Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Clarification re: "engagement" with China

In my recent post on H. Res. 821 and religious freedom in China (and Tibet), after saying "bravo" about the Resolution, I wrote (among other things):

Also, I don't know whether it makes sense to boycott the 2008 Olympics entirely, or if the cause of human rights in China is better served through "engagement" (or, "massive transfers of money through consumer spending") or condemnation.  At the end of the day, perhaps the best course is the former.  Still, this is a powerful image:

Regular readers of this blog know that I've been pretty tough over the years on China, its human-rights abuses, and -- in particular -- its failure to respect and protect religious freedom.  However, Susan's recent post, and Elizabeth Brown's comments, suggest that some readers might have interpreted my statement that "I don't know" if "engagement" well serves the cause of human rights in China, or my acknowledgment that "perhaps" it does, as a denial by me that (in Elizabeth's words) "[e]ngagement must mean something more than letting China get away with murder (or significant human rights violations) just because American companies are entranced with the possibility with selling to 1 billion plus Chinese".  (I said "I don't know" only because, well, I don't.  I'm not an expert in the relevant fields.  My instinct, for what it's worth, is to strongly recoil from our willingness to overlook the tyranny in China for the sake of cheap goods.)  I would have thought that my (somewhat snarky) use of the phrase "massive transfers of money through consumer spending" was enough to ward off any such interpretation but, just in case . . .   

Elizabeth also writes, "[g]lobal trade is more of a mixed blessing than most free market conservatives are willing to admit."  In this life, most blessings are "mixed blessings", so I'm certainly willing to "admit" -- and have never denied -- that global trade is one of them.

So, should the United States boycott the Olympics?  Susan?  Elizabeth?


Garnett, Rick | Permalink

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