Friday, 7 January 2011

Chinese leaders welcomed with ever deepening bows in Europe

It is not difficult to imagine how pleased even second rank Chinese leaders must feel when visiting crisis-stricken European countries (and also the US). Wherever they go, heads of state, prime ministers and other dignitaries line up in order to have a chance to bow deeply to the new "benefactors". The latest example is Chinese Vice Prime Minister Li Keqiang, who received a royal welcome in the kingdom of Spain.

Of course everybody understands that the good will of China comes with strings attached.(Don´t expect to see Excelentísimo Señor Zapatero embracing the Dalai Lama or expressing support for Chinese dissidents any time soon). However, the economy in some European countries is in such dire straits that political leaders do not seem seem to care, although there is still appears to be some caution regarding arms sales, according to the Christian Science Monitor:

Consensus is still distant, however, especially in regards to an embargo on selling arms to China that Spain and France have lobbied to relax. Washington still strongly opposes relaxing an arms embargo and is also concerned about technological transfers.

For China, however, the juncture is ideal. Struggling European countries that have dragged down the euro and rattled markets are desperate for cash in the form of direct foreign investment. Not surprisingly, Greece, Portugal, and Spain have sought closer relations to Beijing in the aftermath of the economic crisis, and Chinese investment in those countries has soared.

France has been a leader in selling arms to Russia, so it is not surprising to see it lobbying hard for relaxing the arms embargo to China. (By the way, you may remember that France was a leading exporter also to e.g. Saddam´s Iraq). I would not be surprised if France eyes to sell Mistral class power projection war ships also to the Chinese ...

European leaders should perhaps consider using the old court etiquette when approaching visiting Chinese benefactors ( from a manual produced by

Approach the Royal Presence (or Chinese high level visitor), along with everyone else who is coming to swear fealty at that time. When you arrive as close as you can get (this will vary depending on the number of participants, bow, then kneel with everyone else swearing fealty.
If you have gotten there first and can use the cushions, do so. However, be courteous - if someone with bad knees needs them, let them have use of the cushions. The court herald will come forward and give you the words to state, giving your oath of fealty.
Once the oath has been given and the Crown has responded, along with everyone else, rise and give a short bow. Then walk briskly back to your seat.

Please note that when in China, the etiquette changes to traditional Chinese kowtowing:

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