Strategic mutual sincerity

In President Obama’s meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao this week, should discussion of human rights and religious freedom be … Continued

In President Obama’s meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao this week, should discussion of human rights and religious freedom be on par with economic and environmental issues, or should human rights and religious freedom be secondary matters?

According to the ancient Chinese philosopher K’ung-fu-tze, a.k.a. Confucius, the first principle of character and of government is sincerity. It matters little whether human rights is on par with economic an environmental issues or is a secondary issue in the diplomatic relationship between China and the United States. What matters is that human rights, religious freedom, and all the issues confronting the two nations are handled with sincerity.

Sincerity is truth, honesty and purity. Sincerity acts without guile. During a joint press conference between President Obama and President Hu, a Chinese reporter asked speaking of “a baseline of trust.” President Hu spoke of cooperation, communication and coordination. I say: before there can be strategic mutual trust, there ought to be strategic mutual sincerity.

However, the catch here is that the only sincerity that any individual, national leader or not, can guarantee is his own. A strategic mutual sincerity is sincerity as a stratagem of the leaders of both countries toward a larger goal. Thus, the virtue of sincerity that will lead to mutual trust and to world peace is ours to live and to model in intra-national, bi-national and multi-national relations.

In the book “Our Oriental Heritage”, historian Will Durant describes the ideal human according to Confucius–intelligent, courageous, acts with good will. He taught that leaders of nations were morally obligated to set a good example for their people: “The ruler must be an eminence of model behavior, from which, by prestige imitation, right conduct will pour down upon his people.”

Confucius made the connection between manners, morals and good government. This means an equitable distribution of wealth. He taught: “the centralization of wealth is the way to scatter the people, and letting it be scattered is the way to collect the people.” Before Kant’s thinking on representative democracy and the possibility for perpetual peace, Confucius thought a republic could lead to universal peace: “they elect men of talents, virtue and ability; they talk about sincere agreements, and cultivate universal peace.”

Sincere agreements are those where words and actions cohere. The way to strategic mutual trust is made with actions that breathe life into diplomatic promises. The issue of human rights and China is important and ought to be discussed honestly between leaders. President Obama spoke of the matter of Tibet. “And even as we, the United States, recognize that Tibet is part of the People’s Republic of China, the United States continues to support further dialogue between the government of China and the representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve concerns and differences, including the preservation of the religious and cultural identity of the Tibetan people.”

It is important to remember that Tibet is rich in mineral resources. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica on-line, Tibet possesses gold, borax, radium, iron, titanium, lead, arsenic, copper, graphite, coal, oil shales, chromite, lithium, lead, zinc and manganese. There are swift flowing rivers and mountain streams that have the potential for hydro-electric power. Tibet also holds the potential of geothermal, solar and wind power. An honest analysis of this situation ought to recognize China’s material interests as well as its irredentist claims to Tibet. At the same time, the legitimate desire of the Tibetan people to their own national sovereignty ought to be respected.

Perhaps the solution to this problem lies in the wisdom of another ancient Chinese sage, Mo Ti, a pacifist who taught universal love and peace. Durant reports the history that tells us he once dissuaded the State Engineer of the Kingdom of Chu from invading the state of Sung. The engineer no longer wanted to conquer the province: “It is as if I had already given you the state of Sung”, Mo Ti told the engineer. “Do persist in your righteous course and I will give you the whole world.”

Speaking of the progress of human rights in China, President Hu noted that China is a developing country facing the challenges of economic and social development. He admitted: “a lot still needs to be done in China, in terms of human rights.” He intimated that human rights are also an evolving reality in China. We can only hope that China evolves toward the teaching of its ancient sages who taught the power of universal love and sincerity.

  • Farnaz2Mansouri2

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  • carloslebaron

    Is not Tibet to China what is Hawaii to US? Those lands were taken and their original leaders destroyed, subjected, their power stolen, in order to impose a new government. We cannot judge other countries by their imposing of governments, because by historical records US has been doing it in all South America by causing revolutions, military coups, whatever that was necessary to destroy the free will of the people to choose socialism in their nations….so those countries could be easy to manipulate by the US foreign policies.Freedom is a good thing but excess of freedom is actually destroying the American society. We can witness the passing of laws which go against humans as individuals and as society, the last passing of legalizing the comsumption of marijuana is a clear example.While many other countries are under dictators or political systems which won’t allow you to express your rejection to the government policies, in US you can express such rejection but politicians in power won’t listen to you. A clear example is the recent event in California where the popular vote was a majority against gay marriage but the government impose it later on anyway.What a US government with such a rejection to the will of the people can criticize against China?Come on, we must work hard here at home fixing what is wrong first, before telling China to check their human rights status. The sole law allowing comsumption of marijuana is against human rights and no one says anything because the entire society is becoming a bunch of perverts. Worst when we talk about such sexual perversion called homosexualism. The media is doing a great job making such perversions as acceptable to modern society, while in reality such perversion is a great step of degeneration to make ourselves comparible to the beasts and not so to beings with reasoning.China, without being so hypocrite, is becoming a great political and economical power, and instead of criticizing it negatively, we must study and analyze their faster growing and learn from it. The best human rights safeguarded by a government is not to provide freedom of speech and religion but to provide laws which will maintain the integrity, honor, decency, and moral in its society, and the US government is failing miserably in this aspect.Valerie, how can Obama be sincere when he is not showing integrity in the first place?