Open Letter from Wei Jingsheng to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

February 23, 2009

By Wei Jingsheng

Respectful Secretary of State Clinton,

I am a political prisoner rescued from China during President William Clinton’s term. I was fortunate to be invited to the White House to meet with then President Clinton, as well as to be introduced to you by President Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic during a banquet hosted by him. The rescued political prisoners like us, and the Chinese people during that era, had all appreciated very much the human rights diplomacy of the USA. We have cheered for its success, as well as sighed for its shortcomings. We are actively seeking the reasons for the shortcomings. When there is inappropriate wording, please forgive us.

Unfortunately we saw some huge mistakes during the President Clinton’s Administration. The first was the unlinking of Chinese human rights from trade issues, and the second was forcefully pushing the Congress to offer PNTR (i.e. Most Favored Nation status) to China. The result was that it not only reduced America’s international prestige and damaged the democratic progress in China, but also brought disastrous long-term results for America’s own economy and employment opportunities. According to the data released by the US government, during this period, the US trade deficit with China grew rapidly by a factor of 10 to more than 300 Billion Dollars annually, accumulating a total of more than 2 Trillion dollars.

Generally, people expected you to make a correction to this important historic mistake after you become the Secretary of State and to re-emphasize the human rights issue in China. However, from what you said and did during your visit to China this time, it was not the case. Using the words of the Chinese Communist government’s Internet agents, the human rights diplomacy of the USA has come to its end.

Is it true that there is no relationship between Chinese human rights and the US interests? That is not so. Although the trigger for the economic crisis in the USA was in the financial sector, the root cause was the trade imbalance, especially the huge trade deficit with China that has effectively destroyed the real economy in the USA. The Obama Administration has been mobilizing Americans to overcome the difficulty and revive the real economy, as the prerequisite to tide over the current economic crisis. The real prerequisite of this policy is to block the huge loophole of the foreign trade deficit. Otherwise, billions of dollars from the economic stimulus package will simply become the profit of the multi-national companies and the Chinese government.

How was this huge US trade deficit to China formed? The most important reason out of the many was due to unfair and unequal trade with China. China is not a free market economy but a totalitarian country under one party dictatorship. The Chinese Communist government controls China’s trade. Chinese workers do not have rights to protect their own interests. The government controls the Chinese media. It is exactly these human rights problems that result in the unfair and unequal trade, producing the abnormal trade deficit, tipping the economy of the developed countries, and finally ending with the current economic crisis. The imbalanced economic development in China has also resulted in the global energy crisis and environment pollution, and indirectly threatens the global security. All of these issues were of your attention during your trip to China, yet you have failed to put human rights as your top priority.

Thus, not to talk about Chinese human rights issues is effectively blocking the effort by the Obama Administration to solve the economic and security issues. I do not think that fits your responsibility as the US Secretary of State, or your purpose of visiting China now. There is a huge wave of criticism of your conduct related to your China visit this time, both inside China and Overseas, as well as in English and in Chinese. This failure has severely damaged the image of the Obama Administration, resulting in a huge misunderstanding of the US government, and also severely harming Americans’ expectation of President Obama. I wish that you would take effective steps to remedy that.

If you think that there is a need, I am willing to discuss the related issues with you further.

Best wishes that your work will be productive and successful.

— Wei Jingsheng

Chair, Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition

Washington DC, USA