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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

You Have Been Warned: China's "Pressure Issue"

October 5, 2010

Rebecca Novick
Huffington Post
October 4, 2010

Am I the only one getting tired of headlines that begin, China Warns....?

2010 is already thick with them. China kicked off
the year by warning Switzerland against accepting
Uighur Guantanamo detainees and then warned Hong
Kong over a proposed referendum on democracy.
China also warned the US that Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton's call for Beijing to investigate
Google cyber-attack claims could damage bilateral
relations. Before the month was out China had
issued yet another warning -- of sanctions on
United States weapons companies over arms sales
to Taiwan (even though the US has banned its
companies from selling arms to China since the 1989 Tiananmen massacre).

In February, Chinese officials warned that a
meeting between President Obama and the Dalai
Lama would "threaten trust and co-operation" between the US and China.

In March, China's Minister of Industry and
Information Technology warned Google that if it
stops censoring search results in the country it
will "have to bear the consequences." The same
month, the Minister of Commerce warned the United
States against imposing trade sanctions over Beijing's currency controls.

In April, Beijing was busy warning Japan about
the arrest of a Chinese boat captain after his
boat collided with two Japanese patrol vessels
near the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

In May, China was more reassuring; buoying
European markets by insisting that it doesn't
intend to sell Europe's debt. But by June China
was back in finger-wagging form, with a senior
Chinese government official warning the G20
delegates against bringing up the issue of
Beijing's manipulation of the yuan, with the
remark that such discussion would be "self-defeating".

In July, China warned the United States to not
get involved in the dispute between China and its
neighbors over islands in the South China Sea,
while China's People Liberation Army warned the
US about its plans to send an aircraft carrier
for naval exercises near China's coast. This
August, China warned Vietnam and South Korea
against holding military exercises with the
United States, and in September put pressure on
the Philippines over the planned restoration of
its outpost on the Spratly Islands.

Beijing has become a master of the veiled threat
-- using words that suggest ominous consequences
but which are rarely backed up with specifics.
There is often talk of "harming ties" or "hurting
relations" with the country in question. In the
case of last month's US Congress' bill to impose
tariffs on Chinese imports in response to
Beijing's continued undervaluation of the yuan,
China has notched up its language to include
"serious damage" to bilateral trade relations.

China's latest warning is to the Director of the
Norwegian Nobel Institute Geir Lundestad.
Lundestad reported this week that China's Deputy
Foreign Minister Fu Ying had advised him against
awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese
intellectual and human rights activist, Liu
Xiaobo. Mr. Fu said that such a move would, "pull
the wrong strings" in relations between Norway
and China, and be regarded as "an unfriendly
act." Liu, a veteran of Tiananmen Square, was the
co-author of the now-famous Charter 08, a
political manifesto that calls for stronger civil
rights and democratic reform. He was sentenced
last December to 11 years in jail for "inciting subversion of state power."

In his support for Liu Xiaobo's nomination for
the Nobel Peace Prize, former Czech leader Vaclav
Havel wrote that Mr. Liu's ideals, which include
"respect for human rights and human dignity, and
the responsibility of citizens to ensure that
their governments respect those rights, represent
humanity's highest aspirations." In stark
contrast, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman
Jiang Yu stated at a Beijing news briefing that
Mr. Liu's actions were "diametrically opposed to
the aims of the Nobel prize," and that he was
jailed because he "violated Chinese law."

Jiang Yu, known for her signature Death Star
Commander-style outfits, complained to the
international media about its coverage of
Beijing's warnings to the Nobel Committee. "Every
year, you report that China will apply
pressure...You often talk about the Chinese
pressure issue," she said, as if this were something bewildering to her.

Perhaps we should all try to be more like Ms.
Jiang and not take the Chinese "pressure issue"
so seriously. In fact, maybe it's time for some
of us to find out where the pressure ends and the action begins.
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