Running Rings Around the E.U.



Op-Ed Contributor


Published: April 21, 2009

LONDON — China’s performance at the recent G-20 summit meeting once again showed its skill at running diplomatic rings around Europe. Its audacious eve-of-summit call for a new global reserve currency to replace the dollar, the plaudits it won for a modest contribution to the International Monetary Fund, and President Hu Jintao’s occupancy of the center-stage in the leaders’ photo-call — added up to a great public relations triumph.

But while China edges toward the top-table, Europe’s leaders remain disunited and unsure of how to deal with the rising giant.

As European capitals prepare for the E.U.-China summit next month — rescheduled from last autumn after China canceled the meeting in retaliation for President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit with the Dalai Lama — they must realize that the current E.U. strategy of “engagement” at any price leaves Beijing in control.

The E.U.’s heroic ambition for the last 20 years has been to act as a catalyst for change in China — as if it is still a developing country that can be molded. As a result, China now treats the E.U. with diplomatic contempt. It sees the relationship as a game of chess, with 27 opponents crowding the other side of the board and squabbling about which piece to move. As the Chinese academic Pan Wei puts it, the “E.U. is weak, politically divided and militarily non-influential. Economically, it’s a giant, but we no longer fear it because we know that the E.U. needs China more than China needs the E.U.”

Time and again, France, Germany and Britain have lobbied to become China’s partner of choice in Europe — even though Beijing only grants preferred status temporarily to the most pliant bidder. Despite the punishments meted out to Mr. Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany for meeting the Dalai Lama, Europe’s heavyweight leaders have capitalized on one another’s misfortune.

This jockeying for position is not working. Britain, despite its militant advocacy for open European markets for Chinese goods, has failed to persuade China to open up its financial-services sector. France, despite its commercial diplomacy, has seen its trade deficit with China explode. And even Germany, which has benefited the most from strong manufacturing exports, finds its trade deficit growing as Chinese exports move up the value chain.

European companies continue to face far more barriers than Chinese companies face in the E.U. And China has long proved unwilling to join Western efforts on pressing problems like the repressive regime in Burma. Beijing does occasionally modify its position in ways that suit the West — like its belated support for a U.N. peacekeeping force in Sudan and ending arms sales to Zimbabwe. But more often than not, these changes reflect direct Chinese interests rather than a desire to please the West.

The global economic crisis may yet persuade Beijing to cooperate for the sake of financial stability. But it might also offer cash-rich China an opportunity to improve its position while doing little to participate in international rescue plans.

The E.U. has no choice but to engage China as a global partner and to accept its historic rise. But it should drive hard bargains. Awarding China market economy status (which would put to rest China’s fear of a European trend toward protectionism) should be traded for genuine concessions by China on its own one-sided barriers to trade and investment. Access to European firms and technologies should also be reciprocated with a new opening by China.

Beijing must respond to European concern about issues like nuclear proliferation. Were China to contribute to successful sanctions on Iran, for example, the Europeans might lift their arms embargo.

Though the E.U.’s leverage on China’s human rights situation is limited, E.U. leaders must not deny one another support in order to curry favor with Beijing. They would be well advised to remind China that there is no restriction of their right to meet political and religious figures — including the Dalai Lama.

Any attempt to strengthen the European position must start with an acknowledgment that no member state is big enough to sway China on its own. But collectively, Europe is China’s biggest trade partner. Whenever China has shifted its position as a result of European pressure, as it has on the possibility of U.N. sanctions against nuclear proliferation, this followed a coordinated Western effort, strongly backed by the E.U. as a whole.

President Obama’s inauguration has signaled a new chapter in U.S.-China relations. To avoid being sidelined, the E.U. will have to offer more than a cacophonous chorus of competing voices.

John Fox is a former British diplomat who served in Beijing. François Godement is a senior French foreign policy analyst. Both men are senior fellows at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Will Obama meet with China's nemesis, Dalai Lama?


By FOSTER KLUG – 8 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — A closely watched visit is set to take place in October, when a frail, 74-year-old Buddhist monk seeks an audience with President Barack Obama.

Obama must make a delicate calculation as he considers a meeting with the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet's Buddhists, seen by his supporters as a symbol of peace but vilified by China as a "wolf in monk's robes" who seeks to split Tibet from the rest of China.

Whatever Obama decides about the visit will spark anger.

Meeting with the Dalai Lama, as every president since George H.W. Bush has done, would infuriate China, whose help the United States sees as crucial to global economic recovery efforts and dealing with nuclear standoffs in North Korea and Iran.

Activists would seize on a White House visit for the Nobel Peace laureate as a powerful message to Tibetans and others struggling for human rights around the world.

The Obama administration, in the months ahead, will weigh its desire to secure crucial Chinese cooperation on global crises with its worries that China is abusing the rights of Tibetans.

The Dalai Lama is celebrated in much of the world as a figure of moral authority. In response to China's claims that he seeks Tibetan independence, the Dalai Lama has said repeatedly that he wants only "real autonomy" for Tibet.

The Dalai Lama's supporters expect Obama will continue the long-standing U.S. presidential tradition of meeting with the monk.

Obama's administration, however, has faced criticism that a growing emphasis on U.S-Chinese economic and diplomatic cooperation has fueled reluctance to confront the Chinese on sensitive human rights and trade issues.

Last Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner would not cite China as a country that manipulates its currency to gain unfair trade advantages, despite American claims that the undervalued Chinese currency is the biggest cause for the huge trade deficit the United States runs with China.

In February, the Obama administration delighted China when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said during her trip to Beijing that the United States would not let its human rights concerns interfere with cooperation with Beijing.

Dennis Wilder, who served as President George W. Bush's senior Asia adviser, said some of Obama's economic advisers, eager to get more Chinese cooperation on the financial meltdown, might be tempted to "lower the profile" of a Dalai Lama meeting.

Both Bush's father and President Bill Clinton met unofficially with the Dalai Lama, each "dropping in" as the monk visited with a senior adviser.

The second President Bush met with the Dalai Lama in the private residences of the White House, avoiding the more public Oval Office. But he broke with tradition when, in an elaborate public ceremony, he presented the Dalai Lama with the U.S. Congress' highest civilian honor in 2007, calling the monk a "universal symbol of peace and tolerance."

China was outraged and said the United States had "gravely undermined" relations.

Indeed, China's reaction is unambiguous when foreign leaders meet with the Dalai Lama. China canceled a major summit with the European Union when French President Nicolas Sarkozy met last year with the Dalai Lama.

China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said last month that shunning the Dalai Lama should be considered one of the "basic principles of international relations."

As October approaches, U.S. officials will take a close look at the state of relations with China. Based on those ties, the administration will then decide whether Obama can risk continuing the tradition of meeting with the Dalai Lama and, if so, what sort of meeting to grant the monk.

China will oppose any contact between Obama and the Dalai Lama. But Douglas Paal, a former senior Asia adviser for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said, "How badly they react to a meeting depends on what the overall state relations are in."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.




2009年 4月 21日 星期二 08:51 BJT




欧盟消费者事务专员梅格丽娜・库列娃(Meglena Kuneva)在记者招待会上表示,决不能在经济衰退时期忽视产品安全问题。






编译:靳怡雯 发稿:金红梅

EU sees China unsafe products hitting record high


20 hours ago

BRUSSELS (AFP) — The European Commission is not satisfied with China's record on dealing with consumer product safety, a commissioner said Monday, unveiling record high levels of dangerous goods.

The comment came as the EU's executive arm released new figures on dangerous goods, showing that a record number were found throughout the European Union last year, with more than half coming from China, in particular hazardous toys.

The commission's rapid alert system for non-food goods, RAPEX, said a total of 1,866 unsafe products were brought to its attention in 2008, a 16 percent increase on the previous year.

Products from China accounted for 59 percent of the goods reported, substantially up from 52 percent in 2007 and 49 percent in 2006.

In only half of the Chinese cases which came to light, preventive or restrictive measures were carried out to deal with the problem.

One of the biggest problems was identifying the responsible Chinese companies involved.

"This is not good enough as we stated in 2007," said EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Maglena Kuneva, though admitting that the level of action was much better than in previous years.

"It is an improvement (but) no I am not satisfied, and I am working with Chinese authorities " to remedy the problems, she told reporters in Brussels.

"We shouldn't take this as a signal to close our markets. We need good, non-dangerous products from China, but not at the expense of safety," she stressed.

Toys made up almost a third of the dangerous products recalled worldwide.

The flood of Chinese-made toys has been a growing concern in recent years, with US giant Mattel recalling more than 21 million such items in 2007 alone.

The next largest sectors for recalls were electrical appliances, which made up 11 percent of the total cases, motor vehicles (10 percent) and clothing (nine percent).

After China, the European Union as a bloc was the next largest culprit being responsible for one in five reported hazardous consumer products.

Industrial powerhouse Germany alone accounted for five percent of the world total of products deemed to present a risk of physical or chemical injury, choking, electric shock, fire and other hazards.

Last November the European Union and China signed a deal to improve consumer safety amid the continuing health fears over Chinese products imported into Europe.

Under the agreement China is obliged to inform the European Union about what it is doing to track down dangerous goods. It also allows for officials from the two sides to carry out coordinated checks on producers to ensure safety standards are being met.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved. More »















In pictures: 19th Century China




约翰·汤姆森(John Thomson),1837-1921,苏格兰摄影师。他是第二次鸦片战争以后以旅游者身份来华摄影人中最著名的一个。1862年他开始了亚洲摄影活动的多产十年,其声誉主要来自1870年至1872年在中国大陆拍摄的系列作品,其足迹遍布中国沿海、港口、城市,包括香港、澳门、台湾等地,拍摄了大量反映中国社会各阶层的照片,并在1873年出版了刊有200多幅照片的著名专集《中国及其国民的影像》。





BBC 中国网 玉川


最近一个春雨濛濛的早晨,我在伦敦采访了一位久居英国的华裔文化界人士姚詠蓓女士。她正要飞往北京,带去一个首次在中国举办的摄影展 – “晚清碎影 – 约翰•汤姆逊眼中的中国”。

“晚清碎影”,这个展览的题目就使我产生极大的好奇心。这个摄影展将展出苏格兰著名摄影家约翰•汤姆逊(John Thomson, 1837–1921)19世纪前往中国拍摄的150幅珍贵的历史照片,这些照片生动而真实地再现了摄影家眼中的中国晚清社会的历史瞬间。














姚詠蓓:说起来一晃几年了。五年前,我在英国维尔康姆图书馆(Wellcome Library)第一次看到了汤姆逊的一些中国晚清摄影作品,感到非常新鲜,并久久不能忘怀。之后我进一步寻找有关这位苏格兰摄影家的生平和经历的资料。得知1921年在汤姆逊去世后,他的后人把汤姆逊所有的摄影玻璃底片都卖给了维尔康姆图书馆。将近90年来,这些珍贵的玻璃底片一直保存在维尔康姆图书馆。

后来一个偶然的机会,我碰上了维尔康姆图书馆的一位负责人。他告诉我,汤姆逊的这些有关中国的摄影作品从来没有在中国展出过,他们希望有一天能把其中一些优秀的摄影作品带到中国展出。就这一句话,几年来我就一直琢磨如何把这些难得的历史照片带到中国展出。后来,我暂时离开了我在文化交流机构“亚洲之家”(Asia House)的工作,投入所有的精力,策划和组织这个展览。我特别得到北京中华世纪坛艺术博物馆王丽梅馆长的大力支持,终于使这个展览得以在北京展出。