Commentary Magazine


China

To the Editor:
Toward the beginning of his article, “Are We Ready for China?” [October 2007], Aaron L. Friedberg poses two stark questions: “What if the [People’s Republic of China] continues to grow wealthier and stronger without making the transition to liberal democracy? Could a rich, authoritarian China use its newfound power and influence to reshape the world in its own image?”

Advocates for human rights share Mr. Friedberg’s unease. China turns a blind eye to abuses in neighboring countries like North Korea and Burma over which it exerts a great deal of influence, and, in its own commercial pursuits in Africa, it is similarly heedless of human rights.

Here at home, we are used to passionate debates about the attention that human-rights issues should be given in our foreign policy. One thinks of the controversies over U.S. policies in South America and Central America in the 1970’s and 1980’s, or the debates over how to influence South Africa under apartheid. In those cases, there were many independent voices in Congress, among journalists, in our universities, and in myriad groups in society at large that pressed the executive branch to make human rights a priority. Where are the analogous voices to sound the alarm with respect to China? Even among Chinese dissidents who press for more freedoms within their own country, there seems to be little if any inclination to confront the regime over its foreign policy.

Joshua Rubenstein
Amnesty International U.S.A.
Somerville, Massachusetts

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