Not unlike the prancing and dancing that takes place whenever Valdimir Putin waves the Russian gas carrot in front of the noses of certain energy-addicted Western Europeans (only much worse, of course), the Chinese take visible pleasure in orchestrating calculated snubs to punish those who might not dance to their tune precisely as they wish.

By playing the “French card” with Nicholas Sarkozy during his first official visit to Beijing this week, the Chinese want to make clear to the world what happens to those who consider doing such abominable things as meeting with the Dalai Lama or openly discussing China’s less than optimal human rights record. Well actually, they just wanted to make this clear to Germany. I suppose they’ve given up on hopeless cases like the USA by now.

Sarkozy flew back home with a big fat pile of mega-lucrative business deals and a sore shoulder from all the patting the Chinese gave him there. Very little was said about Mr. Lama and said human rights. And the little that was said was said in French, a language which the Chinese clearly can’t understand (or understand all too well?).

Where the German SPD stands on this “issue” is sadly very clear. The real question for Germany’s future dealings with China will be if Angela Merkel really means what she says about human rights – and how long she means to say it. And this will be a tough one for her. The Chinese even have the Pope is shaking in his boots, for crying out loud. And he doesn’t even sell anything the Chinese want to buy.

Yuan to bet they get what they want?

Come and visit me at Observing Hermann…

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