February 23, 2008

China, in New Role, Presses Sudan on Darfur

China, in New Role, Presses Sudan on Darfur

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Amid the international outrage over the bloodshed in Darfur, frustration has increasingly turned toward China, Sudan’s biggest trading partner and international protector, culminating in Steven Spielberg’s decision last week to withdraw as artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics.

And it may be working.

China has begun shifting its position on Darfur, stepping outside its diplomatic comfort zone to quietly push Sudan to accept the world’s largest peacekeeping force, diplomats and analysts say.

It has also acted publicly, sending engineers to help peacekeepers in Darfur and appointing a special envoy to the region who has toured refugee camps and pressed the Sudanese government to change its policies.

Few analysts expect China to walk away from its business ties to Sudan, but its willingness to take up the issue is a rare venture into something China swears it never does — meddle in the internal affairs of its trading partners.

“China in my view has been very cooperative,” said Andrew S. Natsios, the former special envoy of President Bush to Sudan. “The level of coordination and cooperation has been improving each month.”

January 28, 2008

China's New Dictatorship Diplomacy

Is Beijing Parting With Pariahs?

China is often accused of supporting a string of despots, nuclear proliferators, and genocidal regimes, shielding them from international pressure and thus reversing progress on human rights and humanitarian principles. But over the last two years, Beijing has been quietly overhauling its policies toward pariah states. It strongly denounced North Korea's nuclear test in October 2006 and took the lead, with the United States, in drafting a sweeping United Nations sanctions resolution against Pyongyang. Over the past year, it has voted to impose and then tighten sanctions on Iran, it has supported the deployment of a United Nations-African Union (UN-AU) force in Darfur, and it has condemned a brutal government crackdown in Burma (which the ruling junta renamed Myanmar in 1989). China is now willing to condition its diplomatic protection of pariah countries, forcing them to become more acceptable to the international community. And it is supporting -- in some cases even helping to create -- processes that chart a path to legitimacy for these states, such as the six-party talks on North Korea, thereby minimizing their exposure to coercive measures.

China's changing calculation of its economic and political interests has partly driven this shift. With its increased investments in pariah countries over the past decade, China has had to devise a more sophisticated approach to protecting its assets and its citizens abroad. It no longer sees providing uncritical and unconditional support to unpopular, and in some cases fragile, regimes as the most effective strategy. An even more important motivator has been the West's heightened expectations for China's global role. Faced with the 17th Party Congress last October, the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and presidential elections in Taiwan also later this year, Chinese officials would have preferred to think about avoiding trouble at home rather than about developing a new foreign policy. But the nuclear crises in North Korea and Iran and international outcry over developments in Darfur and Burma have forced their hand: Beijing has no choice but to worry about its international image. China's fears about a backlash and the potential damage to its strategic and economic relationships with the United States and Europe have prompted Beijing to put great effort into demonstrating that it is a responsible power.

June 11, 2007

Chinese Leave Guantánamo for Albanian Limbo

Chinese Leave Guantánamo for Albanian Limbo

The men, Muslims from western China’s Uighur ethnic minority, were freed from their confinement in Cuba after they were found to pose no threat to the United States. They have now lived for more than a year in a squalid government refugee center on the grubby outskirts of Tirana, guarded by armed policemen.

The men have been told that they will need to get work to move out of the center, they said, but that they must learn the Albanian language to get work permits. For now, they subsist on free meals heavy with macaroni and rice, and monthly stipends of about $67, which they spend mostly on brief telephone calls to their families. But some of the men have already lost hope of ever seeing their wives and children again.

Many American officials privately describe the Uighurs’ plight as one of the more troubling episodes of the Bush administration’s detention program. The case also provides a view of the remarkable difficulties Washington has encountered in trying to winnow the detainee population at Guantánamo in response to domestic and international criticism.

The refugees in Tirana seem to have little sense of how to influence the global chess game in which they have become involved. They spend most of their days behind the refugee center’s high, cinderblock walls, reading the Koran, studying Albanian and waiting for a turn on the center’s lone desktop computer. They avoid the gravelly soccer field because it reminds them of one they looked out on at Guantánamo.

February 08, 2007

The Chinese in Zambia

Thanks China, now go home: buy-up of Zambia revives old colonial fears

"It's hard to know how they all got here," said Guy Scott, a former agriculture minister and now the Patriotic Front leader in parliament. "If you go to the market you find Chinese selling cabbages and beansprouts. What is the point in letting them in to do that? There's a lot of Chinese here doing construction. Zambians can do that. The Chinese building firms are undercutting the local firms.

"Our textile factories can't compete with cheap Chinese imports subsidised by a foreign government. People are saying: 'We've had bad people before. The whites were bad, the Indians were worse but the Chinese are worst of all.'"

see also: China’s Influence in Africa Arouses Some Resistance

April 17, 2006

Back to the Maoist Future

China's African ambitions

AMID FESTERING CONCERNS ABOUT CHINA'S burgeoning global power, Beijing has set its sights on expanding its influence in Africa. In a throwback to the Maoist revolutionary days of the 1960s and '70s, Beijing has once again identified the 53-nation African continent as an area of strategic interest. But this time it's not interested in exporting communism. Instead, it's wholly concerned with international trade.

Seeking new markets for its export-driven economy and unimpeded access to Africa's abundant natural resources, China lavishes African leaders with diplomatic pomp and circumstance as well as financial, commercial, and military assistance. Unfortunately, the policies of the People's Republic of China are aiding and abetting oppression, human rights abuses, poor governance, and economic stagnation, while shoring up some of Africa's most odious regimes.