Sunday, April 01, 2007

China Had a Bad Week

For rising China, last week was not the best of weeks.

Reversing more than two decades of trade policy, the United States took the first step toward imposing special duties on Chinese imports. The US Commerce Department announced Friday that it may levy fees of up to 20 percent on coated paper and paperboard from Chinese companies that are illegally subsidized by the Chinese government.

The preliminary decision could pave the way for additional tariffs and duties on a broad range of Chinese imports, including textiles and steel.

The week also saw increasing calls for a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, in part because of Beijing's refusal to condemn the Sudanese government's genocidal policies in Darfur.

Advocates of a boycott say China, as the largest buyer of Sudan's oil and a veto-wielding member of the United Nations Security Council, is in a unique position to pressure Sudan. But they say Beijing ignores violence by government-backed militias in Darfur to maintain access to Sudanese oil.

American actress and UN Children's Fund goodwill ambassador Mia Farrow recently co-authored an article in The Wall Street Journal calling for a boycott of the games and accusing Beijing of "bankrolling Darfur's genocide."

French presidential candidate Francois Bayrou has said French athletes should boycott the Beijing Olympics to force China to act on Darfur.

The nonprofit group Reporters Without Borders announced that tens of thousands of people have signed an online petition in support of a boycott.