Greetings again from Shanghai, recently the most polluted city in the history of mankind. In case you haven't heard, the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda department announced that heavy smog is actually a good thing, since it makes China invisible to its enemies. It also unites the Chinese people and makes them more equal.
This week marked the fifth anniversary of Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo's detention and current stay in prison for the crime of thinking and talking about things while being Chinese in China. On this auspicious occasion, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement urging China to release him from prison and to release his wife, Liu Xia, from house arrest.
The Chinese foreign ministry promptly responded with a statement of its own saying that Kerry had no right to express an opinion about what should happen to Prisoner Liu or his wife. Yes, that's right: The Chinese government now presumes to tell the U.S. Secretary of State what he has the right and doesn't have the right to talk about.
In its statement the foreign ministry said that "China’s 1.3 billion people have the best right to talk about the country's human rights." Presumably the 1.3 billion Chinese people the statement referred to doesn't include dissidents like Mr. and Ms. Liu.
(Another benefit of heavy smog: The extremely low visibility prevents Liu Xiaobo from writing things critical of the Chinese government or finding his way out of prison.)
Somewhere in Beijing right now, I'm certain, Secretary Kerry is being accused of "interfering in China's internal affairs" and of "hurting the feelings of the Chinese people," because why not? These lines have always been so effective in the past at silencing Beijing's overseas critics. "The Chinese people," as I've noted, doesn't include Mr. and Ms. Liu.
Of course, ultra-left purveyors of false equivalencies will say: "But America spies on its own citizens and persecutes whistleblowers like Ed Snowden. Doesn't that make America the same as China?" Well, no, it doesn't. I disagree with the government's spying activities and persecution of whistleblowers as much as anyone. These things, however, are not equivalent to being thrown into prison and having family members subjected to collective punishment for simply expressing an opinion about something. I also don't recall Secretaries of State Clinton or Kerry telling other foreign ministers what they're allowed or not allowed to have an opinion about.
(In some parts of China, as in Alaska according to its former governor, we can also see Russia where Ed Snowden is. Except when there's heavy smog, which also means that Ed Snowden and the Russians can't see us. Thank goodness for that!)