It was 22 years ago, in the spring of 1989, that thousands of Chinese students gathered in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to demand democracy. The students even fashioned their own 30-foot high replica of America’s Statue of Liberty. It represented the aspirations for democracy of young Chinese. They yearned to join young people in Poland, East Germany, and the then-united nation of Czechoslovakia. It was a time when it seemed the winds of hope and change might sweep away tyranny from the whole world.
It was not to be. While Gorbachev in the Kremlin refused to send in the tanks, refused to shoot down demonstrating students in Eastern Europe, Chinese Communist cadre Hu Jintao joined those in the Communist leadership in Beijing who had no such qualms. Hu would counsel deadly force rather than relax the iron grip of the Communist Party in China.
The world watched, astounded, as a single young Chinese man, wearing a white shirt and holding an innocent briefcase, stood down an entire column of tanks in Beijing. As the lead tank maneuvered to get around the man whose name we now know was Wang Wei-lin, the young man shifted ground and stood squarely in the tank’s path.
It was a dramatic moment. The world watched, awed, at the courage and the idealism of young China on vivid display. But the clash ended quietly and out of sight of Western TV cameras. China democracy advocates who later took refuge in the West testified that Wang Wei-lin was taken into a nearby hotel where, out of view, he was quietly strangled to death.
That driver of the lead tank, a young officer in the People’s Liberation Army, was also killed by state security forces, China democracy refugees tell us. After all, if he had followed his orders, he would have swiftly run over the brave young man in the white shirt. There would have been no dramatic standoff. Thousands of Chinese students would likewise be overrun by the regime’s tanks and shot down as they fled Tiananmen Square.
Their bodies were burned. China’s rulers soon washed down the bricks of their capital’s ceremonial center.
Today, Hu Jintao is president of the People’s Republic of China. He was not voted in by the Chinese people, but chosen by the aging politburo of the Communist Party, one of the more durable totalitarian regimes on earth.
Washington is welcoming Hu Jintao. We have to roll out a red carpet for the man and the regime that hold a trillion dollars in U.S. debt. The blood-red flag of the People’s Republic of China flies on lampposts along Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue .
Both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have publicly muted their criticisms of China’s appalling record on human rights and on religious freedom. It’s ironic that President Obama issued his Religious Freedom Proclamation even as workers were raising China’s flag along the broad avenues of the capital.
As a result of Obama and Clinton policies, U.S. taxpayers must once again give millions to the UN Population Fund (UNFP). This UN group aids and abets China’s government as it brutally enforces its one-child policy. Hundreds of millions of Chinese women have been forced to have abortions. China’s unborn children who are tested and found to be female are at special risk. Nor is this heinous policy limited to the unborn. Female infanticide is routine in rural China, as the Population Research Institute’s courageous Steven Mosher has documented.
The Obama administration’s position is surely strange for one that professes to be pro-choice and pro-woman. But that is no stranger than seeing the 2009 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Barack Obama, wine and dine the jailer of Liu Xiaobo, who is the 2010 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize!
The Nobel Peace Prize committee says that human rights are the soundest basis for peace. As a former U.S. ambassador to U.N. Human Rights, I believe they are surely right about that. The fact that China’s Communist rulers continue to give the back of their hand to international concerns about human rights, and come with an iron hand against all domestic opposition, is a matter for concern for the entire world.
President Obama conceded in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize that he had far to go to merit the same prize that Dr. Martin Luther King’s work had fully earned. It is most unfortunate to see Mr. Obama treading the wrong path to peace.