Prospect makes sense

Fuck me, I never thought I’d be praising an article in Prospect but Mark Leonard has really hit the nail on the head with this piece.

China’s presence is changing the rules of economic development. The IMF and the World Bank used to drive the fear of God into government officials and elected leaders, but today they struggle to be listened to even by the poorest countries of Africa. The IMF spent years negotiating a transparency agreement with the Angolan government only to be told hours before the deal was due to be signed, in March 2004, that the authorities in Luanda were no longer interested in the money: they had secured a $2bn soft loan from China. This tale has been repeated across the continent?from Chad to Nigeria, Sudan to Algeria, Ethiopia and Uganda to Zimbabwe.

The UN is also becoming an amplifier of the Chinese worldview. Unlike Russia, which comports itself with a swagger?enjoying its ability to overtly frustrate US and EU plans?China tends to opt for a conciliatory posture. In the run-up to the Iraq war, although China opposed military action, it allowed France, Germany and Russia to lead the opposition to it. In 2005 when there was a debate about enlarging the UN security council, China encouraged African countries to demand their own seat, which effectively killed off Japan’s bid for a permanent seat. Equally, Beijing has been willing to allow the Organisation of Islamic States to take the lead in weakening the new UN human rights council. This diplomacy has been effective?contributing to a big fall in US influence: in 1995 the US won 50.6 per cent of the votes in the UN general assembly; by 2006, the figure had fallen to just 23.6 per cent. On human rights, the results are even more dramatic: China’s win-rate has rocketed from 43 per cent to 82 per cent, while the US’s has tumbled from 57 per cent to 22 per cent. “It’s a truism that the security council can function only insofar as the US lets it,” says James Traub, UN correspondent of the the New York Times. ?The adage may soon be applied to China as well.?

New Zealand’s sinophilic bi-partisan consensus concerns me greatly. It’s time Kiwi politicians took some harden up tablets and stood up to China. It’s not in New Zealand’s interest to aid China’s rise by granting legitimacy to the regime in Beijing.

For all the reservations people might have about American global leadership, it’s hard to argue that allowing China to develop in to a superpower will help anyone. It’s unscrupulous foreign policy is having real impact around the world, it’s support for brutal, theocratic regimes in the Middle East has caused more damage to the region than American dalliances in Afghanistan and Iraq. Even if you don’t support America’s record in Somalia and inaction on Rwanda, the failings of American foreign policy in Africa pale in comparison to China’s active support of genocide in Darfur and opposition to anti-corruption reforms in Angola. Even in the Pacific – you know, our strategically benign backyard – the Chinese are getting their hooks in to vulnerable nations and it’s fucking outrageous that 90% of our Parliament is willing to simply overlook China’s record in the hope of angling a free trade deal.

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