There is an interesting article in todays’s Independent blaming China for the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit. The article quotes a source who was supposedly in the room when the heads of state were drafting the document who says:
“If China had not been in that room you would have had a deal which would have had everyone popping champagne corks…..”
“The Chinese were happy as they’d win either way. If the process collapsed they’d win because they don’t have to do anything and they know the rich countries will get the blame.
“If the deal doesn’t collapse because everyone is so desperate to accommodate them that they water it down to something completely meaningless, they get their way again. Either way they win. I think all the other world leaders knew that by that stage and were just furious that they couldn’t do anything about it.”
Why am I not surprised?
China was admitted to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in December 2001 after the United States dropped it’s veto. Since that time trade with China has grown very quickly and the Chinese economy has grown massively. The generally accepted view is that China is now OK as it has accepted capitalism. This is wrong. The regime in power in China today is not substantially different from the regime which drove tanks over unarmed protesters in Tiananmen Square just two years before being admitted to the WTO.
The West too often confuses democracy with capitalism, they are not the same. It is possible to have a democratic government that is socialist. It is certainly possible to have a capitalist government which is non-democratic and China is the proof of this.
Both China and the West have gained from the flow of trade but we should consider that, having now allowed so much industry to move to China, we have become reliant on an authoritarian regime which cares for nothing but perpetuating it’s own existence. We should also keep this in mind when businessmen and political leaders talk of the necessity of allowing the free flow of trade to countries where there is “competitive advantage”. This competitive advantage is, very often, the absence of political rights, civil rights and the rule of law.
China may have legitimate reasons for not being able to commit to the climate change targets discussed in Copenhagen but it’s impossible to tell. The Chinese regime is not elected and therefore illegitimate and cannot be said to represent the views of the Chinese people. When one deals with regimes such as China one must accept that their word is worth nothing.
During the negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union to limit Nuclear Forces Ronald Regan frequently used the phrase “Trust, but verify”. United States president, Barack Obama, seemed to understand this when, during a speech at Copenhagen he appeared to upset the Chinese by implying that verification was key to any agreement. The fact that this was mentioned caused the Chinese representatives to throw a hissy fit and refuse to attend various meetings.
And that’s another thing, China too often uses tantrums as a negotiating tactic. We are told by Chinese watchers that this anger is related to the difference in culture. Perhaps it is. Perhaps the Chinese fly off the handle so often because they are not used to having to justify themselves.
I wonder how the Chinese regime would have responded to the demonstrators in Copenhagen? Rather than explaining their position perhaps they would simply have sent in the tanks.
This should give us pause for thought.