Thursday, June 15, 2006

Brothers of the South

I have been noticing recently increasing coverage of Egyptian affairs by the Chinese news agency Xinhua. Xinhua is perhaps one of the few rivals to the Egyptian state newspapers for greatest use of that risible phrase, so beloved of non-news agencies, "bilateral ties". Trade between the two countries is increasing, and both are important emerging markets. What is interesting is contained in the thrust of this recent People's Daily article: What President Hu calls "South-South" co-operation. China of course has been for decades a block for the ambitions of Europe and the US on the security council, and is now beginning to flex its economic muscles by building, yes, bilateral ties, in places like Egypt - not traditionally anywhere near its sphere of influence. I expect that, if the Mubarak government was amenable to learning from the Chinese on more than just how to turn around an ailing socialist economy, they'd pick up a thing or two about state repression. China has, since the 1980s, been writing the textbook on how to regenerate economically whilst keeping the same old heads in power, regardless of the democratic impulses of its population. I guess these two are made for each other.

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