New York Post on May 1, 2012 published a commentary by John Bolton on dissent beneath China’s surface stability. Excerpts below:

The dramatic news that dissident Chen Guangcheng escaped from house arrest and traveled clandestinely to seek refuge in America’s Beijing embassy is still rocking China. Chen’s journey captured worldwide media attention; his fate could have profound implications for China’s future domestically and for Sino-American affairs, this century’s most important bilateral relationship.

Chen opposes China’s notorious “one child per family” policy; he infuriated the country’s rulers by filing class actions on behalf of women involuntarily sterilized or forced to have abortions under the “one child” strictures.

In February 2009, on her first visit to China as secretary, Clinton was dismissive about Tibet, religious freedom and other human-rights issues: “We know what they are going to say, because I’ve had those kinds of conversations for more than a decade with Chinese leaders. We have to continue to press them. But our pressing on those issues can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate-change crisis and the security crisis.”

“Noninterference” will be essentially impossible for America if Chen formally applies for political asylum while inside our Beijing compound.

Meanwhile, the other big China story of recent months is challenging the received wisdom in US governmental and business circles that China is experiencing a “peaceful rise,” becoming a “responsible stakeholder” internationally. The apparent purge of Bo Xilai, former Communist Party supremo in Chongqing, also demonstrates major fault lines in China’s political structures.

However this ongoing intraparty contest turns out, the undeniable open warfare underlines that China’s internal political direction is far less certain than the apostles of “peaceful rise” would have us believe.

Fears among US business and political elites that standing up for US interests would only rile China and worsen relations to our detriment have simply empowered the most aggressive and authoritarian instincts of an already aggressive and authoritarian Communist and military leadership.

Chen’s asylum case will almost certainly affect the outcome of the political struggles exemplified by Bo Xilai’s fall.

We should grant Chen asylum, insist that his family in China be protected, speak out against the “one child” policy and much, much more.

John Bolton is a former US ambassador to the United Nations.


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