The recent unrest in Tibet captured the attention of the world and showcased the true nature of Red China. This was a golden opportunity for President Bush, and the Western World, to finally confront Communist China over its continued human rights record. But we are reminded once again how shallow our president actually is when it comes to foreign policy.
President Bush has faced mounting pressure to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing since the Chinese crackdown but has yet to make any decision on Tibet. Other Western leaders, such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have expressed their intention to remain absent. Yet the question remains why Bush will not do likewise, to show solidarity with Tibet and a united front against Chinese aggression. This would at least show that he actually believes in the theme of his second inaugural address, which he seems to use only when it suits him.
On January 20, 2005, President Bush addressed the nation after taking the oath of office for his second term. “America, in this young century,” stated the president, “proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof.” His new administration’s policy would be “to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” The country would embark on the “idealistic work of helping raise up free governments.” True conservatives rightfully cringed.
The President continued: “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you. Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country. The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: ‘Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.’”
But with all the high-minded idealism and artful rhetoric, how has his foreign policy been carried out towards China? Has Bush stood with Tibet in its battle for liberty from Chinese aggression? Has he stood with Taiwan, as its democracy is increasingly threatened by a China bent on conquest? The obvious answer is no.
Tibet is not an old province of China but has its own separate history. It is an ancient civilization, and like any “nation” it has its own distinct heritage, language, ethnicity, and religion. It is not culturally Chinese. But Tibetans have battled China for independence since the mid-18th century. The modern Communist nation under Mao, invaded Tibet in 1950 with the People’s Liberation Army, presumably to “liberate” Tibet from its freedom and independence.
According to the Heritage Foundation, the campaign was brutal. “After invading Tibet in 1950, the Chinese communists killed over one million Tibetans, destroyed over 6,000 monasteries, and turned Tibet’s northeastern province, Amdo, into a gulag housing, by one estimate, up to ten million people. A quarter of a million Chinese troops remain stationed in Tibet.”
China has since instituted a campaign of cultural genocide, attempting to wipe all vestiges of Tibetan tradition off the map.
Taiwan, on the other hand, is of Chinese heritage. But, in a manner reminiscent of the American South in 1861, Taiwan formed a government of its own, as democratic forces under Chiang Kai Shek fled the mainland, escaping Mao’s Communists during the Chinese Civil War. The small island became the “Republic of China” in 1950.
When the United Nations was formed, and the Security Council set up with five permanent members, all victors in World War II, Taiwan held the Chinese seat, and did so until 1972, siding consistently with the United States in most issues before the council. The seat was then stupidly given to mainland China, while the Nixon administration did nothing to stop it. China, Kissinger said, must be brought in from the cold.
Taiwan left the U.N. in protest and now does not possess sovereignty, with no U.N. recognition and no American embassy. The U.S. maintains a “One China” policy but also vows, via treaty, to defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression and sell them weapons for their defense. Someone figure this one out!
Mainland China has continued to threaten the autonomy of Taiwan, particularly over the issue of its independence. As of now China has hundreds of missiles pointed at the island, which they fire over its airspace any time a Taiwanese election is held, to intimidate any and all for voting for pro-independence parties. The Communist superpower also practices amphibious invasion techniques in the hopes of one day reclaiming what they regard as a long lost province.
The Bush policy toward China, like many of his predecessors, has been, in a word, disgraceful. He has placed the Almighty Dollar ahead of his own idealism. Either afraid to confront China militarily, or out of fear of losing the so-called Chinese market, Bush turns a blind eye toward an abysmal human rights record.
The Chinese government carries out forced abortions and sterilizations, censorship on a massive scale, including suppression of most forms of religious expression, executes over 10,000 prisoners a year with little or no due process rights, and engages in shameful organ harvesting. These organs are taken, without consent, from prisoners who have died or been executed. This is particularly disturbing when you take into account the fact that in Chinese culture you must enter the afterlife whole. So the government is, in effect, damning these people in the spirit world.
And let’s not forget the brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in 1989 in Tiananmen Square, where thousands of protesters were murdered, some brutally. The first Bush administration threatened sanctions, namely trade restrictions, but after some Chinese sweet talk, predictably backed down.
Yet the United States continues to trade and borrow heavily from China. Our markets are wide open to Chinese products, even those found to be poisonous, while U.S. products are not given the same liberty. China continues to manipulate its currency to keep their products cheap. There are no rights for workers, no health, safety, and labor standards, or any environmental regulations. Products made in China are, in many cases, the work of virtual slaves, some making only pennies an hour. Yet there has been no serious condemnation from President Bush.
And now with Chinese aggression front and center, President Bush will not even commit to a simple protest like the proposed boycott of the opening ceremony but plans to attend in person. Young democracies around the world must feel some comfort in this display.
In making such strong statements in an inaugural address, President Bush was committing the nation to an enormous undertaking, one true conservatives do not support.
I am not advocating Bush’s Doctrine or that we invade China over Tibet or Taiwan, but if the President of the United States is going to set forth a foreign policy of advancing the spread of democracy around the globe at least he should act like he means it by some small measure of protest.
But with China, we see more empty rhetoric. The Bush policy seems to be that if you are a small country we can easily obliterate, then you must obey our dictates but if you might give us problems, militarily or economically, then we will let you do as you will and our policy does not apply. This is madness. Either follow your own policy or dump it! And I would prefer we dump it.
Bush would have done better for himself by molding his foreign policy after one of his less-famous predecessors, John Quincy Adams:
“Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”