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Foreign Policy Idiot of the Week - Ma Zhaoxu and the Chinese State Media

US Govt.

So, Chinese hackers break into Google, these hackers steal the details of leading Human Rights activists and the protected corporate intellectual property of a number of US firms. The US Government response? A decidedly moderate demand that Chinese authorities launch an investigation. The Chinese Government's response to this request? Essentially, the finger.

Internet Hacking is now one of China's most notable exports. An industry that is fueled by thousands of skilled hackers and in the eyes of many experts, the support of the Chinese Government. The most recent significant attack, that which targeted Google, was one so significant, it has forced Google to consider the viability of continued presence in China. While Google's self-imposed censoring of its Chinese site was already a major concession in both moral and business terms, it is difficult to see how Google can also accept ongoing State sponsored attacks on their property. Google's business model relies at source, upon the open, rapid and protected transfer of data and information across the world. The Chinese Government is actively preventing this.

By their response to these recent developments, the Chinese Government has become my Foreign Policy Idiot of the Week. While one might have expected a few (even empty) words of concern with regards to the Google incident, instead, the Chinese Government reacted with anger and intellectual idiocy. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Ma Zhaoxu, responded that US criticism of China's clear restrictions on Internet freedom, is 'contrary to the facts and is harmful to China-U.S. relations'.  However, threatening the US wasn't enough for Zhaoxu. The Spokesman further decreed that the US should also 'cease using so-called Internet freedom to make groundless accusations against China.' This pathetic effort on the part of the Chinese Government, to frame the universal right to a basic freedom of speech as morally questionable, was also albeit ironically, echoed by the Chinese State controlled media. Chinese media reports decried Secretary Clinton's Internet freedom speech as an attempt, to 'impose' the 'westernization' of China and an 'ideological imposition' of 'imperialism'.

Put simply, the Chinese Government and State media response to the Google incident and to the broader debate surrounding Internet freedom, has been simply idiotic. The inherent logical fallacy of a Chinese citizen attaining greater freedom of speech (as greater Internet freedom obviously entails) and yet somehow, in actuality, becoming a victim of nefarious American imperialism (as the Chinese Government/media contend), serves as a clear window into the political and moral deficiencies of the Chinese State.

HONORABLE MENTION, IDIOT OF THE WEEK: Alain Joyandet, France's Co-operation and Francophony Minister. Joyandet gets an honorable mention for his statement, that the US is more interested in occupying Haiti, than in helping her people recover. The absurdity of Joyandet's statement is almost unbelievable. Almost. While the EU has sent a few flights and rescue teams, the US has sent thousands of troops, hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private funds and a Carrier Group. I say that Joyandet's statement is almost unbelievable, but frankly it isn't. Firstly, French Ministers have a tendency to make astonishing, even disgusting statements. For example, the wilful admission by the French Culture Minister, that he is 'pleased beyond reason' when in Thailand, because in Thailand, he is able to pay for sex with 'attractive young boys'. Enough said on that count. However, on a broader point, with the exception of the UK, the EU has a truly awe inspiring lack of military capability. Military capability is critical to allow for rapid, effective aid relief. Criticizing the US is cheaper, easier and more politically advantageous than making a real effort towards resolving humanitarian situations. For another recent example, just look at Kosovo 99'. Here, the US had to make the major effort to fight the war, even though the situation was in Europe's backyard. We were right fill this moral gap, but the fact that the EU couldn't resolve this situation on their own, is a disgrace.