Howard Rich

Barack Obama predictably proclaimed “American values” on his recent trip to China, criticizing government censorship and praising an unrestricted, unregulated Internet as one of the lynchpins of modern democracy.

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“I’m a big supporter of non-censorship,” Obama said. “I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free Internet — or unrestricted Internet access — is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged.”

Later, in a question and answer session with college students, Obama oh-so-gently expressed his desire to see China (and the rest of the world) adopt an American-style marketplace of ideas.

“I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable,” said Obama. “They can begin to think for themselves.”

These remarks – though perfunctory – nonetheless create a curious set of conflicts for Obama on his first visit to the communist nation.

For starters, America has by-and-large forfeited its right to lecture the Chinese government on anything given our increasing reliance on Chinese loans to fund our continuing government expansions.

At $797.1 billion (and counting) China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. public debt – an amount that has increased by 10% since January. Additionally, the growing trade gap between the U.S. and China represents America’s largest bilateral deficit, something Obama’s organized labor allies are urging the president to address through a variety of new import duties.

Of course there’s only so much leverage that a borrower can hope to exert over his banker. And while the fact that America is relying on Chinese capital to cover its various bureaucratic bailouts doesn’t necessarily preclude Obama from lecturing Beijing, it certainly reduces the gravitas that his remarks might otherwise carry.

Much more fundamentally, however, Obama’s comments regarding freedom of information abroad simply do not square with his actions at home.

Like his great economic betrayal of the American middle class, Obama’s “non-censorship” rhetoric in China conceals a burning desire on the part of his administration to censor here in America.


Howard Rich

Howard Rich is the Chairman of Americans for Limited Government.