I woke up at 2am thinking about last night’s class and our China-US discussion – yes my life is rather sad at the moment… We didn’t talk much about the economic cooperation between the two and the fact that US companies are setting up shop in China and vice versa. Nor did we talk about the fact that the US “cooperates” with China in the energy markets and allows Gulf oil to go through the so-called chokepoints from the Middle East to East Asia. Of course China is not that comfortable with this situation and has consequently been striking deals with Sudan, Angola, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran (to name just a few) with no US cooperation whatsoever. Nevertheless there’s a huge amount of cooperation in the economic sphere which may bode well for a G2.
But one example which didn’t come up was the fact that China has supported the US war against terror. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t appear that this is a good example of US-China partnering. The Bush Administration’s response to September 11 gave China the excuse to label the Uyghur separatist groups in Xinjiang “terrorist groups”. Beijing claimed that they were linked to wider Islamic terrorist groups and Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network. This may have been true, but Beijing grossly twisted the raison d’être of these groups and played on Chinese fears.
So aside from the economic cooperation and the Six Party Talks I’m still struggling to find examples of G2 partnering. Do others have ideas?
On the sanction aspect of cooperation which we discussed, I’ve been googling trying to find out what the sanctions are for breaking the Maastricht rules. It doesn’t seem that the treaty provided for sanctions, but France and Germany are pushing for them. See for example http://www.channel4.com/news/france-and-germany-have-broken-borrowing-rules.
Given that in the last week two of my lecturers have blatantly asked me whether I’m a realist and the third lecturer commented on my cynicism (to which all three classes roared in laughter – why I don’t know…), I thought I should set the record straight. Financial sanctions are one thing, but I think perhaps the greatest sanction is damage to a state’s reputation. States are hugely concerned with their reputation – partly because they known they’re in a repeated game, but also because they just want to be seen as good citizens of the world. I saw this play out when I worked for the NZ administration but also in the UN context, where, while one could see a lot of realpolitik, reputational preoccupations certainly figured large in decisions states made.