Overall, U.S. policy toward China has reflected a degree of incoherence is in part because of a fundamental uncertainty as to whether China is a prospective partner or adversary. When it comes to human rights, however, such incoherence could be mitigated by the creation of an Interagency Working Group on Human Rights in China. This new group could be a subgroup of a larger Interagency Working Group on Human Rights that was created by President Clinton but disbanded by President Bush and should be resurrected and report to the National Security Council.
Currently, U.S. human rights policy toward China is fashioned by a wide variety of Cabinet bureaus and agencies, from the State Department’s China desk and human rights bureau to the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, with many more in between, including, of course, Congress. An Interagency Working Group on Human Rights in China, which should include a congressional liaison, could help resolve conflicts and competing interests among these entities and facilitate the presentation of a united face to China.
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