Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tomgram: Michael Klare on Greeting Hu with a 21-Gun "Salute"

Meanwhile, not in Iraq or Iran…

On Tuesday April 18, Chinese President Hu Jintao landed in the United States and, after a tour of a Boeing plant, made his official way, with all due pomp and ceremony, to the expectable "state banquet" in Washington… no, not at the White House but at the Washington State home of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. In fact, the Chinese leader came to Seattle, Washington, ready to toss money at Microsoft goodies and Boeing jets in an atmosphere as celebratory as money can make things.

Thursday, Hu will arrive in the "other" Washington in a less celebratory mood -- at a time when Chinese relations with the Bush administration are in a state of heightening tension and likely to get worse. He will arrive for a… Well, what is it?

The Chinese insist that Hu is coming on an official "state visit" and point to the traditional presidential greeting on the White House lawn and the 21-gun salute for a state leader as evidence of that. The White House, which is offering neither a state dinner, nor a cabinet meeting for the Chinese president to attend but a simple working lunch, begs to differ. What's happening is only a visit-type visit, nothing more. ("'It's an official visit, it's a visit, is the way I would describe it,' said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. We have ‘one visit, different interpretations.'") At the micro-level of protocol, this catches much about our East Asian moment.

China lies at the heart of many Bush conundrums and the Bush administration lies athwart numerous Chinese desires. To the extent that the Bush administration still floats above the waves, it does so significantly on borrowed dollars from China; just as the Chinese leadership -- with their recently announced 10.2% first-quarter growth rate and their expanding bubble of an export economy -- lives off the American market. Without Chinese help, the administration's ability to deal with the other two axes of the Axis of Evil, Iran and North Korea, seems problematic at best. Yet, when it comes to Iran, China has just signaled that it's in a less than receptive mood. The weak Chinese-Russian strategic alliance against the U.S. that goes by the name of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has just granted Iran full membership, a quiet political statement of the first order.

China's recent economic surge into Southeast Asia threatens U.S. hegemony in the region; from the Sudan to Venezuela, its oil envoys are already drilling into America's imperial energy future (even as the price of a barrel of oil soars over $70 a barrel). The Americans are sunk deep in the Iraq morass; the Chinese are desperate for a little space and peace to deal with the endless problems spinning off from their overheated economy. You might think it was a moment to draw on some well-worn term like "peaceful coexistence"; but, as Michael Klare, author of the indispensable Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum, makes clear below, the Bush administration is instead ramping up its military might in the Pacific and, after two years trapped in Baghdad's Green Zone, once again putting China in its strategic gun sights as America's future imperial competitor and enemy of choice. Tom

Containing China

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

1 comment(s):

Cool blog, interesting information... Keep it UP » » »

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:08 AM  

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