China’s latest tactic in Operation Fox Hunt, its campaign to force those who have fled abroad to return to face corruption charges, has had the extraordinary, if unintended, consequence of uniting America’s bitterly divided political elite. Last June, the American wife and children of accused fraudster Liu Changming were detained in China after a brief visit; his wife held in a “black site” and his children barred from leaving. The ostensible the reason for holding them is because they are being investigated for “economic crimes,” but almost surely, as the family claims, the real reason is to pressure paterfamilias Liu to return to China to stand trial for corruption offenses. Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton, avowed Trump opponents Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III, and leaders of Harvard and Georgetown universities are all demanding the Americans be permitted to leave China at once (accounts here and here).
Holding family members hostage to force a relative to surrender to authorities is a species of collective punishment, a patent human rights’ violation universally condemned by the world community. No wonder the Boltons, Warrens, Kennedys, Harvards and Georgetowns find themselves on the same side of the issue.
Reporting by the New York Times, however, suggests that there could be more to the case than appears at first glance. That there may be reason for both the Chinese government and the strange bedfellows its policy has created in opposition to examine their actions in view of the global fight against corruption. Continue reading