Should Obama Push Human Rights Harder With China?

Many see the Chinese president's visit as a chance for Obama to push for Liu Xiaobo's release.

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Chinese President Hu Jintao is in Washington for a three-day visit to include a state dinner and meetings to discuss security, trade, and human rights. During the formal, red-carpet welcome ceremony this morning at the White House, President Obama greeted Hu with remarks emphasizing universal human rights. But many hope the president will hone in more specifically on the issue. The Chinese Human Rights Defenders Monday called for President Obama “to continue to speak publicly and privately to demand the release of his fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, the imprisoned writer and activist Liu Xiaobo.”

The president did release a statement when Liu was awarded the prize in absentia last month. “Mr. Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was,” he writes. “The values he espouses are universal, his struggle is peaceful, and he should be released as soon as possible.”

The Weekly Standard’s Ellen Bork pointed out in an article Monday that Obama did not meet with supporters of democracy or others “who would have offended Chinese leaders” on his Asia tour last November. “The president’s determination to avoid using the weight and prestige of his office to support democratic opponents of authoritarian regimes in China, Iran, Belarus, and elsewhere is quickly becoming a hallmark of his administration,” Bork writes. “It’s a dispiriting trend. And it suggests that the president simply does not grasp the meaning and potential of Liu Xiaobo and his fellow Chinese democrats.”

What do you think? Should Obama do more to push for Liu Xiaobo’s release? Take the poll and post your thoughts below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.

Previously: What should the GOP’s top priority be?