April 19, 2006


White House Puts Face on North Korean Human Rights (Peter Baker, 4/19/06, Washington Post)

The story of how an obscure instance of individual hardship came to figure in a meeting between two of the world's most powerful leaders sheds light on the crosscurrents of U.S. foreign policy under Bush. The son of a former envoy to Beijing, Bush has worked to build stable relations with China and wants its help on urgent priorities such as curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions. Yet the same president has proclaimed expanding freedom to be the guiding principle of his foreign policy, with the goal of "ending tyranny in our world."

So as diplomats and bureaucrats throughout the U.S. government in recent weeks assembled briefing books on the Chinese currency and the trade deficit and other issues of importance to Bush's business backers, another corner of government, much smaller, has worked to put on the table China's treatment of desperate North Koreans who slip across the border.

They have been aided in that quest by a growing movement of Christian activists who lately have adopted North Korea as a cause, much as they earlier did Sudan, and pushed Congress into passing legislation intended to make human rights in Asia's last Stalinist outpost a higher U.S. priority.

"We just feel this is what we're commanded to do," said Deborah Fikes, executive director of the Midland Ministerial Alliance from the president's Texas home town. "If you're a follower of Christ, this should be one of your number one priorities, speaking out for the oppressed, and I can't think of anybody more oppressed than the North Koreans."

The case of Kim offered an opportunity to put their concern front and center. Never before has the Bush White House singled out a North Korean asylum seeker by name and held Beijing responsible for her fate, according to U.S. officials and human rights workers. The timing was especially pointed, coming just before the arrival of Chinese President Hu Jintao, who will be greeted tomorrow by a 21-gun salute on the South Lawn of the White House.

Administration officials said Bush feels strongly about the situation. "He's taken a very personal interest and a fairly significant interest in the issue of human rights," said Jay Lefkowitz, whom Bush appointed last year as a special envoy for human rights in North Korea. "He fundamentally believes the character of the North Korean regime is defined by its human rights conduct."

It's almost as if he's serious about all that human rights guff....

Mr Hu goes to Washington (after he's seen Bill Gates and the Boeing factory) (Jane Macartney in Beijing and Tom Baldwin in Washington, 4/19/06, Times of London)

THE leader of the world’s most populous nation was warmly welcomed to America last night by the world’s most influential man.

President Hu Jintao was guest of honour for a lavish banquet at Bill Gates’s Seattle lakeside mansion on the opening night of what China is calling a four-day “state visit”.

But when the Chinese leader arrives in Washington for talks with President Bush tomorrow — after first stopping off at the Boeing plant — he will find that the social temperature has, deliberately, dropped a few degrees. He will, for example be offered only a “social lunch” during what the White House insists is merely “a visit”.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 19, 2006 9:30 AM

Yep. It was entertaining to see on my way home that this circus was in town. From the sidewalk barriers to multiple cop cars and guys in gray suits on every corner to the row of satellite trucks to all the protestors herded off into various corners where they couldn't disrupt the festivities (the Free Tibet-ians had some big banners). Biggest zoo I'd seen since the day the big anti-trust settlement came down and all the newstoadies were setting up in the vacant lot diagonally across the street from my office building for their "on-site reports."

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 19, 2006 12:03 PM

It never ceases to amaze that the GOP is labeled the party of the rich when all the billionaires including Buffet, Soros, Gates et al. are lefties as well as the top management in the largest corporations. Where do the rich Republicans hang out?

Posted by: erp at April 19, 2006 2:46 PM


Posted by: ratbert at April 20, 2006 12:33 AM