- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2011

As Chinese President Hu Jintao lunched Wednesday at the State Department on a sugar plum-themed menu, members of Congress expressed concerns that the leader of an unfree country would be feted so lavishly.

At a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican, described Mr. Hu as China’s “iron fist in Tibet,” noting the Chinese leader’s role in orchestrating crackdowns in the province earlier in his career.

Then he discussed how Chinese dissidents have said they were shocked under their armpits and in their genitals with electronic cattle prods. “Hu Jintao presides over that sickness and perversity,” Mr. Smith said.

He added that he believes Mr. Hu “ought to be at The Hague, rather than invited to a state dinner.”

For many members of Congress on Wednesday, the visit of the communist country’s leader represented not an opportunity for deepening U.S.-China ties, but rather the appeasement of an autocrat.

According to Amnesty International, the nongovernmental organization that tracks political prisoners, China is the world’s leading jailor of political prisoners. The relatives of some of those prisoners held a press conference at the House on Wednesday and urged President Obama to make the case for political reform in China a priority.

“As we speak, our country is officially welcoming President Hu as if he had the same stature and acceptability here as a democratic leader,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican.

Rep. Albio Sires, New Jersey Democrat, referred to the Chinese government as a “monster” and said the country is bent on “world domination.”

The tone in Congress contrasted with the atmospherics of the White House summit. Mr. Obama did press Mr. Hu on human rights and said he did so during a joint press conference, breaking with his administration’s earlier policy of not having senior U.S. officials criticize China’s human-rights record in public.

But Mr. Obama also stressed the deepening economic ties between the two countries.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, said he was pleased Mr. Obama raised human-rights issues with Mr. Hu. But he added, “We need a sustained focus on human rights in China.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote in a letter to Mr. Obama sent Wednesday that there is good reason to be pessimistic about China’s role in the world.

“The assertion by certain policy-makers that China would emerge as a responsible stakeholder and even a strategic partner in addressing global issues of mutual concern has proved sadly mistaken,” she wrote.

“From Tehran to Pyongyang and from Khartoum to Rangoon, Beijing has consistently adopted policy positions which are inconsistent with the advancement of global security and stability and which undermine the interests of our nation,” Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen added.

At Wednesday’s House hearing, Larry Wortzel, a former chairman and current commissioner for the U.S.-China Commission, said Chinese authorities participated in the shipment of missile parts from North Korea to Iran.

“Those things don’t happen without the concurrence of the central authorities in the provinces,” he said.

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