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Ex-German ambassador: China should be respected as an equal partner
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17:19, April 17, 2008

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Former German ambassador Konrad Seitz said Wednesday that instead of "pillorying" China or even trying to spoil the Beijing Olympics, Western countries should respect her as an equal partner.

"Should we really spoil the Olympic Games in China?" Seitz asked in an opinion piece published by the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

The veteran diplomat's answer is "no."

"For years the Chinese people have been enthusiastically anticipating their Olympics. They have made Beijing a glittering metropolis, have modern sports facilities and built the (city's) airport Terminal 3... Visitors from all over the world are expected to experience the new China in amazement," Seitz said.

Then came the Tibet riots, which saw Han-Chinese attacked by some "Tibetan mobs." Western countries, however, reacted by "pillorying China as a country which disregards human rights and oppresses the small Tibetan people," he said.

For the German diplomat, the emotionally-charged Tibet crisis threatens to escalate into a crisis between China and the West and then to a world crisis.

In addition to that is the reality that many people in Europe and the United States see China today as a threat to their jobs. They also see the struggle for resources in Africa, where the Western value-oriented policy increasingly loses against China's policy of non-interference, Seitz said.

As far as human rights are concerned, Seitz said the German media have reported extensively about every imprisonment of dissidents for decades, but the German public seldom hear about the major positive developments in China.

"Since Deng's reforms hundreds of millions of Chinese have been freed from absolute poverty and there are now only ten percent absolutely poor (in India 30 percent are in this state). People there, if they do not meddle in politics, live so freely like never before in Chinese history. People can sue the state when they feel unfairly treated. And in 2007, 40 percent of 100,000 complaints ended up in favor of the plaintiff. And state and party chief Hu Jintao has managed to push forward a policy switch towards environment-friendly growth and the development of a social welfare state... How many Germans are aware of this progress, and how many want to know?" asked Seitz.

"The Tibet crisis should be the occasion for both sides to return to a calm dialogue," he said. "Only a successful China, which feels itself recognized by the West, will become a partner for global cooperation, upon which depends a good future for the world," he added.

"What we have to do is nothing less than the integration of a new world power in to the political, economic and cultural system," Seitz said.

"Should this be denied by the West, should it resort to trade restrictions and constant moral criticism, giving China the conviction that it is not willing to respect her as an equal partner, the world could then be confronted with a new East-West conflict. This time, however, most of the Third World would be on the side of the Chinese," Seitz said.


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