October 5, 1997 in City

Give Jiang Reception He Deserves

Jeff Jacoby The Boston Globe
 
Tags:column

Jiang Zemin, China’s paramount ruler, is coming to the United States this month. He should be welcomed in a manner befitting the government he represents.

That means he should be met with huge rallies proclaiming solidarity with the oppressed people of Chinese-occupied Tibet. He should be met with ads in the nation’s largest newspapers imploring him to halt his regime’s persecution of Christians and Muslims. He should be met with editorials demanding an apology - now eight years overdue - for the massacre of students and workers at Tiananmen Square.

Jiang should be met by resolutions in every state legislature condemning Beijing’s ruthless denial of basic human rights to one-fifth of the world’s population. He should be met by state and federal statutes punishing any government contractor who purchases goods manufactured in China’s vast network of slave-labor camps, the laogai.

When Jiang comes to America, he should be met by round-the-clock vigils in support of China’s imprisoned political dissidents. Wherever he goes, he should find protesters calling for the release of Wei Jingsheng, Wang Dan and the innumerable others, less famous but no less brave, who have been jailed - and worse - because they dared criticize the Chinese Communist Party.

To focus attention on the plight of these heroes, members of Congress and popular celebrities should get themselves arrested for demonstrating outside the Chinese Embassy in Washington. And to keep China’s prisoners of conscience from being forgotten or abandoned, human rights groups should take a page from the POW/MIA and Soviet Jewry playbooks and distribute bracelets engraved with their names.

To prepare for the arrival of China’s foremost dictator, bookstores and libraries should spotlight the important new book by Richard Bernstein and Ross H. Munro, “The Coming Conflict With China” (Knopf). Churches and religious book clubs should urge their members to buy two stomach-clenching books on modern Christian martyrdom, both of which contain searing chapters on China’s monstrous treatment of believers: “In the Lion’s Den” by Nina Shea (Broadman & Holman Publishers) and “Their Blood Cries Out” by Paul Marshall (Word Publishing). And everyone should read Harry Wu’s stirring memoir “Bitter Winds” (John Wiley, 1995), which recounts 19 hellish years of starving and suffering in the laogai.

When the head of the world’s most brutal tyranny lands in America, he should be met by an army of women and girls, marching for an end to China’s government-sanctioned epidemic of female infanticide. He should hear Americans of every political stripe cry out against Beijing’s campaign of forced abortion and sterilization, a campaign heartbreakingly evil and cruel. He should be asked when his troops will stop raping Buddhist nuns with electric prods, and executing prisoners so their organs can be sold.

The visit of China’s leading despot would be a good time for radio hosts to point out the truth about Jiang’s regime: It despises American democracy and is planning for a future military confrontation. This is a good time for scribes and pundits to remind their audiences that after China’s military and diplomatic elites met for 11 days in 1993, they released a report that began: “Whom does the Communist Party of China regard as its international archenemy? It is the United States.”

To prepare their students for Jiang’s visit this month, college professors should assign them to read the State Department’s latest report on human rights in China, which catalogues a horror-show of torture, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, police harassment and merciless crackdowns on dissidents. They should assign them to write essays on the following question: “China’s slave-labor camps are called laogai, short for laodong gaizao, meaning ‘reform through labor.’ In Nazi Germany, concentration camps bore the legend Arbeit macht frei, ‘Work makes you free.’ Compare and contrast these two networks of punishment and repression.”

For ministers, preachers and rabbis, this is an ideal moment to speak out in behalf of religious liberty in China, where men and women have been tortured for distributing Bibles or administering the sacraments. As Jiang heads for our shores, this is an ideal moment to teach children the crucial lesson of Proverbs 24:

“If you hold back from rescuing those taken away to death, those who go staggering to the slaughter; if you say, ‘Look, we did not know this’ - Does not He who keeps watch over your soul know it? And will He not repay all according to their deeds?”

This is not, of course, what Jiang expects. He expects more of what essayist William Safire calls America’s “open doormat policy.” More of President Clinton’s “de-linking” of human rights from U.S. trade policy. More sycophantic excuse-making by American businessmen, who will ignore any Chinese atrocity in their rush to make a buck. More reluctance by Washington to retaliate for Beijing’s sale of chemical and nuclear weapons technology to terror-states like Libya, Iran, and Syria.

In short, Jiang expects to be buttered up and toadied to. Let us give him instead the reception he deserves.

xxxx


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