I've got an editorial running in today's Washington Post, titled Shattering the China Dream. I talk about the way in which Chinese state agents are in the habit of what amounts to kidnapping: abducting people for long periods of time without any kind of charges, formal arrest, or any kind of legal process whatsoever. Blogger and filmmaker Hao Wu has now been held for 58 days in this way. As far as many Americans are concerned, such unlawful detentions cast a very long shadow over Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the U.S. this week. My piece concludes:
With Chinese President Hu Jintao in the United States this week, Americans have an opportunity to assess his regime. What is this country to think? On the one hand his government has raised the living standards of millions of its citizens with economic reform and international trade. On the other hand his underlings trample shamelessly on his people's basic human rights.
The careers of some politicians in both countries -- not to mention military budgets -- would no doubt benefit if our two nations became enemies. As an American who lived and worked in China for more than a decade, however, I continue to believe that peaceful engagement between the United States and China is in the best interest of both nations' people.
But we have a serious problem that won't go away: How can Americans respect or trust a regime that kidnaps our friends?
Hao's birthday was on Tuesday. His sister Nina says you can give him a birthday present by doing something to lobby for his realease. Click here to participate in our letter writing campaign and click here to sign an online petition demanding Hao's release.