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....
For just $19.95 a year, get access to new issues and decades' worth of archives on our site.
Print + Online
For $29.95 a year, get new issues delivered to your door and access to our full online archives.