Perils of shifting sands in international relations


On Sunday December 14, 2013 US Secretary of State, John Kerry, speaking on ABC’s This Week programme described the North Korean Leader as reckless and insecure, after the young man had ordered the execution of his second in command who was also his own uncle.

Painona with Tapiwa Nyandoro

John Kerry said Kim’s actions underscored the need for a unified stand against Pyongyang’s nuclear programme. In a response that must have been welcomed in Washington and certainly heard loud and clear in North Korea, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi outlined China’s diplomatic priorities for 2014:

China will consolidate friendship with neighbouring countries and establish a “fate community;

China will insist on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, and strive for the resumption of six-party talks on the peninsula’s nuclear issue; safeguard China’s sovereignty and dignity while settling territorial and maritime disputes with neighbouring countries via dialogue and promote Afghanistan’s political reconciliation and reconstruction.

China will further build frameworks for its relationship with big powers, which should feature positive interactions and health developments.

To North Korea’s Kim, the message must was clear: The US is China’s big power friend. In his 2014 New Year address to his nation, he called for peace talks with the surprised South Korea. Belligerence was being toned down.

Walking hand in glove, sometimes exhibiting the classic “good cop, bad cop” strategy, the approach followed by the UN’s Security Council to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and to the threat posed by Syria’s chemical weapons, followed the same principle.

The Cold War days of playing the US against Russia or China are over.

The US may be China’s best friend. Without its huge market, which it made easily accessible to China, by granting China “a most Favoured Nation Status” early in China’s remarkable economic growth, will forever remain in history as an act of selflessness without parallel; an act of love between nations without equal.

Equally supportive to economic growth was the huge Foreign Direct Investment and skills transfer American and other Western companies poured into China, together with the Chinese people’s own incredible savings culture.

Well funded, domestically and by FDI, China’s growth for three consecutive decades remained almost double digit. The results of the genuine warm friendship between the West and China are there for everyone to see.

For Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Sinologists, an analysis of the end of meeting Communiqué key points from the 3rd Plenum talks of the 18th Central Committee meeting of the Communist Party of China, would have revealed that China, since 1978 has been “looking to the West”. China has, of course refined the West’s growth strategy, to give theirs what they call “Chinese characteristics.

But there is no denying they admire the rule of law in the West and the role of markets, not mandarins, in allocating resources. A sample of the resolutions, given below, tells the story:

China must stick to the strategic judgment that development is still the key to solving all problems in China.

Economic reform is the key, and the core solution is the proper relationship between the government and the market, leaving the market to play the decisive role, in allocation of resources and the government to play a better role.

China will stick to the dominant role of public ownership, playing the leading role of the State Owned Company, while encouraging, supporting and guiding, the non public sector [in] enhancing its vitality and creativity.

A united and open market system with orderly competition will be built so that the market will play a decisive role in allocating resources.

Government functions must be transformed in a manner to build law-based and service oriented government

Reforms will also include building a modern fiscal system that supports the initiatives of both central and local governments.

China will lower the investment threshold, step up the developments of free trade zones and increase opening up of inland, coastal and border areas.

Greater importance will be attached to perfecting a democratic system and enriching democratic forms to show the advantages of China’s socialistic political system.

China will deepen judicial systems reform and step up building a socialistic judicial system that features justice, high efficiency and authority to uphold the rights and interests of the people.

Power must be supervised by the people and exercised transparently.

Reforms must be accelerated in the social sector including education, employment, income distribution, social security and public health.

Building a modern Armed Forces given high priority
Environmental protection given high priority;

Farmers were to be given more rights for their land as the country sought to narrow the divide between urban and rural rights.

By 2020 dividend policy in SOEs will require 30% payment from net profits.

IPOs for SOE on the way
More private banks to be encouraged.
Yuan to be gradually floated.

The direction that China is heading in its development and International Relations is clear. The US is its role model and friend. As North Korea has seen, push it a little hard and the big sticks will come out from both Super Powers.

“Empires wax and wane: Alliances coalesce and fall apart”, is a Chinese saying. It is time Zimbabweans learn the lesson and the fact that both the US and China promote the growth of other economies since trade is mutually beneficial.


  1. If Obama executed his uncle for whatever reason, would it be fair to call for America to end its nuclear program?

    China is a one party state, so how does that show its admiration of the West’s style of governance or rule of law?

    How does China’s vetoing every move by the US on the UN Security Council show a genuine warm friendship between the West and China for everyone to see? When Kerry was pushing for the invasion of Syria what role did China play in blocking the US plans?

    China looks west sounds ridiculous, the West is looking East as a matter of fact. Where was Cameron and Kerry end of 2013? Why were they both in China at the same time with huge delegations? Why are they falling over each other to get deals that open up the Chinese markets to their businesses? Why is Google and Apple desperate to get a deal with China? What Chinese company is begging the US for markets?

    The reality is this, China and the West are not friends but business partners in a unique relationship whereby the Chinese have the upper hand. China is the world’s factory and the largest market, Africa is the next big thing and with China as a partner the West will have no choice but to play ball. Africans, don’t be fooled, the West is nobody’s friend. The Chinese are also not anybody’s friend but they never pretend to be champions of democracy, morality or harbor sinister designs to control the world while pretending to care about the ‘natives’, the Chinese never force Chinese culture and values upon anybody and they don’t impose sanctions on anybody. I would partner with them any day!

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