The PJ Tatler

Obama's empty meeting on China's human rights

On the issue of China and human rights, last week there was a little mini-dance going on between human rights groups and the White House.   The President met with a number of China experts and activists on January 13 — just a day after nine human rights groups asked for the meeting.

The meeting was clearly manufactured to make the President look concerned and to make the human rights groups look effective.   It was a great photo op that might look good on a future fundraising brochure.  The meeting was held just on the eve of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s meeting in Washington.

Now we learn that the real story was whom the President didn’t meet with.  Human rights advocate Ellen Bork spells out the emptiness of the White House meeting. She observes, “people who would have offended Chinese leaders—people like Harry Wu, the former prisoner of China’s laogai or forced labor camps; Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled Uighur leader; Ngawang Sandrol, a Tibetan nun jailed and tortured for her songs of praise for the Dalai Lama; Wang Juntao, a former Tiananmen protester; or Wan Yanhai, a famous AIDS activist and longtime associate of Liu Xiaobo—they were absent.”