China courts the lovable Robert Mugabe

Sometimes you get judged by the company you keep, and if China is treally trying to clear up its image problem, Mugabe is the wrong one to be hanging out with.

Riot police turned an urban township into a ghost town yesterday, rounding up the last residents in defiance of a U.N. call to halt a demolition campaign that has left 700,000 without homes or jobs.

After emptying the Porta Farm township — where 30,000 people lived just days ago — earthmovers were seen lumbering into the area to finish clearing debris from destroyed homes, cabins and shacks as part of what the government calls Operation Drive Out Trash. Police armed with batons and riot shields barred aid workers and residents from entering.

The latest demolitions came as President Robert Mugabe paid a state visit to China, which is building a track record of willingness to do business with African leaders others shun.

In a meeting with the country’s No. 2 leader, Wu Bangguo, Mugabe paid tribute to China as a “great friend, historical friend, brotherly friend.”

Mugabe is confident China will use its veto power in the U.N. Security Council to protect Zimbabwe from any censure following the U.N. report denouncing the campaign as a violation of international law, a state-owned Harare newspaper, the Herald, reported yesterday.

China, which has expanded business and diplomatic contacts in African trouble spots such as Congo and Sudan, has not joined Western condemnation of Zimbabwe’s human-rights record.

In fact, China has become a key source of loans and supplies for Zimbabwe. Most recently, Beijing agreed to a loan to expand a power station and supply a third Chinese-made MA60 commercial aircraft to Zimbabwe, state media in Beijing announced yesterday.

It’s almost as bad as freedom-loving Bush courting Uzbekistan and Pakistan. But at least in those cases Bush can hide behind a cloak of respectability, because, after all, we’re only cozying up with them because they’re helping with our so-called war on terror. In the case of China and Russia and Zimbabwe, it’s just about money, plain and simple, the people be damned.

The new PR team had better get a move on with those image ads.

Update: I see that Will has covered this already, very well.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

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The Discussion: 59 Comments

Peter

When we talk about Anglo Saxon migration history in Britain, we just treat it as history fact happened a thousand year ago. We don’t morally judge Anglo Saxon tribe. We don’t encourage Welsh people rebel against British government. We don’t use it as moral argument for what happened in current time. We should treat the history of Han migration to Taiwan or other places to take the land from the minority tribes the same way because it happened several hundreds years ago also.

July 29, 2005 @ 8:23 pm | Comment

Will thanks for your explanation, I am forced to conceede that the demolitions are politically motivated (after more reading).

However I still have strong opposition to the good vs. evil approach.

If Mugabe has such power in Africa and Zimbabwe what are we going to do to remove him, another regime change?

The pragmatic approach has the most potential and China is definately being pragmatic in siding with mugabe. A friend has much more leverage than an enemy.

July 29, 2005 @ 9:46 pm | Comment

Given China’s proven human right’s record I’m sure the Chinese will push for some positive change in Zimbabwe……………Get an argument. Please!??

July 30, 2005 @ 7:30 am | Comment

Politically motivated allegations of China’s religious freedom are abundant in the west, promoting westerners like you to “visit churches” in China. The western logic is actually quite simplistic. Since China is considered an evil communistic nation, they must persecute the Christians. As a disguise, the Christian west claims they are also concerned about the freedom of the Muslims or other cults – like the FaLunGong.

However, if you look at the Chinese society, the Muslims are welcomed and deeply integrated into the Chinese society. For example, the only difference between Hui and Han Chinese is Islamic faith; otherwise the two groups are culturally and genetically identical. In sharp contrast, let’s look at the western societies. Muslims are clearly segregated into ghettos, discriminated and harassed; needless to mention the fierce clashes historically. The western reporters and activists are biased politically and religiously.

July 30, 2005 @ 2:54 pm | Comment

Wow, I hope you are joking. Please, tell us you are joking?

July 30, 2005 @ 3:18 pm | Comment

“Since China is considered an evil communistic nation, they must persecute the Christians. As a disguise, the Christian west claims they are also concerned about the freedom of the Muslims or other cults – like the FaLunGong.”

What a logic!

“However, if you look at the Chinese society, the Muslims are welcomed and deeply integrated into the Chinese society.”

This must be joking.

“For example, the only difference between Hui and Han Chinese is Islamic faith; otherwise the two groups are culturally and genetically identical.”

How much do you know about Hui Chinese apart from those around you in big cities?

“In sharp contrast, let’s look at the western societies. Muslims are clearly segregated into ghettos, discriminated and harassed; needless to mention the fierce clashes historically. The western reporters and activists are biased politically and religiously. ”

Are you really defending China or just ridiculing the ignorance of us Chinese?

July 30, 2005 @ 3:30 pm | Comment

And it’s not American Man who is saying this, I think it is someone serious. A person ca’t really be this ignorant, can they?

July 30, 2005 @ 3:38 pm | Comment

That’s not the English of AM, it seems.

July 30, 2005 @ 4:12 pm | Comment

Just a few points. First, Zimbabwe never had any “apartheid” system, which within South Africa was specifically designed to keep the races separate, with the Blacks living in “Bantustans” and the Whites living in the developed areas. Those who would argue about apartheid (and I don’t wish to) should at least find out what it meant, and what the mechanics of its workings were. The Rhodesia of the period was a very different state. Second, the real tragedy of Zimbabwe is that it wasn’t a poor country when Mugabe arrived in power, and for a few years in the wake of that war’s negotiated end, there was real hope that Zimbabwe would develop into multi-ethnic, prosperous state that would shine within a continent of failed states. That hope too has died. It is now just another brutal African dictatorship, and it didn’t have to be that way. At present, it is probably too late to do anything other than lament its failure, and lay the blame at the door of its architect, Robert Mugabe.

August 1, 2005 @ 1:59 am | Comment

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