Obama administration to China: Sorry about that racist AZ law; Update: How China treated Mexicans last year
posted at 12:15 pm on May 17, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
The Obama administration continued its Apology Tour into a second year, this time taking it by surrogate to Beijing. As my friend and NARN colleague John Hinderaker notes at Power Line, the notion that the US owes China any sort of apology on human rights is “unfreakingbelievable.” It’s especially mystifying when it comes to enforcement of immigration law, as the White House expressed diplomatic regret over Arizona’s new provision to enforce existing law in the absence of a federal effort:
Michael Posner, the assistant secretary of state, told reporters that another round will happen some time next year in Beijing. The countries also plan to hold talks on legal matters soon and he said he will participate in a high-profile economic and security summit in Beijing this month.
“In two days, we’re not going to change major policies or major points of view, but we laid a foundation to continue,” Posner said. “The tone of the discussions was very much, `We’re two powerful, great countries. We have a range of issues that we are engaged on. Human rights is part of that discussion, and it will remain so.'”
What was part of that discussion? Maybe China’s totalitarian one-child, forced-abortion policies? Its censorship, especially regarding access to the Internet? Not exactly:
Posner said in addition to talks on freedom of religion and expression, labor rights and rule of law, officials also discussed Chinese complaints about problems with U.S. human rights, which have included crime, poverty, homelessness and racial discrimination.
He said U.S. officials did not whitewash the American record and in fact raised on its own a new immigration law in Arizona that requires police to ask about a person’s immigration status if there is suspicion the person is in the country illegally.
John also points to Posner’s press briefing, in which he equated the new Arizona law to discrimination:
QUESTION: Was there any areas in which China sort of turned the tables and raised its own complaints or concerns about U.S. practices around the globe or at home? Can you give some examples there –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Sure. You know, I think – again, this goes back to Ambassador Huntsman’s comment. Part of a mature relationship is that you have an open discussion where you not only raise the other guy’s problems, but you raise your own, and you have a discussion about it. We did plenty of that. We had experts from the U.S. side, for example, yesterday, talking about treatment of Muslim Americans in an immigration context. We had a discussion of racial discrimination. We had a back-and-forth about how each of our societies are dealing with those sorts of questions. …
QUESTION: Did the recently passed Arizona immigration law come up? And, if so, did they bring it up or did you bring it up?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session, and as a troubling trend in our society and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination, and that these are issues very much being debated in our own society.
In other words, China didn’t even mention it — the Obama administration did. They managed to apologize for a law that, technically and practically speaking, the Department of Justice hasn’t even yet reviewed. Eric Holder hasn’t read the sixteen-page bill after a month of criticizing it, and it seems highly doubtful that Posner has even “glanced” at it. Besides, the same law has existed in California for years — and the White House hasn’t so much as breathed a word about California’s penal code.
It doesn’t make the Obama administration sound “mature” to call Arizona racist for tasking its law enforcement agencies with enforcing the law. It makes them look illiterate, closed-minded, and weak. Maybe Posner should focus on China’s long record of oppression, slave labor, political executions, and heavy-handed censorship — and join Arizona in demanding that the federal government start enforcing the laws that have existed for decades on immigration.
Update: Say, maybe the Obama administration might want to mention this as well, from almost exactly a year ago:
Following the discovery of the infected Mexican man, authorities quarantined 70 Mexicans who arrived in China over the May 1 holiday weekend, most on different flights from the infected man. They include an official at Mexico’s consulate in Guangzhou who was returning on a flight from Southeast Asia. Except for the initial case, none of the 70 has shown symptoms of the disease, says a spokesperson from the embassy. Now concerns are being raised that Mexicans are being isolated solely because of their nationality.
Mexico’s Foreign Minister, Patricia Espinosa, called the treatment of the Mexicans in China discriminatory and said some of the quarantined travelers were being held in “unacceptable conditions.” On May 3, Mexico’s ambassador to China, Jorge Guajardo, attempted to visit 10 Mexicans who are in quarantine at Guomen Hotel in suburban Beijing, but he was denied access. As of Monday morning, he still hadn’t been able to gain access to the group. Over the Mexican government’s objections, China has decided to halt all AeroMexico flights coming into China. On Monday evening, the Chinese Foreign Ministry posted a brief announcement on its website saying that China and Mexico had planned for charter flights to return stranded nationals from the two countries, but no details were provided.
On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu denied that Mexicans were being singled out. “These measures are not aimed at Mexican citizens, and are not discriminating in nature. The issue is purely a matter of public health and quarantine inspection,” Ma said in a statement on the ministry’s website. “China understands Mexico’s concern for its citizens in China, but we hope Mexico could focus on the bigger picture of fighting against the epidemic … and deal with the issue in an objective and calm way.”