The front-page synopsis below the headline of the New York Times‘s coverage of Bush’s Nov. 20 meeting with President Hu Jintao in Beijing said it all:
Hu Jintao Cedes Nothing on Political Freedoms —Will Act on Trade
Economic “liberalization” without lifting the dictatorship an inch. Contrary to the lingering illusions of the idiot left, the model for the current Chinese regime appears not to be Mao but Pinochet. Bush, for his part, dumbed down the whole notion of human rights by reducing them to one item on a laundry list of concerns, somewhere just below the “intellectual property rights” of US compact-disk manufacturers:
On economic issues that are of major concern to American businesses – letting market forces set the value of the undervalued Chinese currency and protecting intellectual property from rampant piracy in China – Mr. Bush made marginal progress. He secured a public statement from Mr. Hu that he would “unswervingly press ahead” to ease a $200 billion annual trade surplus that wildly outstrips anything Mr. Bush’s father faced with Japan in the late 1980’s.
This neat juxtaposition of the issues of mass murder and pirate software is quite touching:
Had Mr. Bush stepped a few hundred yards away from his meetings in the Great Hall of the People and into the shops off Tiananmen Square – a place he avoided being photographed, American officials said, because of the still raw memories of protesters being shot there in 1989 – he could have paid the equivalent of a few dollars for the DVD’s of several current American movies and what appeared to be a working copy of the Microsoft Windows XP operating system.
Meanwhile, in news which failed to make headlines during Bush’s visit, residents of Harbin, capital of northeastern Heilongjiang province, fled the city en masse, jamming the airport and railway station, as the local tap water was shut off for fear of chemical contamination. The water was cut off following the Nov. 13 blast at a chemical plant in neighboring Jilin province only a few hundred yards from the Songhua River, which supplies water to Harbin, a metropolitan area of nine million people. Five people were killed in the blast. Officials said the pollutants include benzene, an industrial solvent and component of petrol, and that they had reached the city. (Reuters, Nov. 23)
See our last post on China.