on the Sanya Declaration

A few days ago in Sanya, southern China, Brazil, India, Russia, China, and South Africa issued a joint statement called the Sanya Declaration. Most of it is bland, but I thought that what was not said here is interesting:

9. We underscore that the concurrent presence of all five BRICS countries in the Security Council during the year of 2011 is a valuable opportunity to work closely together on issues of peace and security, to strengthen multilateral approaches and to facilitate future coordination on issues under UN Security Council consideration. We are deeply concerned with the turbulence in the Middle East, the North African and West African regions and sincerely wish that the countries affected achieve peace, stability, prosperity and progress and enjoy their due standing and dignity in the world according to legitimate aspirations of their peoples. We share the principle that the use of force should be avoided. We maintain that the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of each nation should be respected.

Most of the world is pleased and inspired to see people in the Middle East working together to overthrow their corrupt governments. BRICS, of course, is “deeply concerned”. But I call BS on the statement, “We share the principle that the use of force should be avoided.” It makes it sound like they are pacifists. But, do you think the Chinese government will use force the next time Tibetan protesters take to the street with snow lion flags and calls for the Dalai Lama’s return? You betcha. Not only will they use force, but they will feel no need to apologize for it. Anybody who thinks about trying to pull a Tahrir Square on the People’s Republic had better get ready for some force coming their way.

Now, of course what the Sanya Declaration means is that they want regional monopolies on using force within the boundaries of the countries they rule. That’s fine. That’s the basis for the current status quo international regime. There’s a downside to it (China locking up Tibetan protestors, al-Assad in Syria having demonstrators shot, etc., etc.), but that’s the way things work. I just wish the BRICS would say what they mean instead of what sounds nice.

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