Monday, 17 January 2011

What Hu Jintao needs to hear in Washington

Examination of a prisoner in China (1858) 
(image by

The Washington Post has published an excellent article by Michael J. Green ja Daniel M. Kliman about what president Obama needs to tell his Chinese counterpart when they meet in Washington later this week:

When Chinese President Hu Jintao visits Washington this week, there will be lots of ruffles and flourishes. Both governments will refer to the "positive, cooperative and comprehensive" relationship they seek to build. There is nothing wrong with positive diplomacy, but President Obama should not shy away from highlighting an area where the United States and China sharply diverge: political values. This is not just a matter of managing U.S. domestic politics but also an issue of long-term strategy as China rises.

This is what Obama´s message should be, according to Green and Kliman:

 But Washington and Beijing must recognize that economic interdependence and statements of strategic reassurance are no substitutes for evidence of greater transparency and liberalism within China.
This message should be delivered clearly by the White House and the State Department, with consistent demonstrations of support for human rights, media freedom, the rule of law and civil society in China.
In Asia's burgeoning milieu of regional institutions and informal networks, the United States should work with other like-minded democracies to stress that meaningful confidence-building depends on transparency and participatory government with neighboring states, not on Beijing's outdated principle of "non-interference in internal affairs." The case must be made in the region that stronger institutions and citizen participation will ultimately create stronger states; the democratic transitions of South Korea and Indonesia are key examples.
In the short term, this approach could exacerbate tensions between the United States and China. But those tensions will ease if Washington remains consistent about its expectations of Chinese leaders and works with states that share our concerns and an interest in positive relations with Beijing. Much is risked by continuing to assume that economic integration and diplomatic engagement will ensure a peaceful rise. History shows that regime type matters. Ignoring this paves the way for the United States and China to evolve into strategic competitors

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