Tibet, Trade and the China Calculus

Mao’s peomCox Newspaper’s Craig Simmons returns to the question of business dealings as an explanation for why Western politicians may be loathe to protest too much over China’s handling of the Tibetan riots, via the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

During his first visit to China last week, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue stressed growing links with the rapidly modernizing nation. Relations between the state and China are “harmonious,” he said as he opened a Georgia development office in Beijing.

…Perdue is hardly alone in avoiding issues that might upset Beijing while focusing on trade: The lure of China’s surging economy and strong-arm tactics by Beijing to punish governments it considers politically uncooperative has blunted most official criticism of China, experts said.

“It’s not rocket science for any official to realize what it takes for China to be friendly to them is no, no, no criticism,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of the New York-based non-profit group Human Rights in China.

Beijing has made clear that it will use trade to dissuade attacks on its policies.

After German Chancellor Angela Merkel met last September with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, Beijing cancelled scheduled talks with Germany’s finance minister and other bilateral meetings.

“The German business community is going to pay a pretty steep price,” said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University’s Tokyo campus.

Coincidentally–or perhaps not so coincidentally–the International Herald Tribune reports today that China has signed its first full trade treaty with a developed country:

Prime Minister Helen Clark of said the trade deal would give her country’s exporters increased access to the world’s fastest-growing economy.

“China is already our third-largest trading partner and a fast-growing export market for us,” Clark said in a statement.

The New Zealand trade minister, Phil Goff, said exports to China are projected to grow between 225 million New Zealand dollars, or $178 million, and 350 million dollars a year more than they would have without the trade agreement. The deal would reduce tariff payments by about $115 million dollars. Major New Zealand exporters currently face tariff barriers in China of between 10 percent and 20 percent, he said.

IHT notes the agreement will still have to be ratified by New Zealand’s parliament after it is signed.

April 6, 2008 9:19 PM
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