Talk of the Town - Calling China September 02 2000

Clinton chats with Jiang

Yeah, uh, Beijing? This is Bill Clinton calling for Jiang Zemin... Hello, Jiang. You staying busy, comrade? With Al and Hillary gone, things have really slowed down here. I did wow 'em at the L.A. convention, but I don't know if I helped Al. He looked pretty silly, kissing Tipper like it was V-J Day and talking about being his own man. I guess we'll see about that, huh?

Well, I'm calling about this human rights stuff again. I'm just looking for a little quid pro quo here, a little I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine.

I mean, I really went to bat for you guys on the UN's global religion get-together. You said inviting the Dalai Lama would be embarrassing, and we made sure his name didn't get on the guest list. Having him there would have been a big reminder of your, uh, complicated past, like when Paula Jones showed up at that gala for me a few years back. I feel your pain, man.

I can also understand you've gotta' do what you've gotta' do with that Falun Gong outfit, all those nuts hanging out in parks humming and stretching like the Karate Kid or something. But now your police have gone and arrested 130 more Christians, three of whom are Americans from California...

Yes, I know they were breaking your rules. And I understand rules are rules. After all, when that poor Cuban kid's uncle didn't hand him over right away, I told Janet Reno to roll through Little Havana with a gang of federal agents toting machine guns. That showed them, all right.

So, while I can appreciate a good show of force now and then, this Christian persecution deal has gone too far. Now I hear your government is claiming this evangelical group is some sort of "evil cult" and you've already given the leader two years of "re-education through labor." To me, that seems a little harsh.

I'm a Christian too, you know, and I don't like the idea of people being tossed in jail just for believing in Jesus. A lot of my old Arkansas friends have been, uh, incarcerated, and, let me tell you, jail's no picnic, even in this country.

I'm also sad to say that's not all, Jiang. I read a pretty shocking report the other day about how some of your bureaucrats got more than a little carried away enforcing your country's one-child policy. Now, I'm all for abortion — even partial-birth abortion — but I draw the line at infanticide and that's exactly what these people did.

Newspapers here say doctors tried to abort the kid at the hospital, but the baby came out alive. When the family took the child home, five government enforcers were already there, waiting on them. These agents snatched the kid from the parents and drowned it right outside in a rice paddy, in front of the mom and dad ...

I know you've got your own way of handling religious minorities and controlling population growth, but I honestly don't know how much more of this stuff you can do without people in this country noticing. I realize most Americans are more concerned with who won "Survivor" than how folks are surviving in China, but sooner or later they just may notice.

And if the American people ever wake up, we could have a serious battle on our hands trying to get Congress to renew your Most Favored Nation trading status. I'm not saying I'd ever raise a fuss, but there's only so much I can do to keep the far left and the far right from teaming up against all the easy free trade now enriching big business here and big communists there...

Well, uh, Jiang, you've certainly got a point there. Of course you're right, we did give you that permanent special trading status earlier this year. And with no annual vote in Congress anymore to worry about, you fellas can pretty much do what you want without any real fear of economic reprisal.

So, uh, would it help if I said please? Or pretty please? Would you shape up then? Just let me know because I'll be glad to say whatever it takes. I always have.

Contact Luke Boggs at lukeboggs@hotmail.com

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