lundi 17 juillet 2017

Per un pugno di renminbi

Liu Xiaobo’s death exposes Western kowtowing to China’s despots
Serving both God and Xi Jinping: Angela Merkel and Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg.

The global response to the death of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and his crudely stage-managed cremation and burial at sea will be viewed by chroniclers as a historic watershed.
Democracy and universal human rights are losing their champions, and their power as paradigms.
The world is changing fast. 
At the start of this year — when Xi Jinping received an adulatory welcome from the World Economic Forum elite at Davos with his speech championing “economic globalisation” — it was clear that the centre of international gravity was shifting.
The rush of international leaders to laud the launch of Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative followed.
Those accorded the loudest fanfares in Beijing for that event were Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte and Russia’s Vladimir Putin — three champions of the new populist authoritarianism.
The G20 in Hamburg followed, at which German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who accorded Xi an especially warm welcome, implicitly contrasted favourably the Chinese “win-win” cliche with the US view of globalisation, which she said was “about winners and losers”.
The G20’s vacuous communique was suffused with the vocabulary and views with which Beijing feels at home.
Soon, China will host the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa for a summit.
Each step in this impressive progress underlines China’s authoritarian culture as the new global norm.
A year ago, the International Court of Arbitration lambasted China’s occupation and arming of the South China Sea. 
But Beijing refused to participate in the process, said it would ignore any finding and would plough on with its strategy. 
Which it has.
The bureaucracies of the Western leaders, including Australia, carefully considered how to respond to Liu’s imminent death.
The result: national leaders said nothing, foreign ministers regretted Liu’s demise and asked if his widow, Liu Xia — charged with no offence — might be allowed to travel outside China.
When Liu was awarded the Nobel in 2010, symposiums were held, speeches made, Western leaders commented widely.
Erna Solberg, the Prime Minister of Norway, which hosts the Nobel Peace Prize and was punished economically by China after Liu’s award, said nothing in the weeks after news of his liver cancer leaked out. 
The former Amnesty International leader there, Petter Eide, said “silence was a sign of support for the Chinese authorities”.
The question that governments, corporations, and especially now also universities, in Western countries ask is not what would Jesus do — which they would think risible — but what would China do.
Journalists and satirists in the West are widely praised for their bravery in poking fun at Donald Trump, the softest target since King George III.
How many have joked about Xi Jinping, the most powerful person in China since Mao Zedong, and in some regards even more powerful? 
In China, even to draw a cartoon or caricature of him is at least banned, and is likely to lead to something worse.
People in the West wonder whether their companies, or economies, will be cut off from China’s wealth if they venture criticisms or make fun.
Even firms like Facebook that have leveraged off their maverick founding myths, end up playing Chinese rules. 
Apple just conceded control over its Chinese data to comply with Beijing’s new cybersecurity regulations as it stores information for its customers in China with a government-owned company.
Trump read out an impressive speech on Western values before the G20. 
But he negated every word when he breathlessly replied — a few hours after Liu had died — to a question about Xi: “He’s a friend of mine. I have great respect for him … a great leader … a very talented man … a very good man … a terrific guy. I like being with him a lot, and he’s a very special person.”
Russia is slipstreaming China’s elevation, sequestering Crimea just as China has done with the South China Sea, as the two form a tight unit in controlling the UN Security Council.
The video of US student Cody Irwin joking in fluent Mandarin about Trump — to laughter and applause — at his graduation speech at Peking University this month has been widely praised.
But when Chinese student Yang Shuping praised America’s “fresh air” and democracy in her commencement speech at Maryland University in May, she faced an avalanche of enmity.
Appropriate lessons are being drawn. 
In career opportunity terms, Irwin has cemented his future, Yang has sealed her fate.
The Sinologist David Shambaugh wrote last month: “Until China develops values that appeal universally, it will lack one of the core features of global leadership.”
However, it is the Western world that is losing contact with core values. 
It is valuing more highly the control and the authority that China is championing.

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