What happened at a meeting devoted to stopping the trade in blood diamonds? Focus Taiwan reports:
Participants at the Kimberley Process meeting hosted by Julie Bishop described "disgusting" and "extraordinary" scenes involving Chinese delegates, who "shouted over the welcome to country ceremony and forced the suspension of proceedings," The Sydney Morning Herald reported Wednesday.J Michael Cole explained:
The Taiwanese delegation was later ejected from the intergovernmental meeting at the request of the Chinese delegates who objected to their attendance, the report said.
The Chinese delegation noisily disrupted the official welcome ceremony and forced the suspension of at least one session on Monday, the report said.
The four-day Kimberley Process intersessional meeting is chaired by Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop. This is the first time Australia hosts the intergovernmental meeting. Taiwan joined the Kimberley Process, which seeks to end the global trade in “blood,” or conflict, diamonds, as an observer in 2007.Apparently later on African delegations with links to China also joined the "chorus".
Danielle Cave pointed out at the Lowy Interpreter:
Official rhetoric was completely disconnected from the facts on the ground and gave no hint that an international incident was unfolding. The Australian Government does not have a history of giving into heavy-handed tactics. But it, along with other countries, arguably self-censors to cater for how we think China will react to certain policies (for example, Australia's stalled negotiations for a free trade agreement with Taiwan). Despite their appalling behaviour, the Chinese delegation was rewarded with a diplomatic win – they achieved their intended outcome. Will the Australian Government self-censor next time they face a similar dilemma involving China? Will other governments, universities and NGOs self-censor to avoid such an embarrassing public spat?Apparently the incident, in which Bishop's speech was repeatedly interrupted by the Chinese delegation shouting because Taiwan's representatives were in attendance, was actually broken in the news by a Zimbabwean paper. Only later did Australian media reports follow. Cave wonders what this means for the media in Australia.
It is deeply concerning. The Chinese should have been removed instantly. Not only has Australia, a democratic and US-allied state, shown it is spineless, but it has suggested that this tactic -- which cost China nothing to deploy -- can be effectively used at future meetings in other nations. The fact that it can use its African allies as mercenaries to support this tactic is even more disturbing. In the future I expect China may simply send them first into the breach, and remain outside the proceedings...
Foreign Policy reports on the event here.
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