For all of the attention paid to the Bo Xilai scandal and circumstances involving government critics Ai Weiwei and Chen Guangcheng, one largely unnoticed case may serve as a barometer for China's future in this area.
Even as Chinese dissidents like Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and artist Ai Weiwei suffer physical imprisonment, hundreds of millions of their fellow Chinese citizens are suffering a form of mental imprisonment thanks to their nation's system of internet censorship.
Overall, the Obama Administration has shown a lack of enthusiasm to engage human rights issues around the world and has a mixed, if not poor, record of supporting pro-democracy dissidents such as Chen.
The whole thing is very odd. It all highlights what a conundrum that leaders from Washington to California face in dealing with the challenges and opportunities presented by a clearly ascending and not very well understood China.
Americans may have been surprised to read in news stories this week about the role of a Christian organization in the escape from house arrest of Chen Guangcheng, the blind human rights lawyer in China.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing mount with every development in the story of the blind Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng. Washington is trying to keep the issue low-key, but Obama faces mounting Republican criticism that he is too soft on China's human rights record.
With the eyes of the world watching, China must allow Chen and his family to live in freedom. Critically, the nation must also heed widespread calls to repeal the One-Child Policy, whose victims are largely voiceless.
Our instincts are to cheer on Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng and use this case to dramatize the flagrant human rights abuses that occur in modern China. However, we must not sensationalize this affair.
Global capitalism -- including in China, despite its self-styled socialism with Chinese characteristics" -- is in its most severe crisis since the great crash of the 1930s. The question is, can any country make a system with serious built-in flaws function for all of its people?
On Wednesday the 22nd of February, Tibetans would normally celebrate Losar or Tibetan New Year. This year, unlike years before, Tibetans in exile called for a solemn day of reflection and prayer to acknowledge those who have sacrificed their lives for the Tibetan cause.
All the talk of the Arab Spring painfully reminds us that life for the Uighur people resembles a cruel, endless winter. That is why the United States must use the occasion of future Chinese President Xi's visit to take the lead, and begin the thaw we pray for.
Corruption perceptions indices suggest that China is not especially corrupt for its level of development and actually does better than many more developed countries, including Russia, Argentina, and Mexico.
The reasons behind the Chinese and Russia veto are clear. Alas, what's also clear is that it will worsen the violence in Syria, which, in turn, will increase the opposition's vengefulness when the regime falls.
Sure, there's bad news about China: pollution, corruption, the hounding and jailing of dissidents, etc. But overshadowing such reportage is the grander theme of a China on the move and on the make, poised to reshape the world.
Chinese writer and activist Zhu Yufu was charged with publishing a provocative poem this past week (the official charge was "inciting subversion of state power"). Zhu's poem is entitled "It's Time," and here it is in translation.
Executions are merely the most violent manifestation of this inequity and injustice in the land, a failure to come to terms with bad habits and the demons of an American past that continue to torment us today.