2006/05/04

China's at it again, messing up all the human rights progress the USA is always making

From China's Leader Signs Oil Deals With Africans:
Unlike the United States, which often demands human rights improvements in exchange for trade deals, China takes the opposite approach.
I don't think I'm just being polemical when I say this - what the hell is he talking about? When has the USA demanded human rights improvements before signing trade deals? That's not just a rhetorical question - if someone can set me straight on this, please do. But I'm pretty sure that America has trade agreements with a good number of countries that boast atrocious human rights records.

It's a bad sign when reporters at the most liberal newspaper have already fallen into line behind the US propaganda line in the approaching cold war with China.

Btw, China's "opposite approach" turns out to be "the principle of noninterference in others' internal affairs", rather than what the phrasing would lead you to expect, that China demands increased human rights abuses before it signs trade deals.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

Hasn't some human rights language made its way into recent trade agreements with Latin American and West African countries? I can't recall specific examples, and I may be off-base, but at least I can confidently say this: the center-left reaps what it sows.

The more mainstream side of the "anti-globalization" movement over the past few years - represented by organizations like the Sierra Club, SEIU, Amnesty International, etc. - has been pretty consistent in its response to proposed trade deals. The rallying cry for at least five years has been "all trade deals must include human rights, labor, and environmental protections". The problem, of course, is that it's like putting a Band-Aid on a fatal wound. (Please note that I capitalized "Band-Aid" out of respect for the cultural logic of branding.) Center-left organizations generally declined to question the fundamental structure or logic of the global system, preferring to focus on specific language that could be added to negotiated trade agreements, and I fear the rallying cry was so persistent that people like this reporter may have come to believe A) that such language represents an effective "fix" for the problems caused by the global economy, and B) that such language is now standard.

It might seem like a stretch at first, but it's possible this isn't too dissimilar from the bizarre cultural transformation of the value that we call "environmentalism". Environmental protection is now so broadly shared, as a value, that many people are actually unwilling to believe that our government, corporations, etc. would be *anti*-environmental. I wonder if this passage is pointing, in a roundabout way, to the same phenomenon with trade agreements: the gavel was pounded so successfully that, c'mon, the government does those things all the time, right? And so it goes with torture as well: *obviously* we don't torture, because that's just horrible!

Then again, this reporter might not be a thermometer for our entire culture. He might simply be dumb.