Conrad Black: China’s pattern of ‘sociopathic behaviour’

…. there is increasing evidence that the government of China is behaving in an aggressive and deceitful manner in a wide array of activities. It so overplayed its hand in Myanmar that even the docile colonels who transformed that country into a despotic hermit kingdom threw the Chinese out and brought in the long-suffering democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The famous Chinese Belt and Road Initiative enunciated in 2013 is nothing less than the blueprint to put much of Africa, Asia and Australasia directly into a Chinese-dominated orbit that disturbingly revives thoughts of the Japanese East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere: an outright plundering of neighbouring countries, which the Japanese attempted to disguise in racist terms, and which was disposed of by the outcome of the Pacific War between 1941 and 1945.

China’s Communist government has exploited the coronavirus crisis, which it was itself responsible for inflicting upon the world, as cover for shredding its treaty with Great Britain over Hong Kong and imposing what amounts to a hobnailed jackboot on the windpipe of that splendid and enterprising city. There remain allegations that Chinese authorities deliberately allowed the coronavirus to be exported from their country, even as they took draconian measures to suppress the spread of it within China. But even if that unhappy sequence of events was merely a series of accidents compounded by negligence and a fog of false statements about the virus, with or without the collaboration of the World Health Organization, China’s conduct was outrageous and antagonized the whole world.

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This all constitutes a clear and disturbing pattern of sociopathic behaviour and a reversion to Chinese conceptions of their natural right to impose their will on their neighbours, exact tribute from smaller countries and generally require a level of deference to their wishes that’s incompatible with concepts of international law that have arisen and been generally embraced since the last time China was ruled by a strong government, 400 years ago.

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Of course, China has to be accommodated up to a point. But that does not include a continuation of commercial arrangements in which in order to gain access to the Chinese market, we allow the handover of patented technologies, and a built-in assurance of huge trade and balance of payments surpluses for the People’s Republic, reinforced by the artificial manipulation of the Chinese currency by that country’s central bank. Nor does it include tolerating Chinese industrial espionage on a massive scale such as, it is generally believed, effectively bankrupted the great Canadian company Northern Telecom, to stoke the growth of Huawei.

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