Tuesday, May 18, 2010
By Susan Jones, Senior Editor
(CNSNews.com) – In a “candid and constructive” human rights dialogue with officials from the People’s Republic of China last week, Obama administration officials brought up Arizona’s new immigration-enforcement law, telling the Chinese Communists it was an example of a “troubling trend” in the United States and an indication of “discrimination or potential discrimination” in American society.
Ironically, the State Department’s most recent report on human rights in China indicates that the government there restricts the internal travel of its own citizens.
The human rights talks, held at various locations in Washington last week, focused on issues that both countries are dealing with, State Department Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner told a press briefing on Friday.
Asked by a reporter if the Arizona law came up in the discussions, Posner said it did–and it was U.S. officials, not the Chinese, who brought it up.
“We brought it up early and often,” Posner told reporters on Friday. “It was mentioned in the first session, and as a troubling trend in our society and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination, and that these are issues very much being debated in our own society,” Posner said. The Chinese did not raise any concerns about Chinese people visiting Arizona, Posner added.
During the press briefing, Posner explained that “part of a mature relationship is that you have an open discussion where you not only raise the other guy’s problems, but you raise your own, and you have a discussion about it. We did plenty of that. We had experts from the U.S. side, for example, yesterday, talking about treatment of Muslim Americans in an immigration context. We had a discussion of racial discrimination. We had a back-and-forth about how each of our societies are dealing with those sorts of questions.”
Posner characterized the discussions as a give-and-take: “I think the tone of the discussions was very much not ‘We’ve got all the answers; we’re telling the Chinese how to behave.’ It was framed in an international context, international standards. We’re both obligated. And let’s talk about things that we’re both dealing with, and try to figure out–can we help each other? And where we have differences, how do we mitigate those differences?”
Posner’s comments prompted the New York Post to editorialize on Tuesday that the Obama administration is once again bashing America on the world stage.
“China is one of the most flagrant violators of human rights on the planet, and for the Obama administration even to hint that America is on the same plane is despicable,” the Post wrote on Tuesday.
On Fox News Tuesday morning, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley–trying to defend Posner’s comments – was asked if he had read the ten-page Arizona law. He said he has not read it, although he did criticize it.
Attorney General Eric Holder, who is weighing a constitutional challenge to the law, admitted last week that he has not read it; and Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano on Monday told a Senate panel that she had not read the law, either.
The People’s Republic of China is “an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party constitutionally is the paramount source of power,” according to the State Department’s 2009 Human Rights report on China.
The report also states, “Individuals and groups, especially those deemed politically sensitive by the government, continued to face tight restrictions on their freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel.”