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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

"Sorry Guys Have to do it": The Geneva Resolution

The Washington Times: World

U.N. Human Rights Commisssion "Private human rights organizations and Western diplomats say the draft resolution that Washington has started to circulate in diplomatic circles is 'mild' and stops short of condemning human rights violations by China. "

The resolution referred to is one supposedly to censure China over it's record on Human Rights and is being circulated at the United Nations Human Rights Commission currently in it's annual sessions in Geneva.

This report is interesting because it seems to be further evidence that the United States Administration is very luke warm on such a significant condemnation of China and perhaps is only going ahead because it has been backed into a corner. The reported "mildness"of the resolution's wording is almost as if they are saying "ok if we have got to do this let's make it as painless as possible"

Even though Washington signaled very early on that it was likely to propose such a resolution it seemed more "threat" than anything else. Unlike prior years there was very little conviction shown in what was being said out of Washington. When asked by reporters on several occasions whether the U.S. would go ahead with proposing the resolution State Department spokespersons used language like "almost certain to" rather than language evidencing greater conviction.

Secretary of State Powell too was also ominously quiet on the situation throughout the lead up. It was not until the United States House of Representatives passed their own resolution almost unanimously, recommending that the Bush Administration go ahead with the tabling that that there was any real certainty that it would happen at all. The House's action had essentially backed the Administration into a corner.

We also had a reported telephone conversation between Powell and the Chinese Foreign Minister on the eve of the sessions which, as I commented at the time, seemed as if either some deal was going down or it was a "heads up" and apology in advance.

In fact when the U.S intentions as to the resolution tabling were publicly confirmed the Chinese Foreign ministry stated that the Americans had "gone back on their word" as if confirming that some deal had been brokered and was now being reneged upon.

And finally there was the apparent delay in getting the ball rolling in Geneva. When questioned as to this at a recent State Department "Noon Briefing" the State spokesperson was very defensive and when asked how much support the resolution was likely to receive he stated that they did not know. How do they not know unless they do not really care? This is diplomacy after all and it is all about backroom lobbying and for the U.S. not to know how much support such an important resolution was likely to enjoy is, to say the least, incredible.

I am betting that the Administration was originally not going to go ahead with this resolution and had assured the Chinese as much. Whether they brokered some trade off with the Chinese it is impossible to know but very likely. Then, when the House of Representatives voted so overwhelmingly to recommend that the resolution be tabled, the Bush Administration was stymied.

Quick apologetic phone calls to the Chinese, vacillation on the timing of the resolutions introduction, calls of "foul play" from the Chinese and finally a "mildly" worded resolution.

Am I reading too much into this?

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