Dalai, the French and The Art of WarWritten by Julen Madariaga on December 3rd, 2008
Today was a pretty stressful day in the office, but in between meetings I was able to join a lively discussion on the Fool’s Mountain about the latest Dalai incident.
To wit, the French President said he will meet the DL in Poland during a ceremony in honour of Lech Walesa. China immediately threatened EU with cancelling the 11th EU-China Summit this week, and has indeed cancelled it. BBC tells it here. Also see the reaction of Chinese netizens to Pomfret’s article and the account of Xinhua.
Here are my thoughts as posted on the Mountain (minus rants and comebacks):
Is China using France?
Is China using France strategically, as a wedge to divide EU, following the classic “divide and win” from SunTzu’s Art of War?
Could be, but this is nothing new, all the world powers use this old trick when negotiating with EU. The fact is China will listen or not to EU representatives depending on the power it perceives they have, and depending on China’s own interests. For economic aspects such as tariffs, EU does have power and will be listened. In other fields it can be completely ignored. Points to keep in mind:
1- The EU has a problem with unity, and this has nothing to do with China’s policies.
2- China has a problem to deal with DL, and this has nothing to do with the Sarko meeting.
3- Universal Rule in International Relations: If you need to distract attention bash the French.
4- DL is not a terrorist. Comparing him to bin Laden is low and slanderous.
5- China is crying for nothing: In Europe anyone could speak with the equivalent of DL.
For example, the president of the Basque Country (who actively demands independence from Spain) has met up with authorities of many countries and sends representatives regularly to support Basque industry in Shanghai. No whining from Spain, why? because unlike bin Laden, he does NOT support violence.
What are the consequences of this incident? And the real Reasons?
In fact, there shouldn’t be any serious practical consequence of missing this Summit. The real meeting is the one that will happen in April when the G20 + Obama meet to speak of the Crisis.
This little conflict with the French is just a classic IR trick to create some noise. Perhaps Zhongnanhai have decided that it’s time to rally the people in advance of the social shocks of the Crisis. Or perhaps they are preparing the way for a conflictive period in foreign affairs when China tries to implement protectionist/low RMB policies, strongly opposed by the West.
Chinese leaders are well known for thinking one step ahead. Hopefully I am wrong with this one.
Please comment. No swearwords.