Eyes on the Prize in China

San Diego Union Tribune -- Milburn Line is executive director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice at the University of San Diego.

President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao met this week in Washington, D.C, in the shadow of our celebration of America’s greatest civil rights leader. As they work to reset the U.S.-China relationship, they should also honor that legacy by considering the treatment of Chinese advocates for justice and democracy. Our own experience of the civil rights movement is a good starting point.

Beijing’s angry reaction to the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Liu Xiaobo masks a heated internal debate within the Communist Party about political reform, with leaders as high as Prime Minister Wen Jiabao issuing favorable signals. Now is the time for our president to begin to convince the Chinese political elite of the benefits of pluralism and accountability. Last year’s Nobel awardee discussing this year’s as a legitimate recipient instead of a dissident could be a tipping point for democratic development, just as the civil rights movement was one for more authentic democracy here in the U.S. (Full Story)