Sunday, April 20, 2008

Is China blowing a great opportunity?

I have voiced my opinion before on the difficulty of referring to China as an homogenous whole. Still, there is a ruling authority, drawn from the Han community, which has been largely responsible for that country’s development who represent the country’s decision making.

There is little reason to believe these people are any less sophisticated in governing than other national authorities, they are just bigger than mos. That can be a problem in itself, size imposes its own threats, not helped by a culture of secrecy.

The Olympic Games offered China a bridge to a world it is seeking to play a larger role in. China has enormous assets, people and money, well placed in many countries around the world. They now have one of the great PR opportunities to capitalize on their growing influence.

Instead they are simply wasting it by being unable to let go of the heavy handed tactics used so long to rule their own country. They are parading a brutality of thinking, if not action, which will reinforce current stereotyping. What a waste of an opportunity.

Olympic torch runs have always been problematic, but rather than China navigating through major concerns, showing some concern for the concerns of the world, they have simply become more defensive.

In Australia that means reports of the Chinese embassy bussing their own protesters in to Canberra to counter balance, or even swamp opposing protests. This is after inflaming the Tibet situation themselves. It means secreting their secret service agents in the crowd, according to reports, not a good PR move in this sovereign nation. Great wall for China torch relay

THERE were conflicting reports last night about the destination of a Chinese ship carrying weapons for Zimbabwe after it left South African waters. Mystery of ship bearing arms for Mugabe regime

Just the suggestion of China engaging in arming troubled African nations just now clearly squanders the value the Olympics offer. The west, well most of the west, has tired of constant conflict, is looking for other means to strive for stability in troubled areas. Just the suggestion of China fueling those problems is a major negative.

China is emerging as an important world player; there was even a growing level of credibility. These latest manifestation show little more than a great, lumbering thug state.


TomCat said...

Excellent arguments, Cart. In some ways, China is trying to dance on a saber's edge. They need to open their society to achieve the economic growth they desire, but open it too much and the people might rise up against the entrenched authorities. I think they are having a hard time keeping their balance.

abi said...

I'm surprised at how many pro-China demonstrations there have been among the Chinese, and not just in China but abroad. They seem genuine, not staged by the government.

We grew up being told that China was Red China whose hundreds of millions of people were prisoners there. And that's probably how many of the people felt, certainly during the 60s.

But that seems to be changing now. Chinese are both patriotic and proud. I read where one of the recent pro-China protesters said that the last protest he attended was 20 years ago in Tiananmen Square. China has changed dramatically since then, he said. Whether or not that's true, that's what many Chinese seem to believe.

China is going to be the force to be reckoned with in this century.

Cart said...

“They seem genuine, not staged by the government.” Abi, the concern here is that Chinese students in Australia are being mobilised, under the banner of nationalism, or patriotism, by the local embassy. Busses and refreshments are to be provided by the embassy.
Most Australians have an instinctive concern about patriotism. We care about our country, but there is also a weary cynicism when an argument is reduced to flag waving. There is also a concern that using students, only limited visas, is a breach of the fragile hospitality we offer these kids.
The other concern is that there might be an element of duress in all of this. At the very least many of these kids, the ones not already engaging in triad activities here, will be looking to take part in China’s current economic revolution. That would become problematic if they were to waver in any show of patriotism.
China is transforming rapidly, but the cultural underpinnings will still be firmly in place.

D.K. Raed said...

Hey did the flame make it to Australia yet? I've seen nothing on the news. But it is getting rather ridiculous. Yesterday, a guy (a US citizen as it turns out) was turned away from climbing Mt Everest because he was carrying a Free Tibet sign. So I guess the Neapalese are being heavily pressured by China.

I think the students you mentioned are probably under intense pressure to show pro-China support.

Cart said...

The relay was in Canberra today. Nothing too dramatic, but no great look for the Olympics.
I have a feeling this will be the last of its kind.