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American embrace

While the Indian communists continue to peddle their sophomoric anti-Americanism,their counterparts in Beijing are relishing the renewed warmth between....

Written by C. Raja Mohan | March 18, 2009 12:45:36 am

While the Indian communists continue to peddle their sophomoric anti-Americanism,their counterparts in Beijing are relishing the renewed warmth between China and the United States under the Obama administration. Much like CPM boss Prakash Karat,Beijing was nervous about the growing Indo-US partnership under President Bush. While Karat can’t change his song after Bush,the Chinese communists are determined to lock Obama in an embrace that he can’t wriggle out of. If Karat wants to undo the gains in Indo-US relations during the last decade,the Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi waxed lyrical about Sino-US relations last week in Washington. “As permanent members of the UN Security Council and as the world’s largest developing country and largest developed one respectively,China and the United States have maintained close consultation,coordination and mutually beneficial cooperation”,Yang said. “One can hardly find an area where China-US cooperation is not needed. Comprehensive cooperation in the global sphere has tied our two countries and peoples to each other,” Beijing’s top diplomat insisted.

Referring to the current financial crisis,Yang said,“China and the United States must weather the storm together like passengers in the same boat and support each other to get through the tough times and emerge from the crisis victorious.”

China does not see the current upswing in Sino-US relations as a temporary expedient. “Even when the train of world economy drives into fairly smooth areas one day,” Yang continued,“there will still be the need for China and the United States,the two big engines,to jointly push it forward on a continuous basis.” Unlike the CPM which can indulge in schoolboy radicalism,the Chinese Communist Party has the responsibility of protecting the interests of more than a billion Chinese people. While the CPM can’t get out of its Third World mindset,the CCP is animated by the prospect taking the lead in global affairs in the 21st century.

The condominium

The principal purpose of Yang’s Washington trip was to prepare the ground for the meeting between Chinese leader Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama next month on the margins of a high powered gathering in London to address the challenge of global financial crisis. Although the meeting involves leaders of 20 nations,including India,for all practical purposes it likely to unveil the formation of a “Group of Two” — the United States and China. For both Washington and Beijing,the G20 might be a sideshow in comparison to the attractions of setting up a G2. The irony of the CCP chairman riding to the rescue of the world capitalism in collaboration with the US president might be lost on the CPM,but India will have to find ways to cope with the potential consequences of a G2. In a speech in New Delhi a few days ago,the prime minister’s special envoy,Ambassador Shyam Saran,has used the dreaded word “condominium” to describe one discomforting scenario that could emerge from deepening Sino-US partnership in global affairs.

Dumping Tibet

The earliest consequences of a Sino-US condominium could be felt in Tibet. In the last few months,the Anglo-American powers have put out unambiguous signals that the imperative of cooperation with China on managing the global financial crisis is far more important than teaching Beijing the virtues of respecting human rights in Tibet. First it was the turn of London to declare that China’s sovereignty over Tibet is absolute and apologise for using the lesser term ‘suzerainty” for more than a century. President Obama and his secretary of state,Hillary Clinton joined the bandwagon by saying that the issue of human rights is just one among many between Washington and Beijing. Washington’s liberal democrats have grasped at two words to abandon Tibet with a clean conscience — climate change. After all who can argue against cooperation with China on climate change? Meanwhile,the Hollywood radicals are bored with Tibet and have turned their attention to the Darfur region in Sudan.

In the next few weeks and months,watch China put this to advantage and squeeze the Dalai Lama for further concessions in the dialogue that Beijing has so magnanimously offered to renew with the exiled Tibetan leaders.

The writer is a Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies,Nanyang

Technological University,Singapore

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