After all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth over both human-rights violations and trade-pact cheating in China from the Left during the last eight years, one would expect a Democratic administration to take a much tougher line on both.  With Hope and Change coming to the White House, Obama voters had every right to think that their new hero (bigger than Jesus Christ!) would lead the way to Truth and Justice.  For Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, though, the answer to WWJD and WWBOD is — what Bush did:

Amnesty International and a pro-Tibet group voiced shock Friday after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed not to let human rights concerns hinder cooperation with China.

Paying her first visit to Asia as the top US diplomat, Clinton said the United States would continue to press China on long-standing US concerns over human rights such as its rule over Tibet.

“But our pressing on those issues can’t interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis,” Clinton told reporters in Seoul just before leaving for Beijing.

T. Kumar of Amnesty International USA said the global rights lobby was “shocked and extremely disappointed” by Clinton’s remarks.

Hillary wanted to stress that human rights are important, but that the Obama administration has its priorities.  They appear to be ranked in this order:

  1. Business (trade).
  2. Business (energy policy).
  3. Security (North Korea and Taiwan).
  4. Reminding China not to enslave, beat, and kill people.

I think that the Bush administration put security first, followed by trade and human rights — and got pilloried for it by Democrats over the last eight years.  We heard nothing but how Bush wanted to suck up to Beijing, and that he didn’t care about people, blah blah blah.  Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t recall a statement by Condoleezza Rice or Colin Powell that baldly stated that the US cared less about human rights than trade than this statement from Hillary Clinton does.

I’m torn on this.  The apparent pragmatism of the Obama foreign-policy team encourages me, but not as much as their fumbling amateurishness discourages me.  Most of us care about human-rights violations (and so did the Bush administration), but to give the game away in the opening days takes all the pressure off of Beijing for the next four years.  They know that the US will give them a pass on human rights as long as they keep trading with the US and toss Obama a few bones on climate change.