Rising China Could Regress
By Judy Yoo '14, opinion section editor
On July 5th, 2010, China sentenced an American geologist named Xue Feng to eight years in prison on charges of stealing state secrets by brokering the sale of an oil industry database. He was found guilty for acting as a spy for U.S. petroleum research firm HIS, Inc. Along with a huge fine of 200,000 yuan, he had been unable to return to his family.

On Feb. 18, 2011, a Chinese court rejected an appeal by Feng against his long sentence despite the extensive help Washington had been giving to free him. As a U.S. citizen, Feng received much attention from U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman. Huntsman has attended the Beijing people’s intermediate court for Feng’s sentencing since the beginning of his unfortunate situation. He urged China to release Feng and expressed disappointment at the decision, stating that “he is a U.S. citizen and we take this case very, very seriously … I’m extremely disappointed in the outcome”. Likewise, President Obama wanted to pursue a course of action regarding Feng, bringing up the subject of his imprisonment during President Hu Jintao’s visit to Beijing in 2009.

So, what does this rejection of appeal mean for America? The U.S. can simply conclude that China was being arbitrary and secretive once again, that they were being overly sensitive about issues regarding their natural resources. However, the rejection seems to reveal more about the growing tipping of the scale between Chinese and U.S. power.

Looking back into China’s history, we are reminded of the tumultuous times of the Qing Dynasty. China struggled to reconcile their place in the world as foreign powers such as Russia and Britain stood ready to carve up their nation. Japan, during a time of rapid acceleration to Western culture, also stood as a formidable power. Now, more than a hundred years later, China is rapidly revealing its changed role as a world power. Despite the efforts of the U.S. ambassador and even President Obama himself, China has rejected Feng’s appeal. The rejection reveals the little power the U.S. seems to exercise over China, if it does in fact have any real power. It does not really harm China in any significant way if Feng is released " the fact that Jintao heard Obama’s direct appeal without budging shows China’s confident stand.

In fact, China’s growing power is not only apparent in the diplomatic arena, but the Chinese are also flexing their muscles economically. Japan’s 2010 GDP released this Monday revealed that China’ economy is about seven percent bigger than Japan’s. China has risen to No. 2 " right below the U.S.

It will be interesting to observe the future of China. It has been known throughout history as a nation going through cycles of chaos and peace. It seems that now is one such time of peace and prosperity, but will it last? The recent success of Egypt’s uprising has led to China’s concerns about their own strong censorship and security. China has grown wary of and even anxious about observing the rising protests against authoritarian governments. Time will tell whether China will remain confident in cases, like Feng’s, where they suppress the rights of their people.

Issue 16, Submitted 2011-02-23 00:31:53