Has China Policy Failed? Or Has Cuba Policy Failed?

Thursday, June 5, 2014
On this 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, which resulted in the death of thousands of democracy activists by the Chinese regime, we ask:

Has China policy failed?

This is a rather simplistic question -- but it's similar to the one employed (as seemingly the only talking point) by opponents of U.S. policy toward Cuba.

The fact is neither has failed, for neither China or Cuba are democratic nations that respect the fundamental human, civil and political rights of its people.  Vietnam can be added to this equation as well.  Meanwhile, Burma has begun to tilt the scales towards the success of sanctions.

Time will tell which country becomes a democracy first -- Cuba or China?

Considering that U.S. policy toward China has helped create the most lucrative dictatorship in human history, our bet is on Cuba.

Only then will we know which policy failed. 

In the meantime, it's clear that all of the trade and investment with China is not having a liberalizing effect.

-- From U.S. News and World Report:

Tiananmen Censorship Reflects Crackdown Under Xi Jinping

China's new president is more aggressive on censorship than his predecessor.

When it comes to free speech, China’s new boss is even worse than the old boss. China has routinely cracked down on anti-government speech during the days leading up to the June 4 anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square violence against pro-democracy protesters, but newly elected President Xi Jinping has responded to Internet growth with even stricter censorship and intimidation to silence dissent.

-- From Amnesty International:

China: Persecution of Tiananmen activists exposes President Xi’s reform lies

Xi has opted for repression over reform, as the authorities persist with trying to wipe the events of 4 June from memory.

The widespread persecution of activists in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown exposes the lie behind President Xi Jinping’s claims to be delivering greater openness and reform, said Amnesty International.

Dozens of activists have been detained, placed under house arrest or questioned by police in recent weeks for attempting to commemorate the hundreds, if not thousands, of unarmed protesters and civilians who were killed or injured in the crackdown.

Those detained in recent weeks include human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and prominent journalist Gao Yu. Others including Ding Zilin, spokesperson for the Tiananmen Mothers, have been placed under house arrest.

For 25 years, relatives of the victims have fought for justice at great personal cost. Most of the Tiananmen Mothers are now elderly, and a number of the original members of the group – both mothers and fathers - have passed away.

Twenty-five years on from the bloodshed, the government continues to use any means necessary to prevent Chinese citizens from expressing opinions at odds with government rhetoric. It jails activists on trumped-up charges, and uses violence against those who seek to protect human rights within the current legal system.

2014 has seen a wider clampdown against citizens calling for reform – most notably those associated with the New Citizens Movement. Several leading activists associated with the network – whose calls for greater transparency and an end to corruption echo many of the calls made by the pro-democracy protests in 1989 – have received long prison sentences.

-- And Collin Gallant in Medicine Hat News:

Increased trade with China still hasn’t sparked debate about democracy

[T]oo often, Western leaders who offer even the mildest criticism of China’s human rights record are forced to leave it politely at that.

Essentially, China’s foreign policy stance has been that outsiders should mind their own business, lest talk of internal affairs affect external relations. That means trade, and the country that’s speeding towards becoming the world’s largest economy has increasing clout.

Companies rush to do business in China. Every conversation on the Western Canadian economy revolves around the hope of shipping oil and gas off the west coast. Long gone are the days when “Made in China” was novelty.

For the past two decades, every U.S. president has argued that greater interaction would normalize relations with China and that increased trade would lead to liberalization.

Interestingly it’s the exact opposite tact that has been employed in the blockaded smaller, and notably poorer, countries like Cuba and North Korea.

Whether the more open trade policy has bolstered democratic prospects in China is extremely debatable.

But that hardly matters, since no one cares to have such a debate.