Democrats & Liberals Archives

China Interferes In Sudan

China is urging Sudan to accept UN peacekeepers. This is huge because it’s the first time China has interefered with the internal workings of one of its trade partners.

China has always told its trading partners -- many of them as unsavory, or more so, than Sudan -- that it didn't care what they did, as long as they stuck to the business deals. Some China watchers (myself included) didn't think that was sustainable. We were right. It was inevitable that, as China became more connected to the world, the character of its trading partners would matter.

In this case, China is afraid that world opinion about Darfur will mar the 2008 Olympic Games to be hosted in Beijing.

I think China's policy change says a lot about the sincerity of the Chinese government's "peaceful emergence" rhetoric. I also think the China hawks will freak out as, more and more, China takes up President Bush's suggestion to become a "stakeholder in the international system."

Just wait until China starts sending peacekeeping troops to the Middle East and Africa, humanitarian aid to Central and South America and its new navy to vigorously patrol trade routes through the Indian Ocean, the Pacific and the Straits of Malacca. I can hear the screeches of the China-fearing war hawks already.

Relax, you guys. It's a good thing.

Posted by American Pundit at April 14, 2007 1:14 AM
Comments
Comment #216541

It is a good thing that China dropped its bad behavior re Sudan and got on the right side. I welcome them to the right side. Maybe they can embrace Robert Mugabe a little less closely.

Actually I look forward to the day when people will drag up old pictures of Chinese officials meeting evil dictators and blame them for all the troubles in the world. Maybe they will lay off us a little.

I agree that Chinese rise is generally a good thing. But I also think they get a lot more slack than they deserve re human rights, environment, even what we would call neo-colonial relations in Africa if they were anybody else.

Posted by: Jack at April 14, 2007 1:53 AM
Comment #216549

Whether the Chinese rise is a good thing or not, it is inevitable.

Posted by: gergle at April 14, 2007 7:41 AM
Comment #216608

The Chinese can be predicted to clear-headedly and rationally act in the best interest of their nation’s survival, progress, growth, and integrity as a nation. That makes them a monumental adversary to the U.S. which has much difficulty addressing any issue clear-headedly and rationally.

Iraq as a perfect example. Our role in Iraq is a tug of war between individual personality & legacy and political parties vs. the interests of our nation and her people. China as a quasi-authoritarian state has the capacity for singularity of action, perception, and consequence.

This can be a formidable style of action acquiring immense force of power over time in its unwaivering ability to stand by policy overtime. Whereas in the U.S., policy tends to change and priorities shift every 8 to 12 years, losing the power of constancy and consistent application of force and pressure toward an outcome.

If the U.S. and China were compared to the forces of time and pressure, the U.S. could only produce low grade coal, while the Chinese could produce diamonds. The fact that the Chinese are growingly being viewed by the people of other nations in the world as intelligent, rational, and benevolent to ideas of peace, partnership, and globalization, does not bode well for American international relations as time marches forward.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 14, 2007 5:23 PM
Comment #216621
The fact that the Chinese are growingly being viewed by the people of other nations in the world as intelligent, rational, and benevolent to ideas of peace, partnership, and globalization, does not bode well for American international relations

…Unless America resumes its efforts towards adhering those principles — dealing with other countries with respect rather than by decree.

Even so, developing countries preferred dealing with China because China respected their sovereignty. China took a hands-off approach with respect to the type of government these countries had as long as it didn’t interfere in trade relations.

That’s changed now with respect to Sudan, because what the Sudanese government does reflects on its trading partners. For the first time — and because it’s now ensnared in the web of globalization — China cares about its image.

It’ll be interesting to see if, as Jack mentions, China will change its hands-off policy towards its other trading partners like Zimbabwe.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 14, 2007 10:28 PM
Comment #216625

And, BTW, China’s rebuke of Sudan is a validation of US-China policy since Nixon and through the Clinton administration: Dealing with China — incouraging it to interact with the rest of the world rather than isolating the country — leads to a better-behaved China.

That’s a principle that can be applied to any country.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 14, 2007 10:35 PM
Comment #216639

Nice article and interesting perspective, AP.

Guarded distrust remains a useful attitude to take toward China. I hope you’re right (and I understand you’re not actually making a prediction here) that this turnabout presages an emerging activism on China’s part in taking on some global responsibility, even if it is mostly a result of informed self-interest and a realization that her image does make a difference.

Jack, I see a lot of cars out here on the west coast with “left-leaning” bumper stickers right along side one that says “Free Tibet”. From the Cultural Revolution to Tianenman Square there is pretty wide agreement that China’s so-called communist government has a long-standing record repugnant to human rights. And you were certainly correct in your recent article that their environmental irresponsibility is frightening in light of the sheer magnitude of what could happen if they adopt dirty industrial practices.

There is still hope, however, that the enlightened self-interest factor combined with some popular environmental activism over there could become a paramount factor is saving us from planetary catastrophe.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at April 14, 2007 11:58 PM
Comment #216649

AP, what you say is valid, but, do not forget that China can no longer be forced to do anything it chooses not to. If China affirms its relationship with the U.S., it is only because China sees benefit in doing so. In this regard, China is little different from the U.S.

China’s leadership is, and has been, cultivating an international public image for the past 15 years that is designed to disarm its critics and proffer deals and treaties that secure its long term planning needs. It is this long term approach that permits the Chinese flexibility in short term circumstances.

I would not look to China’s response to Sudan as a bell weather of change in China’s international relations. Instead, I think it is more prudent to think that China can afford such conciliation in light of the strides it is making elsewhere.

There is little cost to China’s new position on Sudan. But there is potentially large upside to creating the image, real, or illusion, that China is a cooperative nation toward a global future not dissimilar from that vision held by Americans and Europeans. Such appearance has immense value in disarming its critics. And the I-Ching is stacked from front to back with just this kind of tactical and strategic thinking and wisdom toward the aim of success in all ventures.

I would caution American statesmen and women that regarding China, they may find themselves as Checker players engaged with the best Chess players China has to offer. Their long and ancient culture and wisdom is as deep and rich as our western traditional thought and wisdom from Greece and Rome.

But, with one large difference. The Chinese venerate their past and its wisdom and study it. Western Societies believe they have largely outgrown theirs. That may prove to be the difference between westerners being checker players and the Chinese being chess players on the global stage.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 15, 2007 1:05 AM
Comment #216661

This is the first time? Wow, listen, my suggestion to you is if you want to write about China that you read a book or two on it. My God china has mucked about with many nations both in recent and distant history.

For instance, Mau pushed N. Korea into a war with the US in order to get the Soviet Union to help China build up a modern chinese military. China was essentialy dictating the N. Korean war and when N. Korea collapsed china sent in the troops to do battle with the US as they promised they would.

China lost many thousands but got the military factories and nuclear weapons support they wanted from Russia.

China has a long history of interference and manipulation for it’s own goals.

In exchange for the factories Mao starved his people to death by the tens of millions to help pay Russia for helping him to build a super power military.

And of course, the American liberals of the day had strongly supported…the US? No, China, Mau was their “rural socialist Hero”. Even today they try to defend him and deny the full scope of his mass murder of Chinese people.

I prefer this kind of “interference” as opposed to the type China has traditionaly done.

Posted by: StephenL at April 15, 2007 3:54 AM
Comment #216665

StephenL
Left over cold war twaddle. China ALWAYS intervenes when its buffer states are threatened under Mao or the Mings.

DR
China is not playing either. They are playing Go. Another game altogether.

Posted by: BillS at April 15, 2007 11:22 AM
Comment #216680
There is little cost to China’s new position on Sudan.

Not necessarily. China’s big sales pitch was always that it didn’t care about the internal workings of its trading partners.

In light of its siding with te UN over the Sudanese govt., guys like Chavez and Mugabe will think twice before concluding the next deal. Which is good.

If dictators no longer have a get-out-of-jail-free card with a major trade partner, they’ll have to change.

I prefer this kind of “interference” as opposed to the type China has traditionaly done.

Of course.

The Chinese venerate their past and its wisdom and study it.

Absolutely. The last time I was in Beijing I talked to a guy about the navy China is building. He said they’re not going to get suckered like they did during the reign of Empress Cixi. They blame her for misappropriating funds meant to modernize the navy for her summer palace, which directly led to the Japanese invasion and occupation.

They also remember their hundred-year occupation by Westren forces, including the United States. They’re determined not to let that happen again.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 15, 2007 1:15 PM
Comment #216704

AP said: “Not necessarily. China’s big sales pitch was always that it didn’t care about the internal workings of its trading partners.”

Quite right. It was a sales pitch. A sales pitch its buyers knew damn well was just advertising for PR sake. Who, with an economics 101 course under their belt, is going to believe that any nation signing contracts with other nations is NOT going to care about the internal affairs of that nation and their ability to honor the contracts?

C’mon, AP. We are talking about highly educated and very saavy folks here.

AP said: “In light of its siding with te UN over the Sudanese govt., guys like Chavez and Mugabe will think twice before concluding the next deal. Which is good.

If dictators no longer have a get-out-of-jail-free card with a major trade partner, they’ll have to change.”

Yes, as I said, this is chess, not checkers. And there are moves within moves, and ruses, and feints, and obvious moves with no intention to follow through on, all designed for one purpose, to benefit China’s future and endurance and maintain the one-China policy which is at the core of fundamental principles moving China’s policy. China’s greatest fear is another Revolution. That fear is the starting point of all of China’s policies and guides all its nuances. A fact no one in the world dealing with China should ever forget for an instant.

If China is ever forced to the choice of risking Revolution or war with another nation, China will war with another nation. China abjectly refuses to allow another nations to interfere with her own internal affairs. In deference, China play’s host to the courtesy of not interfering in the internal affairs of other nations.

But, make no mistake. China’s position toward the internal affairs of other nations has, as its root, its absolute insistence that no others meddle in China’s. There is no altruism in China’s regard for or decisions regarding the internal affairs of other nations. It would be the gravest of mistakes to think otherwise.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 15, 2007 4:28 PM
Comment #216714
Who, with an economics 101 course under their belt, is going to believe that any nation signing contracts with other nations is NOT going to care about the internal affairs of that nation

Umm… The Saudis? :)

“With the Chinese there are no strings attached,” said Gal Luft, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Washington and a former Israeli Army officer who advocates reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. “They don’t talk to you about democracy or reform. They give money, the Saudis give oil and there are no hidden agendas. The Saudis find those kinds of relationships more appealing.”

China’s position toward the internal affairs of other nations has, as its root, its absolute insistence that no others meddle in China’s.

Exactly right. That’s why its condemnation of the Sudanese government is significant.

David, I think we mostly agree. I’m not saying China has suddenly become the epitome of all that’s good in the world. But I think this is a significant policy change. I think it’s a validation of a “sunshine policy” towards a once isolated China. And I think that policy is now demonstrably better than President Bush’s policy of isolating rogue nations.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 15, 2007 6:00 PM
Comment #216716

AP, yes, you are right. We do largely agree. The Saudi’s have been master chess players on the international stage for decades, in their own right. I don’t believe such bargains between nations are ever as simple as the commodities exchanged.

I agree that China is growing and learning to play in the arena of the world’s other nations, and their action regarding Sudan is a positive. But, I don’t believe they are acting thus, out of even a modicum of deference to other nation’s wants and desires, but, purely out of their own sense of what is going to advantage them in achieving their long term goals and preserving their domestic integrity.

I think we agree also, that neither the U.S., nor the EU, is in any position to strong arm China against its will. And any attempts to do so, will be met by deaf ears at the very least.

Taiwan is a huge Ace in the hole for China. A trump card if you will, only to be played if the U.S. becomes obstructionist to China’s path toward her future. There is no denying the political genius of Richard Nixon in his trip to China to open relations. We are witnessing the positive results of that part of Nixon’s legacy today.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 15, 2007 6:24 PM
Comment #216728

David,

I agree with BillS, this is much more complex than chess.
If you haven’t played Go, the national game of China, I suggest you look at it here;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_(board_game)

AP,

I did an install in a disco accross the street from the Chinese Navel Academy in Dalian. These guys are serious. The Dalian airport also had at least a dozen MiGs parked on the tarmac.

Also on Empress Cixi;
Among the improvements to the Emperor’s summer palace, she built a large concrete ship, that is totally stationary, in the lake.
That was her contribution to the Chinese navy.

Posted by: Rocky at April 15, 2007 8:47 PM
Comment #216769

Rocky,

My aunt gave me that game when I was about 10 in the 60’s. I thought it was inteesting, but could never find anyone to play it with me in Ohio :(

Posted by: gergle at April 16, 2007 10:04 AM
Comment #216777

gergle,

If you are still interested, there are Go clubs all over the US.
Check at your local college.

Posted by: Rocky at April 16, 2007 10:35 AM
Comment #217242

Hey, look at that. “Sudan To Allow U.N. Force In Darfur”

Posted by: American Pundit at April 18, 2007 1:35 AM
Comment #217247

A.P. Let’s hope they follow through this time.

Posted by: gergle at April 18, 2007 2:18 AM
Comment #217448

My fingers are crossed. But, you have to agree that it never would have happened in the first place if China hadn’t jumped in.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 19, 2007 12:22 AM
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