The ruling elite in Beijing really seem to think they can just snap their fingers and the rest of the world will kow-tow.
The latest episode came when the Chinese ambassador to Canada sent a letter to the House of Commons and Foreign Ministry telling the House to withdraw an invitation to Martin Lee and to butt out of Chinese internal affairs.
Lee, one of the major pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong, was invited to give testimony before the foreign affairs committee about the status of democracy in Hong Kong. (Hong Kong’s Martin Lee testifies in Parliament despite warning)
Every time a critic of Beijing with a Chinese face shows up anywhere in the world, Beijing flips out. The ruling elite keep forgetting that the status of democracy in Hong Kong is based on an international treaty. Plus, by signing on to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations’ charter, China opened itself up for people to look closely at how well they live up to those documents.
At least with Lee’s visit, they did not claim that his visit to Canada “hurts the feelings of all Chinese in the world.” I think that complaint is saved for criticisms of non-Chinese.
Beijing keeps trying to force its view of control around the world because at times it works.
Late last year Mark Kitto wrote an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times that discussed how China exercises its influence on free speech. (Caving to China’s Power.)
We are used to seeing this in Hong Kong where self-censorship by journalists and straight out orders from publishers have kept the pro-Beijing drums beating. Beijing just wants to extend that authority around the world.
Even everyday folks outside China are being manipulated by China. (People Around the World Are Voluntarily Submitting to China’s Great Firewall. Why?)
It all comes down to controlling the message. If Beijing can’t do it one way — intimidate dissidents or journalists — then do it another way by threatening the economic well-being of companies and countries around the world.
In the schoolyard, that kind of behavior is attributed to bullies. Not people you really want to hang out with.