Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Shock News: China isn't a utopian democracy!

In other news the notion that underpinned trade liberalisation through the 1990s in particular, that it should quickly lead to other forms of 'liberalisation', has yet again been exposed as half-baked apologia.

It's big news, this whole 'imprison without trial etc' thing that we've suddenly learned about China. The change is encapsulated in the headline

"Magic Dragon grows into menacing bully "

So before a single well-paid executive who chose to do business in a totalitarian state knowing the risks was imprisoned, it was just a Magic Dragon?

It would clearly be too harsh to describe the following as the actions of a bully:

Threatening Taiwan?

Banning absolutely everything?

Slaughtering minorities of various types?

Killing thousands every year after fauxtrials?

It is the government's job to lobby for Mr Hu as best it can. It should also learn lessons in terms of the lengths China will go to in the name of resource security. It is a national administration that cannot be blindly trusted, and anyone (such as myself on previous posts) who had a flippant attitude towards ownership of Australian assets by Chinese state-owned corporations will be rethinking some of their assumptions.

International relations is a discipline of constant learning and nuancing, and around the world attitudes to China may experience a bit of nuancing after this.

But let's keep perspective: businesses will not stop going there, they are not above sacrificing lives to make money. There are plenty of places on the planet businesses operate at present that put their executives at far greater risk.

If Rio had refused to do business with Chinese Government interests to begin with on the basis of ethics, then this would not have happened. Likewise for the more mundane, business-related reason of the lack of rule of law, allegedly a big factor in attracting investment. China fails both tests utterly, yet Rio incorporated political risk, made decisions, and in this rare case has stumbled across awful consequences.

Other Australians who are charged overseas can end up facing the death penalty, also without anything resembling what we would call a trial, or justice.

Powerful but politically ignorant editors should do a bit of reading up on wikipedia before drafting such mind-numbing headlines.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope you will excuse the flippancy, i have been wandering around latly singing " China is the colonist in your neighbourhood, in your neighbourhood . . . " Ah Sesame St, where would we be without it.