Saturday, April 22, 2006

...And Influencing People

This past week was quite an interesting one, especially as it concerned the visit of the leader of the People's Republic of China (which is, unbeknownst to our current regime, the correct name for what we used to call Red China). I finally figured out what had been setting off little bells in the back of my head ever since the Emperor in Chief consummated the nuclear deal with India a few weeks back. Here's the piece of the puzzle that finally allowed for things to fall into place, and, ironically, it comes from an analysis piece written by C Raja Mohan for the Indian Express.

Diplomatic protocol that so obsesses foreign offices around the world has political meaning only when it is broken consciously or disrupted by unanticipated acts. Both happened during the ceremonial reception for Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House lawns on Thursday.

As India and China closely watch the other’s relationship with the US, comparisons between the White House receptions for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last July and Hu are inevitable.

Singh was among the few leaders whom President George Bush chose to offer a full ceremonial visit. Bush has been rather choosy about having pomp and ceremony for visiting leaders.

Most visits are usually treated as official or working visits that don’t involve the pageantry. The Chinese apparently insisted and got a full state visit for Hu.

But while Singh got a dinner banquet, Hu was offered only lunch, to the irritation of the Chinese. While this protocol difference was clearly a planned one, the protest by a Chinese woman produced an unexpected complication at Hu’s reception.
[Emphasis added]

The rest of the article is a rather detailed examination of what the writer sees as China's liabilities as far as America is concerned, including the lack of religious liberty and the intolerance of dissent. That section certainly added a dimension to the puzzle part I mentioned earlier. Mr. Raja Mohan made it clear just where his natural sympathies lie.

India and China, as close as they are geographically, are even closer when it comes to their current rate of economic development. Both have burgeoning economies and are hungry for foreign investment and expansive trade deals. Both are busy trying to lock up energy deals with oil and natural gas producing countries. They are competitors, serious competitors, especially in that part of the world. They also are both on the cusp of becoming super-powers at a time when the US, weakened by wars and economic woes, is beginning to falter.

Now, about that nuclear deal with India: at first I thought it was simply a mild rebuke to Pakistan for their failure to shut off the support for the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the country. That seemed silly then, as it does now, but I didn't quite get it. Pakistan, even with nuclear weaponry, doesn't have the economy which India does. It isn't as useful to the US as India just might be.

The current US regime, by granting 'special favors' to India, is giving a clear signal to the world just which of the two Asian nations it is willing to gamble on. India will serve as a kind of counterbalance to China, a nation which our country doesn't have much of a clear read on because of the relative newness of the relationship. I suggest that is why Mr. Singh got a full state dinner and Mr. Hu only got lunch.

I just hope Mr. Bush has an ace or two up his sleeve. China just happens to hold an enormous amount of our national debt.


Post a Comment

<< Home