December 15, 2005

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Wen's pen and Hu's hand

In the otherwise boring conflab that is the East Asia Summit, a small but significant gesture could prove the start of the thawing of icy Sino-Japan relations. I'll leave it to the China Daily to describe what happened (the photo is below the jump): the leaders were signing the document, Koizumi leaned over and asked to borrow Wen's pen. But Wen ignored him for several seconds until Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi intervened to repeat the request. Wen then passed the pen to Koizumi with a smile.
It's in such simple gestures that true diplomacy is made. Thank goodness Koizumi is so forgetful...or was it a deliberate ploy? If so, it was a stroke of genius.

Meanwhile, Wen and Hu's efforts in AIDS outreach are having unintended consequences. Two AIDS patients the President shook hands with are now being ostracised in their villages. The same article reports that 60% of city dwellers are "nervous" about contact with HIV positive people. While the example of China's leadership in AIDS education is commendable, far more needs to be done to overcome the typical superstition and suscipions of people. It's the same battle the West fought 20 years ago. Perhaps Japan and Koizumi can help?


posted by Simon on 12.15.05 at 09:05 AM in the East Asia politics category.


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