Writing in the International Herald Tribune, Nicholas Kristof reminds us of some of the less-than-savory aspects of China's policies in Africa, specifically Sudan, and how we might see protests against those policies show up this summer in Beijing.
The main point of Kristof's column is China's support for the Sudanese government's war on its ethnic African population in Darfur. This support shows up in the form of arms, dough, and political air cover. In return, the Chinese get access to Sudanese oil.
I hope its not a surprise to you all out there that the Chinese are supporting all sorts of rotten behavior around the world in return for access to oil. The West buys the bulk of oil production from the "good guys" (comparatively speaking, of course) in the petro-world - the Saudis, Kuwaitis, and the others who are not actively engaged in napalming villages. That leaves the Chinese, who's super-hot economy is gagging for energy, to buy from the really foul bastards who have stocks of that black poison.
Don't forget, the Chinese don't listen to Greenpeace or Amnesty International very closely either.
The Chinese are making deals with a variety of devils, and you suspect it will come back to haunt them sooner or later. Of course, being a bit less restrained in how they respond when those devils get rowdy may help keep the lid on for a while. The Chinese are probably a bit harder to pressure than your average Western democracy, and are likely to respond somewhat more violently than we might when pushed.
Still, it's important for us to remember that we are not the only military and economic super-power out there on the world stage.