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« Lone Goose | Main | Contemporary Confucian Miscellany »

November 18, 2009


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I completely agree with you.

On the one hand, you have the media criticising Obama for not doing more, as though his words are going to move China's leaders. On the other hand, there were a number of articles complimenting Obama for being subtle, as opposed to the chest beating (I swear I saw an article that used that term) of George Bush in China.

The reality is that just about everyone who closely follows foreign policy is of the view that it is one of the few countries the U.S. has actually done a pretty good job with and that has been true for quite some time.

We all would have loved for Obama to have left China with it having completely opened up its internet and done the myriad of other things on which we have been pressing it for years, but come on! This trip was a "getting to know you" trip and at that it succeeded.

China's human rights concerns to Obmas:

" Barack Obama, being a black president who admired Abraham Lincoln’s role in abolishing slavery and preserving the Union, should sympathize with Beijing’s opposition to the Dalai Lama."

A readers' respond to Asia Times article on the Human Rights... too harsh for polite society ...

[Re Hu and Obama seal real deals, November 18] United States President Barack Obama's trip to China reminds me of the accused felon who, when confronted with the overwhelming evidence of his guilt, points out to the jury how he is actually the victim of his accuser's accusations. Instead of being contrite or even humble, Obama goes on the offensive, lecturing the Chinese about this and that, undoubtedly expecting the Chinese to feel like they are in the witness stand and defending themselves for some unknown crime. The Americans, who should be feeling sheepish at having to prop up their rotten capitalist lean-to society with communist lucre, instead decide to pretend that they are wearing clothes, and not just rags at that. They almost brag about how China's holding trillions in declining-value dollars actually makes their Asian lender a helpless pawn in Washington's continued quest for hegemony. So at the poker table of international finance, the down-on-his-luck US card player figures he can bluff his Chinese opponent with a pair of deuces. The Chinese can only be amused and saddened at the irony of a naked Uncle Sam betting the farm that China will continue flushing currency down the fiscal toilet. That the dollar will be replaced is all but a given; all that remains is for the players without gold and oil and hard commodities to stake their future on illusion, guile and subterfuge. I can hear the Pentagon's sabers rattling now.
Hardy Campbell
Texas, USA (Nov 19, '09)

"On the other hand, there were a number of articles complimenting Obama for being subtle, as opposed to the chest beating"

Sometimes I think it doesn't matter what the presidents actually say. Vast number of people just want to see their president spit out words in their own line. While understanding China won't listen they need sometime to sustain their ego, and feel quite at a loss if the president doesn't.

The Chinese netizens use a very accurate, if somewhat obscene, jargon for this sentiment - YY.

When reading to the comments by these "chest beaters," I am reminded of a statement in a Times article about the American role at the G20 meetings in March:

“The United States is desperately trying to assert leadership, as if it were 10 years ago, when the U.S. set the agenda,” said Kenneth S. Rogoff, an economist at Harvard and another former chief economist of the fund.

I think that, after the bittersweet end to the March summit, the Obama administration truly realized the detriment of the Bush years on American's power abroad. Who are we to lecture China about anything right now, particularly after Western bankers almost single-handidly brought the global financial system to its knees? It's as if the critics would except the former CEO of Lehman Bros. to strut into a successful upstart and declare, "You're doing it wrong."

In my opinion, Obama's approach was refreshing. Foreign policy is actually one area in which he has remained strong. Remember, he was an international relations undergrad at Columbia before he was a Harvard law student.

Some reality check from a sober minded Indian gentleman:

"In what may be the first Chinese response, the top Kashmiri separatist leader in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has been invited to visit Beijing. He said he accepted the invitation and hoped to give Chinese diplomats and other officials a "perspective" on the situation in J&K. This is the first time ever that Beijing has invited any separatist leader from J&K to visit China. "

It is interesting to know.

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