China’s rogue vis­i­tors

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

May is usu­ally a pleas­ant time to visit China. This year, how­ever, the month was one of the busiest in re­cent mem­ory as nu­mer­ous lead­ers of sev­eral of the world’s rogue states trav­eled to Bei­jing, one af­ter an­other. The pa­rade of lead­ers from states of concern cre­ated a scene rem­i­nis­cent of the old im­pe­rial or­der where China was per­ceived as the cen­ter of the world and ultimate ar­biter of in­ter­na­tional dis­putes and all other na­tions paid tribute or sought strate­gic sup­port.

The pro­ces­sion be­gan days af­ter the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, with Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Syed Yousuf Raza Gi­lani trav­el­ing to Bei­jing on May 17 for a visit that led to a sharply beef­ing up of the two coun­tries’ de­fense and strate­gic al­liance in a clear strate­gic mes­sage aimed at Wash­ing­ton.

The Gi­lani visit was fol­lowed on May 20 by the ar­rival in China of the world’s most se­cre­tive and dan­ger­ous dic­ta­tor, Kim Jong-il of North Korea. Mr. Kim en­tered China for the third time this year for a strate­gic pow­wow with his Chinese over­lords. The en­tire nine-mem­ber rul­ing Chinese Polit­buro Stand­ing Com­mit­tee, mi­nus one mem­ber who was abroad, gave Mr. Kim a lav­ish wel­come.

Upon re­turn­ing to Py­ongyang, Mr. Kim promptly set off yet an­other cri­sis by an­nounc­ing North Korea would uni­lat­er­ally and im­me­di­ately cut off all com­mu­nica- tions with South Korea. He warned omi­nously that Py­ongyang is ready to de­liver an “all-out mil­i­tary blow” to Seoul.

Then on May 24 Iran’s for­eign min­is­ter Ali Ak­bar Salehi ar­rived in Bei­jing for yet an­other high-pro­file visit to dis­cuss Iran’s wor­ry­ing nu­clear pro­gram and to in­vite China to send nu­clear ex­perts to visit Tehran’s nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties, much to Bei­jing’s de­light. The visit rep­re­sents a not so sub­tle re­buff by both states to the West’s cred­i­bil­ity and ef­forts to deal with Iran’s rogue nu­clear pro­grams.

Mean­while, China and Viet­nam are squar­ing off again in the South China Sea over dis­puted isles. The con­fronta­tion co­in­cided with a visit to China by mem­bers of the Burmese mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship. The junta’s pres­i­dent Thein Sein, shunned by Burma’s ASEAN neigh­bors, went north the same week the Ira­ni­ans were in Bei­jing to dis­cuss “the sit­u­a­tion in South­east Asia.” China gave the Burmese dic­ta­tor a red-car­pet wel­come. Chin’s court­ing of Burma is widely seen as Bei­jing’s ef­forts to build a diplo­matic al­liance aimed at strate­gi­cally iso­lat­ing Viet­nam.

Shortly af­ter the Ira­ni­ans and the Burmese left the Chi- nese cap­i­tal, China’s Syrian friends ar­rived in Bei­jing to dis­cuss im­por­tant is­sues of mu­tual concern in the Mid­dle East. China re­mains one of the Bashar As­sad regime’s strong­est back­ers and has vo­cif­er­ously fought against United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions con­demn­ing Syria for the on­go­ing bloody crack­down strongly con­demned Amer­i­can and NATO mil­i­tary ac­tions in Libya and re­fused to call for Libyan leader Col. Moam­mar Gad­hafi to step down.

Among all ma­jor pow­ers, only China and Rus­sia avoided diplo­matic con­tacts with Libya’s rebel gov­ern­ment-in-wait­ing, the Libyan Tran­si­tional Na­tional Coun­cil.

The Rus­sian about-face put China in the em­bar­rass­ing po­si­tion of be­ing the only per­ma­nent mem­ber in the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil with­out diplo­matic ties to the rebel or­ga­ni­za­tion. Some Chinese news out­lets, re­flect­ing of­fi­cial angst, cried about a Rus­sian be­trayal and the age-old Sino-Russo an­i­mos­ity ap­pears sud­denly on the rise again.

against Syrian pro­test­ers.

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