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Wednesday, May 21, 2003

China and the G8

Many thanks to Andrea for forwarding me this link on the confirmation of China's presence at the G8.

Long claiming to be a champion of the developing world, China is making its first appearance at the meeting of the G8 industrialized nations in June - a sign of a shift in its foreign policy from being a revolutionary power to a major world player. China's need to repair the international damage caused by its initial mishandling of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak provides the immediate background for President Hu Jintao's meeting with the leaders of G-8 countries. But experts say the real motive behind China's acceptance of the invitation to a meeting of developing countries on the sidelines of the G-8 annual summit is that it needs an alternative platform to the U.N. Security Council, where it holds a permanent seat. "It is obvious that acting solely from the position of a UN Security Council member, China can no longer make its voice heard to the best of its interests," observed Zheng Yu, international relations expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"The functions of the U.N. Security Council have been continuously restrained. The Group of Eight is now the international arena where all matters of economic, political and security importance are decided," he pointed out. Three years ago, China rejected an invitation from Germany to attend the G-8 annual summit as an observer, maintaining its communist stance that the group is a "club of the rich." But since 2001, a series of subtle political moves have highlighted how China is shaping a new image of itself--no longer as a communist power supportive of guerrilla movements but as an emerging world player wishing to converge with other world powers. Launching a charm offensive as Asian neighbors harbored suspicions of its rising clout, China in November 2002 signed an agreement that would create a free trade zone by 2010 with the 10-member Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN). The agreement puts China at the forefront of a zone that would be the third largest in the world after the European Union (news - web sites) and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Beijing has also abandoned its once-virulent anti-U.S. rhetoric, joining forces with the United States in its global 'war against terrorism'. While opposing the U.S.-led war against Iraq (news - web sites), China is now actively trying to participate in the rebuilding of the oil-rich country and has dispatched a special Middle East envoy as a sign of its intention to expand its influence in the region. "China has been on the rise for more than twenty years. But what makes these three years special is a combination of economic and military power that has given the country a new confidence," said Robert Ross, a political scientist from Boston College. "China's self-assessment is undergoing a change and Chinese leaders are getting briefings on China being a rising power," Ross told a meeting of the foreign press in Beijing.
Source: Yahoo News

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