Thursday, April 20, 2006

Chinese dissidence

Via Instapundit, this Washington Post article discussing a Chinese man arrested for his ideas, and the push to get Bush to address it while Chinese President Hu Jintao visits the United States:

      He personifies a generation of urban Chinese who have flourished thanks to the Communist Party's embrace of market-style capitalism and greater cultural openness. He got his MBA from the University of Michigan and worked for EarthLink before returning to China to pursue his dream of becoming a documentary filmmaker. He and his sister, Nina Wu, who works in finance and lives a comfortable middle-class life in Shanghai, have enjoyed freedoms of expression, travel, lifestyle and career choice that their parents could never have dreamed of. They are proof of how U.S. economic engagement with China has been overwhelmingly good for many Chinese.

      Problem is, the Chinese Dream can be shattered quickly if you step over a line that is not clearly drawn -- a line that is kept deliberately vague and that shifts frequently with the political tides. Those who were told by the Chinese media that they have constitutional and legal rights are painfully disabused of such fantasies when they seek to shed light on social and religious issues the state prefers to keep in the dark. . . . But we have a serious problem that won't go away: How can Americans respect or trust a regime that kidnaps our friends?

Some might argue that the transformation of the Chinese society is slow and painful, and that we should keep on trying to just apply soft political pressure while some Chinese continue to suffer from oppression.  I think this view emphasizes the gains that society has made in that country are a work in progress.  However, the Chinese government instituted those economic changes so that it could stay in power politically, so I’m not sure that, while there is far more economic freedom than there used to be, that the government is in any danger of succumbing to any social pressure to change.

Add to that the U.S. need for China to stay involved in the diplomacy with North Korea and stay on our side in that arena.

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