|A CHINESE CAPITALIST WILL BE A FORMIDABLE CANDIDATE IN OCTOBER.
15 July 2006
We don't mean a national of the People's Republic of China. No member of the Permanent Five is expected to make it.
A citizen of another country -- an appropriately located country -- who happens to be of Chinese descent will have a
great chance to succeed in the race for U.N. Secretary General. It will certainly help if that candidate spoke French
and held enough capitalist views -- or ventures -- to be known in the West.
As the campaign has started in earnest, the Security Council will start initial deliberations in July. That period
could be like a swimming test: Those who managed to show up by the pool side may not be the same as those able to swim
in rough seas. A request asking "any member" to submit names may entail a longer than usual list, requiring longer than usual
time. Come August, very few decision-makers in key capitals will be too keen on a quick decision, knowing that many of
them will be making it to New York early September for the General Assembly's general debate. There is no alternative
to bilateral, trilateral or possibly a mini-summit of five to explore the options. Maybe meet some of those swimmers.
Double-check on their pronunciation in various languages. (If you ask what does that mean, it would be pointless to
explain.) Matters will then be left to Foreign Ministers and possibly Permanent Representatives to tackle pending
questions or carry instructions in due course. Japan's presidency of the Council in October may prove to be decisive.
What that means is that the toughest competitors have not shown their hands yet. The most consistent and steadiest
among the currently-announced candidates, someone like Jayantha Dhanapala will be subjected to fierce attacks,
particularly by the spoiler "Indian" candidate who will be exploiting his official media relations. If he pulls through
regardless, he stands a real chance. A candidate from Western Asia may join after the picture becomes clearer in
September. A formidable woman may be thrown in, testing claims for gender opportunity. The toughest competitor however
is yet to be known. Could a small country in Asia produce a French-speaking former senior official with proven government
experience highly regarded in Western capitals while being of Chinese descent? As Washington and Beijing would end up
haggling over vetos, it may be difficult for China to block an Asian who can persuade its leaders with perfect