Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown has just returned from his first official visit to China. The main reason for the trip - and main subject of his talks with Chinese officials - was, to no one's surprise, trade.
We (the developed countries of the West) have meanwhile reached a point where about 85% of our normal consumer goods are manufactured in China. Most toys are produced there, too, and a large proportion of books published in the English language are printed and bound in China.
This has led to the strange situation that we are more and more dependent on China, while the Chinese government swims in billions of Dollars, Pounds and Euros, not really knowing what to do with it. Recently a new economic development office was opened by China's President Hu, and the director of this office was given the sum of $ 200 billion as starting capital. More might be at his disposal later, and he has the task to invest this money in suitable projects and industries in the West.
In a few years we might find ourselves in the situation that we are not only completely dependent on China for our household goods, books and toys, but that China also holds and controls significant stakes in our remaining industries and institutions. Not one person in political power in the West today seems to see the potential danger this entails.
And none of our political leaders dares to raise his (or her) voice to challenge China on the issue of Human Rights. It is no secret that - despite a complete turn-around in economic policy - the People's Republic is still a Communist state with severe restrictions on freedom of speech, expression and many other human rights. China's prisons are full of various kinds of dissidents, and many of them are forced to provide slave labour for factories that produce goods for the Western market. None of our politicians and leading businessmen takes any notice of that, despite regular and meanwhile numerous reports compiled by Amnesty International. We are deliberately closing our eyes and minds to the facts of modern China and her human rights' abuses, just as the West closed eyes and minds to the (well known) facts of the Third Reich and its treatment of Jews and political prisoners.
We are sleep-walking into a massive spider's web and enable the building of an economic monster even Dr. Frankenstein would not have dared to create. And this does not even take into account the position of Taiwan, which could well be the trigger for a massive war between China and the USA in the foreseeable future. It amazes me how little our leaders have learned from History.
So far any free and democratic society that has tolerated and supported an oppressive and totalitarian regime had eventually to pay for that mistake in blood, gold and many other commodities. There is still time to re-think our policies towards China, but with every day, every ship full of goods made in China, and every trade delegation visiting Beijing the room for free movement and decisions is getting smaller.
The Emerald Islander