September 2, 2015
Today RT announced that China will tomorrow celebrate the end of World War Two with, of course, a huge parade. The report showed President Putin arriving in Beijing, mentioning as in an aside that the US would only send an Embassy officer, and that South Korea had resisted US pressure to be there - pressure that apparently was successful among most of US’s European allies, with the exception of the Czech Republic.
One cannot help but be reminded of the great 1950’s debate over who ‘lost’ China, which led to the rise of McCarthyism…..More recently, the US chose not to attend Russia’s celebration of 70th Anniversary of the end of the war in Europe that saw Chinese troops marching in Moscow, again in the absence of the European leaders.
What should we make of this? The Western press emphasizes the absence of China’s former Western allies, rather than the presence of the heads of state that represent a good chunk of the world’s inhabitants. Also, several former Prime Ministers will attend, among them Tony Blair, which is a way for US “allies” to hedge their bets.
This is as much about the rules of diplomacy as politics: the other day someone commented that Obama shouldn’t be putting on a state dinner for China’s President Xi, and thank goodness the US still obeys diplomatic rules. But decisions taken by political figures regarding China’s celebration are as much about politics as about diplomacy.