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Should the British Government publically criticise China?

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Zebra57
828044.  Thu Jun 30, 2011 5:50 pm Reply with quote

Is it in the interests of the British economy for the Government to openly and publically criticise China's human rights record?

The Chinese term for a German person is 德国人 (Déguórén)....literally means “virtue country person”, wrote Christopher Robin in a post under the Germany - Country section.

Britain criticised Chinese human rights record and received substantially less investment than Germany did. Germany did not critise China nor actively join in foreign interventions.

The German economy is moving forward, the British economy barely creeping forward. Is the German stance virtuous or naked self interest? Is the British stance laudable or economically unwise?

A commentator said that while the British and French may force a change of regime in Libya, he would bet his "pension" on the Germans being the first to knock on the door of a new government in Tripoli seeking trade.

 
Jenny
828198.  Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:28 am Reply with quote

Interestingly, I've just finished reading Erik Larson's book Into the Garden of Beasts, about 1930s Berlin. The American government and the British government both held back from criticising German government abuses of Jews and others because they were anxious in case Germany defaulted on its war debts. The American government was also aware that if they criticised Germany they would be open to counter-criticism on the subject of US treatment of black people in terms of civil rights. Were they right to restrain their criticism, do you think?

 
exnihilo
828202.  Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:40 am Reply with quote

Personally I'd say, yes we should, if they're guilty of human rights abuses why should they, or anyone else, be immune from being called on it simply because they have cash? As it happens I'm also not 100% comfortable with the level of 'investment' by China in countries such as ours, it concerns me that we're being drawn slowly into China's economic empire.

 
Ainee
828244.  Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:41 am Reply with quote

http://www.ethiopianreview.com/content/9937

This is a quite interesting view of why China and Saudi (etc) are buying up land as farms in Africa, on a massive scale.

 
Ion Zone
828319.  Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:30 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Is it in the interests of the British economy for the Government to openly and publically criticise China's human rights record?


Economic? Not in the short term, quite possibly yes in the long term since China has had a big negative impact on British manufacture. Don't forget that Germany can hold its own when there is manufacturing to be done.

Moral reasons? Yes, yes they should. There is no question as to that. The best you can hope for as an average Chinese citizen is to be treated as a nameless worker ant.

 
dr.bob
828789.  Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:16 am Reply with quote

exnihilo wrote:
Personally I'd say, yes we should, if they're guilty of human rights abuses why should they, or anyone else, be immune from being called on it simply because they have cash?


A thought occurs, not necessarily one that I agree with, but one that I can't entirely dismiss either:

We talk a lot about human rights abuses, but are those human rights not created by our western culture? If that's the case, is it not conceivable that a very different culture, such as the Chinese, could come to different conclusions about human rights. The obvious example would be a society that chose a more utilitarianist philosophy than the deontological one that we seem to have settled on here in the west.

Not that I'm trying to say that such an argument would be able to excuse every bad thing the Chinese government does, but I do sometimes feel a little uncomfortable about our leaders lecturing leaders from very different cultures as if implying that our way of doing things must be the right way and the only way. That kind of talk feels uncomfortably close to colonial arrogance.

 
exnihilo
828805.  Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:21 am Reply with quote

Well, yes, but we can't instruct them on what to do because we hold no power over them, all we can do is say that in our opinion they ought not to do it. That's less colonial arrogance than it is a reasonable argument.

 
dr.bob
828809.  Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:40 am Reply with quote

But we're talking about very different views of the world. If I moved in next-door to you and objected to your S&M habits, you would not see that as a reasonable argument, more of me trying to impose my view of the world onto you, despite your view not necessarily being better or worse than mine.

 
exnihilo
828813.  Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:02 am Reply with quote

I see what you're saying, but where the argument leads is to moral relativism, surely? If we accept that all cultures and all positions are equally valid then we should say nothing, if we do not we have an obligation to speak and, if we can, act to help the people in question.

 
CB27
828821.  Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:03 am Reply with quote

With regards to the OP and a couple of comments since, I don't see any connection between Cameron's comments and the trade agreements, these were already disussed and agreed on beforehand and this was simply a publicity exercise for leaders of Europe and China's leaders to show the public and the markets that business is going ahead.

Is it right for the leader of one nation to bring up the fault of another nation? As long as it's done in a diplomatic manner and one that is not insulting any individual or group, or a whole nation, then I think it's certainly correct to do so, and China's leader can comment on some of the failings in the UK if he wants to.

What you shouldn't do is to insult, mock or goad other leaders as that can limit your foreign relations. A case in hand is Hugo Chavez. Whether you agree with some of his sentiments or not, some of his outbursts are extremely unprofessional and have marginalised him and Venezuela, the only reason why they still have strong trade with many countries is their oil and the fact the price of oil has gone up so much. If it weren't for Venezuelan oil Chavez would have been marginalised a long time ago and his country would have suffered economically.

Going back to the trade China signed with Britain and Germany. Why is one bigger than the other? It's nothing to do with their stand on Libya and other matters, it's all to do with which country manufactures more and therefore spends more on resources, it's all about the money and future prospects.

Personally, I don't think Britain can catch up with Germany and other nations when it comes to manufacturing, so I think it's right that both sides of the HoC seem to have welcomed a "green economy" which could put Britain at the forefront of an industry that is yet to realise it's full potential. China has a lot of problems with regards to the effects of pollution, degradation of land, and water resources, and if they also have influence in Africa, where they suffer from similar problems, then there's a massive market opportunity.

 
Jenny
828825.  Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:27 am Reply with quote

I think dr.bob raises an interesting point, and I think exnihilo makes an interesting reply.

A good article about moral relativism can be found here.

 
CB27
828835.  Mon Jul 04, 2011 12:00 pm Reply with quote

I think the analogy on S&M (not just any old neighbour, it's an S&M neighbour...), is one that can be explained quite easily.

If I was somehow aware that you indulged in S&M, I wouldn't see it as up to me to lecture you or stop you, but if I was aware that you were actually torturnig someone against their will then I'm within my rights to report you to the police.

I have to say, I'm finding it difficult to find exactly what Cameron said that resulted in the "finger pointing" comments, so I can't comment directly there, but I would certainly have initiated a discussion about the differences in human rights in Britain and China. I would also point out (to some of the comments I'd expect to hear) that the Britain of today is different from the British Empire, and neither Britain nor China, nor anyone else should feel unable to discuss human rights because of what pervious generations did, adn that two wrongs don't make a right.

 
dr.bob
828929.  Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:13 am Reply with quote

CB27 wrote:
If I was somehow aware that you indulged in S&M, I wouldn't see it as up to me to lecture you or stop you, but if I was aware that you were actually torturnig someone against their will then I'm within my rights to report you to the police.


I think that rather makes my point. There are some actions that are pretty indefensible and I have no argument with them being pointed out. There are other actions, however, that appear better or worse depending on your culture and society. I think things to do with personal freedoms and respect for the individual fall into that category. Given that, pretty much throughout all recorded history, China has been a very different and alien culture compared to Europe, I'm uncomfortable with the idea that we know best.

It's a shame we don't have any Chinese posters (at least, any Chinese posters who aren't very keen on trying to spam us) who could provide a balanced view of the situation.

 
CB27
828943.  Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:02 am Reply with quote

As I mentioned earlier, do we know exactly what it was that DC said?

Also, I find this idea that China is an alien culture to be rather misleading. China is a massive state with various cultures, some of which have been supressed, so how is it right to simply ignore them. Also, some cultural traditions sometimes carry on despite people realising that something is wrong, and it takes a major shift to get them to stop. Case in point being the fox hunting ban in the UK and the campaign against bull fighting in various parts of the world.

Cultural tradition is not an excuse to allow something that is demonstratively wrong.

 
exnihilo
828944.  Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:04 am Reply with quote

What would qualify as balanced? Presumably a Chinese poster who popped on and said that, yes, Britain should make noises about 'human rights abuse' would not be balanced because that's what we're already saying? So, do you want a Chinese poster who says that we should butt out as it's not our concern, which is valid to an extent, or one who says they're not abuses at all and the Chinese are perfectly happy to be considered as things more than people?

Facetious, perhaps, but there are instances in which there are not two equally valid sides to a discussion.

 

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