Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Towards the end of the article it mentions that China may be willing to absorb the tiny nation of 5 million people. While there are some mineral resources in the offering, Beijing wouldn't want the additional responsibility. It has enough on its hands with Xinjiang, Tibet, and the central provinces that still lag behind the coastal areas by a substantial margin. One of my classmates who is familiar with Central Asian and Russian affairs dismisses the article as a Russian grab for the territory, instead saying it could go to Tajikistan.
So in the future folks, when curious about what would Beijing do, follow these steps:
1) Remove any biases (pro or con) you have about China
2) View it from the Chinese perspective
3) Think what would best fit their interests in developing (hint: it's stability)
Monday, April 26, 2010
From a press release two weeks ago, the Chinese have made it clear (if it wasn't already), that targeted sanctions will not receive Beijing's support. Now you're probably saying "But what about the progress made at the UN?" Well, sanctions are being developed, but they will fall far short of the targeted ones on petroleum exports that Washington wants. The only thing a UN Security Council resolution will do at this point will green light the tough sanctions Obama really wants for passage by Congress. And since the U.S. already has imposed several sanctions on the nuclear wannabe, it's doubtful that they'll work. I fully expect that Iran will become a nuclear state within my lifetime.
I won't claim to be an expert on Iranian affairs, but the nuclear issue seems to be the only thing Western countries are desperate to talk to Iran about. Moreover, rights to nuclear technology present a rally around-the-flag topic that Tehran can use to remain in power. Seems to me that it might be worthwhile to try to buy off Iran as opposed to whacking it with sanctions. Some people may resent rewarding Iran for its negative behavior, but sanctioning Iran is a lot like withholding a child's allowance until they behave. Sometimes it takes corporal punishment. However, no country (with the exception of Israel) is advocating a military strike.
I'll close off with a general criticism of sanctions. In order for sanctions to be effective, the targeted country needs to know what it should do to have them terminated. If one looks at UN Security Council resolution 1737, it says that Iran must halt all R&D on nuclear technology and enrichment. Considering that Iran needs alternative sources for energy production because of the sanctions currently placed on it, this is asking A LOT. No wonder Iran is pursuing what is in its interests.
What made me chuckle was the picture chosen for the piece: Obama accepting the Nobel Peace Prize at Oslo. Regardless of one's position on the new missile, you gotta hand it to the Chinese for picking the right picture.
So what does this mean for Sino-US relations? In the greater scheme of things, very little. The Chinese military is already modernizing its forces while the US remains anxious about China's military intentions. This program, if it goes forward, will only serve the purpose of providing more evidence for those voices in China that view the US as a threat.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
The article lambastes China for continuing its commercial contracts in Niger after a military coup overthrew autocratic Nigerien President Mamadou Tandja. It succinctly sums up the relationship between Tandja and China when it states:
"The Chinese ambassador had instant entree to Mr. Tandja’s whitewashed presidential palace, at all hours, people close to the former government said; Chinese executives dealt directly with the presidency, bypassing ministers; and Mr. Tandja’s son Ousmane was firmly ensconced as his country’s “commercial attaché” in China, serving as a go-between."
So what coverage has the NYT given to any Western countries operating in Niger? As far as I can tell, absolutely none. Given that French and South Korean companies are continuing their operations in Niger despite the seizure of power, I would expect some outrage from the NYT, but I am disappointed. But hey, even the U.S. State Department has nothing to say on the matter.
Which leaves me even more confused over the NYT's outrage about China's behavior in Niger. To borrow from a line from Hamlet, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks".