The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008



Obama Waves, If Not Shakes, Economic Stick at China

By Frank Ahrens
This morning kicked off two days of intense economic discussions between the U.S. and China here in Washington, and President Obama opened the session with a speech, mentioning the unmentionable issue with China: human rights.

Obama said that the U.S. respects China's "ancient culture" but added: "We also strongly believe that the religion and culture of all peoples must be respected and protected, and that all people should be free to speak their minds."

"That includes ethnic and religious minorities in China, as surely as it includes minorities within the United States," Obama said.

This was an important statement from the young president and marked a significant break from his Democratic predecessor in the White House, Bill Clinton, who famously -- or infamously, depending on where you stand on China -- "de-linked" the human rights issue from trade between the two nations.

China may look like a market-based economy (it's really a poorly regulated Wild West bazaar) but make no mistake: Its central government remains totalitarian and does not tolerate dissent, especially from minority groups or organizations. Evidence is plentiful, from the crackdowns on the Falun Gong, the Tibetans, the Uighurs and even Christian Chinese.

Clinton made the calculation that China's might and value to the U.S. as a rising trading and global economic power was worth looking the other way at China's human rights crackdowns. In 1994, he granted China most-favored nation trading status, de-linking economics from the human cost in China.

Today, Obama did not shake a big stick at China, but perhaps he waved it a little bit.

Continue reading at The Ticker»

Posted at 4:37 PM ET on Jul 27, 2009  | Category:  Economy
Share This: Technorati talk bubble Technorati | Tag in | Digg This
Previous: Obama's CIO Hopes to Unjar Internet Cookies | Next: POTUS Events: Q & A on Health Care

Add 44 to Your Site
Be the first to know when there's a new installment of The Trail. This widget is easy to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry on The Trail.
Get This Widget >>


Please email us to report offensive comments.

..."That, after we send one seventh of our wealth to them for their oil because we won't drill here. Go figure"

You could never ever EVER drill enough oil in the US to drop the Saudis as a supplier.
Guess you're not old enough to remember 1973.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | July 28, 2009 11:20 PM

"China's government is generally authoritarian, but not totalitarian. There is a difference."


You call forced abortion authoritarian, but not totalitarian? Ditto with free speech and censorship of everything? Also, no freedom of travel, especially out of the country. And, that does not even take into account all of the religious and political prisoners.

Maybe you need to read our Constitution.

Posted by: kctaz | July 28, 2009 11:06 PM

Besides the fact that the Smoot-Harley tariffs helped deepen and prolong the Great Depression, so tariffs are not a very good idea anyway, we cannot do anything to China. We need them to continue to buy our debt which is growing exponentially. Geitner went to Saudi Arabia recently to beg them to keep buying our debt. That, after we send one seventh of our wealth to them for their oil because we won't drill here. Go figure

Posted by: kctaz | July 28, 2009 11:00 PM

Is our prez on controlled substances? The U.S.S.A. is hardly in a position to wave anything at China. He has sold us out to them -lock, stock and barrel.

Posted by: IQ168 | July 28, 2009 10:20 AM

TO: "seemstome" @ 7:56 p.m. AND 8:10 p.m.

What was that about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a diffrent result?

Did you collect your check from the "program" for those TWO posts -- or would that be a duplicate payment for a single blog spam post?

Posted by: scrivener50 | July 28, 2009 9:18 AM

Neo-cons need to get a grip, the cold war has been over for more than twenty years. China's government is generally authoritarian, but not totalitarian. There is a difference.

China's central government may actually have limited authority. Certainly the Communist party has been discredited in the minds of most Chinese, who resent the pervasive corruption, quite similar to Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist regime. The central government seems to realize widespread local corruption undermines its legitimacy, yet is unwilling or somewhat more likely unable to effectively check corrupt officials.

As to human rights, Obama has almost no credibility after eight years of human rights abuses during the Bush-Cheney regime. His opposition to prosecuting illegal actions, including violations of international law, by some officials further undermines his credibility in criticizing any nation for human rights abuses.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | July 27, 2009 11:58 PM

As long as he doesn't wave it at Barney Frank, he'll be alright.

Posted by: seemstome | July 27, 2009 9:41 PM

scrivener50 is on his meds today and makes sense for a change.

Posted by: seemstome | July 27, 2009 8:10 PM

scrivener50 is on his meds today and makes sense for a change.

Posted by: seemstome | July 27, 2009 7:56 PM



Protect American workers and consumers.

Impose strict regulations on Chinese imports, and slap a tariff on cheap Chinese junk that robs American workers of jobs.

"Free" trade with China is not free. Their shoddy building materials are eroding America from the inside, and their dangerous products cause grave harm to the American public.

How about some good old "protectionism"? Of course, since the Chinese hold America's mortgage, they've already won the financial war.

Let's wean ourselves off cheap, shoddy Chinese goods by imposing stiff fines and job-protecting tariffs.

China is waging "warfare by other means" on America, and it's about time the nation awakens to the threat.

How come the "hawks" don't get exercised about China's economic warfare? And how about China's disregard for intellectual property rights?

Clinton and the two Bushes let China win the trade war. It's time to mount a counter-offensive.

Posted by: scrivener50 | July 27, 2009 4:55 PM

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.


© 2009 The Washington Post Company