Hu knows that Europe's principles are for salePrinciples? Does Europe have principles now? Why am I always the last one to get the memo?
Hu knows that Europe's principles are for sale
Nobody outside the Chinese Communist inner circle has a clue who Hu is, and we are not going to find out during the course of this visit. Here is something to keep us busy in the meantime. The bright shining blank of the Chinese regime's face to the world is also a mirror. And, like a mirror, it shows us a great deal - maybe not about China's inner leadership, but certainly about ourselves. Much of what it shows us is not very flattering. That is most true in the case of Europe, and the European Union. The sordid saga of the EU arms embargo is a case in point. France and Germany first proposed that it should be lifted, only to run into growing pressure from the Bush Administration to reverse course. The EU came close to lifting the embargo this spring, when America turned up the heat, and Congress talked of sanctions against European nations, including scrapping multi-billion pound transatlantic arms deals. Britain dodged and fudged back then, and Tony Blair may fudge the issue some more this week. China is arming for one principal reason: to hold in threat Taiwan, a pro-Western, free-market little island that is Asia's best democracy. Beijing knows it does not even need to play "divide and rule" with Europe. China simply made the demand, then stood and watched as Europe scrapped and scrabbled to meet it. Europe's antics have shown him all he - and we - need to know about ourselves.