At the outset of a three-day visit to China, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said he supported Beijing's "anti-secession" law on Taiwan, and vowed to keep pushing for an end to an EU arms embargo that could open the door for Paris to sell weapons to the Asian giant.Monsieur Raffarin calls the embargo "anachronistic" and "discriminatory". So he's telling us that refusal to sell weapons to a state that killed thousands of its best and brightest yet never acknowledged or showed regret or remorse for it is "anachronistic"? Ah morals, such an "anachronistic" concept! As for "discriminatory", what did he think embargoes are supposed to be?
Raffarin also signed or finalized major business deals with Beijing valued at around $3.2 billion (2.4 billion euros).
Appearing to put his government at odds with the European Union, Raffarin said at the outset of the three day visit that Paris had no objections to the anti-secession law.
Meanwhile, Philippe Delmas, vice president of Airbus, tagged along, and reported signing a contract with China worth $500-600 million. Put together with some 20 other deals that were finalized on this trip, the price tag cashes in at over $3 billion. That's $3,000,000,000.00, dear readers. I know the US dollar hasn't been strong for the past couple of years, but that is still a whole lot of zeroes!
With no offense to Airbus technology, but the only way it was able to build anything was because of the socialist nature of the consortium. And in this day and age, superjumbo jets aren't likely to be moneymakers. Given the range of the superjumbo jet, the most likely route it will cover is probably direct flights between Southeast Asia and California. As things stand, a typical Boeing 747 can make the flight between Los Angeles and Hong Kong on one full tank, so anything larger would help to decrease the importance of Hong Kong as a regional hub (perhaps China's punishment for its defiance?), and at any rate, seats would be too expensive for China's domestic market. Moreover, a Boeing 757 can already handle an American cross-continental flight; since China's main air traffic would be between the coasts and perhaps Sichuan in the interior, a superjumbo plane would be overkill. (Correct me, though, if I've somehow missed a sudden surge in demand for the Shanghai-Urumqi route.)
Thus, the purchase is just window dressing. Let's face it: France is corrupt and broke, and her top politicos are willing to sacrifice liberal ideals in order to sustain the pipeline into their own pockets. Their cynicism is unbounded, and their deal with China may yet be a Faustian one. And all because they still want to play the Great Game that they lost repeatedly, at Waterloo in 1815, at Paris in 1871, and again at Paris in 1940. They should remember that they're not the only ones that eat frog legs.
France must be made to pay. The question is, how?
[Cross-posted at Between Worlds and Naruwan Formosa]
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