Communist China isn’t happy with Ted Cruz. For months, Cruz has been proposing legislation that “would rename a part of the street across from China’s embassy after a pro-democracy activist,” Liu Xiaobo. Lu was arrested in China in 2008 after authoring a Pro-Democracy, Pro-Human Rights manifesto, and is the only Nobel laureate in prison today.
In September, Cruz explained the reason for “1 Liu Xiaobo Plaza”:
This would be the street sign that the Chinese ambassador would look at each day. This would be the address that every piece of correspondence going into the embassy and coming out of the embassy would have written on it … the PRC officials will be forced to recognize the bravery of Dr. Liu and to acknowledge it dozens of times a day – day after day after day.
The legislation finally passed the Senate, and is awaiting passage in the House. According to CNN:
“If the relevant bill is passed into law, it will cause serious consequences,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement, which also called Cruz’s bill “contrary to the basic norms” of international relations. “We demand the U.S. Senate stop promoting the bill and hope the U.S. executive authorities put an end to this political farce.”
That the Communists get upset when people call them out on their human rights violations is not new. The reason, as one former State Department official noted, is that “‘commies love pageantry’… since they lack public support or another strong claim to power… The pageantry of statecraft, including things such as summits with foreign leaders and state visits to the White House, provide China’s government with a veneer of legitimacy.” The truth is like a wrecking ball to that false legitimacy.
But the most amazing part of all this is why it took so long to pass: it was fought tooth and nail by Dianne Feinstein.
Senator Feinstein has a history of this. Taipei-based reporter Jens Kastner wrote in 2010:
No US politician is believed to enjoy ties to China’s previous and present-day leaderships as close as Feinstein. During 30 years of frequent visits to Beijing, Feinstein developed friendships with Chinese officials as high-ranking as former president Jiang Zemin, former premier Zhu Rongji and Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai – now arguably a rising political star in the country.
Controversially, on most of her trips to China, Feinstein has been accompanied by her investment-banker husband Richard Blum, to whom Feinstein has been married since 1980. Blum has been reported by US media as having extensive business interests with China. Feinstein is often described as one of the most powerful women in US politics.
Apart from this, the strong proponent of closer US-China ties held a speech on the 21st anniversary of the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square. Feinstein commented on the bloody protests in a way that strongly implied that she plays the role of being Beijing’s mouthpiece.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published June 6, the senator sought to explain the killing of hundreds of reportedly unarmed demonstrators by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into relations in a way that put the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) leaders of that era into a favorable light. “It just so happens I was here after that and talked to Jiang Zemin and learned that at the time China had no local police. It was just the PLA. And no local police that had crowd control. So, hence the tanks.”
This wasn’t the first time Feinstein had outraged China’s dissidents and international human-rights activists. In the past, the California Democrat demanded the creation of a commission that would study the evolution of human rights in both the US and China. The panel “would point out the success and failures [of] both Tiananmen Square and Kent State”, referring the incident in which four students were killed by Ohio National Guard gunfire during a 1970 anti-war demonstration.
The Kent State Shootings were an isolated incident. The Tiananmen Square massacre was a government approved act of official mass murder. It was not, in Feinstein’s words, “just the PLA” – it was ordered by the Politburo a month before the massacre. And Feinstein would have known it by 2010; the account of a dissenting Politburo member was in the New York Times in 2009. According to then-Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev, the real number of dead in Tiananmen Square exceeded 3,000 (or, in the Communist Dictator’s cold words—Gorbachev: Three thousand … So what?).
When Feinstein first moved to block Senator Cruz’s bill, Cruz responded sternly. “I, for one, think as Americans we should not be troubled by embarrassing Communist oppressors, and I would note, as the senior senator from California leaves the floor, that this is not an issue that is abstract to me,” the Texas Senator of Cuban descent said. “My family, like Dr. Liu, has been imprisoned by oppressive regimes. My father as a teenager was imprisoned and tortured in Cuba. He had his nose broken. He had his teeth shattered. He lay in the blood and grime of a prison cell. In Cuba, my aunt, my Tía Sonia, was a few years later imprisoned and tortured, this time by Castro – my father by Batista, my aunt by Castro – imprisoned and tortured by a communist regime. And it is a sad state when the United States of America cannot stand up and say: You who are imprisoned unjustly, we stand with you.”
You know, a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to visit with Natan Sharansky, the famed Soviet dissident. He and I visited in Jerusalem. He talked to me about how when he was in the Soviet Gulag, the prisoners would pass from cell to cell notes: Did you hear what president Reagan said? Evil empire; Ash heap of history; Tear down this wall. That the leadership of the United States of America – and mind you, it wasn’t partisan leadership – it was clear bipartisan leadership and America shined a light to the dark of those prison cells.
Madam President, I pray today that Dr. Liu, in his prison cell, does not hear word that Democratic senators are unwilling to stand with him. That is heartbreaking at a level rarely seen. It’s one thing for us to disagree on partisan matters. We can have disagreements over the appropriate rate of capital gains taxes, but for standing with an oppressed Nobel Peace Laureate, for standing up to Communist oppression, that should not be a partisan divide. The objection raised by the senior senator from California is deeply disappointing, and I intend to continue to press this issue because the voice of America, the voice for freedom that Pope Francis urged us to aspire to will not be extinguished. It is who we are. It is essential to our character and to our integrity.