We've recently featured Kapil Komireddi's argument that Israel should seek Indian pressure to try and stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. JointMedia News Service reports that Komireddi recently made this argument at a panel that discussed the benefits of Israel cooperating with India as opposed to China.
What is most striking about the account is how some audience members turned on the panel the moment China's less then stellar human rights record was brought up:
Komereddi took umbrage at Pines’s positive characterization of Chinese civilization, wondering aloud if Tibetans would agree with Pines’s description of China as a non-proselytizing culture and power. Pointing to China’s 1951 annexation of Tibet—a traditional issue of concern among Indian policymakers—and its Han settlement policy in China's far western provinces, Komereddi said in a barbed comment that he would be “very wary of praising Communist China.”
The off-topic mention of Tibet unleashed a Pandora’s box of political grandstanding among both panel participants and audience members. A young Chinese student in Israel, whose name could not be verified, responded to the Tibet issue by using the audience Q&A session to state for all present in unequivocal terms that successive Chinese governments and representatives of Han Chinese culture have been present in Tibet for “over 2,000 years.”
Later on, the panel broached the issue of the difficulty of predicting the future political and policy orientation of China’s leadership, due to the closed nature of policy discussions of the CCP leadership and the selection process for the next generation of senior CCP leaders.
Peking University Professor Wu Zhipan noticeably balked at providing his own opinions regarding the selection and policy formulation process of China’s future leadership, despite the coaxing of panel moderator Tatiana Hoffman, Israeli Channel 2 foreign news editor.
In a seeming response to Prof. Wu’s avoidance of the issue, a Chinese audience member used the Q&A session to state that the CCP’s policy positions were officially made available through the publication of the government’s five-year plan. She claimed that, “Israeli businesses study these plans as a basis for their plans in China.”
However, instead of resolving matters, that comment seemed to perturb Chinese-American Claremont McKenna College Professor and Chinese governance expert Minxin Pei, who asked the audience member point blank if she was a representative sent by the Chinese Embassy in Tel Aviv.
“Serious, intelligent people do not take Chinese government statements seriously,” Pei shot back at the audience member when she answered his question in the affirmative.
After Pei’s comments, Prof. Wu denounced the panel’s treatment of Chinese issues and openly regretted his participation in it.
“I am a scientist,” he told the audience. “I came here to look for funding.” He continued, “Perhaps I cannot answer all of your questions because my English is not so good, but I didn’t come here to be attacked.”
Though who knows what the Peking University professor was allowed to say as long as the staff member from the Chinese Embassy was in the audience watching him speak?