Is China's Shocking Behaviour as a Totalitarian State Condoned by the European Union?

European Investment Bank, Bâtiment Est. Luxemb...European Invetment Bank   Image via Wikipedia
We tend to forget that China today is the largest communist power on this planet. That means it is still, to a large extent, both a centrally planned economy and a totalitarian state.

This week end, some very interesting news about China got buried under the boring deluge of Wikileaks so-called revelations  (most of them old hat and hardly worth a comment). They reveal how little China has changed...

Let me tell you about China's shocking behaviour and how the European Union is indirectly condoning it. "Indirectly" only in the sense that Brussels may not have thought the consequences through.

The New York Times reported that one of the European Union's major and most highly respected institutions, the European Investment Bank, will provide China with a  €500 million ($669 million) loan to finance some 15 projects intended to mitigate climate change, from onshore wind power to biomass and solar power. Perhaps not much by international financial standards, but quite a lot if you consider that the Bank has already lent China €500 million for climate change in 2007 and a total of €1.76 billion for various other development projects, including €500 million for building Terminal 3 at the Beijing International Airport. One must wonder what the European Bank's real goals are.

China, as everybody knows, is awash with dollars and Euros as a result of flooding the world with cheap goods, and all this thanks to, inter alia, the ruthless manipulation of its currency, keeping it artificially low. And also thanks to a policy of export subsidies, but I'll get to that in a minute. Surely, China has enough funds of its own to deal with climate change issues or to build its international airport!

Okay, China is the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, and the European-funded projects will help reduce China's carbon emissions by three million tons annually. Insofar as it does that, it can't be all bad. And sure enough, the loan agreement was signed in Cancun, Mexico, in the course of the latest round of the United Nations sponsored conferences on climate change in which 194 countries participate. Progress in these talks has been hindered by China (now joined by India) taking on the lead role in demanding that rich countries give technological and financial assistance to developing countries to combat climate change. Fair enough. Developing nations need the help and huge amounts of money are bandied about as if they were peanuts. Like US$ 100 billion a year by 2020 (that's what the previous conference in Copenhage called for) to help the poorest nations to adapt to climate change....but China?

On top of that, as if it wasn't already enough, another couple of incredible news surfaced this week-end.

One has to do with the subsidies China extends to its manufacturers, in total disregard to World Trade Organization rules, thus further distorting international trade. China has adopted a policy of promoting solar and wind power to reduce reliance on imported natural gas and oil. Fine and good. The problem is that once it has developed its own clean power technologies, it will be able to sell them at cut rates thanks to the subsidies and thus make a huge profit, taking advantage of the growing worldwide demand for green technologies. The Chinese Finance Ministry announced last week that it would fund up to half the price of equipment for solar power projects in 13 industrial zones and that other costs would be covered by a subsidy of 4 to 6 yuan (60 to 90US cents) per watt of generating capacity.

The other  news that came up in the International Herald Tribune (Dec 4)  has to do with stopping two Chinese celebrities at Beijing International Airport:  contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, an outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist party, and Mao Yushi, an 80-year-old economist. They reportedly meant to fly to other cities in Asia this week, but the authorities were afraid they might instead join the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to be held in Norway this coming Friday. You will recall the Prize was awarded to dissident Liu Xiaobo still in prison and that his wife is also prevented from leaving China to collect the prize. Ai Weiwei and Mao Yshi were told they could not travel abroad because "they might endanger state security". It would be laughable if it weren't so sad...

Why ever do the Chinese need European taxpayers' money? It is no longer a poor developing country! How can European citizens accept that European institutions misbehave in this way, supporting a country that has nothing but the deepest disregard and disdain for human rights? And flouts fair trade practices and has done so for decades? Every once in while there's a cry about Chinese subsidizing their exports and flooding our markets (see article below) but then the cry quickly dies down. Why?

What is the European Parliament doing? Why isn't anybody saying anything anywhere, particularly in Cancun?  If there is protest over this somewhere, please let me know!
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