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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 23-Feb-08
China walks Olympics / Darfur tightrope after Steven Spielberg resigns

Web Log - February, 2008

China walks Olympics / Darfur tightrope after Steven Spielberg resigns

Steven Spielberg's resignation earlier this week as artistic adviser to the 2008 Olympics scheduled this summer in Beijing has clearly shocked Chinese officials. Spielberg's reason for resigning is that China is not doing enough to resolve the genocidal situation in Darfur. A particular issue is China's sales of weapons to the Sudan government, considered the aggressor in the war of genocide.

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I've previously said that the Olympics event has become as important to Beijing as a sweet 16 coming-out party for a teenage girl, and everything that happens seems to confirm that view. According to various news reports in recent months, China has:

There have been numerous international complaints directed at Beijing over its failure to help with Darfur. I admit to enjoy a fair amount of Schadenfreude over this, because China has always been a cheerleader for international protests against America, and now they're getting a taste of what they put out.

Liu Guijin, China's special envoy to Darfur <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: BBC)</font>
Liu Guijin, China's special envoy to Darfur (Source: BBC)

Spielberg's resignation has been such a shock that they've actually let Liu Guijin, China's special envoy to Darfur, give a press conference in London, explaining how much China has done to resolve the Darfur issue.

Normally the Chinese don't allow their diplomatic representatives to speak publicly, for fear that they'll say something "wrong," as in 2006, when Sha Zukang, the Chinese ambassador to the U.N., started screaming anti-US threats about Taiwan to a BBC reporter.

So Liu Guijin's press conference, and his subsequent interview with the BBC is a very big deal. Here's what he said to the BBC (my transcription):

"We made it clear that we are against the sanctions or embargoes or pressures on the Darfur issue of Sudan, because we think that cannot solve the problems. We are rather advocating softer measures to solve the problem. That is negotiations and dialogue and positive engagement, and China has played an active role in trying to bring a fundamental and long-term solution to the Darfur issue. And China has been active in trying to bring the different sides together for talk, for negotiations, among themselves.

We have never threatened the government of Sudan with anything. We have never imposed anything. We have never forced them to do anything. We give them advice. We engage them. We try to persuade them."

This is an amusing illustration of China's diplomatic problems. He might have said, "We give them advice. We engage them. We try to persuade them. We supply them with weapons." But he left that last part out.

In fact the whole concept is hilarious. There are millions of people fighting each other to the death in Darfur. Is Liu really saying that sending a few people in for a friendly chat is going to change anything? As I've said many times, nothing can stop the genocide in Darfur, until it's run its course.

"We are not going to force anything on them. We are not going to exert pressures. We are not going to threaten them with sanctions or embargoes.

Just as equal partners, as friends, we give them advice for the better, for the good of the sovereign government. ...

The non-interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country is the cornerstone abd basis of the Chinese diplomatic policy.

And the Chinese government's active engagement with regard to the Darfur issue does not mean that we have changed this policy, or that we are going to change this policy.

Because China, as a responsible member and one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, we have been asked, and we feel, that it is necessary for us to show more responsibility to play a more active role in finding settlements of international crises."

China's walking a tightrope here. China knows that if they criticize human rights in Darfur or anywhere else, then the international community will point out massive human rights violations in China (like being thrown in jail for years and tortured for uttering the words "falun gong").

Something's really building to a crescendo in Beijing. Almost every resource in China is focused on the summer Olympics. Once the Olympics games are over, China is going to have a letdown. We'll have to see how that letdown affects policy. (23-Feb-08) Permanent Link
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