Tom Lantos on CCTV

A US congressional resolution calling for Japan to apologize for the use of sex slaves during World War II is – no surprise – generating quite a bit of positive interest in China. The Chinese have long demanded explicit recognition for this particularly heinous crime of the War, and they are no doubt appreciative of the support lent to their cause by the US government.

That said, I must admit that I nearly slipped off my treadmill at the gym this morning when I saw a wall of televisions suddenly flash images of Representative Tom Lantos of California speaking to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Lantos is a man of unimpeachable courage and moral credibility (a Jew, he served in the anti-Nazi underground during World War II), and he is also a long-time critic of China’s human rights record. For example, few were as vocal or vociferous in their criticism of google’s decision to allow Chinese censoring of internet searches than Lantos.

Unfortunately, I was listening to an ipod, and not the gym’s audio feed, so I couldn’t hear what the announcers had to say about Lantos. But judging from the length of the clip, and quotes from his testimony found online, I imagine that it was positive. Though likely inadvertent, I can’t help but think that the House’s determination to pass the Japan resolution will improve its overall image in Beijing, where – I’m told – the protectionist tilt of the Democratic majority has ruffled feathers.