A bright spot of Barack Obama’s presidency – foreign policy – all of a sudden was taking some hits as the White House struggled to deal with a crisis involving a Chinese dissident.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney blasted away at Obama, talking of a “day of shame for the Obama administration.” Charges – vigorously denied by the White House – swirled that Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng may have been persuaded to leave his protective shelter at the U.S. embassy in Beijing so that high-level U.S.-China talks could go more smoothly. Another scenario being floated was that Obama’s team naively accepted Chinese assurances that Chen would not face government harassment if he rejoined his family at home.
The drama only escalated when Chen himself made an appeal, by telephone to a congressional panel, to come to the U.S.
Obama’s bid for re-election on Nov. 6 is thought to hinge on matters far from China: mainly whether he can convince voters that he is best suited to improve a U.S. economy that has been slow to add jobs in the aftermath of a deep recession. And that’s where Romney and his fellow Republicans are sure to keep most of their focus between now and November.