China media: Economic diplomacy 


Media are discussing possible benefits to China amid deteriorating ties – including economic – between Russia and the West since the downing of Flight MH17.

Western nations say there is growing evidence the plane was hit by a Russian-supplied missile fired by rebels. Moscow and the rebels blame Ukrainian government forces for the incident.

The EU announced sanctions on 30 July targeting Russia’s state finances, energy and arms sectors, while Moscow retaliated by imposing a ban on agricultural imports from EU countries.

Using the Chinese idiom describing a fisherman benefiting from the fight between a mussel and a snipe [the snipe, a bird, wanted to eat the mussel and while they were fighting about it a fisherman took both home to eat], some analysts comment China is the “fisherman” who could benefit economically from the conflict.

However, some experts and state-run media outlets have dismissed the comparison and warned against such views.

Prominent economist Yi Xianrong agrees that China can benefit from the “economic Cold War”, but cautions against “sinking too deeply”.

“Some enterprises might increase their exports to Russia and profit from it. However, we should not be too serious (about such prospects) as we have to be careful with Russian President Vladimir Putin, because if he schemes against China, we will be on the losing side,” he writes.

On a similar note, the Global Times’ Chinese edition warns that one should not overemphasise the economic benefits in the current situation.

It highlights that Russia‘s import sanctions are valid only for a year and that Russians will not be comfortable with over-relying on China‘s supply.

China should strengthen its strategic partnership with Russia at this time to prove that we are a reliable friend. At the same time, we should avoid giving the impression that we are trying to reinforce the conflict between Moscow and Washington. This will cause the US to hate us more and Russia might not appreciate us too,” it says.

State-run media Xinhua News agency points out China has to be on the alert instead.

The commentary notes that Beijing’s foreign policy is one that “aims to create security and prosperity for its neighbours”.

“The conflict between the West and Russia does not benefit the long-term interests of China. Beijing and the West, Ukraine and Russia have maintained close economic and technical co-operation… we might be affected if the conflict escalates,” it says.

Discipline violation

Elsewhere, media criticise a state council advisor for “helping foreign companies”.

Zhang Xinzhu, an advisor to the anti-monopoly committee, has been dismissed for “violations of discipline”. According to reports, Mr Zhang allegedly accepted large payments from a foreign firm.

However, Mr Zhang, who is also a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, claimed that he was fired because he “spoke out for foreign businesses.”

A Xinhua News Agency opinion article supports the dismissal and describes Mr Zhang’s explanation as “despicable”.

“When faced with the anti-trust probe, some MNCs are trying all means to protect their monopolistic interests to obstruct law enforcement. They either spend money to gain experts’ support or claim that they have been discriminated against,” it says.

The article also urges the authorities to disclose investigation results about Mr Zhang and strengthen supervision of the experts.

“We should not allow some experts to take advantage of a crisis for personal gain,” it adds.

Echoing similar sentiment, Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, notes that there are “negative reports” in the Western media over China‘s anti-trust investigations.

“In face of these negative comments, we must fight off the pressure and use evidence and judicial logic to convince these doubters,” he tells the Global Times’ Chinese edition.

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