As DH mentioned, I've been awed by the diplomatic energy of Hu Jintao. I found an interesting description of it, in this letter to the IHT. The letter begins by portraying Hu as a provincial conservative.
For one, in Hu, China has its least cosmopolitan leader since Mao.
Hu has never lived outside of China, and indeed has spent much of his career working his way up the party hierarchy in poor and conservative backwaters, places like Tibet and Guizhou Province, where even foreign modes so eagerly embraced by China as market capitalism have arrived both late and weak.
There's no sense of irony, here, neither that the same could be said about our own leader (never lived--and barely traveled--outside of the country, launched his career in a province where liberal tenants arrived late and weakly). Nor in what follows, which makes Hu sound quite cosmopolitan (in stark contrast to Bush).
"The United States used to be the center of its foreign policy," said Wu Xinbo, an expert in international relations at Fudan University in Shanghai. "Now China is playing chess in all directions, in a way that counts Europe, Asia, Russia and others. That is Hu Jintao's foreign policy."
Playing chess in all directions. An excellent way to characterize Hu's foreign policy.
This means, in the case of Sudan, engagement on China's and Sudan's own terms. China and Sudan recently reiterated their cooperation.
China and Sudan enjoyed a long-standing friendship, said Wang in a meeting with visiting Sudanese Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, adding the two nations cooperated well in various fields.
Wang said China appreciated the Sudanese government's adherence to the one-China policy, and was grateful for its firm support on major international issues, such as human rights.
China has reiterated its cooperation with Sudan even as the US lectures China for working with countries (including Zimbabwe and Myanmar with Sudan) that abuse human rights.
We need to urge China to become a responsible stakeholder in that system.
China has a responsibility to strengthen the international system that has enabled its success.
China's involvement with troublesome states indicates at best a blindness to consequences and at worst something more ominous. China's actions--combined with a lack of transparency--can create risks.
Which, as the IHT letter notes, simply rings hollow, in the face of our own human rights abuses.
Events like these [Gitmo, domestic surveillance, torture] have created a huge opening for China, which this country's leadership, as savvy and nimble as it can be cynical, has been quick to exploit. When the State Department released its most recent annual human rights report last month, the Chinese were ready with an answer in the form of a counter-report on the United States that was more assertive than its replies in the past.
China's approach to Darfur is not a stance I agree with (I said I was awed by Hu, not that I approved of him). But the approach is getting China access to resources it otherwise wouldn't have, and it's allowing China to diversify the countries that buys its products, freeing it of complete dependence on the American consumer. China is extending its soft power and international influence almost as quickly as it's flooding the world with its manufactured goods ... and the relationship is not entirely economic.
Contrast China's approach with that of the US. We declared Sudan's oppression in Darfur a genocide (then backed off that claim) and have provided support to the African Union to provide humanitarian assistance in Darfur. But our efforts are largely ineffective at achieving results in the region.
In FY [fiscal year] 2005, we provided over $650 million, mostly in humanitarian assistance and support to the AU mission, and over $450 million in reconstruction and humanitarian assistance to other areas in Sudan."
Regarding aid, Frazer said she still had concerns that the Khartoum government was not expediting the delivery of humanitarian supplies to refugees in Darfur, a point she said Zoellick raised in his phone conversation with Taha.
Frazer added that the administration also continues to press the Khartoum government to allow 105 Canadian armored personnel carriers to augment the AU force, but thus far Khartoum has consented to allow only 35 into the country.
But then, as the LAT reports today (via Laura Rozen) the Administration's favorite lobbyist offered in 2001 to sell his influence for $16 million to help Sudan avoid just the kind of pressure that might improve this situation.
Two eyewitnesses say that former lobbyist Jack Abramoff proposed to sell his services to the much-criticized government of Sudan to help improve its abysmal reputation in the United States, especially among Christian evangelicals who were campaigning against human rights violations in the troubled African nation.
According to the lobbyist's former associate, Abramoff sat with the ambassador in the skybox and described an elaborate and costly plan to blunt the effect of pressure from Christian groups with money and travel, two of the methods Abramoff frequently deployed in his Washington lobbying campaigns.
He said some of the money would be sent to the Christian Coalition and some would be spent encouraging Christian leaders to visit Sudan and talk with the government. Other money would be spent on a grass-roots campaign to promote a better image of the country in the United States.
The former associate said Abramoff repeatedly told the ambassador that he would arrange for his friend Reed to push the idea with Christian groups.
There was a follow-up discussion with the former associate when the Sudanese foreign minister came to Washington months later. The Cabinet minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail, met with Abramoff's former associate at the Sudanese Embassy. Ismail seemed interested in Abramoff's services, the former associate said, but asked for guaranteed results, which Abramoff could not provide.
Now, I have no idea whether Abramoff did this with the approval or even the awareness of the Administration. While I suspect Abramoff's larger schemes took some direction from the
leaders former leaders of the party, like DeLay, that doesn't mean this influence peddling was part of an organized diplomatic strategy. And more recent evidence suggests that pressure from evangelicals may finally force Bush's hand to adopt a more confrontational stance.
The point is, though, our foreign policy is so captive to the influence industry that we seem unable to assess our national interest and develop a workable plan from that. Bush's foreign policy seems designed to invest in a few key alliances (England, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Poland, Australia) and sell the rest to the highest bidder.
Such an approach doesn't seem to be doing any good in Sudan. For that matter, all our scolding of China only seems to blind us to the fact that we're losing influence relative to China at a precipitous rate.