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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Not just a business decision

China's dealings with Iran are generally portrayed as business decisions. But the Wall Street Journal reports that there's more to it than business alone.
But the Chinese leadership's deeper motivation is concern about its own power at home. The color revolutions of Eastern Europe and Central Asia have rattled Beijing, much like the collapse of the Soviet bloc 20 years ago. China's response has been to clamp down on dissent at home and seek to shore up friendly regimes abroad. A further rout of authoritarian regimes could encourage the silent majority at home who would like greater political participation.

That's a key reason China supports a rogues' gallery of states, including Sudan, Burma, Cuba and Venezuela. Some believe that the pursuit of mineral wealth drives this behavior. But consider that even as Robert Mugabe has run Zimbabwe into the ground, Beijing has continued to offer this reviled dictator diplomatic and military support.

Support for North Korea is not only predicated on the need for a buffer state. Chinese leaders fear that the collapse of a longtime communist ally could have considerable domestic impact. We doubt this is true, but it does help to explain why China's support for tougher action against Pyongyang has been so limited.

As for Iran, Time magazine reported last week that a state-owned Chinese company has shipped armored vehicles to the Islamic Republic for use against opposition protestors [pictured above. CiJ]. One Chinese company, LIMMT Economic & Trade Co., is also under indictment in New York for allegedly selling missile components to the Iranian military. This is hardly the behavior of a responsible world power seeking to advance the prospects of peace and stability.

China's dissidents understand the game Beijing is playing all too well. In recent days, a Twitter campaign entitled "CN4Iran" has been formed by "Chinese who support protesters in Iran." As one said, "Today we free Tehran, tomorrow we take on Beijing." This serves to fuel the paranoia of Communist Party cadres that the usual "subversive elements" within and outside the country are organizing to bring them down.
Bottom line: If the Obama administration is going to wait for China to go along with sanctions against Iran, the sanctions will never happen and Iran will obtain nuclear weapons unless it's attacked by Israel.

What could go wrong?


At 9:25 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

we are not reading the Green Revolution. they are hostile to cooperation with China and Russia because yes China supplies Mahmoud's military, but also Russia steals Iranian resources in the Black Sea in exchange for enabling Iranian Nuclear state.
While I do empathize with their anger at foreign treachery here... certainly Iran is getting the shaft, but I think we are missing the hidden correlative which is that the Green Revolution will be more isolated then Mahmoud's government and we could be dealing with a greater threat then the present Iranian power structure. MSM has a hard to time seeing that things could get worse, but I am very skeptical of the "Green Revolution" and don't think we should have anything to do with internal politics. Iran's experience being shafted by China and Russia could heighten their anger at everyone else and we can't pretend that they will come running into our arms


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