Hillary, Save Your Breath: China Does Not Get Into Human Rights at Home or Abroad

Posted on August 25, 2010


According to one Senate hopeful, Hilary is excoriating China about its human rights policies but where?  In recent time she has sidelined it and focused on economic issues. As pointed out in a previous post (Obama in China: The Dragon Rules),  the Chinese simply go throughout the world signing contracts for the raw materials they need and other desired items and leave politics to the locals.  Sensitive to this same reality and to the import of economic issues at this time, Clinton has soft-pedaled Chinese human rights policies and focused on economic issues.

This week, came the surprising attack on Clinton:

Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina (Calif.) said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “tough talk” on human rights is not an effective way to secure U.S. interests in China.

“I applaud our Secretary of State when she talks in tough terms about human rights,” Fiorina said at a Technology Policy Institute forum Monday in Aspen, Colo. But humanitarian rhetoric isn’t enough, according to the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive.

“The truth is that the tough talk in my estimation has no impact,” she said. “I believe China is not swayed by our discussions of human rights.”Fiorina said Washington should instead focus on China policies on economic matters.

“What they are swayed by is their own assessment of their commercial self-interest,” she said.

Google’s saga in China, in which it has struggled with threats from regulators, has been “instructive” on this point, according to Fiorina.

Fiorina argued China policies should have a greater focus on intellectual-property protection.

“Billions of dollars are being pirated by China each year,” she said. “We need to protect our own innovation.” [The Hill]

Contact with the author of The Hill article, Sara Jerome, brought clarification about what Fiorina may have had in mind when she said “human rights” with regard to Clinton.  She was probably referring to Clinton’s statement on China’s handling of the Google issue.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday called for an unfettered worldwide Internet and urged global condemnation of those who conduct cyber attacks, as China sought to contain tension with the United States over the hacking and censorship of Google.

“A new information curtain is descending across much of the world,” she said, calling growing Internet curbs the modern equivalent of the Berlin Wall.

“We stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas,” said Clinton in a major address that cited China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt among countries that censored the Internet or harassed bloggers.

Countries that built electronic barriers to parts of the Internet or filtered search engine results contravened the U.N.’s Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of information, she said.

Addressing concerns about cyber spying in China that have prompted Google Inc. to threaten to quit that market, Clinton said “countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation.”

“In an interconnected world, an attack on one nation’s networks can be an attack on all,” Clinton said.

“We look to Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the cyber intrusions that led Google to make this announcement,” she said. [Reuters, January 21, 2010]

Hillary clearly has had economic realities rather than human rights per se in focus  in 2009. [Telegraph.UK] As stated above, she has spoken  out on China’s internet censorship and more recently on China’s claims to oil-rich islands in the area Viet Nam has generally controlled.  Carly’s pitch for pressuring China about  Intellectual property rights is a fit with  Clinton’s tough talk on internet freedoms.  She must have had this  in mind when she referred to Clinton’s stand on “human rights.”

So, it looks as if Carly and Hillary agree: ” it’s the economy….”  Here’s hoping Carly recognizes an agreement when she sees one or that she chooses her words more carefully.

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