HENNINGER: And Europe has had a tremendous commitment to social justice and social programs, and now we see Europe as a case study in struggling with trying to pay for commitments that simply they can no longer afford. And that is the issue that Paul Ryan is trying to raise. And he now is putting it in moral terms. And there is a moral issue there. And I think he deserve a good-faith answer.
GIGOT: If you look at Europe, one thing that we can see is when you have a debt crisis, and you finally have to do something about it, who suffers the most and first? It isn't the Georgetown faculty.
It is the poor, who have their budgets and spending cut?
I'm afraid I have to give myself the last word. We are out of time.
When we come back, a diplomatic crisis greets Hillary Clinton on her trip to China. Did the U.S. do the right thing in the case of blind activist, Chen Guangcheng? Our panel weighs in next.
GIGOT: Big drama in Beijing this week as a prominent dissident escaped house arrest and south refuge in the United States embassy on the eave of a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The U.S. says it negotiated blind activist, Chen Guangcheng's release and a guarantee of safe treatment. But Chen late said that China threatened his family if he did not leave the embassy and the United States urged him to make a decision quickly. Now he fears for his family's safety and he wants asylum in America. And it looks like he may get his wish with a visa to study in the United States.
So what does the episode tell us about modern China and about Obama's China policy?
Bret, dramatic escape. He climbs over walls to escape house arrest, injures himself, gets driven by heroic colleagues in the human rights community 300 miles to Beijing and stays in safe houses for a while before they say he has to go to the embassy for safety. What does this whole episode tell us about China?
BRET STEPHENS, FOREIGN POLICY COLUMNIST: During the Cold War, getting into the embassy gates would have been the happy ending. But now, it doesn't work out that way.
What it tells us about China is that contrary to the school of thought that here is a country that is ascendant, that is increasingly confident that it will be the second great power of the 21st century, this is a regime that is terrified of blind legal activists who are living under house arrest in little villages.
Regimes that are afraid of a single person, the way this regime is, are not as powerful as they seem.
GIGOT: Mary --
GIGOT: Good ahead.
HENNINGER: I just want to make one quick point to what Bret said. The dilemma for China, under these circumstances, being this hugely important country, a very large country, you cannot conduct your internal policy as though you were Venezuela or Cuba, which is what they are doing here. A country of this importance cannot operate that way. And the Chinese government has not figured out how to come to terms with its role in the world and the reality of people like this.
GIGOT: Mary, what do you think the way the United States has handled this week?
O'GRADY: It seems like once Chen got in the embassy, he was -- there -- it was bad timing for the U.S. because Hillary was going there to have the economic dialogue, and I think he was rushed. I think it turns out looking like a case of the blind leading the blind. They did not really know what they were doing. They felt like they were under a lot of pressure. And I think they ended up saying to him, you have to make a decision right now. And that's really doesn't look very good.
STEPHENS: And it's such a break with the best American traditions. In 1956, a Hungarian cardinal named Mindszenty, during the Hungarian Revolution, sought sanctuary in the U.S. embassy, found it, and lived in the embassy for 15 years. 20 years ago, after Tiananmen Square, a Chinese scientist named Fang also found sanctuary in the embassy and lived there a year. That was eventually -- that stand off was eventually resolved by the first Bush administration and by Henry Kissinger. Why was it so urgent for the Obama administration to get this done in six days?
GIGOT: They said -- the administration says, that, in fact, Chen had said he did not want to go to the United States. He wanted to stay in China. So once they negotiated his safe treatment, he was willing -- he, under his volition, was willing to leave because he was going to be reunited with his wife and with his daughter.
O'GRADY: The question, Paul, is -- the question is whether he was rushed into making that decision. And he did not have much information from the outside. He didn't know what the circumstances that his wife was living under, which were apparently pretty harsh in the last couple of weeks. He didn't know about that until he was out and that is when he got worried.
GIGOT: And it could be -- was it right for the United States to trust the assurances of a Chinese government that, yes, let him come out. We'll let him study in another city, get away from those local thugs, or was it an assumption, look, the Beijing government was complicit in this all along?
HENNINGER: I would say the last. I don't think there would be any expectation whatever that Chen was going to be allowed to go somewhere far away as they said in China and live in peace, because that is not the way the Chinese operate.
And as far as the U.S. government goes, they came over there, Secretary Geithner and Clinton, with an agenda on other things, which they considered important. Mr. Chen is what someone called once called an inconvenient truth, OK? This is what happens in China and it happened to land right in the middle of their meetings with the Chinese.
GIGOT: But, Bret, can you, as the United States, allow any dissident to come to the embassy and seek asylum -- how many can you let come in and say, yes, I want asylum? Can we take everyone?
STEPHENS: Well, we can take as many as we possibly can. That's what the United States is about. That is why they had Lady Liberty during the Tiananmen Square demonstrations 22 years ago. If we fail at that, we are doing ourselves a disservice, we're doing our values a disservice, we're doing the Chinese people a similar kind disservice. That is what we stand for. Everyone understands this. He wasn't going to the Russian embassy. He wasn't going to the Cuban embassy. He was going to the American embassy. We have to honor that mission.
GIGOT: Point of pride, should be for most Americans, that they keep coming to the American embassy.
We have to take one more break. When we come back, "Hits and Misses" of the week.
GIGOT: Time now for "Hits and Misses" of the week. Dan, first to you.
HENNINGER: Well, Paul, the president of the United States was at White House Correspondents Dinner last weekend and he had some remarks about the Secret Service scandal. Let's take a listen.
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OBAMA: I really do enjoy attending these dinners. In fact, I had a lot more material prepared but I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew.
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