people’s rights and challenging the government when it breaks the law or abuses its power.
Xi’s version of the rule of law is unilaterally creating ever more stringent laws and arresting lawyers who speak out against human rights.
In the interests of maintaining his hold on power, Xi says one thing, but does the opposite.
Should Xi attempt to characterize democracy as interfering with domestic affairs, Obama can always come back with something Mao Zedong (毛澤東) said.
Speaking to US diplomat John Service in 1945, Mao said that the Chinese Communist Party just wanted democracy and that the US should exert pressure on then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) director-general Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), forcing him to implement democracy in the nation.
Mao added that the US should strive for democracy and that this “would not be considered intervening in domestic affairs.”
The US’ policy of engagement with China is, through its efforts to try to put China in the direction of democracy and development.
At the moment, this policy of engagement is not controversial, but now that China has used it to its benefit, leading to its economic and developmental gains, its approach in other areas has not softened.
At home, Beijing has become more oppressive, while internationally it has started to throw its weight around. It has become more greedy with trade and is not playing by the rules of the game.
Obama should bring up the idea of the “Chinese dream” with Xi and encourage him to have China act like a superpower and to behave more responsibly on the international stage while doing more to improve the lives of its citizens.
In Xinjiang, people have adopted violent opposition. In Tibet, they have chosen self-immolation. Corruption among business in collusion with Chinese government officials is rife, while the disparity in wealth is huge.
For these messes, Xi should be ashamed.
On the “Taiwan question,” Obama needs to try to move things in a new direction.
The “Three Communiques” approach is showing its age. Obama needs to sing the praises of the way Taiwan has democratized and demand that Xi respect the mature operation of the nation’s democracy.
Times have moved on from the era of the Three Communiques, and freedom, democracy and human rights have already taken hold in Taiwan.
When the two leaders are face-to-face, Obama needs to impress upon Xi his support for this great democratic achievement.
James Wang is a media commentator.
Translated by Paul Cooper
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