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China, Europe and the Nobel Prize

China is just discovering that power is not just about growth rates.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who was taking part in the Europe-Asia summit refused, and quite arrogantly at that, any discussion with regard to the forced rate of the Yuan, a true artifice which swells his country's competitiveness and its economic performance by nearly 40% - this seriously destabilises international trade and masks a good number of weaknesses behind the extraordinary rise of the Middle Empire.

He started his journey in Athens to do a "little shopping" before taking advantage of Greece's present weakness, then he continued on to Turkey to exploit local determination to look elsewhere, probably towards a new Silk Road with rather more mercantile overtones.

At the same time the Nobel Peace Prize was being awarded, in spite of vain pressure exercised by his government, to one of the most emblematic Chinese dissidents because he is moderate and exemplary.

Since the Tienanmen Spring in 1989 Liu Xiaobo has not relinquished in his claim to see the freedom of expression, Human Rights and the rule of law finally move forwards in China. When we consider the Chinese response we understand that this insistant request alone shakes China's present development model, which is rather over stated by observers who have now fallen into the camp of blind Sino-admirers.

However the question is a legitimate one:  can the world's leading power exempt itself from the elementary rules of Democracy and the respect of Human Rights - as some followers of a new type of Confucianism, introduced to justify the upkeep of a Soviet style totalitarian political system, would have us believe? People answer this question with greater ease than governments. In Istanbul demonstrators cried : "Do not believe in China's lies."

In Africa farmers are now worried about these new colonisers who remind them of the time of slavery.  We remember that the journey of the Olympic flame through France and the UK was the cause of spontaneous popular anger. When we finally understand that without China's support the insupportable regime in North Korea would collapse in just a few days since it accepts the continued odious work of a third generation of Kim dictators, it is normal to expect violent response. Likewise its support to Sudan is increasingly shocking since it leads to the continuation of massacres - likewise its support to Iran is highly dangerous for world peace.

So I'm afraid Mr Wen, for the people, there can be no sustainable economic development without freedom and there can be no real wealth without the respect of Human Rights! 

There is no respect in the international arena for those who do not take common interests into account.

This time round Europe may very well use one of its most powerful arms, that formed by its populations who hold dear freedom - a universal model that respects Human Rights and which they are ready to fight for. And it will not stand alone whatever the economic interests are involved.

On the request of the European and American governments the release of Liu Xiaobo may stand a chance of becoming a reality. Likewise their desire to see this country finally move towards true rule of law. This would indeed be good news. But the present attitude of China raises vital issues that may enhance European positions and also that of the Americas which rally more than half of the world's wealth and which are fighting for true international regulation. We must put an end to monetary war. We must enhance and respect multilateral bodies which are as much buffers to adversity as the super-powers are - we should work to foster freedom, a condition for human development. This should be done not just in our own interest but also for the good of humanity. This is the sense of this Nobel Prize and European response to its award. And no one can avoid these obligations in all impunity long term. China has to adopt an attitude that is more worthy of a major power and more in line with common interest. If not the planet may suffer some hard times, fierce clashes, which may one day be violent since we are talking of the future of humanity. No one wants this.

Yet despite the fact that Europe is not yet complete it has shown that it will be in the front line and that it will not fight on the wrong side.