Last week, I got a little ranty about China's role in torpedoing the climate change talks in Copenhagen. I've thought quite a bit about that post since, wondering if I was perhaps a bit too one-sided in my criticism.
But a first-hand, 'fly-on-the-wall' account by Mark Lynas in The Guardian affirms my suspicions that China was the primary obstacle to an international agreement to fight climate change. In fact, according to Lynas the behavior of the Chinese delegation, particularly the undiplomatic and inexcusable absence of senior officials from the critical talks, was down right Machiavellian. The Chinese strategy was two-fold: kill the deal and embarrass the US president.
It succeeded on the first measure, and time will tell whether Copenhagen will hurt Obama's presidency and global position. But it is clear that on issues from trade to climate change, the delicate US-Sino dance that prevailed during the Bush years has started to unravel amid the global crisis and first year of the Obama presidency. If the new world order is driven by a G-2, this is an ominous sign. China's 'peaceful rise' has quickly morphed into shrewd realpolitik, presaging greater tensions on the international stage between the world's two superpowers.