Reid Criticized for Calling Chinese President a “Dictator”

Ok, I’m confused. I know that China virtually owns this country by holding billions of our debt. However, I fail to understand the criticism of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for calling Chinese President Hu Jintao a “dictator.” Hu is the head of a government that arrests dissidents, censures news, restricts the exercise of religion, blocks access to information, and does not allow opposing political parties or viewpoints. What was Reid supposed to call him, a voice of freedom?

Reid attracted criticism when he said on a local radio show that “I am going to go back to Washington tomorrow and meet with the president of China. He is a dictator. He can do a lot of things through the form of government they have.”

He later said “[m]aybe I shouldn’t have said dictator, but they have a different type of government than we have and that’s an understatement.”

Just for the record, he had it right the first time. Merriam-Webster defines dictator as “(1) . . . one holding complete autocratic control . . . one ruling absolutely and often oppressively . . . (2) one that dictates.”

Sounds like Hu to me. Civil libertarians should applaud Reid for speaking plainly about the truth of the Chinese government and its treatment of dissidents.

Jonathan Turley

31 thoughts on “Reid Criticized for Calling Chinese President a “Dictator””

  1. Turley’s wrong. It is the communist party that holds control – not its leader. Evidence is the fact that Hu’s term is limited.

  2. Related predictions:

    1. The United States government will be forced to issue Renminbi-denominated debt, restricting the ability of the United States to use dollar inflation to devalue a massive national debt (2015)

    2. The United States government will mandate Mandarin instruction offerings in public schools (2015 – 2020)

    3. Asia will become a leading provider of cash based tourist health services after near-universal health care and regulatory rationing is adopted in the United States. The affluent will go to Singapore, Japan and perhaps Thailand to avoid domestic restrictions or waits; the less affluent to inferior but viable offerings in China and India. (2025)

  3. Did I say 20 points lower? After this episode make that 40 points lower on the IQ average. Where do they find these people?

  4. eniobob:

    that was a very good video. I tried to get my son to take Chinese in 7th grade but he took Spanish.

    That woman was a maroon.

  5. Given the behaviour of the US in respect of Aafia Siddiqui, Gulet Mahommed locked in a deportation centre in Kuwait, the numerous most likely innocent men in Guantanamo and Bradley Manning, it is hypocritical in the extreme for any US official to criticize any other nation for abusing human rights.

    Reids statement is very much a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

  6. eniobob

    Great video. If you use a dash instead of an equal sign, you will get the emotocom you want – I think.

  7. “I am going to go back to Washington tomorrow and meet with the president of China. He is a dictator. He can do a lot of things through the form of government they have.”

    I think Harry Reid was probably admiring the power Hu has. He wasn’t saying this as an insult but as a compliment. Harry is mesmerized by the total control of the citizenry Hu has. He was thinking about what he, Harry Reid, could do if he had that type of power.

  8. do you all want an example of irony?

    here it is:

    The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize receipient is hosting a dinner for the man holding the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize receipient against his will.

    “The first Chinese citizen to receive a Nobel Prize, Liu Xiaobo is a poet and literary critic who has come to prominence over the last two decades as one of the most visible leaders of China’s pro-democracy movement. Currently serving an 11 year prison term, he is the third Nobel Peace Laureate to be under arrest at the time of the award, the others being Carl von Ossietzky and Aung San Suu Kyi.

    In 1989, Liu Xiaobo cut short his visiting position at New York’s Columbia University to return to China and take part in the student occupation of Tiananmen Square. In the face of the army crackdown, he was instrumental in maintaining the non-violent nature of the protest. Liu Xiaobo spent two years in prison for his role in the protests, and was then subject to a further 3 years of ‘re-education through labour’ in the late 1990s for advocating an end to one party rule in China.

    His current imprisonment, for “inciting subversion of state power”, was imposed for statements in recently-published essays and the 2008 document he helped write, Charter 08. Modelled on Charter 77, a petition demanding the recognition of human rights in Czechoslovakia and drawn up by writers and intellectuals in 1977, Charter 08 is a declaration calling for political reforms and increased human rights in China. The declaration reiterates certain ‘universal values’ such as freedom, equality, democracy and constitutional rule and makes recommendations for, among other things, a new constitution, an independent judiciary, the election of public officials and a guarantee of human rights.

    Charter 08 has now collected several thousand signatures from Chinese citizens from all walks of life. Liu Xiaobo was arrested just before its official release and sentenced a year later, just over a month before the close of nominations for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, at a trial to which Chinese and foreign observers were denied access. Liu Xiaobo has continued to write from prison, releasing a statement through one of his lawyers, 10 days after sentencing, which read: “I have made sacrifices with no regrets. For an intellectual thirsty for freedom in a dictatorial country, prison is the very first threshold. Now I have stepped over the threshold, and freedom is near.”

    An article he wrote for the South China Morning Post in February 2010 contains the statement “Opposition is not equivalent to subversion”. This sentiment was echoed by the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s remarks, following this year’s Nobel Peace Prize announcement, regarding the sign that they hope this award will send about the importance of supporting debate, and those who champion it, in all countries of the world.”

  9. raff,

    Maybe when Reid has been addressing our domestic trend to dictatorship, he’s been dining on Cowardly Lion tacos.

    Or perhaps chicken heart tacos.

  10. I wish these legislators from both parties would grow up and stop acting like children.

  11. Good question AY. It is interesting that the time we need Reid to grow a spine he doesn’t, but when it comes to the Chinese “President” he gets his courage back! He must have eaten a Lion taco before the press conference.

  12. I’m left curious as to who got Reid to back down. The Republicans? His own party? The Chinese government?

  13. “Civil libertarians should applaud Reid for speaking plainly about the truth of the Chinese government and its treatment of dissidents.”

    Criticism driven by whom?

    Grammarians, civil libertarians or Reid’s corporate “campaign contributors” who benefit from cheap Chinese labor?

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