Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Arrogance of China's Leadership

The West hopes that China's growing prosperity will also lead to political liberalization. But the reverse is likely to be true. The Communist Party's increasing confidence means China is set to become more of a troublemaker on the international stage, and more brutal in its crackdown on dissidents.

China's Communist Party is omnipotent. It can move mountains, as it did when it built the world's largest hydroelectric plant on the Yangtze River. It can build the world's highest railway line, as it proved when it constructed the rail link to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.

It can even organize reincarnations, something it achieved when it anointed a man who is loyal to Beijing as Tibet's second-highest spiritual leader, or Panchen Lama -- a particularly impressive feat for an atheistic party which regards religion as a corrupting opium of the people. The Communist Party bosses briefly turned spiritual in order to get their man in place as successor to the Dalai Lama, 74. But the Dalai Lama has chosen his own spiritual deputy. And he's also thinking about selecting a woman to be his reincarnation, he told SPIEGEL. Besides, he doesn't want to do Beijing the favour of dying anytime soon.

Last Thursday, US President Barack Obama shook hands with the Tibetan Nobel Peace Prize winner in the White House. It's something his predecessors had also done, as had the French and German government leaders. Usually Beijing just responded to such meetings by uttering the usual protests. The Communist Party's complaints against US arms shipments to Taiwan have been similarly muted in the past because it was well aware that US presidents are bound by law to help Taiwan.

But it's different this time. Beijing reacted with uncommonly vocal fury to the latest Dalai Lama meeting and Washington's new Taiwan arms deal, and has threatened consequences. Companies like Boeing might be excluded from Chinese deals, and bilateral talks among military officials have been cancelled.

To read more: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,679568,00.html

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