Obama, McCain Must Tread Lightly On China
Jefferey A. Bader and Richard C. Bush III writes on the courant.com:
The Beijing Olympics coincide with our party conventions heralding the countdown to November’s presidential election. With the world’s media spotlight on China and the United States, both presidential candidates will undoubtedly be tested by unforeseen developments.
Contenders Barack Obama and John McCain should avoid condemning China, and instead signal their intention to develop a personal relationship of trust with their Chinese counterpart soon after taking office. China’s human rights are best advanced through discrete encouragement, not negative sound bites.
In three election campaigns — in 1980, 1992 and 2000 — future U.S. presidents announced their intention to dramatically toughen national policy toward China. In each instance, the United States then endured months or years of costly fumbling. Bill Clinton, for instance, set conditions for approving Most Favored Nation status for China. But when China didn’t show sufficient improvements in human rights, the new president abandoned his policy after damaging U.S. credibility and Sino-American trust.