Blinken Sucks Up To Slave Labor Nation On Juneteenth

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Gage Klipper Commentary & Analysis Writer
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Juneteenth celebrates the day that the last slaves in America were finally informed they were free. Despite being shoehorned into federal holiday status under the more nefarious auspices of the Black Lives Matter “racial reckoning,” it is a noble moment in American history and well worth celebrating.

Badgering average Americans about the ongoing need to grapple with the legacy of slavery has become a full-time job for many in Washington. Upon taking office, the Biden administration pledged to take a “whole of our Government” approach to advancing “racial equity.” (RELATED: Blinken Bends The Knee To Xi In Beijing Visit, Fails To Secure Key Military Communication Deal)

That is why it comes as a surprise to see Secretary of State Antony Blinken meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing today. It is more than ironic that Blinken chose Juneteenth — the day of reverence our leaders insisted be set aside to reflect on the horrors of slavery — to meet with the leader of one of the most prolific slave-holding states in the world today.  

China infamously holds over 100,000 ethnic minorities, including the Muslim Uyghurs, in detention camps where they are subject to cruelties such as family separation and sterilization. Chinese companies use the Uyghurs as slave labor to produce goods ranging from plastics to textiles and even some food products. (RELATED: Disney Turned Down Meeting With Uyghur Genocide Victims To Talk China Ties, GOP Reps Claim)

According to the U.S. Labor Department, the Chinese government gives subsidies to companies that use Uyghur labor, exacerbating the demand for labor. Working with the companies, China ensures the Uygurs will be “controlled and watched” while they undergo “political indoctrination.” Once detained, they are “usually subjected to constant surveillance and isolation.”

A practice long outmoded in America — vanquished by a more perfect application of our founding principles — is alive and well in our top peer competitor.

Blinken is the highest ranking U.S. official to visit the country since Biden took office. Blinken not only met with Xi, but paid obeisance to him and the Chinese regime. The visit was part of an effort towards a “thaw” of heightened tensions over the past year. Blinken’s primary goal was “to strengthen high-level channels of communication” and “explore areas where we might work together on our interests.” In other words, he aimed to smooth over any issues that would prevent the two countries from further deepening their ties.

While Blinken said he raised the issue of the Uyghurs, it is unlikely that he pushed the matter too firmly. Given the extent that American leaders have worked to foster economic interdependence with China over the past three decades, it certainly would be unwise for the U.S. to poke the bear even if it wanted to. If the goal is to reduce tensions, accosting China over their human rights abuses certainly does more harm than good.

But should stronger and smoother cooperation be an end to itself? Setting aside geopolitical interests, is it morally permissible to so deeply engage a slave-laboring country when one represents a government whose overarching goal is to ensure racial justice?

The common sense answer would be no. However, certain attributes of the liberal worldview would lead to a different conclusion. Blinken likely does not see any hypocrisy between courting the Chinese regime abroad while his colleagues self-flagellate over racial injustice back home this holiday weekend.

On the one hand, liberals view U.S.-China relations in an abstract and theoretical way. The end of the Cold War was meant to bring about the “end of history” — the ultimate triumph of liberal democracy over all forms of totalitarianism. It wasn’t a question of if China would adopt our values, it was a matter of whenIncreasingly integrating them into the global economy and regulatory system over the past three decades was meant to expedite that process — or at least, that’s what the “experts” assured us.  (RELATED: CEO Of One Of America’s Largest Defense Contractors Says It’s ‘Impossible’ To Stop Relying On China)

While that thesis is no longer credible to any honest observer, many in Washington still cling on to it. Perhaps they are true believers, perhaps they do not wish to admit they were wrong. More likely, they do not wish to surrender their power under the status quo.

Regardless, they fail to see the hypocrisy because they believe that greater cooperation is the only way for China to progress toward liberal democracy. If we persist with engagement, China will eventually realize the error of its ways and liberate their slaves just as we did so long ago. By ignoring the Uyghurs, along with any issue that disincentivizes Chinese participation in the international order, U.S. officials are actually helping them in the long-term.

On the other hand however, officials like Blinken have been captured by deep anti-American sentiments. Many genuinely feel that the U.S. has no moral standing to lecture other countries over their human rights. If you truly believe that America is rife with systemic racism, that black people are unsafe whenever they walk out of their front doors, and that the legacy of slavery is the defining ethos of country, then we are in fact morally equal to China.

To people who think like this, it is not hypocritical for the U.S. to stay silent about the Uyghurs. In fact, it would be hypocritical to speak up.

Yet Juneteenth is a valuable American holiday precisely because it is an opportunity to reflect on the absurdity of this position. It is worth reflecting on how our principles led to the the abolition of slavery, making us the exception to the rule throughout history. America has made great strides toward realizing our founding vision and we have served as a beacon of hope for people of all colors and creeds across the world. Pretending otherwise only empowers revisionist powers like China to undermine American principles — and all the good they do — in favor of a much darker world order.