More on China Blind Spots


gate of heavenly peace twn.jpg
I’ve been engaged in an interesting debate with New Republic Deputy Editor Richard Just about the Beijing Olympics and what posture America’s Commander-in-Chief should take regarding the games.
Hillary Clinton has been nudging George W. Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies. Barack Obama reports that he is of “two minds on the issue.”
I have filed my first entry, which Richard responded to. And then my response back is up at the New Republic site now. Richard Just will get the last word, which I haven’t seen yet (probably up later today).
In the second piece I mention a vignette about Wesley Clark and a trip I made with him in China as part of a McKinsey-sponsored US-China Partnership Forum conference which has not been previously reported. Some folks may find it interesting to know that China’s leadership was very worried about Taiwan exploiting China’s Olympics moment. They were wrong about the region that would take advantage of the world spotlight being focused on China’s leaders — but not about the prospect that some actors would move this direction, as independence-advocates in Tibet did.
I also published a piece on the same subject titled “Clinton has Strategic Blind Spot on China” in today’s Daily Yomiuri in Tokyo for those who want more on this subject.
— Steve Clemons


14 comments on “More on China Blind Spots

  1. PGray says:

    Symbolism seemed to be an important opinion-carrier during Geroge Bush;s first trip to china.
    Did you notice George’s physical location at the end of the offcial photo shoot for all the chief heads? Bush was at the very end. Did you notice the color of his silk jacket, which all the chiefs were gifted by the Chinese and wore for the photo? Bush’s was brown, while all chief heads woreeither red, green or blue or some hue thereof?
    Symbolism. Subtle, yet screaming – “USA is SHIT!”


  2. Orwell says:

    The Olympic Games is not any more festivities for Peace, friendship and international cooperation. It is rather chauvinism or show of strength of a nation whether militalrily, or economically. It is not a wise diplomacy not look at the sisastrous atrocities and breach of human rights.
    The United States can show compassion to the oppressed and will against the tyrannies even if the country sits at the treasury bonds massively.
    To say no bluntly may not be artistic but to say no clearly in much nicer way to save the way can be possible. While attending the open ceremony, dignitaries from America can show their compassions towards the Chinese people oppressed and under the tyranny of dictatorship.


  3. Don Bacon says:

    China is different from the rest of the world?
    Sure. So is every other damned country that all-knowing Americans try to change, too often by force of arms.
    Take up the White Man’s burden–
    Ye dare not stoop to less–
    Nor call too loud on Freedom
    To cloke your weariness;
    By all ye cry or whisper,
    By all ye leave or do,
    The silent, sullen peoples
    Shall weigh your gods and you.
    PS: It’s not working. As regards China, why should they seek to quarrel with anyone? Despite Americans looking down on them, Chinese see themselves as the great Central Kingdom (Tsung Kuo) and while they may have internal differences (all countries do) they don’t need to stoop to quarrel with anyone. Even when their president is repeatedly insulted by ours, they just shrug it off. Who cares about the (economic) colonies?
    Well, they are in the cat-bird seat, aren’t they?


  4. Zathras says:

    Steve Clemons conveys the demoralized attitude with which many American specialists on foreign policy now view that subject. I don’t necessarily fault him for this, though I’d remind him that China is different from the rest of the world. Not all the things that mean a great deal to us and to the people in other countries professing to share our values mean as much there, especially if they do not involve China directly.
    I do agree with Clemons on the President’s presence at the Olympics. I would rather this had emerged from a Chinese request rather than having been announced months ago; what concessions we might have gotten with respect to human rights issues could have been made quietly (this, incidentally is irrelevant to the situation in Tibet, which appears to have taken the Chinese themselves by surprise). This is a transient issue, but a boycott now would achieve nothing, would leave a deep and lasting impression on the Chinese people’s view of our government, and would not even be easy to justify outside of China — would the President be pulling out of his Olympic visit because of Tibet? Darfur? Persecuted Christians in China?
    The reason I say this is a transient issue is that China’s hosting of the Olmpics coincides with its transition from a country pursuing economic development without regard to other considerations to… something else. China’s spectacular economic growth in recent years was never something that could last forever. When it slackens (or problems related to it, like inflation) arise, the overpowering role of the Chinese state in the economy will be seen in Beijing as a reason for Chinese to blame it. The temptation will be great for the Chinese government to find someone else to blame; this could be us, or the Japanese, or the Taiwanese, or the EU, or some combination of countries. Western challenges to China on human rights will not be the cause of quarrels between China and the West, but they will do as an excuse for them.
    Forgoing an Olympic boycott — which, again, I agree is the correct course at this time — will not avoid the development of periodic rancor between China and the West. It will only postpone it, and may not postpone it for very long.


  5. JohnH says:

    Is anyone going to mention that it was Bill Clinton who granted China Most Favored Nation Status, leading to the great sucking sound of American manufacturing jobs going down the drain. It also set the stage for China financing US wars to the tune of $1 trillion.
    Having been such great friends of China and its biggest customer (Arkansas’ own WalMart), does anybody actually believe that the Clintons had an epiphany and suddenly felt empathy for Tibetans? If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in New York City to sell you–cheap!
    This is just so much election year BS.


  6. Tahoe Editor says:

    I still don’t see anything wrong with Clinton saying Bush ought to find something else to do than sit in the stands at Beijing’s opening ceremonies — sitting at home with a paper bag on his head would be a good alternative.
    The real story here is that Barack Obama purports to be ready, willing and able to meet with dictators of all stripes and sizes within the first year of his presidency with no preconditions, but he’s now following Hillary’s lead on not attending the opening ceremonies. What? Who is this guy?


  7. Tony Foresta says:

    “…the Nixonian candidate in the race”? You are joking right? You could not possibly be serious, – because if you are, then you are one of the “predator class” working to suppress, silence, and pillage the people, and subvert the peoples best interests for the wanton profits of cabals, klans, cronies, and oligarchs in the nixonian “predator class” and the fascists in the Bush government.
    That said, I agree with the first point in your opinion piece, that the Olympics is no place for political theatrics. Of all the notable forums available for redressing very disturbing issues and concerns, with China – the Olympics, the gathering of all the worlds nations in peace, commraderie, and celebration of athletic competition, is the least appropriate option.
    China sits on more than a trillion dollars in US treasuries, and while it is economically impossible for China to simly dump it’s US treauries and call those debts, they Chinese hold enormous economic sway over America, and the American economy. All this babel is fruitless and bad kabuki theater.
    There should be pressure on China to temper the oppression of its people, remedy its’ poor or lax labor and manufacturing standards, cease its’ currency manipulation, and selling of weapons to enemies of America. But pressure works both ways, and any exertion in one direction is certain to either break through, or rebound. I do not see America breaking through on any of the many conflicts and “issues” with China through force, or belligerence, punishing all the worlds’ Olympic athletes.


  8. Don Bacon says:

    Steve is exactly right in his position for various reasons, not the least of which is that the pot should not call the kettle black. Hey, not only does the US torture people and have the highest citizen incarceration, the US Supreme Court just found that it is not cruel or unusual punishment for the US government to kill its citizens (but don’t try this at home).
    Both Obama and Clinton have called for an Olympic boycott CONDITIONALLY:
    Obama: if the Chinese do not take steps to stop the genocide in Darfur and respect the human rights of Tibetan people
    Clinton: absent major changes by the Chinese government


  9. rilkefan says:

    Hmm, my url got eaten – maybe without the html:


  10. rilkefan says:

    Re blind spots, I wondered a week ago what Clemons’s response to Obama’s call for Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies would be. Now we know.


  11. Don Bacon says:

    China is a five thousand year old empire which considers upstarts like the Americans to be somewhat amusing. They aren’t being disappointed in this instance.
    President Bush dealt President Hu a series of petty insults during Hu’s visit to Washington two years ago, and now he’s being asked by Senator Clinton do insult him again. It’s not a nice way to treat one of your principal bankers, and not very clever when cooperation with China over Iran, Sudan, North Korea and other issues like global warming would make more sense.
    Tibet, like Taiwan, is part of China and has zero chance of gaining independence. People should learn to live with that simple fact.


  12. ValleyGal says:

    Totally OT: Benyamin Netanyahu has once again admitted that the 9/11 attacks benefited Israel.
    The first time Netanyahu said that the attacks benefited Israel was on the day of Sept. 11, 2001. On that horrible day Netanyahu said that it was, “…a good day for Israel”
    TODAY or rather yesterday, reports from Israeli papers are saying that Netanyahu has again said that the 9/11 attacks benefited Israel.
    Report: Netanyahu says 9/11 terror attacks good for Israel
    By Haaretz Service and Reuters 4/16/08
    The Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv on Wednesday reported that Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu told an audience at Bar Ilan university that the September 11, 2001 terror attacks had been beneficial for Israel.
    “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq,” Ma’ariv quoted the former prime minister as saying. He reportedly added that these events “swung American public opinion in our favor.”
    Netanyahu reportedly made the comments during a conference at Bar-Ilan University on the division of Jerusalem as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians.


  13. Nikolas Gvosdev says:

    Steve, I don’t know if you’ve read the speech the Australian prime
    minister Kevin Rudd gave in Beijing, especially the section on Tibet.
    I’ve excerptedsections of it. Australia,
    certainly, has a more complicated relationship with China especially
    given its economic dependence on the Chinese market, but
    Australians also seem to have more confidence in their ability to
    help shape China’s rise in directions the West would find more
    appealing. Perhaps that is misplaced confidence, but would be
    interested in your reaction to comparing Rudd’s rhetoric with those
    of the U.S. politicians.


  14. Spunkmeyer says:

    Did the boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympic games by the U.S.
    and the subsequent boycott in 1984 by the Soviet Union really
    solve anything or push forward differing political agendas in a
    substantive way?
    Personally, my overriding memory of the 1984 games was
    winning a ton of free McDonalds food from the Monopoly game
    they had that year.


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