As a huge fan of John Pomfret, based on his excellent book, Chinese Lessons, I was happy to learn that Pomfret has just starting a blog on China for the Washington Post. It took all of two posts for him to come out with a big money quote I must repeat. The quote is from the post, Don’t Expect Protests to Hurt Chinese Regime, regarding the impact of foreigners putting the heat on China for its conduct in Tibet that has been getting so much press lately:
So is this going to weaken China’s government? On the contrary. The more pressure the Chinese get from foreigners and barbarians –- which are actually synonymous in ancient Chinese -– the stronger the system becomes. Indeed, China’s system feeds off this kind of adversity. The Communist regime has a peculiar genius for turning these types of threats into opportunities.
Pomfret is absolutely right and this is pretty much what I said when interviewed a few weeks back on BBC Radio: if the goal is to effect positive change in China, back channel diplomacy is the way to go.
Do you agree?