USALI Associated Scholar Maggie Lewis was featured as a contributor on the ChinaFile post, "What Can We Expect from China at the G20?" An excerpt from her post is included below:
"I picked up the newspaper this morning to read the headline, “U.S. and China Set Aside Rifts for Climate Accord.” Especially as someone who frets about the world in which her young children will live, this is certainly welcome news. Yet deeper in the front section were accounts of extremely strict media control surrounding the G20: “In six years of covering the White House, I had never seen a foreign host prevent the news media from watching Mr. Obama disembark [from Air Force One].” While I understand Chen Weihua’s point that “the G20 is foremost a forum for the global economy,” human rights is not a distraction when the P.R.C. government itself makes an issue of freedom of expression, assembly, and other internationally recognized rights. These rights are enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that China signed in 1998 but still has yet to ratify.
As I have argued elsewhere, not every interaction between the U.S. and P.R.C. governments must have human rights as the focal point. For example, addressing human rights in the context of exchange rate policies would require an artificial linkage. To use the Chinese idiom, adding human rights to the discussion could at worst be like “drawing feet on a snake” (画蛇添足): changing the effect by adding something superfluous. The discussion would be about exchange rates and human rights, not the human rights implications of exchange rates. But when human rights are inextricable from an issue, then human rights should also be inextricable from bilateral conversations regarding that issue.
Accordingly, I would add “clarity” to Sophie Richardson’s call for “tenacity, confidence, and unity” when responding to China’s conduct with respect to human rights. The U.S. government should formulate a clear plan for articulating how human rights connect to items on the bilateral agenda and then for taking concrete steps to effectuate that plan in a true whole-of-government approach."