GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney called on U.S. officials to protect Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng who escaped house arrest and is believed to hiding at the U.S. embassy in Beijing.
“My hope is that U.S. officials will take every measure to ensure that Chen and his family members are protected from further persecution,” Romney said in a press release Sunday. “This event points to the broader issue of human rights in China. Any serious U.S. policy toward China must confront the facts of the Chinese government’s denial of political liberties, its one-child policy, and other violations of human rights.”
U.S. officials so far have refused to discuss the whereabouts of Chen, and it is unclear whether he is seeking U.S. asylum.
John Brennan, President Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser, said Sunday the United States is committed to protecting human rights and freedom of expression around the world but has to balance that commitment with its international relationships. “The president will do whatever he thinks is in the best interest of the United States, as well as the individuals involved,” Brennan said when asked directly if the United States would protect Chen (FoxNews).
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner head to China later this week for scheduled security and economic talks. Kurt Campbell, the State Department’s top diplomat for East Asia, arrived in Beijing Sunday on an unannounced trip, apparently to deal with the Chen situation in advance of Clinton’s arrival (WashPost).
On Meet the Press Sunday, Romney campaign adviser Ed Gillespie and Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs discussed U.S. foreign policy (NBC), national security, and the economy, battling over which candidate has the better strategy for the nation.
Gillespie reiterated criticism of the Obama administration’s “reset” approach to Russian relations. “I don’t think that actually his policy toward Russia has an improvement for the United States. I believe that we need to understand that Russia is not helping us relative to containing Iran. And that’s probably one of the most important priorities we have as a nation right now,” Gillespie said arguing that the United States isn’t as strong as it could be under Obama’s leadership.
Gibbs countered later in the show that the Bush administration had the same problems at the UN with Russia. “This president came in, changed that and now we have the most severe, most crippling sanctions on the regime in Iran that we’ve ever had,” Gibbs said. “That wasn’t possible when Ed walked in the White House or Ed walked out of the White House. It was possible because this president knows clearly what he wants to do as commander-in-chief and in exercising a strong foreign policy for this country.”
In a Friday speech at an Ohio college, Romney warned that current “government-dominated” policies are aimed at making the U.S. economy more like Europe’s, “and Europe doesn’t work in Europe” (LAT) in a hint to the current eurozone crisis.
Romney also talked job creation, touting his experience at Bain Capital, and touched on his desire to keep federal student loan costs low and to prevent Congress and the current administration from creating too much debt for future generations to pay off.
–Contributing Editor Gayle S. Putrich