FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

“Shameless”: Hillary Clinton, Human Rights and China

Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton has shown that she can be no less hypocritical than the republican candidate field on foreign policy matters when it comes to China. In a tweet meant to arouse popular feelings of solidarity with women’s rights, former Secretary of State Clinton criticised the leader of the world’s second largest economy as “shameless” for promoting women’s rights. In case you missed it, yes that was “shameless” for promoting women’s rights.

At the UN summit on women’s rights, organized by China and U.N. Women, China President Xi Jinping announced that he would pledge to build 100 new schools for girls, up to 100 new health clinics, and would offer travel to China for up to 30,000 women from developing countries to receive training and skills. The apparent ire of the Clinton campaign was instead focused upon the defence of five Chinese feminists facing criminal charges in Beijing for inciting public unrest.

Campaign points for tough rhetoric on China have become a staple of presidential campaigning over the years. In 2012, Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney staked part of his foreign policy credentials on the claim to make China pay, “on day one”, by labelling it a currency manipulator. 2015 republican presidential candidate and billionaire Donald Trump has similarly called on the president “hold China accountable” for China’s economic instability. According to Governor of New Jersey and Republican presidential candidate Chris Christi, America’s federal debt can be blamed “in large measure” on the Chinese. Carly Fiorina claimed in contrast that most of America’s intellectual property rights woes can be blamed on “unimaginative” Chinese, who cannot “innovate”.

Xi’s visit to the United States has provided a platform for candidates to show “backbone” according to former Republican candidate Scott Walker on how to deal with China. Clinton’s “shameless” grab for the spotlight however has highlighted serious hypocritical tones as certain criticisms on human rights appear to be missing from the dialogue.
Ostensibly, there has been no mention by the Clinton camp on the controversial decision by the UN to elect Saudi Arabia to be the Chair on the UN Human Rights Council. Executive Director of UN Watch Hillel Neuer remarked that Saudi Arabia had “arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to … women’s rights”. The Saudi appointment Neuer remarked was “scandalous”. Coincidentally on the day UN documents were released detailing delegate Chairs, Clinton posted a tweet underscoring the need to combat “violence against women in South Carolina”. No mention of the Saudi posting by Clinton was acknowledged.

This should be somewhat surprising given the prominence of human and women’s rights in the Clinton campaign. But when it comes to relationships with states such as Saudi Arabia, the rhetoric on human rights abuses in Clinton Inc.’s agenda recedes. Saudi Arabia has long been a serious violator of such rights. Both China and Saudi Arabia appear at the bottom and human rights index on the Human Rights Watch website, but in terms of woman’s rights generally Saudi Arabia leads the bottom of the list. In July this year, prominent women’s rights activists Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Oyouni were each handed a 10 month prison sentence and travel bans for up to two years all for attempting to assist a women from domestic abuse. Women in Saudi Arabia are subjected to harsh Sharia laws which enforce strict segregation, it supports harassment of women and uses physical punishment to entrench upon women conservative standards of behavior and dress.

While moving off the topic of women’s rights, Human Rights in general had fallen in recent years in Saudi Arabia, even as the rest of the world moves on to new global standards. As Clinton’s campaign continues on its cherry picking issue way, Saudi man Ali al-Nimr awaits execution by beheading for participating in protests four years ago when he was then a minor. Another Saudi Raif Badawi also awaits the punishment of 1000 lashes for apparently insulting Islam on his blog. Saudi Arabia is one of only three countries in the world that still executes anyone for offences committed as minor (the two other countries being Sudan and Iran).

Clinton is right to criticise Beijing’s human rights record in so far as it applies to a universal standard. But as a former Secretary of State and presidential hopeful, calling the leader of a nation that also happens to be the most important bilateral relationship for America “shameless” is not tactful. Cheap points in the short-run will not equal smart points in the long run.

A more mature appraisal of China’s role in the Asia-Pacific is needed in both rhetoric and debate. Beijing’s island reclamation efforts in the South China Seas will be an issue the next President will need to deal with decisively. Criticism of China’s forceful tactics in the region would offer a more even-handed sound-bite, if that is the objective. Picking an issue for which China has attempted to champion, not to mention throw hundreds of millions of dollars at, is however a clumsy exercise in bungling rhetoric. Particularly when certain international ‘friends’ of America continues to champion one of the world’s worst human rights records.

 

More articles by:

Adam Bartley is a Researcher and PhD candidate at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bartley.aa@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail