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Friday, April 21, 2006 

Collected Quotes from Hu Jintao

I was surprised by some of the things that Chinese President Hu Jintao have said during his recent trip in the U.S.

At Bill Gates' home, China's Hu turns Starbucks promoter:
"If I were not serving in this office, I would certainly prefer to go into one of the coffee shops run by Starbucks," said the usually reserved Hu, drawing laughter from the crowd, which included Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz.

At Microsoft Headquaters:
"I admire what you have achieved at Microsoft," Hu told Gates in front of reporters. "You, Mr. Bill Gates, are a friend of China, and I'm a friend of Microsoft."
(Oh, I'm not sure if the geeks in China can agree with Hu on this point.)

Okay, this is not surprising at all: Meeting with members of the press at the White House,
HU (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I don't know what do you mean by a democracy.

Howard French cautions the new friendly and non-threatening image that Hu Jintao tried to impressed upon people this time:

"no amount of stealthy diplomatic posturing can obscure the fact that China is growing more powerful and more assertive by the day, and in the process, a new world order is being shaped."

Lest anyone suspect hostility in this rebuttal of China’s new line, one hastens to add that this is exactly the way it should be. China obviously constitutes a huge slice of humanity. It has an exceptionally long history of power on the world stage, against which the last two centuries of relative weakness are a mere blip. And like any fast- rising power, its re-emergence will change the rules of the game."


In keeping with the emphasis on stealth, the first element in China’s recent playbook is to stay out of the way while the United States undermines its own position in the world.

“China is becoming attractive to developing countries not only because of what China is doing, but because of the what the U.S. is doing,” said Zheng Yongnian director of research at the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham in Britain. “It is quite natural for them to like China if they don’t like what America is doing. They want an alternative, in the same way as countries looked to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.”

The Soviet parallel, however, ends there. Zheng said that in this phase of its development, the most effective way for China to counterbalance the United States is to have pro-American policies, hence the calming rhetoric.

The United States has “overwhelmingly emphasized military force, which creates a zero sum game, which many people cannot accept,” Zheng said. China, by contrast, is doing what Washington once excelled at, emphasizing economic multilateralism: embracing regional and international organizations, signing trade pacts and becoming an ever bigger player in the foreign aid game.

China’s advice to the world’s poor resembles its strategy at home: “development first, politics later.” This stress on the overwhelming importance of stability - no matter how undemocratic, corrupt or environmentally irresponsible the regime - has even led to the coining of a phrase, the Beijing Consensus. This highlights the contrast with the so-called Washington Consensus that emphasizes elections, free trade and accepting the guidance of the U.S.-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund."

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