First Lady Michelle Obama will not meet with human rights activists during her upcoming trip to China, according to White House officials, focusing instead on gauzy, feel-good kids issues that should be PR gold for the oppressive Chinese leadership.
While avoiding dissidents and anyone suffering under the regime, Mrs. Obama will cozy up to the wife of China’s ruler, Peng Liyuan, a former singer who has a reputation for being beautiful and fabulous and who sang for the martial law troops who had massacred protestors in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Michelle, who will be traveling with her daughters and her mother, will leave Wednesday and return March 26. According to White House officials, she’ll visit fascinating tourist traps and talk about “education and youth empowerment,” “people-to-people relations” and “cultural exchanges,” all of which are code words for nothing much at all.
Meanwhile, here’s one Chinese human rights activist Michelle definitely won’t be meeting with. Because she’s dead.
Last September, 52-year-old Cao Shunli disappeared from Beijing’s airport in September as she tried to fly to a session of the UN Human Rights Council. According to the Wall Street Journal, Chinese authorities said they had arrested her for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles.” Well she certainly was – by attempting to focus the council on China’s human rights abuses.
What she got for her efforts was death by medical neglect while in Chinese custody. According to the Journal:
By October Cao’s family was sounding alarms over her ill health, including symptoms of tuberculosis, liver disease and uterine fibroids. Authorities denied requests for medical parole or even hospitalization until Feb. 19, when they finally took her to a hospital. Cao soon fell into a coma and four weeks later she was dead.
So now Michelle won’t have to pick quarrels or provoke troubles with Chinese authorities by trying to meet with her.
This is one aspect of Chinese culture that won’t be exchanged. Instead, the message to U.S. students in all probability will be that China is oh so much like the United States.
Our differences are just misunderstandings! If only we could “communicate” better. It might even bring Cao Shunli back to life.