In light of this situation, the west really has very little room for leverage in pushing China for anything. Why would Jeff Immelt, or anyone else, expect China to do anything else except pursue its own interests in light of this situation? And why should he expect those interests to be the same as the west’s? It’s not as if the west has been a shining example of responsibility, success and accountability for the whole world...
Where Jeff Immelt veered off into politics was his use of the sensitive word “colonization”. For most westerners who do not follow the Glenn Beck school of racial harmony, equality and justice, colonization is associated with a largely shameful period in western history, which left a scar on its relations with Africa and India. Saying that Chinese intentions are the same as the west in the 19th century is an over-simplification, and it is too early to say how China and Chinese corporations will behave. For the most part, Chinese government policy and Chinese companies have had a laser-focus on mineral extraction and business, to the exclusion of everything else. They have shown no interest in getting Africans to adopt Chinese language, textbooks and beliefs, as did most of the European colonial powers in the 19th century. For this reason, Jeff Immelt’s choice of the word “colonization” was unfortunate. In most cases, projecting past injustices onto the future don’t help us to gain further insights; instead, they appeal to the worst sides of our character and create further misunderstanding.More at the ChinaVortex (and related links).
Paul Denlinger is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your conference? Do get in touch.