Human Rights and China

Human Rights and China

Expecting Bill Clinton to do something about human rights in China is like expecting him to do something about campaign finance reform— what we will actually get is a flood of morally earnest talk followed by more morally earnest talk. At a January 28, 1997 press conference the president said, “[I] believe that the impulses of the society and the nature of the economic change will work together,” and clinched his argument with the inevitable metaphor: change in China is “inevitable, just as inevitably the Berlin Wall fell.”

The argument against withdrawing most- favored-nation trading status from China or im- posing economic sanctions has some truth: the decline of a command economy and the free movement of people and goods associated with a capitalist economy may bring in their wake political reforms, democracy, and civil liberties. It hasn’t happened yet, but it might.

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Lima