Dealing with China

So the historic visit of the Chinese President has come and gone. A few flowery speeches, a few platitudes, a few little embarrassments, and its over.

No ground-breaking agreements or plans. Pretty much business as usual.

I’m not sure I like business as usual.

I’ve rather mixed feelings about the way our nation deals with China.

There is no question this is a repressive nation (or rather, government) we’re talking about here. China is an autocracy (it never really was communist) with no respect for freedom. They’ve shown a complete disregard for the rights and needs of the Chinese people, serving only the interests of the ruling elites.

As a nation purportedly interested in promoting the ideals of democracy, freedom, and human rights, we it should be an ethical imperative for the U.S. to apply pressure on this government to start taking those issues seriously. A moral nation cannot turn a blind eye to the evil the Chinese government perpetrates on its citizens (especially its oppressed minorities, such as those of Tibet).

On the other hand, isolation is neither a moral nor an effective method of persuasion. History is replete with examples of how isolation and ostracism leads to greater defiance and stubbornness in defending oneself. I don’t think the isolationist policies pursued by the U.S. prior to Nixon accomplished a single thing.

For we who are Christians, the example of the Savior is instructive. He did not ignore or abandon the criminals and sinners, but rather sought them out to spend time with them and bring them into the fold.

So what do we do? How do we balance the need to address the wrongs committed by a government without isolating that government? I don’t know. Its a tricky question.

I know for certain it is wrong to ignore their crimes and embrace the Chinese government simply so we can take advantage of their cheap sweatshop labor field and to open up new markets for our tawdry commercialism. And I fear that is exactly what we are doing.

If so, we are accessories to their crimes.

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