Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell avoided reporters, and the U.S. Embassy declined to discuss his agenda. His trip, originally scheduled for later this coming week, comes after the White House said it is considering selling new warplanes to Taiwan and after dissident legal activist Chen Guangcheng fled house arrest and ended up, rights campaigners said, in the protection of American officials.
Both Chen's case, if he's in U.S. custody, and that of Taiwan touch on Beijing red lines against what it sees as meddling in China's domestic affairs. Beijing will have ample opportunity to voice its displeasure at an annual confab on Thursday and Friday attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and dozens of other officials.
The contrast is instructive, no? A blind man could see the difference. We'll see if our president can learn.
If we won't stand for freedom, who will?
UPDATE: We may not be standing for freedom. It takes special diplomatic skill to anger the Chinese and fail to defend dissidents at the same time.