Jiabao, like his predecessors for the past 15 or 20 years, had learned a lesson that Lula da Silva, like so many other left-wing politicians in Latin America, has not managed to understand fully.
By 1976, the year Mao died, the better-informed Chinese, especially those in the ruling circles of the Communist Party, had already noticed a painful reality that distanced them from the dogmas stubbornly defended by The Great Helmsman: the Chinese in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore were on the road to riches, prosperity and popular development. The Chinese who believed in private property and the market, who had embraced globalization, triumphed. In contrast, those who clung to the superstitions of collectivism and waved the Little Red Book at mass demonstrations lived in misery and scarcity.
The best interests of China, which has more than $800 billion in reserve and is the United States’ second-largest creditor and top exporter, lie not in conflict with Washington, much less Washington’s ruin, but in the growing success of the American nation and the European Union, so it can maintain annual rates of growth of 10 and 12 percent and rescue from misery the one billion Chinese who are still sitting on the curb, waiting for a chance to live decently.
Jiabao, like his predecessors for the past 15 or 20 years, had learned a lesson that Lula da Silva, like so many other left-wing politicians in Latin America, has not managed to understand fully. It is downright stupid to think that the world’s capitalist nations shut the doors of development to the more backward countries. That was a flagrant lie propagated by Marxism and irresponsibly repeated by diverse voices of that vast family of people made drowsy by ideology and hollow slogans, a lie that the leaders of mainland China have banished from their analyses.
Javier Solana, the European Union’s skillful Minister of Foreign Relations, let slip a revealing confidence. As he said during a seminar held recently in Spain, a somewhat melancholy Lula da Silva described to him his frustrating experience with the Chinese authorities. The Brazilian leader had gone to Beijing to try to recruit the Chinese for the creation of a kind of political-economic axis that would include China, India, South Africa and Brazil, but he found no receptivity among the Chinese, who naturally were the key element in the emerging Third-World pole Lula was trying to promote.
The anecdote illustrates the fundamental difference between the international vision of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, a geological engineer and veteran apparatchik, and that of Lula da Silva, former labor union leader and President of Brazil. The Asian leader is a pragmatic statesman, more interested in prolonging his country incredible economic feat than in engaging in worldwide political rivalries typical of the Cold War, while the Latin American, despite his relative and perhaps growing moderation, remains trapped in the false political schemes of old, which pictured a hostile world where East and West, or North and South, or poor and rich countries faced each other off, a belligerent scene that supposedly required nations to seek protection under the vault of some saving bloc.