Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Monday, August 20, 2012 :::

If you haven't been following political events in China for the last half-year, then it won't mean anything to you that Gu Kailai has been given a suspended death sentence after she "confessed" to the murder of Neil Heywood at her "trial" last week, which I sort of expected just because it's the sentence that Mao's widow faced when she was politically convenient to dispose of but maybe not to kill.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, and you'd like to, you're probably best off googling Gu Kailai's husband, Bo Xilai; if you had asked someone knowledgeable this time last year, most would have predicted that he would now (actually, now that I'm double-checking, maybe later this year) be one of the nine members of the Central Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. As it happens, he is not. When I was in college, a friend of mine was fond of the line, "if you're in a country run by committee, be on the committee." One out of five people currently lives in communist China; if you're the one, that's the committee.
The downfall of Bo and his wife was precipitated partially by the mysterious death of Briton Neil Heywood in Chongqing (of which Bo was the mayor, though he no longer is), but also by the trip his police chief took to the American consolate in Chengdu, where he requested asylum:
China’s communist government is preparing to file treason charges against a former official who sought political asylum at the U.S. consulate in Chengdu but was turned away to avoid upsetting U.S.-China relations, according to U.S. officials and Chinese reports. 
The former official, Wang Lijun, a Chongqing police chief and deputy mayor until his visit to the U.S. consulate Feb. 6, is expected to be charged with treason, a crime that under the communist system normally results in summary execution or life in prison.
Wang made a dramatic escape from Chongqing in February wearing a disguise, and spent the night at the U.S. consulate, as scores of Chinese security police surrounded the diplomatic outpost. U.S. officials said Wang provided information and documents on the case of British national Neil Heywood, who was found dead in a Chongqing hotel the previous November.
The Free Beacon reported May 1 that the office of Vice President Joe Biden was behind the administration’s decision to turn Wang away from the consulate, in particular Biden national security aide Antony Blinken. 
Blinken, according to administration officials, overruled State and Justice Department officials who favored granting Wang political asylum and working to get him out of China.

I think my inclination would have been to hang onto him rather than to turn him over, though I'm sure this Blinken fellow knows relevant information that I don't.

I think it's also likely that he just places more value on friendly relations with China than I do. The question I'm asking is: if I knew what he knows, would I still be disinclined to turn over Wang to the Chinese officials? As things stand, though, I can't assess that any better than I can assess how likely it is that Gu murdered Heywood. Just because she's been found guilty in a Chinese court, that doesn't necessarily mean she didn't do it, but it isn't really evidence that she did. We're looking through a glass darkly.

::: posted by Steven at 12:33 AM

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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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