“We have two very different cultures, and we have two very different perspectives on the world.”
According to the Washington Examiner, Becerra was defending the Chinese government’s alleged widespread human rights violations when he told National Public Radio in 1997, “That’s not to say one perspective is better than the other.”
The nominee made the comments after returning to the United States from a trip he took to China.
The interview with NPR took place amid the release of a 1997 Human Rights Report from the U.S. State Department, which detailed the country’s rampant persecution of religious minorities, including Uighur Muslims.
That was the same year China received Hong Kong from the United Kingdom, the transfer of which has caused the steady removal of rights from Hong Kong citizens.
In a 2000 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Becerra stated that casual engagement with China would naturally make the country a freer place.
However, this didn’t pan out.
Since Becerra’s 2000 interview, the Chinese government has only continued to abuse its power over its citizens. Hong Kong was recently removed from the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index, a list which the special administrative region had topped for 25 years until 2019, because control of its economic policy was taken by the central government.
According to the Heritage Foundation, “Corruption [in China] remains endemic at all levels of government, and anecdotal information suggests that the government’s crackdown on corruption is applied inconsistently and discretionarily.”
The position Becerra is being nominated for likely won’t deal with foreign policy. However, the simple fact that Biden would push for a man who defends the actions of a genocidal, authoritarian regime with the caliber of the Communist Chinese Party is enough for conservatives in and outside the Senate to push against the nomination.
Heritage Action, a conservative think tank, announced on Feb. 18 a $600,000 ad campaign aimed to combat Becerra’s nomination.
The campaign reportedly targets Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Democrat Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, attempting to push the centrists to vote against the nomination after the Senate Finance Committee split even.
It makes sense that the president would push for the nomination of a man with Becerra’s views, though, considering he expressed the same ones recently in a CNN town hall.
“The central principle of Xi Xinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China,” Biden said. “And he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that.”
Biden continued, explaining he will not “speak out against” the government’s treatment of its citizens in Hong Kong, nor the genocidal treatment of the Uighurs in northwest China.
“Culturally there are different norms that each country and their leaders are expected to follow.”
Watching Biden so defend China‘s actions as of late makes clear that not only would Becerra not be confronted on his views — he would actually be supported in them.
It’s unclear, and frankly unlikely, that the attorney general’s position as Secretary of Health and Human Services would have a real effect on foreign policy of any kind.
Biden’s words work against him, though, because as China’s leaders might be expected to follow “different norms,” so do the people of the United States expect their civil leaders to follow a certain set of norms — which includes rebuking genocide in any and all forms.
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