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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tiananmen Anniversary overshadowed

As shared in an earlier post, it will be intriguing to see how the world responds to China's growing influence. It looks like I was not far off. This just in today. Looks like China is indeed going to get away with it. I think the 'China threat to the status quo' is now officially in attendance, if the US maintains such a relatively sedentary stance. Of course, there will be other interesting political dynamics in play, but at least to the lay person, it would seem a new boss is in the house.


Anniversary overshadowed
Straits Times Online 04 June 2009

WASHINGTON - ACTIVISTS looking to highlight the 20th anniversary of China's bloody crackdown at Tiananmen Square are finding their efforts overshadowed by the emergence of a China crucial to US economic and diplomatic efforts around the world.

Washington has had daily activities this week related to June 4, 1989, when China sent tanks and troops to crush demonstrations and shoot demonstrators seeking to remake authoritarian Chinese system. There have been congressional hearings, appearances by the 'Three Heroes of Tiananmen' and other activists, photo exhibits and candlelight vigils.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement on Wednesday that China, as an emerging global power, 'should examine openly the darker events of its past and provide a public accounting of those killed, detained or missing, both to learn and to heal.'

But none of the commemorations of Tiananmen has demanded the attention that US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's trip to China this week to secure economic cooperation from the single-biggest holder of US debt.

Beijing's importance to America was further underscored by a Chinese company's purchase of the unit of bankrupt General Motors Corp. that makes Hummer sport utility vehicles and by worsening tensions with North Korea, where Chinese leverage is seen as key to getting the North to return to nuclear disarmament talks.

Also Wednesday, the Obama administration's chief climate negotiator said China is critical to making any international agreement to reduce emissions blamed for global warming work. As the United States works to secure cooperation from a powerful, economically dynamic China, it has become difficult for activists to draw attention to the Tiananmen events and to claims that China abuses its citizens' rights.

Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in China's 'laogai' labour camp system, said the Obama administration's position on China is understandable but frustrating. The reason that events on Tiananmen are overshadowed, he said, is clear: 'Because China is holding so much bonds. Because China became a major producer of the United States.' China holds an estimated US$1 trillion (S$1.5 trillion) in US government debt.

Mrs Clinton has called the US-China relationship the world's most important. In February, she angered activists and delighted China by saying during a trip to Beijing that the United States would not let its human rights concerns interfere with cooperation with Beijing on global crises.

On Wednesday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, facing questions about Mrs Clinton's February comments, said human rights are 'paramount on our list.' But Mrs Clinton is 'communicating that we're not going to take a cookie-cutter approach to human rights,' Mr Crowley said.

'She is interested in making sure that we address this in a way that is going to be most effective. In some cases, that will be public. In some cases, that will be private. In some cases, that will be both.' Beijing has never allowed an independent investigation into the military's crushing of the 1989 protests, in which possibly thousands of students, activists and ordinary citizens were killed. -- AP