Mitch Dickens | Social Media Coordinator
Last Wednesday, Jan. 19, President Obama met with the President of China at the White House. According to the White House’s website, President Hu Jintao and Obama were supposedly meeting to discuss the U.S. and China’s “increased cooperation in the areas of global security, economic growth, and clean energy research.”
Obama also intended to stress the need for increased focus on human rights in China. But the meeting just seems to have been a diplomatic formality to ease tension and strengthen America’s friendship with China.
On the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 19, one day shy of Obama’s two-year anniversary as President, the White House lawn was a crowd of schoolchildren, the Honor Guard and members of the Chinese delegation. Obama gave a speech welcoming President Hu, and also addressed the importance of his visit, claiming that it would “lay the foundation of the next 30 years” of the U.S. and China’s relationship.
Even though the two countries have trouble seeing eye-to-eye on certain trade issues, Obama and Hu did make an official agreement last Wednesday to increase American exports to China by $45 billion per year. This negotiation will only marginally decrease the $250 billion in trade deficit the U.S. currently encounters each year from China. This served as the biggest, and one of the only official agreements the two countries made during Hu’s visit.
As for the many other topics the Presidents planned to discuss, they were seemingly skimmed over. China’s blatant disregard for human rights is one of the biggest concerns American citizens have with the Communist country. Instead of working toward a pact or official political agreement, Obama merely stated that the human rights problem concerned him and Hu merely stated his country had a problem with human rights. No real agreement was reached.
Even though this topic was one of the main reasons for the meeting, no true action was taken. China is a country where citizens are imprisoned for criticizing the government, inmates are executed without due process, and the government freely exercises censorship, yet in this important meeting, Hu literally ignored the topic of human rights the first time it was addressed.
The second time he was questioned about it, he gave a vague reply, “A lot still needs to be done in China in terms of human rights.” Likewise, when Obama stated his desire for China to stop using, selling and distributing pirated U.S. software, DVDs and other materials, Hu simply stated “yes” it was a problem.
Hu then let the cat out of the bag when he admitted that Chinese government agencies themselves use pirated U.S. software. He claimed he would request his agencies to end the use of this material. While the White House provided many reasons for the meeting — and indeed, many topics were discussed — one can’t help but assume the underlying reason was China’s relationship with North Korea.
After the debacle in November 2010 when North Korea bombed a South Korean island, The U.S.’s relationship with North Korea has been under extreme scrutiny. Days after the bombing, U.S. and South Korea held practice military drills in the South China Sea, as if the US was trying to remind the world of it’s alliance with South Korea.
When one considers the extremely tight bond China and North Korea have, it becomes obvious that Obama’s meeting with Hu was most likely his way of saying, “I hope we can still be friends.” If Obama really is trying to quell any impending China-North Korea backlash, then deeply interconnecting the economies of China and America would certainly be a perfect way to prevent it.
It would be extremely foolish of any country to purposefully sour a relationship with another country that serves as one of its main export hubs. The meeting of the two Presidents seems like it will be very beneficial to both the U.S. and China’s economies.
The two leaders took a huge step forward in forging a more peaceful friendship, and there will no doubt be more meetings with even better outcomes. But why hide under the guise of so many various topics? Why not state the real reason for the meeting: increased economic unity, therefore a stronger diplomatic bond?
Seeing as how dealing with foreign affairs and meeting with diplomats are jobs usually reserved for the Secretary of State, it is obvious Obama feels friendship with China is of growing concern to our country. He is making a huge effort to gain the cooperation and strengthen the friendship of the economically interlocked and militarily competitive China.
The distance between President Hu’s country and ours seems to be decreasing. Let’s hope this will prove to be beneficial to the American people, government and national security in general.