'Who Should Get a Red-Carpet Welcome in Washington?'

A commentary by Bao Tong
china-lawyers-07-14-2015.jpg Rights lawyers like Pu Zhiqiang (front right, in May 3, 2014 photo) are an endangered species in China.
Photo courtesy of China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD).

The Global Times, part of The People's Daily stable, described the recent actions by the ministry of public security as a "battle."

Yes, this is indeed a war; a war targeting lawyers, and the opening shots in a war on the civil rights movement.

It has sent shock waves throughout the land, but has also sparked concern in the international community, where it has proved a strong focal point for public opinion.

In response, the U.S. State Department, Congress and the co-chairs of the congressional executive committee on China have made comments, expressing hopes and concerns, as have the visiting German Vice Chancellor, the European Union and human rights investigators at the United Nations.

Good advice is hard to find, and the powers that be should listen to it, from the highest echelons of leadership to the lowest-ranking civil servant, and reflect on it, changing their ways and taking responsibility where appropriate.

What was was surprising was the Global Times' editorial, impressively titled "The U.S. reaction can be treated with contempt."

These dull-witted, dismissive, sloppy and irresponsible remarks are a provocation and a humiliation for the international community.

The article takes leave of view of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai that there are no small matters in affairs of state, and of the principle of keeping a low profile espoused by Deng Xiaoping in the wake of the June 4, 1989 military crackdown. It is also in breach of Chinese Communist Party discipline.

Even Mao Zedong couldn't but experience some scruples in the face of U.S. power and prestige on the international stage.

Of course he would sometimes ramp up the political rhetoric for a domestic audience, but this was all high-flowing bombast and posturing.

When it came to the U.S., Mao Zedong didn't dare to take matters lightly. Still less would he allow anyone in his retinue to come up with their own ideas and start blurting them out.

We should admit the truth; that the criticisms leveled by these countries has been constructive and instructive.

We may think they sound harsh, but actually, there is a profound lesson to be learned here.

I would like to thank Congress, and the chairman of the Congressional Executive Committee on China, for bringing up this deep and meaningful question: Just who should be given a red carpet welcome in Washington?

As American politicians and as critical friends of China, standing as they do on the founding principles of the United States and with the intention of upholding the purpose of the United Nations, they are naturally going to bring up such matters for thought and discussion.

How to protect civil rights and the rule of law is a fundamental problem that we Chinese can't afford to hold in contempt.

If we want to resolve smoothly the huge social tensions that are currently crowding in upon us; if we want to cooperate and to co-exist with other countries; if we want to be worthy of our seat on the U.N. Security Council, we can't evade this fundamental question.

It is clearly wrong to treat serious issues and stern criticism with contempt.

Everyone will, of course, continue to monitor the situation: is that also part of the grand plan at the highest levels of leadership?

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

Bao Tong, former political aide to the late ousted premier Zhao Ziyang, is currently under house arrest at his home in Beijing.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.