Thursday, February 01, 2007
China's President Visits Liberia
Today thousands of people lined the streets to welcome China’s President Hu Jintao to Liberia. There was not one protestor in sight, though my activist self had considered holding up a sign asking Hu to end human rights abuses in Tibet and free the Panchen Lama.
Despite the heat, the energy was high and the celebrations were genuine: President Hu’s visit was seen as yet another sign that Liberia is becoming a respectable nation once more, after 25 years of murder and mayhem.
From the comments overheard, it sounded like people were most impressed that Hu is President of the most populated nation on earth. I, for one, was happy for the promise of new schools and hospitals, and the cancellation of Liberia’s $10 million dollar debt. But I was also stunned by how easily we shift alliances. During Charles Taylor’s days we danced for Taiwan, who helped us when no one else would. But when the Chinese came bearing bigger gifts, Liberians simply turned to them with a wider grin and a more frenzied dance.
I hope it wasn’t actually that easy. I like to imagine that choosing to support the One-China Policy was an act done with gritted teeth for the good of the Liberian people who have absolutely no clue about China’s darker side.
I wonder what Liberians would do if they did know the facts. But I already know the answer: most of us would dance just the same.