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The Global Scapegoat of China
[Analysis] Critics of China fail to see the positives
Tom Pauken II (Pauken)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2006-04-15 10:28 (KST)   
When it comes to criticism, China stands atop as one of the leading nations. The U.S. and EU lament a trade deficit with China. Japan's Foreign Ministry believes their growing military budget will threaten East-Asian security. Some Taiwanese fear the mainland might invade their island. Human rights advocates blame China for grave injustices.

More than a few think this country coddles dictatorial regimes including North Korea, Sudan and Iran. Environmentalists call China one of the worst polluting countries in the world. The paradox remains that many consider China sinister while others perceive them as a strategic partner.

What is the real China? Well, the answer is not easy to determine. To presume China inherently evil blinds the observer from recognizing their good qualities. A careful examination reveals a complex realization that this country plays an ambivalent role.

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China's sense of patriotism mixed with pragmatism demonstrates their guiding principles. Many Chinese are proud of their country while the government considers itself a key player in world affairs. Most countries take a similar attitude putting interests of their nation first. For many Chinese their primary interests involve finances.

After Chairman Mao of China died he left his country in dire economic straits. When Deng Xioping came into power he instituted reforms to improve the economy. Statistics show he not only succeeded but his predecessors and citizens benefited substantially. China has now become one of the largest economies in the world.

Nevertheless, China's growth caused harm to other developed countries. U.S. and EU have their largest trade deficits with China. Last year China had a $201 billion trade surplus with the U.S. This came at a cost of a loss of many America manufacturing jobs. But Chinese Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai raised an interesting argument at a press conference on April 11. He noted that 58 percent of their $760 billion trade surplus was made by foreign funded manufacturers in China.

People's Daily, a government-supported newspaper, on April 13 wrote, "In recent years, China's industrial competitiveness, has been improving much faster than that of developed companies like U.S. and EU." Accordingly, multi-national corporations took advantage of business opportunities while China improved their manufacturing infrastructure skills. Their rise in status seemed inevitable.

Recently, Japan's Foreign Ministry has been another strong critic of China. They expressed concern when President Hu Jintao of China spoke to a delegation of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) at their Fourth Session of the Tenth National People's Congress (NPC). President Hu Jintao called on the Chinese army to enhance defense, step up army building to safeguard national sovereignty, unification, territorial integrity and security.

Japan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Aso on a talk show for Fuji television said, "The real problem is a lack of transparency... we don't really know what it's being used for." A Japanese think tank linked to the Defense Department claimed Beijing's military growth a "major destabilizing factor" in East Asia.

Chinese government responded by insisting that their country is open about defense spending and increased military exchanges with other countries. Since their economy has grown so must their military spending. Through the eyes of a pragmatist this seems understandable.

China's growing trade surpluses and military portend to a dangerous omen but Beijing has demonstrated their willingness to act as a global strategic partner. President Hu Jintao will meet President Bush on April 20 and both will discuss trade disputes, Taiwan and other pertinent issues. Beijing has shown a desire for compromise. Last July they revalued their currency the Yuan to appreciate 2.1 percent against the dollar. An increase in the Yuan makes American imports cheaper.

China has taken small steps to placate their critics. Of course, more is expected of them but a little effort is better than no effort at all. China is not a democracy and it won't be in the near future but that's China's decision not an outside country. To expect improvement entails patience. Nevertheless, it's desirable that China advances their human rights record and environment so the world will be more pleased to be their partner.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Tom Pauken II

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