Thursday, January 25, 2007

China into Africa, should Tibet and Taiwan be concerned.

There's a lot of news coverage on China's rise. A recent article in the Time magazine stated "You may know all about the world coming to China--about the hordes of foreign businesspeople setting up factories and boutiques and showrooms in places like Shanghai and Shenzhen. But you probably know less about how China is going out into the world. Through its foreign investments and appetite for raw materials, the world's most populous country has already transformed economies from Angola to Australia. Now China is turning that commercial might into real political muscle, striding onto the global stage and acting like a nation that very much intends to become the world's next great power. " The rising Chinese influence gives them leverage and how they have used this influence over African governments should already set off alarms. This article from the International Herald Tribune shows how China's diplomacy is far beyond seeking solution for the Darfur crisis. They have used this influence to get these countries to not recognize Taiwan's sovereignity. Also, recently His Holiness the Dalai Lama was refused entry into Kenya which shows how China is using its influence in Africa from trade to get these governments to side with China on Tibet and Taiwan issues.

China seeks solution to Darfur crisis
By Howard W. French
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Chinese officials announced Wednesday that President Hu Jintao would visit Sudan in early February and would press for a diplomatic solution to the Darfur conflict, which Washington has described as genocide.
Hu's visit will come as part of an eight-country tour of Africa, the latest of a string of high-level visits to the continent by Chinese officials.
In recent months, China has faced widespread criticism for its economic engagement with Sudan at a time when government-allied militias, known as the janjaweed, have mounted frequent attacks on civilian populations in Sudan's western Darfur region.
China has played a leading role in building a thriving oil industry in Sudan amid the violence in Darfur, and now imports more than 64 percent of Sudan's oil exports, accounting for nearly 5 percent of China's total petroleum imports.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Beijing would use its diplomatic influence to encourage a settlement of the Darfur crisis, but added that China would not publicly pressure Sudan or threaten it with sanctions.
"The Sudan issue should be resolved like any other — through peaceful negotiation," said the spokesman, Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun, who spoke at a news conference in Beijing. "Using pressure and imposing sanctions is not practical and will not help settle the issue."
Zhai acknowledged China's prominent role as a leading trading partner of Sudan's and said that China would sign new economic agreements with the country during Hu's visit.
"With Sudan, we have cooperation in many aspects, including military cooperation," he said. "In this, we have nothing to hide."
Despite the vow not to pressure the Sudanese government, Chinese analysts said the announcement of a diplomatic initiative with Sudan marked an important turning point in Beijing's foreign policy and in its relations with Africa in particular.
"This is a remarkable change," said Shi Yinhong, an expert in international relations at People's University in Beijing. "It would boost China's image in the West, and would be welcomed in Africa, too."
Shi said that during the recent China Africa Summit in Beijing, Hu had pushed President Omar Bashir of Sudan to cooperate with the United Nations.
"China has begun to follow a different pattern on this issue," Shi said, adding, "When the world talks about China's rise, naturally that places demands and pressure on China to take on more responsibility."
An expert in African affairs, however, expressed more caution.
"China now is showing slightly different tactics, paying more attention," said He Wenping, director of African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in Beijing. "Hu's visit at least gives a clear signal that China thinks Sudan's issue is important and China wants to play a role. But China's strategy remains the same, and as always, it uses quiet diplomacy to keep a constructive engagement, rather than waving a stick."
In the last two years, Africa has been the backdrop of a huge push by Chinese diplomats and companies to expand Beijing's influence on the continent, which is seen as a trove of a large number of United Nations votes, and to secure petroleum and other natural resources needed to fuel China's booming economy.
Africa is also a stage of China's bitter diplomatic contest with Taiwan, with Beijing offering large amounts of foreign aid and investment to countries in order to keep them from recognizing Taiwan, which this country regards as a breakaway province.
Last week, under pressure from Beijing, the speaker of the Parliament in Liberia was impeached after being accused of meeting with representatives of Taiwan in a neighboring country. Liberia, which is one of the stops on Hu's itinerary, recognizes China, which has become an important donor to the country since its emergence from civil war.
Beijing's intense engagement with the continent has brought increasing scrutiny, and very often criticism, from Western governments and from international human rights groups and others who say that China ignores questions of governance and of human rights as it pursues business opportunities in Africa.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhai, acknowledged problems in certain countries, including Zambia, where there were riots last year at a Chinese- controlled copper mine following a labor dispute over working conditions.
"We are also trying," he said, "to educate Chinese businesses who have interests in Africa and investments there to respect social conventions and observe local laws and regulations."

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