What Happened to Sovereignty?

In a letter dated January 27, 2016, the ambassadors of the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Japan addressed a letter to China’s State Councilor and Minister of Public Security, Guo Shengkun, expressing grave concern over three new laws, one of which is still in the planning stage, recently made public in Beijing. The following day the ambassador of the European Union released a similar complaint in what was acknowledged to be a coordinated move.

The two enacted laws relate to counterterrorism and cyber security, granting the government broad powers to combat perceived threats. The planned law relates to the management of foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs), of which there are many operating in China.

At the very least, this is an appalling violation of Chinese sovereignty since neither of the laws enacted has any direct impact on any foreign nation. They relate strictly and exclusively to internal security and it is hard to imagine the ruckus in Washington if the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. had sent a similar letter to the director of Homeland Security or the Attorney General.

Frankly, I’m not sure which move leaves me more speechless – the letters or the fact that the U.S. Navy sent a carrier attack fleet into the South China Sea this past week to promote free navigation which, I have noted before, no one has challenged. Both are equally provocative moves that offer no hope of lessening tensions, much less having any impact, and neither of which the U.S. or anyone else is in a position to put any teeth behind.

There are startling similarities, in fact, between these bellicose warnings and the noise coming out of Pyongyang in response to the sanctions levied by many of the same players, but with the support of the villain’s closest ally – China, against North Korea in response to the further escalation of its nuclear weapons efforts. Can anyone say wolf?

The shear hypocrisy is self-evident and makes any attempt to explain this all away as ‘politics as usual’ unequivocally preposterous. The U.S. has shown little restraint, legal or otherwise, in combating terrorism. And the European Union is dealing with a human rights disaster of gargantuan proportions in its handing of the Middle Eastern refugee crisis. (To be clear, I am fully supportive of efforts to combat terrorism. I just don’t like hypocrisy.)

The ambassadors say that they are concerned that the vague wording of the new laws (their perception) will create uncertainty among foreign investors. But if Bernie Sanders has proven anything it is that a vast swath of the American electorate does not share Washington’s willingness to sacrifice American interests on the altar of Wall Street.

The letters also voice concern about potential abuses of human rights, which they demand China is bound to uphold by international law. That’s a bit disingenuous when you look at the state of race and gender relations in the U.S. This past week alone there was much public discourse on the fact that virtually all of the actor nominations at this year’s Academy Awards went to white people. And one of Hollywood’s leading Caucasian ladies, Amy Adams, co-star of American Hustle, supported fellow star Jennifer Lawrence in publicly shaming Hollywood execs over the pay gap between Hollywood’s male and female stars.

My own take on China’s new laws is pretty simple. Whatever else it is or isn’t, these new laws are a victory for government transparency and offer further evidence of China’s commitment to operate under the rule of law. They didn’t have to put anything in writing. They, like the U.S. government, as a practical matter, are free to do whatever they want. And in a bygone era, not that long ago, they might have done just that and not set themselves up for a holier-than-thou flogging.

But they didn’t. They let the world into the proverbial smoke-filled room like few Western democracies do unless the legislation is guaranteed to generate votes. Why can’t we just give them credit for that instead of putting our creative juices into creating comedy skits for national television that debase Asians by promoting negative Asian stereotypes? Who really should be writing the letters here?

And as for censorship of the Internet, I would frankly like to see a little more of it in my own country. I’m scared to death of what my daughters are going to accidentally run across in their journey around the web, and I am tired of having to worry about identity theft every time I open my e-mail. And the spam that deluges us 24/7? It’s a pain in the neck and in all of our talk about climate change no one ever mentions the fact that spam and pornography contribute materially to our electronic environmental footprint.  A little censorship, in fact, just might help save the planet.

Not that I’m for censorship mind you. As I said, I just don’t like hypocrisy.

A Note to Readers: I received a couple of comments this past week that suggest that some readers believe that I don’t allow comments on this blog. I DO allow them. In fact, I encourage them. I just want to review them first. Yes, that’s censorship. But not for the reasons you might assume. I get a lot of comments from people who merely want to flood the Internet with their own agenda and have clearly not read my blog. And I get a lot of comments from people who are merely trying to sell me something. The most common are offers of mindless content that will help me gain prominence in Google searches at the expense of your time. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I don’t care. I made a commitment when I started that I would not commercialize this blog and, with the exception of my attempt to generate some interest in my books, which I would still appreciate, I have fulfilled that commitment.

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Some early praise for the author’s latest book, “Understanding China – There is reason for the difference”

“An insightful, compelling introduction to the intricacies of Chinese business and life.” – Kirkus Review

To see the full review from this prestigious literary company, please click on this direct link:

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/gary-moreau/understanding-china-fYhXZndj/

“Understanding China is a “must-read” for anyone interested in culture, working with Asian businesses, visiting China or simply if you enjoy a well-written book! I worked in China in the 90’s and while I eventually understood the differences, I never understood “why” until now. Moreau does a great job explaining the “why”. Well done!!”

(Not a relative!)

“Having done business and gone on personal journeys through the Asia Pacific region, I wish I’d read a book like this first. The premise is that being happy and effective in China requires more than just learning how things operate and working within the established system. This will bring frustration and leave you ineffective because you, the Westerner, will still be looking at these cultural differences as irrational. Mr. Moreau contends that only by understanding why things are the way they are in China and in the West can a Westerner actually influence outcome in China.

The author proceeds to explain the differences with very engaging writing that made me say, “Of, of course! It all makes sense now.”

(Also not a relative!)

Copyright © 2016 Gary Moreau

Gary Moreau Beijing, China
Gary Moreau
Beijing, China

Note: The views expressed in this post are strictly those of the writer acting in a personal capacity.

You may contact the author at glassmakerinchina@gmail.com