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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Washington Woos and Boos China

Asia Times Online - News from greater China; Hong Kong and Taiwan

The linked article calls it the wooing/booing strategy. That being the current strategy of the U.S. where on one hand they are China's best friend in the "War on Terror" and issues such as North Korea and nuclear arms and Aids but at the same time, blaming China for America's trade deficit and looking to 'slam" Beijing on human rights at the United Nations Human Rights meeting in Geneva mid-month.

Quite simply the conservative elements of US politics are identifying with the ongoing human rights issues and the not inconsiderable $100 billion China Trade deficit whilst the more liberal elements believe that the Human Rights issue is a spoiler and for the sake of a few Uygurs, Tibetans et al the U.S. could be denying itself a real security partner and missing out on all the dollars to be made. After all they say the Chinese are getting better aren't they? Just how far do you push a guy?

Being an election year the administration is madly running around trying to be most things to all people and as a result it appears very messy.

The basic fact is that the China thing is damned difficult at the moment. Do they or don't they? Will they or wont they. How much pressure is not enough and how much is too much?

The U.S most definitely laid off China since "9/11", of that there is no doubt. It was done for a reason and from the U.S's point of view it worked but the "Champion of the Free World" might be allowed a rest between rounds but it just has to get back in the ring sometime.

To an extent they did this with the re-listing of China as a nation of concern on human rights in the recent State department HR report. They have done it also by making noises that they will take the issue further at the U.N. seeking a resolution against China over it's human rights "backsliding" But that is where it will end for the time being.

The Chinese will pass a human rights amendment to their Constitution this week as well as one protecting, to a degree, the right of private ownership of assets. It is not really worth the paper it will be written on at this stage but it will be a step from which they will be hard pressed to go back on. It is easier to deny someone something they never had then to take from them something which they did.

It will be win/win for all concerned albeit some winning more than others. The Chinese leadership will be seen to be fair and progressive and the heat comes of world leaders so they can pursue their "get cozy" China policies. The U.S. administration will pat themselves on the back and say their woo/boo strategy had paid off. Everyone will be happy, (it will just take several more years maybe for any positives to flow down to the peoples it is all supposed to be about.) But hey? What the heck!

But jocularity aside it will mark a very important turning point.

The Chinese are not used to the western democratic/capitalist principle of "win/win". To date they have worked only on the principle of win/lose, that is their nature from the Mahjong table to the Politburo table. From their ethnic policies to Tianaman Square, win at all costs.

To play the game so adroitly and so assiduously as they have done since "9/11" is a quantum leap in terms of their diplomatic card playing abilities and marks them for greater respect in this area at least.

We will not be seeing any resolution brought by the States in the U.N. against China if their Constitutional amendments are rubber stamped, of that I feel quite certain