Sunday, January 23, 2005
Foreign Policy Redux

If one looks at the recent speech that Jack Straw gave in China on January 21st, it is clear that Britain has very little to offer China. The three major themes focused upon climate change, Africa and the United Nations where Chinese representation was confusingly misinterpreted as support.

Straw painted a picture of a stable power, contributing to global stability and concerned to promote development and other transnationalist hymnsheets. Human rights were skimmed over:

Meanwhile China is embracing more fully globally-accepted rules and standards. I particularly applaud China's ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. I look forward to China's ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which China signed in 1998 and which I discussed with Foreign Minister Li today.

With phrases like this, I am sure that Straw would have welcomed Stalin's 1936 Constitution as an advancement in human rights for all Russians. Taiwan and the arms embargo were unmentioned.

The list of themes will only invite contempt from the Chinese. Their bold defence of their national interests is clear to all and Straw's belief of their support in Blair's pet projects is rhetorical padding. The Chinese lend their support to transnationalism for national interests, that is, a counterweight to the United States.

The United States has confirmed that the administration will not raise this issue with Britain, recognising that this policy is made at European level.

"I think our relationship with the British has far transcended any particular issue, given the number of areas, the myriad of areas where we cooperate," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters.

Boucher conceded that the arms embargo was an issue where the United States and Britain probably did not see eye-to-eye but added "we will see how the European Union decides to act, if and when they do."

The United States knows that these policies are now decided by the European Union. As a consequence, Blair's own focus on the UN, climate change, and development, indicates the shrunken circle in which the Foreign Office can make decisions. No wonder they will merge the FCO and DFID - it will give diplomats something to do.


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