In terms of political power, heavy winds are starting to blow from the Orient.
With the old Pope gone, Blair looking tired, Putin losing his pull, and Bush slowly going south, the most aggressive player on the world stage is now Chinese President Hu Jintao. Although not the visible yet (at least on Western radar), Hu is rapidly elevating his profile with highly obvious, highly pressured, and tightly choreographed confrontations with Japan and Taiwan.
If, a week ago Monday, China’s pride war with Japan brought us this:
The latest visual installment in the face off delivered this:
With China pressuring Japan no-end for an apology over war abuses, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi finally buckled under and supplied one at this Asia-Africa summit in Jakarta. Not pacified, though, Hu accepted the regret with a warning that Japan keep it’s nose out of China’s business with Taiwan.
This image couldn’t show the Chinese leader in a more “one-up” position. He’s front-and-center, as the expression goes, as the Japanese leader (with some hairs literally out of place) passes deferentially by. In a classic poker expression, Mr. Hu looks impassive, but possibly also a bit smug. In a less diplomatic pose, the Cambodian Prime Minister is openly laughing, however (possibly in confidence with Hu). The expression could be random. Given the politics, however, it’s easy to imagine that there is some snickering going on.
(image: Ed Wray/AP – April 23, 2005 in The New York Times)