Thursday, April 17, 2008

Are European opinions on China important at the world stage?

By China Watcher

In a devious attempt by the Financial Times, a Harris survey on Tuesday revealed an average of 35 percent of sampling participants in Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Italy believed that China is the biggest threat to global stability. The United States, which invaded and occupied Iraq and tortured its “terrorist” detainees, registered only 29 percent. Surprisingly, both the Western labeled “twin of evils”, Iran and North Korea, are lower on the list.

According to the Times, the Harris survey interviewed a total of 5,381 voters which comprises of Britain (1,122), France (1,114), Germany (1,028), Spain (1,012) and Italy (1,105) (“BISGF” countries) between March 27 and April 8 for the poll.

First, I would like to comment about the timing of the poll which was conducted after the Tibetan protests and followed by the unrelenting China bashing news by the Western media and its international networks from the day of the protest until this very day. With the many negative commentaries in their domestic dailies, using the translated version of the bias and prejudicial news from foreign international agencies like Reuters, AFP, Bloomberg and BBC, it is of no surprise that the scores are much higher than what were shown earlier. This is another of the US and its Western allies willful and concerted attempt to discredit China using the media to do the work and it will continue until they have succeeded to eliminate the “China Threat” or the “Yellow Peril”.

Second, when we mentioned about Europeans, we are not talking about just Britain, France, Germany, Spain or Italy. Europe is made up of 48 entities, big and small independent nations and the handful of countries mentioned above is definitely not exclusive European’s opinion as claimed by the press. Britain and France are on the permanent Security Council, not because of its sheer population size or magnitude of its economy but more because there were deemed convenient “powers’ during the Second World War. Germany has made a series of attempts to get onto the UN’s Permanent Membership status but they have not been successful. Thankfully they have not succeeded with this kind of anti-China attitude. France is a weakened force and its influence is dwindling on the world stage. Maybe in Europe their opinion is still relevant but at the world stage I am not even bothered. Same explanation applies to both Italy and Spain.

Let us be fair, I do notice that Spanish residents do have a more favorable reflection on China. Poorer European nations like Greece, Portugal, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary which do not have competing businesses with China tend to have a more favorable opinion on China than the BISGF countries.

Third, I would like to know the terminology of “global stability”. Does this mean that if a country has vast differences in cultural and societal standards, a different style of government and opinions that contradict the Western based democratic standards they are then deemed a threat to global security and stability?

Europeans on the whole are rated “advanced” societies with generally a high standard of living with its own brand of human rights relative to the other parts of the world which the world look up to for progress. But the whole continent in terms of inhabitants constituted only 11 percent of the world’s population. It is the second smallest continent. When trade is concerned the European countries as a unified bloc, the European Union, is important because it is currently China’s largest trading partner in terms of dollars’ value.

Taking away the trade relationship from the mathematical equation, are European opinions based on the BISGF countries still important for China at the United Nations and at the world stage?

Growing trading relations between China and EU is certainly one of the most important and valuable developments in this century. It will be a significant opportunity cost for these European governments to sacrifice for the sake of human rights and the perceived unacceptable treatment of the Tibetans.

On Tuesday, the EU Trade Commissioner is more pragmatic in calling for dialogues to resolve the differences rather than protests in a speech at the China-Britain Business Council in London. He commented that the confrontations in connection with the Olympics and Tibet will not be able to serve European interest but it will actually jeopardize Europeans effort to sustain a constructive economic relationship with a growing China. According to the EU Commission, Europe in 2006 had a trade deficit of $194 billion with China and Chinese exports to the EU are growing at about 27 percent annually over the last five years.

The various political organizations and its activists are actually leading their governments into a “sink hole” where they may find it difficult to extricate if they blindly support the defiance calls of these hypocrites. The ordinary Europeans’ interest will be harmed in the long run if the anti-Chinese trend persists. If global economic sanctions on Iran and Myammar do not even work, these Western leaders must be living in a fantasy world to think that protests will be effective against a huge country like China. In reality, the activists’ actions to shame and humiliate China has actually hardened China’s position on the subject.

As a measure to ward off the concerted attacks from these active anti-Chinese political organizations from the West, I believe China will need to find alternatives by gradually diversifying its trading dependence on BISGF by working more with emerging Third World countries in the future. Fortunately, the world is not made up of only the US and Europe.

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