According to The Epoch Times, as President Donald Trump appoints increasingly hawkish foreign policy hands to assert U.S. trade interests, a veteran China expert whose views closely mirror that of new national security adviser John Bolton suggests that exposing human rights abuses is the best tool for redefining relations with an aggressive China.
Dan Blumenthal is the director of Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute and previously advised the U.S. government on China issues for over a decade. He said that while the United States is locked in a strategic competition with China around the world, an effective pushback cannot be a purely military endeavor, but must include an organized effort to expose abuses by the Chinese communist regime.
“The No. 1 weapon we should never give up is human rights,” said Blumenthal, who delivered a keynote speech at the SAIS Asia Conference on March 30. “[Human rights] is a powerful tool for the United States to stay in the center in China and to stand with those who are oppressed.”
Blumenthal pointed to the Chinese regime’s persecution of Uyghurs, the Muslim ethnic group in China’s Xinjiang region, as a topic that should be targeted by U.S. human rights efforts. Doing so could help decouple China’s strategic relations with Muslim majority countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Gulf states, all of which are at the frontier of China’s global expansion of power.
“China’s policies in Xinjiang are some of the most oppressive toward the Muslims in the world, yet few people know about them,” Blumenthal said, arguing that the U.S. State Department needs to “step up to the competition” and set up an information office similar to the ones established in the Cold War to highlight bad behavior by China.
Blumenthal’s comments follow Trump’s announcement on March 22 that Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., will replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, starting April 9.