Hillary Clinton has loudly demanded that George Bush boycott the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies as a protest against China’s crackdown on Tibet and dissenters. However, Bill Clinton has found financial reward from collaborators with the Beijing government in that crackdown for his charitable foundation. Alibaba, which took over Yahoo’s operations in China, has paid for promotional work done by the former president in an amount he refuses to disclose:
As Chinese authorities have clamped down on unrest in Tibet and jailed dissidents in advance of the 2008 Olympics, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken a strong public stance, calling for restraint in Tibet and urging President Bush to boycott the Olympics opening ceremonies in Beijing.
But her recent stern comments on China’s internal crackdown collide with former President Bill Clinton’s fundraising relationship with a Chinese Internet company accused of collaborating with the mainland government’s censorship of the Web. Last month, the firm, Alibaba Inc., carried a government-issued “most wanted” posting on its Yahoo China homepage, urging viewers to provide information on Tibetan activists suspected of stirring recent riots.
Alibaba, which took over Yahoo’s China operation in 2005 as part of a billion-dollar deal with the U.S.-based search engine, arranged for the former president to speak to a conference of Internet executives in Hangzhou in September 2005. Instead of taking his standard speaking fees, which have ranged from $100,000 to $400,000, Clinton accepted an unspecified private donation from Alibaba to his international charity, the William J. Clinton Foundation.
Clinton didn’t even challenge the Chinese government for openness in his 2005 appearance. Activists had asked him to raise the case of Shi Tao, a dissident writer arrested in 2004 with the assistance of Yahoo, Alibaba’s parent before the spinoff. Not only did Clinton refuse to do so, he never bothered to mention the Chinese government’s censorship of the Internet, which has become one of the issues with the Beijing Olympics and athletes.
With the Clintons, it always comes back to China. The Chinese government funneled money into Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996 in a major fund-raising scandal. Clinton managed to survive it, but questions about China’s connections to the Norman Hsu and other fund-raising scandals for Hillary’s bid still remain.
In this case, it’s less about potential legal wrongdoing than simple hypocrisy. Hillary scolds Bush for not challenging China’s crackdown on dissenters while her husband had no problem brown-nosing those who assist in oppression when it benefited him and his foundation. Bush should seriously consider skipping the opening ceremonies, but the Clintons have zero moral standing to make that demand.