US slowly wakes up to China threat
By Paul Lin 林保華
Tuesday, May 15th, 2001
It was truly ironic that the US lost its seat in the UN High Commission for Human Rights, while nations with poor human rights records such as Libya and Sudan were elected members. Losing such an important seat is very embarrassing for a great, powerful nation which regards human rights as a cornerstone of its existence and a central principle in its diplomacy. No wonder autocratic countries like China and Cuba took the opportunity to scoff at the US.
There are certainly many reasons for the voting of the US out of the international body, but there is one in particular that we must keep in mind. China has long propagated false reasoning on human rights issues and befriended other countries with poor rights records to form an "Anti-US front." Even some Western countries have been seduced. The crisis has been exposed in recent years by the fact that proposals to condemn China's human rights violations have failed to pass in the UN High Commission for Human Rights, but the US was not sufficiently alert to the problem.
The US has been eager to pull China into international organizations in recent years and has rarely hesitated to lower entry standards to these organizations for China's benefit. The US believes that China's admission into those international bodies will be conducive to reform inside China. It has never real-ized, however, that what will be reformed is not China, but those international organizations.
When China was shut out of international bodies in the 1950s and 1960s, it tried to set up rival camps by uniting its own allies. For example, it was active in the "Asia-Africa Conference" (亞非會議) and "Non-Aligned Movement" conference (不結盟國家會議) outside the UN. But, since joining the UN, China has taken advantage of its status as a permanent member of the Security Council to rally dictatorships and countries willing to sacrifice principles for profit. Its destructive power has been tremendous.
Now UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has almost become China's spokesperson. Action suppressing Taiwan, Tibet and the Falun Gong sects can be undertaken through the Secretariat. China used to view Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, as an enemy. But now he has turned out to be China's intimate comrade-in-arms.
After all, the Beijing government controls all of China's resources, and its use of those resources is not monitored by anyone. This is why China has gained so many friends.
China's impending entry into the WTO has become a topic of much debate. Will the WTO reform China? Or will the multinational companies dump the spirit of free trade and fair competition after entering China, and collude with China's bureaucrats or privileged groups in plundering the benefits? Isn't the answer clear, since many multinational enterprises have hired the children of high-ranking cadres or made joint investments with them to open up China's market? China's recent wide-scale arrests of Internet dissidents have also cast doubt on whether the Beijing government will really privatize the telecoms market.
The fact that China can run amuck within international bodies is a result of US connivance. Following the Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping's (鄧小平) economic reforms were deemed as a turn toward capitalism. Actually it was bureaucratic capitalism, and the single-party autocracy was not changed one bit in nature.
Despite shelving Mao Zedong's (毛澤東) slogan of a "world revolution," China did not forget its ambition to change the world. It tried more actively to realize the ambition, especially after the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989.
After Jiang Zemin (江澤民) took office, he -- driven by his own vanity -- started to promote "great-nation diplomacy" (大國外交) to flaunt China's military power, stimulating rumors about the "China threat" theory (中國威脅論). Of course, this caught the attention of far-sighted American personages, so the Bush administration has started to adjust its China policy.
China stopped promoting world revolution after Mao passed away. But it is still undertaking another form of revolution. China stopped instigating armed rebellions and instead strengthened the export of interests and concepts. That is, China removed its revolutionary clothes, began to practice bribery in public, and spread falsely reasoned propaganda to maintain its interests.
Since the above conduct was useful to dictators around the world, China was able to gather followers to counterbalance and even remold Western values as well as the international order, at the core of which are Western values.
Hence, while China has mut-tered sweet words to the US, Jiang has kept fanning the Chinese people's hatred toward the international powers led by the US. But former US president, Bill Clinton failed to see the situation for what it was. His advisers -- maybe they were naive or simply motivated by profit -- regarded China as a strategic partner. As a result, the US has had to pay a price in security.
This time, the vote in the UN High Commission for Human Rights has been a wake-up call for the US government. Despite the bad outcome, it may turn out to be a good thing in the long term. It may generate a sense of crisis in the US, causing it to revise its policies. It is to be hoped that the US will never again confuse friends with foes.
Paul Lin is a political commentator currently based in New York.
Translated by Jackie Lin
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