Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Singapore Dream IV

“China's rhetoric about third world solidarity has an almost antiquated ring to it, with quaint echoes of the 1960s that are questionable on at least two grounds. The country is pushing for membership in the club of industrialized countries – the Group of 8 – where it will attend its first summit meeting next month in Scotland as a special invitee. At the same time, China's awesome performance in many basic industries, like textiles, which is achieved in part through overinvestment, comes at the expense of many of the world's poorest countries, which simply cannot compete. So far, the Chinese bargain offered to these countries has been all about natural resources, starting with energy. Search as one might for a broader, more uplifting theme, but the essence of China's approach was best put by the deputy foreign minister, Zhou Wenzhong, when he was asked in an interview last year about how Beijing justifies its position as the biggest foreign investor in Sudanese oil in the midst of an ongoing genocide in that country. 'Business is business,' Zhou shot back."
--Friday's Herald Tribune, “Is See No Evil A Stone in Beijing's Global Path?”

“A Saudi delegate said there was a need for genuinely neutral and disinterested parties to join the quest for peace and called Singapore's effort brave and timely. But an Asian contribution to the single most important conflict confronting the world would require a significant rewiring of the diplomatic grid. China would need to weigh in with its newfound global clout. The United Nations would have to play a bigger role….”
-Michael Vatikiotis, “Why the Middle East is Turning to Asia.”

It's rare that absurd statements made in one article in a paper are so expeditiously rebutted simply by turning the page. The Asian values crowd has decided to join hands with the U.N. and offer their services to help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Shaaban, a former ambassador to Europe and at the United Nations, says a fresh approach to making peace will need to start dealing with the problem without regarding all the players as security risks – without seeing everything through the lense of counterterrorism.” So, the way to bring the Singapore gospel to the Middle East is for Singapore to extend the hand of friendship in speeches, without even addressing the issue of corruption; then, building on that momentum, the way to solve the Middle East crisis is to ignore the terrorism that the unaddressed corruption breeds. And, of course we need to get China more involved in resolving the "world's most important conflict." This would be the China whose entire policy in Africa seems to be predicated on allying itself with governments like those in Sudan and Zimbabwe in order to gain access to energy resources? We can get some idea of the flavor of their neutral and disinterested mediation by examining the work of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, which is a virtual Who's Who of China's new friends: in addition to China – Sudan, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Pakistan. Not surprisingly, 26% of this neutral and disinterested commission's condemnations have referred to Israel alone. Sounds like at the U.N., the Asian values crowd has already teamed up with the Middle East to make the world a better place.