September 08, 2006

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China at the UN

It's a bumper edition of the China Brief from the Jamestown Foundation.

Yitzhak Shichor looks at China's voting behaviour in the UN Security Council, noting China has only twice used its veto and uses abstaining as a tactic. The article concludes with a look at how China may act as Iran comes up before the Security Council:

Contrary to the media’s assertions that China would block UN Security Council resolutions to impose sanctions against Iran—not to mention the use of force—Iran is unlikely to provide an exception to China's time-honored behavior in the Security Council. Knowing very well that they would not veto such resolutions at the Security Council, from the very beginning the Chinese have preferred to settle this issue outside of the Security Council and preferably by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Yet, Tehran's intransigence and inflexibility pushed the dispute to the Security Council and forced Beijing to take a stand...Although the Chinese have insisted from the very beginning that they would not support "the arbitrary use of sanctions" nor "approve the use of force" against Iran, China has never claimed that it would oppose or prevent them from being imposed. Beijing has never promised Iran's Ahamadinejad—nor Iraq's Saddam Hussein before him—that it will use its veto power.
It's worth noting that using abstentions as a tactic is indicative of China's attitude to foreign affairs. It's also worth asking whether the world really wants a more assertive China in world affairs if it may lead to vetos of resolutions over issues like Iran?

Willy Lam looks at President Hu's efforts to strengthen his grip on power, especially in light of Jiang Zemin's newly published works. He sees Hu in the ascendency with Jiang being buttered up with flattery but nothing in the way of real power. Lam's conclusion:

Hu’s tendency to put political expediency before ideological and political liberalization, however, may mean that even after consolidating power at the 17th Congress, he will be very reluctant to implement genuine reforms.
Richard Weitz looks at the obstacles and barriers to Chinese-American military ties. It boils down to a mutual suspicion but the article ends on an optimistic note:
Chinese officials remain suspicious of the Bush administration, believing that it aspires to implement its liberty doctrine in China through regime change and is trying to constrain Chinese military power at least until then. Likewise, U.S. leaders remain apprehensive over China’s military buildup and its aspirations for regional hegemony. Nevertheless, the endemic distrust between both governments does not present an insuperable obstacle to a fruitful Sino-American military dialogue...Already, China and the United States have shown that they can cooperate on economic and regional security issues, without extensive military ties. It is precisely because Beijing and Washington are neither outright allies nor active adversaries that a military dialogue and other modest exchanges are both possible and prudent.
Some excellent weekend reading.

posted by Simon on 09.08.06 at 11:38 AM in the China brief category.


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