For a few bucks he’ll believe whatever you want him to.
This is just a strange, strange set of circumstances. It’s definitely worth reading the whole New York Times article:
As the Chinese government forges ahead on a multibillion-dollar effort to blanket the country with surveillance cameras, one American company stands to profit: Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney.
The company in question is Uniview, a manufacturer of security cameras. China is in the midst of a new push to install hundreds of thousands of security cameras in public spaces (and not so public spaces, such as in front of the homes of dissidents, monks and other people who the Chinese government wants to keep an eye on). There’s not really any secret there. But there’s mountains of money to be made for companies like Uniview, which is owned by Bain Capital, as long as you’re willing to overlook the outrageous abuses of human rights involved.
The Mitt Romney connection to the story, as usual, revolves around money and hypocrisy. While Romney asserts he has no current role in Bain’s management, he still makes millions from Bain via blind trusts. And Romney has made China-bashing a campaign theme, especially against Obama:
In public comments and in a statement posted on his campaign Web site, Mr. Romney has accused the Obama administration of placing economic concerns above human rights in managing relations with China. He has called on the White House to offer more vigorous support of those who criticize the Chinese Communist Party.
I’m not sure I can think of a more direct way to "place economic concerns above human rights" then selling human rights abusers the actual physical equipment they use to abuse human rights. That’s pretty damn direct.
So then, what should Mitt Romney do? He perhaps stands to make a few million dollars more from his company selling video monitoring equipment to China. We pretty much know that equipment is going to be used not just for "fighting crime," but for oppressing thought crimes. Uniview itself is quite pleased with the association:
Uniview is proud of its close association with China’s security establishment and boasts about the scores of surveillance systems it has created for local security agencies in the six years since the Safe Cities program was started.
“Social management and society building pose new demands for surveillance and control systems,” Uniview says in its promotional materials, which include an interview with Zhang Pengguo, the company’s chief executive. “A harmonious society is the essential nature of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” Mr. Zhang says.
I suppose Mitt Romney could use his national platform to say that gosh, placing economic concerns over human rights is pretty damn rotten, and suggest that maybe his company not freaking do that. Saying "oh, the buckets of money I’m making from, among other things, selling surveillance equipment to the Chinese government is in a blind trust, so I’m not involved with that" seems rather weak. Does Mitt mean that it’s all right to make wads of cash from helping governments violate human rights, so long as it’s a corporation doing it?
It’s just another thing that demonstrates how ridiculous and vapid Mitt Romney is, and adds to the public perception that this guy would probably sell his own mother if he thought the price was right. If Mitt Romney actually managed to become president I wouldn’t be surprised to see him propose we buy a million or so security cameras and put them on American streets too. You know, for crime, not because he’s got a blind trust that would make a heck of a lot of money from the effort.
See also, The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China – 2011 Annual Report:
Click here to download a copy of the Commission’s full 2011 Annual Report.
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China, established by the U.S.-China Relations Act of 2000 as China prepared to enter the World Trade Organization, is mandated by law to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China. The Commission by mandate also maintains a database of information on political prisoners in China—individuals who have been imprisoned by the Chinese government for exercising their civil and political rights under China’s Constitution and laws or under China’s international human rights obligations. All of the Commission’s reporting and its Political Prisoner Database are available to the public online via the Commission’s Web site, http://www.cecc.gov.
See also The Republican Conundrum