Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ducking the Blame on Sudan (and Zimbabwe ...)

It's interesting how politicians are quick to paint China as the one to blame for all the troubles and human rights violations in Sudan. The logic runs as follows, and is not completely unjustified: China resists efforts to sanction Sudan in the UN Security Council, which gives cover for the government in Khartoum. The international community would be in a better position to pressure Sudan if it could speak with the unified voice of the Security Council.

But it is a funny kind of logic, in that it seems to argue that, because China can exercise a veto in the Security Council, the democracies are somehow OBLIGED to continue trading and doing business with Sudan. Moreover, doesn't this suggest that China somehow prevents democratic countries from, on their own, putting pressure on Sudan? How convenient. Beijing becomes the excuse for inaction. (And is China forcing other countries to trade with Sudan).

Democratic Japan--a country identified by Senator McCain as a leading power to be included in any concert or league of democracies--is Sudan's largest export destination (48 percent)--because Sudan's oil, to be blunt, doesn't stink. Democratic Britain via its official trade and investment promotion agency talks up Sudan as a place for investment and business. Yes, China is Sudan's largest provider of imports (at 18 percent) but democratic France and democratic Germany together make up 10 percent and democratic India nearly 5 percent.

I've also seen China identified as a main supporter for Mugabe in Zimbabwe, propping up and sustaining his regime--but, surprisingly, China is not a major trade partner for Harare. But the United States is--absorbing 10 percent of Zimbabwe's export and supplying nearly 5 percent of its imports.

Perhaps some of this is explained by having Chinese companies doing the producing and then selling on the open market to democratic states. Does this assuage Japanese or Korean or European or American consciences, that the products of these states were sold by Chinese middlemen, while absolving us of responsibility?

Nick, commenting less on this but more on your column in NI online:

From George Kennan, about how the US public can only understand foreign policy at the "primitive level of slogans and jingoistic ideological inspiration."
I am not Chinese.

But I find this effort by the Western peoples and governments to spite and humiliate China an affront and an insult to all the non-European people of the world.

These so-called US & EU leaders are not only hurting their political relationships with the Chinese Government, they also have damaged their relationship with the Chinese people.

It is not just the Chinese people but even Korean and Japanese peoples find the treatment of Olympics in China reeking of racism; "How dare you be successful?"

And if these leaders and governments care so much about Darfur why don't they send NATO there?

And if they care so much about Tibet why don't they give Alaska to China and get Tibet?

In other words, put their money where their mouth is.

They are not getting anything out of these coordinated anti-China effort except the enmity of the Chinese people and government.
Hey Anonymous 8:21, don't you know, that we are on the side of right and those oppressed Chinese masses are just waiting to be liberated--just like as in Iraq.

NATO to Darfur, that's rich. Can't even get troops to Afghanistan. But hey, Russia's the real threat, right?
Right on the money with this one.
Most of the world treats Sudan and Zimbabwe the same way they treat China: with a leery dance called "constructive engagement". China on the other hand, actively props up both regimes with military cooperation and technical assistance. Ask someone how many Chinese are in Zimbabwe, the exact number is in the hundreds of thousands.
Anonymous 6:14

And why should China be doing something about Zimbabwe's internal affairs? They are acting just like Americans did a century earlier when we had the so-called Yankee Traders.

From a realist point of view, what benefit is there in all this anti-Chinese activities initiated, sustained, and supported in and by US & EU countries?

I mean, did we not go through this in Moscow Olympics?
But is the dance called constructive engagement just another version of "China, you do the dirty work, but we'll be happy to enjoy the benefits." In other words, China, you deploy the troops in Sudan to keep the oil pipelines flowing so we in Japan and India and Europe can benefit and then we can march under the banners of Save Darfur.

I remember a few years back there was a campaign in the US to try and get US consumers to boycott gas station companies that got their oil from "bad" countries; too bad that fizzled, right?
It really is an example of prisoner's dilemma, isn't it? The "virtuous" democracy gets shafted because the authoritarian powers go in and then other democracies decide, damage is already done. Sort of like the whole debate on stem cells.
As a Zimbabwean, George Kennan was right
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