Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Back to China...

What should the newly triumphant Democrats do about China?

It may be tempting for them to bash China, as opposition parties always do and presidents usually do during their first two years in office, before they find out they need the P.R.C. more than they thought--in Korea, in the U.N., on counter-terrorism and arms control, etc. It may be tempting to zig and zag as Clinton did, tying trade to rights one day and pushing PNTR the next.

But if the Democrats can hold themselves together, they could make real progress.

They could push real labor protections in China if they avoided the temptation to wrap the subject up in the futile attempt to protect every textile mill at home. They could raise human rights issues generally by approaching issues through a humble, real dialogue with the Chinese leadership (after Guantanamo and American torture planes from Europe, humility is definitely in order). They could coordinate better with the European Union's China policy.

Most importantly, they can find a balance between championing the world's hopes for Chinese democracy and maintaining the stability of China--internal and in its international relations--that is the prerequisite for a healthy democratic transition.

Here's hoping the party is up to the task!

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