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Reid Calls Chinese President a 'Dictator' as State Visit Begins

3 years ago
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LAS VEGAS -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid branded Chinese President Hu Jintao a "dictator" on a local TV talk show on Tuesday night, a remark likely to make the start of Hu's first state visit to Washington, D.C., awkward for President Obama at a moment when the U.S. is trying to ease tensions with the Asian power.

Reid, Obama's top legislative ally and Congress' most powerful Democrat, was responding to a question from "Face To Face" host Jon Ralston about the December compromise that extended the Bush-era tax cuts. The recently reelected Nevada senator veered off on a tangent intended to compare the American and Chinese systems of government to give a roundabout defense of the importance of legislative compromise.

"Jon, I am going to go back to Washington tomorrow and meet with the president of China. He is a dictator," Reid said with a grin. "He can do a lot of things through the form of government they have."

The senator quickly seemed to realize what he had said and continued, "Maybe I shouldn't have said dictator. But they have a different type of government than we have, and that is an understatement."

The Chinese government has historically been extremely sensitive to such remarks. In the state-run media, Beijing routinely denounces American leaders and commentators who claim the United States is freer and treats its citizens more honorably. Once a year it publishes a document in the English-language China Daily outlining every human rights abuse allegedly committed by the U.S. dating as far back as the Civil War.

Hu arrived Tuesday and is expected to be feted at a lavish state dinner at the White House on Wednesday night, the first for a Chinese leader in 13 years. Reid is expected to attend.

The Obama administration has said it hopes to focus this week's talks on tensions over the Chinese currency exchange rate and North Korea, among other issues.

The Treasury Department reported in November that China holds $895 billion in U.S. government securities, or 6.4 percent of the national debt.

Reid is not the only U.S. lawmakers to publicly criticize the Chinese as the visit begins. Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine is trying to collect signatures for a letter to Obama urging him to address human rights issues with Hu. Yet Reid, as Senate leader and the shepherd of Obama's legislative agenda, is different.

Ironically, Reid also represents some of America's top apologists for the Chinese regime, the heads of the nation's biggest gambling conglomerates. MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands have all built major resorts in the Chinese special administrative region of Macau, where gambling is legal. Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and Wynn CEO Steve Wynn both have publicly referred to Beijing as a benevolent government whose people are happy, free and prosperous.

Both Wynn Resorts and LVS have survived the brutal economic downturn in Las Vegas thanks to huge profits in their Chinese enterprises.

Several human rights groups have documented abuses in China against minorities including Tibetans, Muslims and Uighurs as well as prohibitions against certain religions and any organizations openly critical of the regime. Most recently, Beijing refused to free imprisoned civil rights activist Liu Xiaobo, who won last year's Nobel Peace Prize.

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231 Comments

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Chris

There is no fair exchange rate with China and the Chinese junk arrives by the truck loads. American companies have increased exports and outsourced their underwear for the time being but lack control in fair business practices. China rules while allowing no American business to own property. Coca Cola has made long standing deals but they nod to exchange rates, binding trade policies and slave labor. We owe billions in interest alone and China is not threatened by demands in fair trade or currency rates. They quickly back off. Like Donald Trump stated, the Chinese are intelligent and cunning. Americans need to stop buying Chinese imports because survival of the fittest necessitates consumer intelligence.

January 19 2011 at 11:11 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
anniesez455

Reid obviously likes the way the Chinese Goverment works. It was a positive comment not a negative one! Perhaps that is why behind closed doors and with a slight of hand these far left progressive Democrats and the Obama Adminsitration are doing. Changing America's liberties to a socialistic dictatorship so goverment controls you ever thought and deed!

January 19 2011 at 6:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to anniesez455's comment
ultravenom67

Thx You... I knew I wasnt only one to understand the text of the comment!
It was praise that their Gov. isnt bound by doing the peoples deeds!
Why isnt the text of comment being exposed?
This should alone have serious reprecussions, Fact that the leader of Senate aspires to a communnist Gov., Dispicable!

January 21 2011 at 8:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nancy

What's it going to take for Americans...especially those who voted for Reid to vote him out of office? Seems this is an administration of people who make "stupdid" and "inappropriate" remarks. Just another case of those in power who don't represent the American people properly. Just my opinion.

January 19 2011 at 4:47 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Holly

Any politician Democrat or Republican is strong within his group. Get them alone and they don't know what to do or say. Just like elementary school bullies.

January 19 2011 at 4:04 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
hiker49620

Does this guy Reid know anything about diplomacy? China is a different country with huge problems. Our form of Democracy would be of little help to them. Let's show some respect for their system which probably gets more done than ours could.

January 19 2011 at 11:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Andy

It appears that Reid wasn't on the same page as President Obama. For, at least, the last 2 years, he hasn't been on the same page as the American People. So what's new ? Some men reach the point, where they should retire and fade away, quicker than other men. I believe Reid has already reached that point. It seems Hispanics voted him back into office in Nevada. No wonder Reid pushes for the illegals.

January 19 2011 at 11:23 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
malcolm

harry should stay in vegas..what happens in vegas, stays in vegas..i sure wish he would have done just that.

January 19 2011 at 11:18 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
kmtjrt

I'm an American who grew up in the Midwest as a tool&die maker making a pretty good living in Ohio. I'm ever amazed at how many Americans blame China and
all counties in the Asian area of the world for America's lose of manufacturing
jobs. In reality NOTHING and I mean NOTHING in America happens without the blessing of our government and I mean BOTH political parties. I recall a media
coverage in D.C. when Bill Clinton was still President and he was about to sign some Global trade deals which included NAFTA and who do you think was there in the front row as a invited guest, George Bush (senior), cherring this event as something he was in favor of. The American government and you know Wall street was
involved for the lose of millions of American jobs that have been signed away in Washington over the last 15 years by both political parties.

January 19 2011 at 11:17 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to kmtjrt's comment
amecincco

I blame the unions as well. They fight for you and I to get top dollar until we price ourselves out of the market. Think about it!

January 19 2011 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Moonwind

Bush Sr. was there because Nafta was origionally his baby. It lagged in the house all through his presidency, and Clinton signed it during his reign. But it was not a demeocrat, deal. They just put their John Henry on it.

January 19 2011 at 6:27 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

Look who's talking. Reid has pushed legislation he knew was unpopular with the American people and did so anyway. Obamacare and the "Dream Act' are just two examples...

January 19 2011 at 11:02 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
Sharon

I'm not sure I can disagree with Reid's statement. I thought China WAS a communist dictatorship. I even went online to double check. Am I missing something? Or is this just another one of those politically based media retoric stories pushing the hate, fear and lies agenda??

What's wrong with calling a spade a spade anyway? Considering that China seems to be doing pretty darn good these days, I don't think any of us are in a position to consider dictatorship a bad word, especially when our country seems to be indirectly benifiting!! Who are we to judge anyway? Maybe, just maybe, dictatorship works for them right now....making it sound like a bad term seems to be OUR problem judging from this article. If democracy is so great, then why can't we seem to get anything done in this country? HUH? Seems we are setting a pretty bad example of what we consider a great form of government.


Maybe it's time everybody take a trip over to China before considering dictatorship a BAD word! You may actually find yourself thinking for a change!

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for democracy, but lately I see money and big business ruling our country, NOT the people. If "the end justifis the means", then consider the benifactors in the end of everything we do and help convience me othewise. It won't be obvious until it's too late, and a depression will be inevitable. Had we not bailed out the banks, we would have been there already, but we choose to take the less painful path, to buy time and help the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Eventually even that bubble will burst!

January 19 2011 at 10:55 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Sharon's comment
manfrommontana

I can't disagree with you Sharon, your point about calling a spade a spade. The problem with Harry's comments was his timing. He has 364 days a year to make his comments yet he chose to make them on the day the Chinese President arrived in the U.S. Nice hosts, us Americans. When your in-laws or relatives show up at your door is that the time you choose to "share your feelings", or is it a better time to paint on the smile and behave like a civilized adult? Any person, let alone the Senate Majority Leader, should know the difference.

January 19 2011 at 4:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ultravenom67

Don't you realize the comment was made in praise, He likes the fact a dictator can get things done, even if not in best interest of their people!
Maybe best interest of their GOV.!
Look at the text of the statement... Not the actual word!
Today's Dem's are so left, their making mistakes, exposing their true calling!

January 21 2011 at 8:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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