Well known in China for his vocal opposition to government corruption, 40-year-old Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng fled house arrest last week and remains missing, although there's speculation that he's taken refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. CBS News reports that Chinese and U.S. diplomats are now believed to be bargaining over Chen's fate, only a day ahead of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's scheduled visit to China...The challenge of foreign policy is how best to balance our values with our interests. If Mr. Chen doesn't qualify for political asylum, I find it difficult to imagine who would. If there is a country we can less afford to piss off carelessly, it's China. Them's high stakes.
My instinct is that I'd rather have China unhappy than emboldened. I'd rather take a hit on trade than go weak in the knees on human rights. But that's really easy and self-serving of me to say from where I'm sitting.
I don't envy Mr. Obama or Ms. Clinton their jobs at the moment. And I sincerely hope they bring their A game...because this is the sort of thing that has the potential to have consequences far beyond November.