Once again, the American media are asking exactly the same questions about a US president’s trip to Asia, and particularly with regards to China: will human rights “overshadow” the trip? No. The answer thus far, and no doubt for the foreseeable future, will be no. The segment below pretty much sums up the status quo:
“We’re not going to stop speaking out on behalf of the things we care about, recognising that we also have significant interests and business to do with China.”
The segment also touches upon Myanmar and North Korea – and he’s not positive about relations with or progress on the latter.
Wagner: “How much leverage at this moment does the American president have with Chinese leadership…?”
Kristof: “I don’t think, frankly, that President Obama does have a great deal of leverage right now…”
When was the last time the US president has had leverage? Maybe during the run up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, but George W. Bush didn’t give any indication of being remotely interested in doing anything – indeed, he gave all indication that he’d checked out, and was leaving everything up to the electoral candidates.
While it is certainly refreshing that a news show is willing to spend much time on human rights, it was disappointing that Kristof didn’t give more – I’m sure he’s more familiar with the issues, especially relating to China and US influence (or lack thereof) there.