China as a very important player

An important article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald by Mark Lynas, a climate change activist. The article, entitled “How China gutted Copenhagen and avoided the Blame” in the SHM, has been widely reprinted and was originally published in the Guardian, as seen here.

Among the interesting statements in the article were “The failure was “the inevitable result of rich countries refusing adequately and fairly to shoulder their overwhelming responsibility”, said Christian Aid… All very predictable but the opposite of the truth. I saw Obama fighting to salvage a deal, and the Chinese delegate saying no, over and over again… At one of the major meetings when Obama and other heads of state were there “The Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, did not deign to attend the meetings personally, instead sending a second-tier official in the country’s foreign minstry to sit opposite Obama.  The diplomatic snub was obvious and brutal as was the practical implication: several times during the session, the world’s most powerful heads of state were forced to wait around as the Chinese delegate went off to make telephone calls to his “superiors”.

Among the letters to the Guardian were the following:

“So, China, long the darling of socialists and left-wingers everywhere, is now starting to flex its considerable muscles and shock! horror! … the Chinese are doing what suits the Chinese. It has long been clear that China doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about the international community or multilateralism or public opinion. Its support for dictatorships around the world from Zimbabwe to Burma to Sudan shows that China will do what suits China and the world can go to hell.  There are those who have recently cheered the apparent demise of the US as the world’s only superpower. Be careful what you wish for. Stop to consider what the world would look like with a superpower China acting totally in its own self-interest and conceding nothing unless it suited China. The unilateral wrecking of COP15 by China is simply a small taste, an appetizer really, of things to come.

Lincoln Mitchell had an interesting perspective on China’s position and Lynas’s article.  India had also been supportive of China’s position, and the Indian environment minister stated that a bloc of key emerging economies – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – had worked to protect the rights of the developing world.

These events are a reminder of China’s power, as described already a few years ago here, and more recently here where UK Foreign Minister Miliband hopes that Europe, by joining together, will have a voice at the table of the G2 – China and the U.S.

So what of Israel’s relations with China?  They are strong which, in previous years, has led to some tension with the U.S. over military contracts.  In 2007, Prime Minister Olmert recognised the 15 year anniversary of official relations with a visit.  Olmert’s parents lived in Harbin so he has a Chinese heritage. The Israel-Asia website discussed the increasingly important relationship. Cultural links were also fostered recently. including a China film week in Israel.

Here from the website are excerpts from an interview with Amos Nadai, the Israeli ambassador to Beijing, China. Naturally, he speaks diplomatically, but the overall tenor is positive:

IAC: How did events in Gaza in January 2009 impact on your work?

It have us a lot of work. We had very easy and excellent access to the Chinese media, which was very balanced, like the Chinese always is. They were bringing in people who spoke from the other side, but they always gave us the opportunity to give our side of the story. I remember I was running from one studio to another – radio, television, newspapers, dot coms and so on – and we were able to bring in Israeli experts, Israeli leaders. So the Chinese public received a very, very balanced picture of what was going on, and I think that is why they were less critical than in other places around the world.

IAC: Where do you see the Israel-China relationship 10 years from now?

They are developing. We are working very hard on promoting them. I believe very much in creating the personal exposure of leadership, like our president who was here last August for the opening of the Olympic Games, and then he met with the Chinese leadership. We want to expand this, and we are working very hard on promoting bilateral trade and Israeli exports here. Exactly where it will take us, I can’t tell you, but I hope it’s definitely going to be even better than today.



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