China In The Negative Spotlight

Undeserved, But Inevitable

It’s one of those things that make you roll your eyes. Every time something happens that makes the Chinese leadership look weak or stupid, the Chinese government screams foul and does something that most advanced nations would not do. As such, in the aftermath of the failed Chinalco bid for Rio Tinto, it seems unsurprising that they would hit back by detaining the chief negotiator of Rio Tinto, who is in charge of iron ore price negotiations.

It’s not exactly rocket science to see that China is smarting from the failed negotiations as well as the failed bid and in retaliation, arrested Stern Hu. Everybody knows this. If anything the Australian Government has been very gentle with them in reminding them that whatever they do with Stern Hu is in the international spotlight.

Of course, KRuddie’s remark got met with a resounding “butt out” from one Qin Gang.

“I’ve noticed that in Australia recently some people have been making noise about this case,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Qin Gang, at a regular media conference yesterday. “This is an interference in China’s judicial sovereignty.”

The comments underscore Mr Rudd’s political and diplomatic quandary, where publicly raising the matter may backfire in Beijing but failing to raise it may be viewed as being too soft at home.

“It cannot change the objective facts nor can it have influence on the relevant Chinese authorities which are dealing with the case according to our law,” Mr Qin said.

Immediately before his defence of China’s judicial system, Mr Qin prejudged the case by treating the allegations against Mr Hu and his staff as fact.

“The actions of the Rio Tinto staff have caused losses to China and China’s interests,” he said. “I believe Stern Hu and Rio Tinto are fully aware of this.”

Mr Qin warned Australian advocacy for Mr Hu would backfire.

“We’re firmly opposed to anyone deliberately stirring up this matter,” he said. “This is not in accordance with the interests of the Australian side.”

Pretty laughable really. Every time China gets slighted, it carries on like a child that refuses to play by the rules. Yes, China wants to be taken seriously and yes, China is growing and the world’s economies are linked to the growth, but China needs to join the reality of the world, not the other way around. This kind of belligerent, bellicose display isn’t really winning it any friends when it really should be looking to make more friends.

So it is, that the US are demanding transparency in proceedings. The fact that there are hardly any laws and no courts that behave like proper law courts as understood by the law makes Mr. Hu’s detention look even worse than what te Chinese government thinks it is doing. In that sense China is miscalculating how much the West value their own over any old Chinese person.

That’s right. China might try and treat Mr Hu in the same manner as the do any old dissenter on the mainland, the West will view their business people being treated that way in an entirely different light, simply because it concerns them. Whatever the outcome, China can’t win in the PR stakes. They might undo everything that’s happened since the Tienanmen Square in 1989 through to last year’s Beijing Olympics.

Let’s face it, the world didn’t suddenly fall in love with China with Beijing. They begrudgingly gave it a seat at the table. It wasn’t because the world bought into China’s sense of self-worth. It was more a case that the world felt it had to let China do it at least once, so they can move on from that moment, probably onto better, more interesting things. Like South Africa. The alienated boredom of the world in relationship to China’s breast-beating at the Beijing Olympics was palpable.

It was as if the world said, “yeah yeah, wank on mate.”

And China gleefully did, oblivious to the sneers.

It’s going to be a long hard slog for China to actually be accepted by the world as a normal member of the economic world, but it has to become much more acceptable if it is to be accepted. Part of that is to give up on this over-inflated sense of self-importance. This tantrum move of detaining Stern Hu without a sensible or visible legal recourse, then prnouncing him guilty without any sensible or visible due process, isn’t endearing them to anybody.

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