Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and a potential GOP vice presidential nominee, said today that the Chinese government is comprised of "paranoid people and control freaks" and that the Obama administration has failed to protect human rights in the country.
Rubio, responding to a question about the White House's handling of a situation this week involving Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, used strong language to characterize the behavior of the Chinese government and current American policy toward the nation.
"This crisis is a reminder of what we're dealing with in China. We hope that there are reformers in that government that are pushing for a more open system. But what we know for a fact that we're dealing with now are people that are paranoid and control freaks," Rubio said on "Fox News Sunday." "It's a totalitarian system. I mean, they control everything, from the words you can search on the Internet to who could visit this gentleman when he was in ... jail."
The American and the Chinese governments had been negotiating Chen's release while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is in the country for trade talks. Some controversy surrounded the release of the blind lawyer and Chinese dissident because he originally had requested to stay in China but then pivoted to wanting safe haven in the United States. He has since been offered a fellowship to teach at an American university.
Vice President Joseph Biden confirmed today that the administration is fully behind Chen's exile to America.
"I think his future is in America," Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"We're prepared to give a visa right away," Biden continued, mentioning the position at New York University and that both governments have agreed to allow Chen and his family to come to the United States.
Rubio, however, saw the situation differently, using the Chen kerfuffle to underscore a larger point about human rights.
"There is this propensity that this administration seems to have of an unwillingness to forcefully assert America's values," Rubio said on Fox. "We've seen that on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, we saw that in 2009 during the Green Revolution in 2009 in Iran and we're seeing that again here now in China where somehow this administration looked almost reluctant to forcefully assert the United States' defense of human rights."
Biden defended the administration's record on human rights and the delicate partnership with China, a burgeoning economic powerhouse that still lacks many democratic principles that define influential Western nations.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.