Wednesday, February 13, 2008

 

The G8 and the Beijing Consensus

On the theme of talks with China on global leadership. (See post on 11 February 2008: What does China think?)

China's soft power

[Besides resources] the Chinese also want one other thing which is utterly central to all of their politics and policies: international recognition and corroboration of the one China policy.

China offers its help [to other countries] without conditions. There are no human rights complications, no promises for elections, and no pressure for free press. Countries such as Sudan and Zimbabwe appreciate China's unquestioning support in return for arms, oil, trade or whatever is on offer. These kinds of policies - unsurprisingly - draw considerable international criticism. The Chinese charge d'affairs in South Africa recently defended China's policies of engagement, trade and interactions with Sudan and Zimbabwe by saying that China was "simply protecting its own interests".

Others, notably those from the West, find China's foreign policy of interaction with pariah regimes anything from unfortunate to disgraceful. There is, strictly speaking, no right answer. While it is easy for the West to harangue China for these policies, they are not speaking from an unsullied pulpit either, both historically and presently speaking. Selling billions of dollars of arms to various countries in the Middle East, all of whom rate poorly to atrociously on the Freedom House index, does not lend the West the high ground.
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