China: A Shameful Act


December 2, 2007: The recent flurry of access denials to Hong Kong, reveal an aspect of the Chinese government that does not get a lot of media exposure. That is, no one person is in charge. China is run by a committee of senior politicians, police officials and military officers. The actual degree of power any one of them has shifts from month to month. In times of national danger, the military officials have more clout and freedom to do what they want. If there is more civil unrest, the police officials are more powerful. As long as the economy booms, the politicians prosper, and their power is unchallenged. So who gave the orders to shut down Hong Kong to the U.S. military, and why? No one is saying, and there are a lot of likely suspects. What has leaked out is that someone in the Chinese leadership is really upset over how the U.S. recently honored the Dalai Lama (the spiritual leader of Tibetan resistance to Chinese occupation), and agreed to sell Taiwan more weapons. Some Chinese officials are very unhappy with the fact that Tibetans continue to resist Chinese occupation, and that Taiwan refuses to surrender its independence and become part of China. If you are one of the dozen or so big-shots who run China, and you get really ticked off at anyone, you can do something about it. American diplomats are desperately trying to find out who they have to kiss and make up with in China, to make all these bad vibes go away.

December 1, 2007: Britain has responded to Chinese claims that it is not involved in Internet based attacks, and spying, on other nations, by accusing the Chinese of being the largest perpetrator of such attacks. China has recently begun responding to growing evidence (from intelligence agencies and commercial Internet security firms) that the most dangerous Internet spying and hacking was coming out of China. The Chinese deny this, and insist the Chinese government has nothing to do with it. But given the degree of control the Chinese government imposes on the local Internet, no one believes them.

November 30, 2007: Chinese authorities continue to display hostility towards the U.S. by refusing access to Hong Kong. A request for a U.S. destroyer to visit over the New Years holidays was refused, as was the use of a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport to make its quarterly visit to deliver supplies for the U.S. consulate there (the stuff will have to come via commercial air freight instead.)

November 28, 2007: For the first time since the Communists took control of China, a Chinese warship (a destroyer) visited a Japanese port. This was a big deal diplomatically and psychologically, given that a few years ago, the Chinese government was encouraging large scale demonstrations against Japan.

November 26, 2007: A French firm agreed to sell China two nuclear power plants, for $6 billion each. The French government insisted that this would not result in any technology transfer to China.

November 25, 2007: For the tenth time, the military garrison of Honk Kong was rotated. New army, navy and air force personnel take over garrison duties for a year. This is part of the agreement that transferred control of Honk Kong from Britain to China. It is an anti-corruption measure. With only a year in Hong Kong, officers and troops have less time to be approached and bought off by criminals or politicians. As a side benefit, duty in affluent and tropical Hong Kong, is spread around to more military personnel.

November 24, 2007: Chinese peacekeepers arrived in Darfur, and were promptly condemned by local rebel groups as "enemies of the Sudanese people." The Darfur rebels know that Chinese weapons are being used against them, and that China is a major ally of the Sudanese government. The Chinese troops are seen as anything but neutral peacekeepers.

November 21, 2007: Despite having granted permission months ago, Chinese authorities in Hong Kong suddenly withdrew permission for three American warships to visit Hong Kong. No explanation was given, and the Hong Kong business community saw millions of dollars in business go away. The American ships carried over 8,000 sailors. Moreover, hundred of family members of sailors had flown to Hong Kong at their own expense, to share the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday (celebrated on November 22nd this year), were left high and dry.

November 20, 2007: Chinese authorities in Hong Kong refused to allow two U.S. Navy minesweepers to take shelter in Hong Kong harbor, to escape a storm and refuel. This is considered a very hostile act in peacetime. The "law of the sea" calls for ships to be allowed shelter from storms, and breeching this custom is considered a shameful act. The Chinese offered no explanation for their action.




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