The Human Rights Card

China’s gloves are certainly off. On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a State Department report on human rights that criticized Beijing for harshly cracking down on people expressing antigovernment sentiment. Clinton said that State was “deeply concerned” about the many critics who have been “arbitrarily detained and arrested.” She called on China “to release all of those who have been detained for exercising their internationally recognized right to free expression.” China shot back with its own report. In it, Beijing accused Washington of turning “a blind eye to its own terrible human rights situation,” including violent crime, poverty and discrimination.

National Security Adviser Tom Donilon is leaving today for a three-day trip to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, a visit that comes on the heels of Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s meetings in Riyadh last week. Donilon will sit down with Saudi King Abdullah as well as the crown prince of Abu Dhabi. According to a press release, the visit “underscores the importance of our relationship with these two key partners.”

Meanwhile, the Elders are trying to make some headway on North Korea. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and three other former leaders will reportedly head to Pyongyang near the end of the month to try to get the six-party talks back on track. The U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth is also working in the issue, scheduled to meet with South Korea’s nuclear envoy Wi Sung-lac this week.