The Chinese have long attempted to thwart U.S. and international support for religious minorities and other freedom-seeking people inside China. But denying a visa to a U.S. ambassador is a rare display of contempt.
How did the Obama administration respond? According to the Post, Cook and her staff were advised by "superiors in the Obama administration to avoid talking publicly about her canceled trip in the days before Xi's visit."
So the Chinese kick sand in America's face and the Obama administration is at pains to cover up for them?
In another signal of American meekness on human rights and religious liberty, the administration hosted a meeting on human rights the week before Xi's visit. Absent were representatives of the Uighurs, Tibetans or Chinese Christians. As Ellen Bork of the Foreign Policy Initiative noted, "Their reception in the White House would have sent a powerful signal of solidarity to the people of China, and especially human rights and democracy activists. We know from former political prisoners that such news has an impact, boosting their morale as well as improving their treatment."
Is it surprising that the Chinese disdain this White House?
In the course of his meeting with Xi, Vice President Biden made only the most anodyne and glancing references to human rights and religious persecution in China. As they clinked champagne flutes, Biden offered that he had mentioned the plight of "several very prominent individuals" to the Chinese leader and pronounced himself "appreciative" of Xi's response.
That is feeble. The greatest asset that the U.S. possesses in international relations is moral prestige. Whether they like us or not, the nations of the world acknowledge, sometimes only implicitly, that our democracy is genuine and our commitment to human freedom unmatched. Our capacity to confer legitimacy upon others is also unique. By kowtowing to China, the Obama administration has squandered that precious asset.