Well, what is this now? Right after yesterday’s article by Michael Klare proclaiming China’s growing assertiveness and which used China’s conduct at the Copenhagen summit as an example, comes this piece of news on a top Chinese envoy at the summit that suggests something else.
China’s top envoy to the Copenhagen summit, next to Premier Wen Jiabao, has been removed from his post as vice-foreign minister and reassigned to a lesser post, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency as reported in the Guardian article. Apparently, Hong Kong newspaper Sing Tao is suggesting, China’s supposed posturing and obstructing at the summit in December caused it some embarrassment and concern, as it led to its receiving blame from the Europeans. The official, He Yafei, was given authority to represent China in high-level meetings, including with other heads of state, where he was feisty enough to defy these heads of state and criticize other officials. If all the points in this report such as:
“Although the premier, Wen Jiabao, was the most senior figure in the Chinese delegation, he refused to attend most of the negotiating sessions with other leaders. This was a defensive move rather than a snub. The premier did not want to be strong-armed into a deal he could not guarantee at home.”
are true, it seems China was negotiating from a point of weakness, rather than power and arrogance. While it may be understandable that China does not want to be forced or persuaded by the West to make environmental promises that may be more than what it’s prepared to undertake, Premier Wen should not have been unwilling to meet with the heads of state of the other nations. It gives off a sense of arrogance, or worse, of fear. Neither attitude is suitable for a China looking to be a confident world power.