HUMAN RIGHTS

Is Obama Going Soft on China?

Last month, President Obama snubbed the Dalai Lama when the exiled Tibetan leader came through Washington. It was a strategic move to placate China, where Obama is now on a three-day visit to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao to address economic issues. Such actions have led some to think that Obama is brushing human-rights issues under the rug. So far on his Tour de Asia, Obama has failed to bring attention to Tibet or Xinjian, two embattled minority regions in China. (Although he did call for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese dissident leader under house arrest.) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also implied that, at the moment, the economy and climate change are more pressing issues than human rights. A former Bush administration Asia adviser said, "I really hope that on this trip the president not only presses privately but makes it clear publicly his support for the Dalai Lama... It's not just about an important international spiritual leader; it's a measure of how China will treat the weak as it grows more powerful." Obama will meet with the Dalai Lama after he returns from China.