Sunday, April 27, 2008

France makes reconciliation efforts but German’s attitude stinks

By China Watcher

The French government arranged three high level meetings with the Chinese leaders in an attempt to soothe tensions and to ward off declining bilateral relationship between the two countries. Former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, has met up with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to discuss ways to repair ruptured relations, which will not be in the common interest of both countries, if the current situation persists. Former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said Friday his country wanted to be the best friend of China in Europe and hoped to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two nations.

Raffarin told the media that France always cherishes good relationship with China and hope that there will be more exchanges to enhance Europe-China all round strategic partnership. He also carried an important message from the French President that he viewed China “as a friend” and will continue former French President, Jacques Chirac’s friendly policy towards China. The important point to note here is that the current French President is of the opinion that Tibet is a part of China and is a domestic issue for China.

A few days ago, the French Senate President, Poncelet, met up with the Chinese President to convey a comforting message from the French President over the diplomatic tensions arising from the thousand of anti-France protesters held outside the many China’s branches of giant hypermarket, Carrefour, over the weekend from 19 to 21st of April 2008. I noted from his message that the French government will help the Chinese young people to know France better. But we also hope that he will let the majority of the French people know that relationship is both ways and they need to understand the history, changes and development of Tibet over the past 50 years and the actual situation in the Tibet autonomous region.

The French President’s diplomatic advisor Jean-David Levitte is expected in China by the end of the month. The French government has sought to downplay a Paris Mayor’s decision to make exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, an honorary citizen of the capital.

The three political meetings and the fast reactions of the Federal government indicated that they were serious in restoring the troubled Sino-France relations back to its normal level following the tensions created by the disruptions of the torch run in Paris and the criticisms of China handling of the Tibetan riots using human rights infringements as the central theme.

On the Chinese side, the Commerce Ministry has cautioned against a boycott of Carrefour, a strong employer which hires 40,000 Chinese workers and obtained 95 percent of the hypermarket goods from China. Meanwhile the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that while the demonstrations against Carrefour had been "encouraging and touching”, the Ministry however do not agree with some people's “radical actions”.

The French rush to mend ties with Beijing was a commendable effort but German newspapers were critical of the move which they commented has compromised the high standards of the French in its commitment to champion the role as one of the human rights proponents. I am questioning the devious roles of these German papers who it seemed does not encourage the building of friendly ties with China and in fact, is trying to drive a wedge between the French and Chinese government. I would like to take the pleasure to tell the editorial staff of these papers to mind their own business and if they wanted to promote their own human right agenda, then I dare them to inform the German government to break off relations with China, since China, according to them, is the greatest offender of human rights in the world. Would the German government listen to these shallow and narrow perspectives of these so-called interested media groups?

Yes, the French government is giving in to commercial interests and I think the French President’s emergency actions are pragmatic given the current political and social environment. In the aftermath of this unexpected event, the French President is now smarter as he wanted to secure a general consensus from other European partners in the European Union concerning the boycotting of the opening ceremony of the Summer Games in August. At least this time around, he would not be left alone. Many EU countries are not in favor of a boycott of the Games, which will not serve its purpose. I am keen to know what will be the German government stance on this matter. On the whole, the signals coming from Germany is nothing more than pleasing the majority German people whose attitude I can only conclude as hostile, cold and unfriendly.

I am very certain the Chinese Foreign Ministry do have a proper mechanism to monitor whether any foreign government actions are helpful towards improving bilateral relationship. And I can bet you that Chinese people do sincerely want to develop good relationship and create cultural bonds with all countries throughout the world. But respect must be earned and every loyal Chinese do not like outsiders or foreigners to impose its civil values on them or worse still, using such pretences as a way to interfere in the affairs of an independent and sovereign country.

China has already admitted that its human rights is far from ideal and it has already agreed to engage in specially held dialogues with the US and other European countries to address these issues, separately from the Olympics Games. The Olympics is a world sporting event and it should not be used for political reasons like the independence of Tibet and calling for more human rights in China.

IOC President in an interview with a British daily commented that we owe China to give them more time and the expectations of how quickly China can change were being overstated. Europe took 200 years to evolve to its current civil society and over the last 60 years, China has gradually adopted an open system with lot of changes to its societies with a local flavor. He stated that there is only one approach in dealing with the Chinese people as reflected in its rich history, to cultivate respect, be quiet and firm and hold discussions even though it may takes many hours, weeks or years. He also cautioned against putting more pressures on China which may result in the closure of China to the world that will not be of benefit to anyone. On a more humorous note, he said that Tibet will not be front page news but in the subsequent lesser pages if the Olympic Games is not given to China.

I agree with the many pragmatic China’s specialists that China will have more political freedom in the future but it will be at its own time frame and not by any Western’s expectation that China can be changed to a society based on a one-vote system with democratic based values just by hosting the prestigious world sporting gala.

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