Saturday, July 18, 2009

China, Stern Hu and the west's dilemma

China's rehabilitation in the eye's of the world has been the result of a combination of greed and hope. The west has wanted to sell China resources and has wanted the cheap clothes and electronics that flowed back. In this exchange the west has been largely willing to overlook that in all practical senses nothing in the Chinese political system has changed.

But its not all bad, along with the greed, has been the hope (and its only hope) that as we traded, the wealth China was accumulating would be spread, wages rise, civil society would strengthen and the strict authoritarian rule in China gradually dissolve. Perhaps that hope was misplaced.
The Stern Hu affair yet again underscore that China is not a nation capable of being trusted in the community of nations, China either does not understand or simply does not acknowledge the rule of law. Through the confusion of state security laws and basic commerce China has joined nations like North Korea and Zimbabwe.

And yet, China is already powerful and becoming increasingly rich. What are we to do? If civilizing China (both for the benefit of its own citizens and, as shown by the Hu affair, our own) risks some of our own wealth are we prepared to undertake the task?

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