Human rights should play a larger role in U.S.-China relations than it presently does. Some of the most influential proponents of a policy which ignores human rights violations in China base their prescriptions largely on economic investments within the country. For certain influential figures, their policy decisions depend upon the stability of their investments in China.
Clinton has not adequately addressed these issues due in large part to the fact that he continues to cater to a powerful corporate community. The corporate community’s lack of empathy in the realm of human rights is also firmly grounded in economic concerns.
The prominence of human rights issues has certainly not obscured other developments between U.S. and China to the extent that we should be concerned. On the contrary, at the same time we pass legislation to support religious freedom in China, we also invite Zemin to America and break bread with him. Our latter action represents the absence of a serious U.S. commitment to the issue of human rights in China.
Shouldn’t we commit to a stronger stand on human rights in the coming decades and no longer base our relations with China strictly in terms of economic considerations? How can we expect China to ever respond to our threats of economic sanctions when our foreign policy concerning this issue continually contradicts itself?
It is imperative that the United States make an international statement of its commitment to human rights. In addition to supporting election in China and increasing the influence of Radio Free Asia, we should also refuse to tolerate continued violations of human rights in China and retaliate with economic sanctions.