The Corner

National Security & Defense

A Call to Conscience

I probably shouldn’t brag on My Man Ted (Cruz), but, every once in a while, I can’t help it. And this is one of those whiles.

Xi Jinping, the boss of the Chinese Communist Party, is now in the United States. And Senator Cruz has introduced a measure to rename the plaza in front of the Chinese embassy after Liu Xiaobo, the democracy leader who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 and has been a political prisoner since 2008.

(For the piece I wrote about Liu on the occasion of his Nobel prize, go here.)

Cruz notes that Congress renamed the plaza in front of the Soviet embassy after another Nobel peace laurate, Andrei Sakharov. We should do the same for Liu — and for the Chinese people, and for the cause of democracy everywhere.

Liu Xiaobo’s courage “poses a challenge to the Free World,” said Ted. “Will we be silent, eager to enjoy the economic benefits of cooperation with the PRC? Or will we put President Xi on notice that, for America, human rights are no longer ‘off the table,’ and that we are listening to the truth about Communist China?” He further said, “I believe that we have a moral responsibility not to marginalize Dr. Liu and his brave fellow dissidents, but to make their plight central to all our dealings with the PRC.”

Amen. Ted asked for unanimous consent. It was blocked by Senator Feinstein, who said, in effect, that the measure was undiplomatic. Liu Xiaobo has been imprisoned for seven years. Even the award of the Nobel Peace Prize couldn’t spring him. (Although perhaps it has helped to keep him alive.) What will Obama or Feinstein whisper into Xi’s ear, to open the doors of the gulag (laogai, they call it in China)?

If they can help, great. If not — the symbolism of Ted’s suggestion is very appealing. Moreover, Ted proposes naming the street outside the new Cuban embassy after Oswaldo Payá, the great democracy leader who was killed three years ago, almost certainly by the Castros.

To watch Ted (and Feinstein) on the Senate floor, talking about Liu Xiaobo Plaza, or to read a transcript, go here. I knew that, if Ted ever got to Congress, he would do this kind of thing. I’m so glad it has come to pass.

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