At an economic meeting with visiting Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Vice Premier Wang Qishan took the time to demand America "stabilise its economy and financial markets and ensure the safety of China's assets and investment in the United States" (Agence France Presse via Yahoo). It's arguably one of the most blunt statements tossed across the Pacific since Mao Zedong's day.
On some level, the cadres have reason to talk tough. Their advances against the island democracy on Taiwan (best detailed by Joseph Wu of the Jamestown Foundation) continue apace, and judging by this sickly Washington Times "special," they're continuing to neutralize some leading conservative constellations in the United States.
Still, one has to wonder if this is more driven by the need to distract attention from the continuing internal turmoil.
William R. Hawkins makes the point brilliantly (ironically, also in the Washington Times):
"China's international standing is based partly on foreigners' calculations that it is 'the country of the future,' " says the NIC (C e-L note: NIC stands for National Intelligence Council). U.S. policy should disabuse the world of this notion.
Indeed, American policy should, but the mess that is mainland China is doing a fairly good job as it is. More ordinary Chinese are suffering under the brutal dictatorship (Epoch Times and more Epoch Times). The melamine fiasco refuses to go away (Epoch Times). Finally, Europe - of all places - refuses to toe the Communist line on Tibet (AFP via Yahoo and BBC), a sure sign that not everyone is overawed by the "country of the future" nonsense.
Odds are we'll get more blunt statements, threats, and the usual tantrums to which dictatorships resort when things are dicey at home. The Soviets went through the same thing in the 1970s and 1980s, but it was much harder for the truth to come out. This time, the truth comes out more easily, but there is less resolve in the Western world to act on it. The Soviets survived due to forced silence at home; the Chinese Communists survive due to intimidated silence abroad.
That must stop.