Values play a crucial role in U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan, because most Americans believe that all human beings have certain rights. These rights exist, not because they are bestowed by government but because they are inherently human. These basic rights include:
* the right to improve the quality of one's life, including economic well-being, individual dignity, education, good health, and spiritual fulfillment
* the right to have a family and to raise one's children in the best possible circumstances
* the right to discover one's true self and to express that personal uniqueness in everyday life
* the right to choose one's profession, community in which to live, friends and companions, and government to owe allegiance to
* the right to participate in political processes
* the right to have and to express one's personal views
* the right to protest unfair treatment by governing authorities, and to seek justice and redress from harm
* the right to expect accountability from those with leadership responsibilities
Americans believe that government is a servant of the people. No individual, political party, interest group, or organization has an inherent right to rule; rather, to be legitimate, this role must be earned and granted by the people. When government infringes too grievously on the freedom and liberty of the people, Americans believe in the right of revolution. Americans believe that the rule of law, impartially enforced, is essential to ensure that those in power do not abuse their trust. They believe that the safest political systems incorporate checks and balances so that no one becomes too powerful to be held accountable for their actions.
Americans recognize that foreign policy must be based on pragmatic national interests; however, they also expect their government to keep national values in mind as it engages other countries. Americans tend to like foreign governments that respect the human rights of their people. Toward foreign governments that routinely abuse their citizens, there is often distrust or even dislike. Americans accept almost as an article of faith that democracies do not go to war with one another.
May 28, 2012