Why did Barack Obama fail in China?
by Wei Jingsheng
Hope for some movement on human rights and the release of political prisoners fades. Broad issues like the yuan-dollar rate, Afghanistan, Iran are part of an impossible diplomacy. US big business and the Chinese Communist Party are the big winners. The “father of democracy” in China provides an analysis of the situation.
New York (AsiaNews) – What we all have been most interested this week is US President Obama's visit to China.  That is because we all had great expectations of this US President's visit. Chinese people at home or overseas had hoped that President Obama could do something regarding Chinese human rights.  Ever since Hu Jintao came to power, the human rights situation in China has been deteriorating.  Many people have been arrested, put in jail, and abused.  Those who are out of jail also experience more pressure than in the past, to the degree that it is hard to breathe.  The Chinese Communist regime controls the media, blocks the Internet, and tightens the room of speech.  The Chinese people more than ever wondered if the US president could help them reduce some of the pressure.  In the past, the pressure from a US president always had some effectiveness, because the Communist regime is most afraid of the human rights diplomacy of the USA. Now, it seems the Americans care more about the exchange rate between the US dollar and the Chinese currency RenMinBi.  This is the key to reducing their trade deficit.

Yuan versus dollar

Even 10 years ago, most of Americans already knew that the unfair trade system would increase the trade deficit and thus result in unemployment.  But some politicians who were bought out by the big business enterprises forced the passage of the Most Favoured Nation status (later on named Permanent Normal Trade Relationship to reduce the attention and pressure) for the Communist regime.  At that time, the Americans still enjoyed a pretty good life with a trade deficit of less than 57 billion dollars, so most Americans took it.  After all, we have to respect the democratic system and respect the law. But now, the US economy has deteriorated with increasing unemployment and depression in every corner.  The trade deficit between the USA and China has skyrocketed to more than 268 billion dollars.  Many Americans know that it is due to the fact that the Chinese government manipulated the currency exchange rate, in addition to an unfair trade system.  Just as the US Senator Charles Schumer pointed out: the whole economic crisis started with the Chinese government's manipulation of the Chinese currency.  If we do not solve this root problem, other efforts are meaningless.

Yet, President Obama did not bring back anything from China.  The United Kingdom’s Times article today has a title: "President Obama returns home from visit to China almost empty handed".  This result is indeed totally out of people's expectations.  When the strategic advisors in the White House designed the topics for Obama, they felt that these core issues were hopeless.  So they left a lot of room to play, such as environment, troops in Afghanistan, etc., even the details of Iran's nuclear facility.  They were not even expecting any substance from the Chinese Communist regime, but simply wanted to express its attitude on these issues.

But President Obama did not even get these issues done in China.  On the human rights front, he did not even get the Chinese government to release a few political prisoners just to make a show.  Hu Jintao really did not give Obama anything, not even a human rights show, except to waste Obama's trip to China.  In comparison to previous not so successful presidents of the USA, Obama seems to be the least successful in dealing with China.

Not mentioning conservative news media, even news media that lean to the left such as the Washington Post published commentaries strongly criticizing Obama for not doing anything to reduce the trade deficit.  It went so far as to review the Permanent Normal Trade Relationship that President Clinton signed for China, and narrated in detail how the huge increase of the trade deficit with China is the result of politicians and businesses selling out America.  If we read these words in the past, we might have thought the Post was a Republican newspaper attacking the Democrats.

The US administration does not know China

Why did President Obama, who could give eloquent speeches is so popular in Europe, fail so much in China?  We could name a list of reasons, but there are two root reasons.  One is that he and his advisors do not know either China, or the Chinese.  They thought that they are dealing with a democratic country.  The diplomacy between democratic countries is the diplomacy of gentlemen.  If you release a signal of kindness, then the other must return with the same.  Or we could use a popular way to describe it as a "cooperative diplomacy of mutual compromises and mutual benefits."

However, if you ever hear an American president referring to the Chinese Communists as a cooperation partner, then you know that they do not know about the Chinese Communist Party at all.  Even those Western diplomats who speak good Chinese do not know that this "cooperation partner" is an error of basic concept.  The logic of the Chinese Communist Party is a "philosophy of struggles" that believes "when the enemy retreats, we shall invade".  If you retreat, it will believe you are afraid of it.  If they do not take a step forward, they will be teased within the Communist Party, even be attacked as a result.  In dealing with the Chinese Communist Party, it is totally wrong to practice this spirit of compromise and cooperation that the Western democratic societies are accustomed to.  So if we view the stand that Obama offered to China before his trip, we could tell that his visit would come to a total failure.

“Big business” defeats America

The second most important reason is the resistance of the business community.  The biggest beneficiary of the trade deficit with China and unemployment in the USA is big business in both America and China. For many years, these businesses have voluntarily defended the interests of the Chinese Communist party.  In these issues of unfair trade and manipulation of currency, they share the interests of the Chinese Communist Party.  Just ten years ago, they were already able to manipulate both the US Congress and the US administration to the degree that they went against the desires of the majority citizen voters in the USA.  Even with the prerequisite of being unable to hide from the public, they were able to pass a resolution that the majority of voters were against and thus offered free trade to the Chinese Communist Party unilaterally.  Now, their benefits are already 4 or 5 times more dependent on business, so the average voters have even less power to go against them.  Even President Obama has a hard time to go against the will of business .  This is one of the root reasons that the US President had to put down his posture in front of the Chinese Communists.

Therefore, the US-China relation is not just an issue of the economy, or Chinese human rights.  It is already testing the Western democratic system. Both Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were unable to dissolve the Western democratic system, yet the current Chinese Communist Party is a making an effort to realize Lenin's wish: to make the "American imperialism" be the last stage of capitalism.  It seems to be successful so far.  This is why this one time visit by the American president to China received so much attention from the people.  People do not care only about the issues of currency exchange and unemployment.  People are concerned mainly if the Western democratic system represented by the USA will be defeated by an autocratic Communist system.

* Who is Wei Jingshen?

Wei's role in the struggle for human rights and democracy in China goes back a long way. On 5 April 1976, aged 26, Wei took part in the first anti-government action in Tiananmen Square. Two years later, the Wall of Democracy (pictured) was set up near one of the main crossroads of the capital: a corner where democracy activists could post their dàzìbào. On 5December  1978, Wei posted the text that would make him famous—"the Fifth Modernisation"—where he developed the idea that the country's economic progress (the "four modernisations" upheld by the Communist regime) must pass through democratisation; otherwise the people would not enjoy any benefits. Wei denounced detention for political reasons, the misery endured by segments of the population, the political roots of youth crime, the sale of children on the streets of Beijing. From 1979 to 1993, he was interned in prison on the orders of Deng Xiaoping. On 13 December 1995, a year and half after his re-arrest, Wei reappeared before the People's Court in Beijing, where he was condemned to 14 years in prison for "plotting against the government". One 16 November 1997, following very strong pressure from the international community Chinese authorities released him. Wei was sent abroad for "treatment"; in reality he was condemned to exile. Currently, he lives in the United States and is the chairman of the Overseas Joint Committee for China Democratic Movement.