Gotta love that Chinese diplomacy

This story is being discussed up in the open threads, but it’s significant enough to mention here. It seems China’s amabassador to the UN totally lost it, and in his rage he let his true colors shine through.

China’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, throwing diplomatic language to the wind, told the US yesterday in no uncertain terms to “shut up and keep quiet” on the subject of Beijing’s growing military spending. Interviewed for a BBC radio program on the topic, Sha Zukang (沙祖康) also said China would “do the business” and sacrifice its own people’s lives if any nation supported a declaration of independence by Taiwan.

Responding to jitters within the {George W.} Bush administration about Beijing’s spiraling military budget, Sha said the US itself accounts for half of the entire world’s military spending.

“The Chinese population is six times or five times that of the United States,” he said. “Why blame China?… It’s better for the US to shut up and keep quiet. It’s much, much better.”

His voice rising, Sha continued: “It’s the US’ sovereign right to do whatever they deem good for them — but don’t tell us what is good for China. Thank you very much!” Sha was equally explicit on Taiwan declaring independence with US backing — a prospect that the BBC program, by former Beijing correspondent Carrie Gracie, called the motivating factor behind Chinese military spending.

“The moment Taiwan declares independence, supported by whoever, China will have no choice,” he said. “We will do the business through whatever means available to the government. Nobody should have any illusions on that. We will do the business at any cost.”

He added: “It’s not a matter of how big Taiwan is, but for China, one inch of the territory is more valuable than the life of our people. We will never concede on that.”

It’s that last highlighted quote that is so pregnant with meaning. It brings back the memories of Mao discussing with his aides the inevitability of a nuclear attack from the USSR. Mao, when told more than a million Chinese citizens would inevitably perish, shrugged his shoulders (“What, me worry?”) and blithely remarked that they were expendable. Some of that mentality seems to persist today – one inch of territory is worth an infinite number of Chinese lives. Chinese lives are still cheap.

Now, if someone suggested we had to give up New York City or any inch of the United States to some invader, I can see sending in troops to ensure we keep it. But here we’re talking about a piece of land over which the flag of China has never, ever flown, a country in which I can tell you from first-hand experience you’ll find precious few citizens who express any loyalty or sense of belonging to the PRC. And China would send their citizens to die for that? Once more, Chinese leaders live up to their old reputation for being prickly and somewhat hysterical.

The Discussion: 15 Comments

Last year a Chinese general threatened to crack open a box of nukes should Taiwan ever declare independence. The question is: “Who has the authority – the sabre rattlers or the quiet men in Beijing”.

I had a bit of an argument about the Taiwan issue when head neo-liberal Prof. Robert Keohane came to do a lecture at my university recently. He seemed to think that China was the ultimate rationalists; I wasn’t so sure. When it comes to Taiwan, the danger of something very irrational happening is certanly present.

August 18, 2006 @ 3:58 am | Comment

I listened to his on BBC today and it really ticked me off. Though I am critical of the current “regime” in China, I never level my guns at “China” the country any more than I shoot at “America” in general.

I think by and far most laowai respect the Chinese people, no matter what we think about the current “regime” in China or the current “regime” in America, it’s apolitical issue. Not a “people” or “country’s” issue.

That little b*****d practically said “c’mon! you want some of this!” to every American within listening distance.

Beijing needs to pull this little pit bull back, and let him loose on asome other regime.

August 18, 2006 @ 5:52 am | Comment

“over which the flag of China has never, ever flown”

What about a certain red flag with a white sun on a blue canton in the corner? I do believe that that remains (or was,depending on who you talk to) the flag of the Republic of China…

August 18, 2006 @ 5:58 am | Comment

Exactly, That_Dude! It IS the flag of the Republic of China and NOT the flag of the People’s Republic of China….the country which currently occupies the mainland. Thanks for the clarification though.

August 18, 2006 @ 7:08 am | Comment

There should be a ballot in the Pond to see how many people view conflict with the PRC as inevitable (secret ballot, that is).

August 18, 2006 @ 7:15 am | Comment

Once more, Chinese leaders live up to their old reputation for being prickly and somewhat hysterical.

I do hope that that was a bit of sarcasm. If it wasn’t, it is an unbelievable understatement. PRC “leaders” have no credibility. They do not in any way represent the people of China. They merely keep shouting their rhetoric while they choke the country. So many keep talking about the country’s economic miracle and, to a lesser extent, its social progress…neither of these things matter when thoughts are policed, human life has no value and the pursuit of the “almighty yuan” justifies any behavior, no matter how despicable. The people of China deserve more than the slop the CCP throws their way.

August 18, 2006 @ 8:06 am | Comment

Ahmet, that was my wry humor.

August 18, 2006 @ 9:31 am | Comment

I get fed up to have China enjoying the Security Council seat and cowardly doing nothing with it; at least someone is willing to lay it out for the US to understand unambiguously. Would be nice for Europeans to follow…

August 18, 2006 @ 10:25 am | Comment

Steel cage death match with John Bolton!!!!

C’mon, the two sound made for each other.

August 18, 2006 @ 10:39 am | Comment

I get fed up to have China enjoying the Security Council seat and cowardly doing nothing with it; at least someone is willing to lay it out for the US to understand unambiguously. Would be nice for Europeans to follow…

That will be the day. Europeans will turn out in droves to protest, but they rarely take material action against the US. It was really frustrating for me that there were no boycotts of US goods or tourists, etc, when we invaded Iraq. It made all that European moral expression seem so hollow, when they could have made it so powerful.


August 18, 2006 @ 10:46 am | Comment

Lisa, yeah Bolton would kick this guy’s arse!!!

August 18, 2006 @ 11:33 am | Comment

Bolton is a nutcase. Stories abound of his abusive behavior towards subordinates (one where he’s screaming and chasing a female employee down the hall of a Russian hotel, finally pounding on her door when she locked herself in for safety). Oh, and apparently he used to belong to a “Swingers” organization in NYC in the 70s? (Plato’s Retreat I think it was called).

I once heard him referred to as “Captain Kangaroo’s Evil Twin.” That works for me!

August 18, 2006 @ 11:47 am | Comment

The actual interview is available on audio here:

August 19, 2006 @ 12:25 am | Comment

For every halfway decent Chinese diplomat that I meet, there exists at least 10 that are complete knuckleheads. The Chinese general who shoot his mouth off last year was a little princeling – apparently belonging to a goup that gives Hu Jintao headaches…. Nevertheless, Ms Sha does come off like an asshole. LOL! I agree, death match for John Bolton and her. I bet Bolton totally kicks her ass….. Ha ha!

August 20, 2006 @ 11:12 am | Comment

Two corrections: firstly, Taiwan did belong to China for sometime, albeit shortly. First when Zheng Chenggong had kicked out the Dutch, until 1895 when Japan took it, and later, in 1945, when Japan had to give it up after having lost the war.

Secondly, you’re right that preciously few TW citizens have a sense of belonging with the PRC (I met one, to my great surprise), but many of them do feel loyalty for ‘China’ and consider themselves Chinese.

August 21, 2006 @ 6:25 am | Comment

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