Tuesday, July 14, 2009

China's dragon stirs in spy tale

When the Bureau of State Security arrested Rio Tinto's Shanghai executive Stern Hu, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pointed out that this was a ''complex consular case'', and this was time to be ''working calmly and methodically ... on the basis of the advice as it unfolds''. In reality, the events represent the first, seismic, stirrings of the newly emergent economic Chinese dragon, a creature that will determine our future, in its own way.

China's laws are not our laws; politics and business are intermingled in a way that we would find abhorrent. Ever since the First Opium War in 1839, the West has dictated terms of trade to China. At that time the Qing Dynasty was attempting to stop what had become a flourishing trade in the drug. British East India Company merchants were becoming wealthy, producing the drug cheaply in northern India and using it to get around the Chinese insistence that all trade be conducted in silver. A small, but technologically advanced British force quickly shattered opposition, wreaking havoc and capturing the empire's tax revenue, forcing the Imperial Court to capitulate.


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