Dead Silence from Mitt Romney on Chen Guangcheng’s Arrival in U.S.Posted: May 21, 2012
It’s been a couple of days now since blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng arrived at Newark on a flight from Beijing. Mitt Romney must have heard about it, but he’s said nary a word about it. I wonder why?
He had plenty to say back on May 3, in the midst of the crisis that took place during Secretary Clinton’s trip to China. Chen had managed to escape from house arrest and make it to the U.S. Embassy to ask for assistance. As State Department and U.S. Embassy staff struggled to negotiate an exit strategy for Chen, Romney, the all-but-official Republican nominee:
condemned the Obama administration’s handling of blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, calling the episode “a dark day for freedom” and “a day of shame” for President Obama if, he couched, reports are true that American officials communicated threats to Chen’s family….
Several times on Thursday, Romney couched his comments with disclaimers like “if the reports are true,” but the takeaway was clearly intended that the incident is a black eye for President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Despite Romney’s impulsive catastrophizing, Secretary of State Clinton calmly continued her efforts to help Chen and his family get to the U.S. in a way that would also save face for Chinese officials. Chen was offered a law fellowship at New York University and a deal was struck: Chen could leave China on a student visa, and his departure wouldn’t be characterized as seeking asylum.
On May 9 in New Delhi, Clinton told an interviewer:
that the work she and others have done to establish multiple channels for dialogue over the last 3 1/2 years “created a level of personal relationships and understandings between individuals and our government institutions that is absolutely critical.”
Clinton suggested that China’s willingness to agree to a U.S. proposal to assist a prominent critic of the government’s one-child policy is an indication that taking a broader view of the relationship pays dividends in a moment of crisis.
“I’ve invested a lot and argued strongly” for keeping regular channels of communication open so that no one issue “predominates or undermines the potential for reaching agreement on other equally important issues,” the top U.S. diplomat told Bloomberg Radio.
This was a triumph for negotiation as opposed to the kinds of macho chest-pounding that Romney has been preaching so far.
Declining to comment on how the U.S. managed to craft a deal this time in a sensitive case involving a Chinese activist, Clinton said that “every high-level Chinese official that I met” last week “repeated back to me” words from a speech she delivered in Washington reflecting on Sino-U.S. relations in the 40 years since President Richard Nixon’s historic outreach to communist China.
Chinese officials, she said, echoed her view that “what we are trying to do — the U.S. and China — is unprecedented in world history. We’re trying to find a way for an established power and a rising power to coexist.”
Last night, Cheryl Isaac wrote at Forbes:
Chen posed a great challenge for Hillary Clinton because of two competing issues: the economic dialogue in Beijing had been her priority for a couple of years, her pledge to protect human rights—women’s rights nonetheless—another priority.
The confusion of the negotiation process did not help either. After escaping house arrest and seeking refuge at the American Embassy, Chen first decided to stay in China. Then later, he pleaded to be taken to America—putting Clinton in the difficult place of having to renegotiate an agreement that had been reached 24 hours prior; reports the Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz.
People around the world stated their displeasure. In the U.S., she had Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) stating that Clinton did not keep Chen safe within the U.S. Embassy. In this video interview, Smith even admits to telling Chen—in a phone conversation—that the fact that officials were working day and night on his paperwork, was not a good sign…”
But Hillary pushed onward, made the right decisions, and was successful in her goal of helping Chen and his family.
Bravo, Madam Secretary! Where are macho Mitt’s congratulations? Has he apologized yet? I’ve googled, but can’t find any evidence that he has owned up to his bungling or even acknowledged this diplomatic achievement. Why am I not surprised?