Sat, Nov 19, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Chinese President Hu busy courting the global powers

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

From a man who had hardly set foot outside China to a globetrotter who has traveled throughout the five continents. Since coming to power, Chinese President Hu Jintao's (胡錦濤) extensive travels have had implications on many different levels, analysts say.

Since Hu took the helm of the Chinese government in March 2003, as of this month, he has made more than 30 state visits to many different countries -- including those branded by the administration of US President George W. Bush as the "axis of evil" and many other Western democracies.

Yang Chih-heng (楊志恆), an associate professor of the Graduate Institute of Southeast Asia Studies at Tamkang University, said the strategic goal of Hu's global diplomacy is to lessen the pressure on the Chinese authorities to implement human rights and democracy.

"It seems to China that Bush's pledge to transplant democracy in the non-democratic regimes surrounding China is a kind of democratic containment policy imposed against China, which Hu has been very cautious about," he said.

Lin Wen-chung (林文程), a professor from the Institute of Mainland China Studies at National Sun Yat-Sen University, said Hu's visits are designed to help China compete with the US for influence in South and Central Asian countries and to counteract the intended effect of the US' containment policies.

"For example, China has been providing political, diplomatic and security or military support to the failing dictatorships in Myanmar and Nepal ? while they were being condemned by the West for their violent conduct," Lin Wen-chung said.

Despite the negative impression that might be gained as a result of China's alliance with non-democratic nations, China, on the other hand, has been busy trying to create an image of a peaceful rising through Hu's state visits to Western democracies.

In comparison to Jiang Zemin (江澤民), Hu's predecessor, Hu has made more frequent trips to the major powers, said Lin Cheng-yi (林正義), a research fellow at the Institute of European and American Studies at Academia Sinica.

"This year Hu has made more state visits than in the previous three years, demonstrating that he has successfully achieved control over China's internal affairs and that he has gradually consolidated his position at the top of the regime," Lin Cheng-yi said.

Unlike Jiang, who developed the notion of "strategic partnerships" with only the US and Russia, Hu has applied the idea to many big powers that he has visited, he said.

So far during Hu's presidency, China has been considering setting up strategic partnerships with the EU, Brazil, ASEAN, India, Canada, France, Britain, Thailand, Spain, Indonesia, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Venezuela in order to to deepen bilateral relations; especially in economic and business matters.

Chen Yu-june (陳毓鈞), a professor of the Graduate Institute of American studies at the Chinese Culture University, thinks Hu's strategic partnerships with the big powers are inevitable due to those countries wishing to obtain access to China's lucrative market.

"Hu is happy to forge closer ties with those countries as it gives a clear indication to the US that China has the strength to associate with powerful countries and thus the US has to pay respect to China, especially regarding issues such as Taiwan," Chen said.

Yang said the attraction of China's huge market has been used by Hu's regime as a means to repress internal democratic development and as a "bargaining chip" for Hu to lessen the pressure for political reform and human-rights development.

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