As Canadians talk business, China’s stance is tested
As China’s global presence expands, it is being confronted with decisions that are drawing it closer to issues of others.world Updated: Feb 12, 2012 23:08 IST
For decades, China has preached noninterference in countries' internal affairs. That has served it well, allowing it to stay neutral about controversial issues like the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, while deflecting criticism about its own problems.
But as China's global commercial and diplomatic interests mushroom, it is being confronted with decisions that are drawing it ever more steadily into internal disputes in other nations.
Events of the past week underscored that. Even as China opposed intervention in the conflict in Syria, Premier Wen Jiabao stepped into Europe's debt crisis, offering to stake more of its $2.3 trillion in foreign exchange reserves in bonds to help prop up the European Union, its largest trading partner.
Then there was the visit to Beijing this week of Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada - and the attempts by Canadian aboriginal groups to lobby Chinese authorities over his head, seeking to halt a project under discussion or at least be considered for jobs if it goes ahead.
The centerpiece of Harper's visit was negotiations over a pipeline project that would run from the province of Alberta west to the British Columbian port of Kitimat.
The project has taken on added importance since the Obama administration vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline that would have run from Alberta to Texas. The port at Kitimat is set amid fjords, and while desirous of the trade, many tribes see the project as environmentally reckless.
This week, tribal leaders fired off an open letter to President Hu Jintao of China, a major investor in the project.