A Dangerous State Visit by China’s Dictator


(Credit White House)
Presidents Obama and Xi       Credit: White House

This week’s grand state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping is off to a highly dangerous start—by China.

A state visit is the highest honor and sign of respect to give a visiting foreign leader. The respect shown is expected to be mutual.

Just days before China’s president arrival in the United States, the Peoples’ Liberation Army Air Force used the occasion to perform a highly dangerous stunt in international airspace; a “barrel roll” very close to a U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance plane. This was similar to the 2001 mid-air collision and intercept of a P-3 aircraft, which resulted in China capturing our reconnaissance plane and robbing it of our top secrets.

Also and during Xi’s visit, the Office of Personnel Management discovered China added to their earlier hacking of our government employee and security clearance databases, by reportedly hacking our government’s database of 5.6 million fingerprint files.

These two hostile acts during a state visit demonstrate that China has learned from how Obama deals with Iran. Iran kept declaring “death to America and Israel” and taking other war-like actions during active negotiations.

President Reagan would have cancelled a state visit given similar provocations; however, Obama’s record proves there may be no limit to the provocations he would take from an adversary without an effective response.

Among China’s many “Achilles’ Heels,” the use of two in particular would make China think twice before repeating such provocative behavior:

  • Publicly call for greater human rights in China.
  • Publicly call-out China for violating international law in attempting to seize the South China Sea and the territories of sovereign nations.

China relies upon official silence from the U.S. and other powers to make the Chinese people feel alone in their struggle for basic human rights; and they rely upon the world to take only token measures to protect the South China Sea.

Perhaps this president could borrow from President Reagan, and say, “Mr. Xi, tear down the ‘Great Firewall’ that censors the truth from your people!”

Why should the United States be a mouse to China’s “awakening lion?” Dictators only respect strength, and the U.S. should have taken actions in response to China’s recent provocations such as publicly using the bully pulpit or just publicly delaying or cancelling the state visit.

To ignore these hostile actions invites many more, and suggests there may be more serious concessions when behind closed doors.

I call upon President Obama to use the occasion of the state visit to publicly ask President Xi to allow the Chinese people to exercise their fundamental human rights, including freedom of speech, internet, and religion; to hold free elections; and to cease their attempts to seize the South China Sea and respect the sanctity of international waters and airspaces, and of the sovereign territories of other nations in the region.

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