First, The Obama administration officials were quite naïve—in my opinion—to believe that they actually worked out a deal with the Chinese government to allow blind activist/lawyer Chen Guangcheng and family to relocate safely within China and to continue his studies at a university.
However, right after Chen left the U.S. Embassy, Chinese officials criticized the U.S. for interfering and demanded an official apology from the administration.
After seeing his wife, Chen now feared for the safety of his family and wanted to leave for the U.S. “When I was inside the American embassy, I didn’t have my family, and so I didn’t understand some things. After I was able to meet them, my ideas changed, “Chen said. Another story has it that Chen told the Associated Press that a U.S. official told him that Chinese authorities threatened to beat his wife to death had he not left the embassy.
Did Obama administration sacrifice Chen to be on the good side with Chinese government?
Did they pressure Chen into leaving the embassy—regardless of the dangers that he and his family may face—to avoid a difficult situation that was without a possible solution just hours before Hilary Clinton and Timothy Geithner were to meet with Chinese counterparts to discuss economy and financial issues?
Whatever the answers may be, Obama has again failed miserably in his policies with China. Secretary Clinton has failed in the handle of this situation.
How should it be handled?
In 1989, Fang Lizhi—a physicist in Beijing—wrote an open letter to Deng Xiaoping to call for release of political prisoners. His letter eventually led to the student movement in Tiananmen Square. Mr. Lizhi and his family later sought refuge in the US embassy. President George Bush stood by him and negotiated with China for their leave to the United States almost a year afterward.
“Human rights are fundamental privileges that people have from birth, such as the right to think and be educated, the right to marry, and so on. But we Chinese consider those rights dangerous,” Fang Lizhi once said in a speech to students at Tongji University in Shanghai.
Perhaps, President Obama has forgotten about human rights.
China has been in the center of several major issues Asia-Pacific region:
–its unofficial support and supply to the missile and nuclear program of North Korea
–its continued “bully” policy and insistence on its ridiculous 9-dashed-line boundary on the South China Sea, fully disregarding the UNCLOS rules (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea)
(Not to mention China’s continued unfair trade policies with the United States, manipulation of the Yuan, and of course its record on human rights.)
Can we trust that the Obama administration can deal with Chinese government?
It’s time for changes—real changes this time, please.
Chen is now waiting for final paperwork to depart for the US. He will be allowed to study at New York University. The US officials successfully corrected their mistakes by negotiating this deal with the Chinese government who was eager to show the world (at least for this case) that they have changed. China also proved that in its relationship with the US, it’s calling the shots. The real victims in this case were the US officials who were naive in thinking they had a deal and let Chen leaving the embassy.