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Hu's visit nothing to celebrate

April 20, 2006|Nancy Pelosi | NANCY PELOSI (D-San Francisco) is the minority leader in the House of Representatives.

TODAY, PRESIDENT Bush will roll out the red carpet for Chinese President Hu Jintao, a leader whose government brutally crushes freedom, democracy and the religious expression of the Chinese and Tibetan people. Hu will receive the best welcome U.S. taxpayer money can buy, including full military honors and a 21-gun salute.

This is the same regime that provides military technologies to countries that threaten international security, including Iran and North Korea. The same regime that threatens Taiwan with a military attack, detains and tortures Chinese people for expressing their political and religious beliefs and arrests Tibetans for carrying a picture of the Dalai Lama.

While open dialogue is essential, many of us on both sides of the aisle in Congress oppose the celebratory nature of this official visit.

This is not about isolationism. We must have engagement with China, but it should be sustainable engagement that enables us to maintain our values, continue our economic growth and uphold our national security.

Our growing national debt to China is a national security issue. Countries such as China that own our debt will soon not only be making our toys, our clothes and our computers, they will be making our foreign policy.

U.S. policy toward China is ineffective in upholding the pillars of our foreign policy -- promoting democratic freedom, stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and growing our economy by promoting exports abroad. Instead, we have pursued trickle-down liberty -- promoting economic freedom first, assuming that political freedom will follow. Reality exposes this policy as the illusion it is.

Bush administration officials say they hope that China will become a "responsible stakeholder." We should avoid wishful thinking. Beijing's priority is regime security. Economic development, along with the harsh repression of its own citizens, are the means to maintain political power. Access to the U.S. market is central to Beijing's strategy.

American access to the massive Chinese market is also essential, but our trade relationship has been a disaster. Despite more than a decade of concessions, the trade deficit with China has grown from $4 billion a year to more than $4 billion a week. China continues to manipulate its currency, making its exports cheaper and U.S. imports more expensive than they would be in free-market conditions.

Finally, members of Congress of both parties will be watching to see if Bush kowtows to Beijing in ways that threaten our long-standing commitment to Taiwan.

The American people want the administration to show resolve in standing up to Beijing, to demonstrate that we believe that the Chinese people deserve freedom.

Only then will we have the moral authority to speak out for freedom in other parts of the world.

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