Biden Can Meet Xi From a Position of Moral Strength
Xi Jinping’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP) evidently has nothing against terrorism when it can be used to further China’s national and geopolitical interests. In their San Francisco meeting planned for Wednesday, President Biden should forcefully tell Xi that exploiting Islamist terrorist violence as a wedge against the West will only drag China’s moral reputation further into the dirt.
By now the failure of Xi and other Chinese leaders to forcefully condemn the attack on Israel by Iran-backed Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 has revealed a disgraceful Machiavellianism. Hamas murdered around 1,200 mostly Jewish Israeli citizens and others, the worst assault on the Jewish people since the Holocaust, a genocidal massacre driven by virulent antisemitism. But top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi could not bring himself to describe it in any way other than the language of moral equivalency — as an “escalation of tensions between Palestine and Israel” — and called on “all parties to adopt a restrained attitude.” Without mentioning the slaughter of Israelis, he said the “urgent task” was to “avoid a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”
Chinese authorities falsely claim that the threat of Islamist terrorism and separatism requires and justifies their incarceration and torture of more than a million Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang. But they obviously have calculated that excusing the Oct. 7 atrocities in Israel, and blaming Israel and the United States for civilian deaths in the war in Gaza, will help align China with developing countries and people around the world, including in Western democracies, who decry colonialism.
The Chinese people have a right to resent China’s past exploitation by colonial powers, yet the CCP has played the victim card to leverage nationalistic sentiment needed to divert attention from the regime’s heavy-handed denial of basic freedoms and public policy failures. With a faltering economy and growing disenchantment among some young people, ideological and even military conflict can be seen as essential to regime stability.
In view of the deep moral hypocrisy epitomized by these clumsy efforts to instrumentalize a major tragedy, Biden can and should approach Xi from a position of strength. He should not be afraid to draw a sharp distinction between China’s hegemonic vision of a “community of common destiny for mankind” and America’s tradition of supporting individual rights and freedoms. Autocratic leaders who see cooperation with China as key to their power may buy into Xi’s bromides, but people who value liberty and truth do not.
Aaron Rhodes is a senior fellow and Cheryl Yu is a senior researcher at Common Sense Society.
Read the full article at The Messenger.