New Bond girl: A traitor to the Soviet Union

"Christ, I miss the cold war," grumbled the exasperated M, played by Judi Dench, in the last James Bond film Casino Royale. She's apparently not the only one. Russian Communists are attacking Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko, co-star of the new film,  Quantum of Solace, for palling around with 007, a known "enemy of the Soviet people":

"In the name of all communists we appeal to you, Olga Kurylenko, wanton daughter of unclean Ukraine and deserter of the Slavic world. The Soviet Union educated you, cared for you, and brought you up for free, but no one suspected that you would commit this act of intellectual and moral betrayal," the St. Petersburg-based KPLO group's statement read, going on to call James Bond "the killer of hundreds of Soviet people and their allies [...] Your peers are engaged in struggles against NATO and you lounge around on the Cote d'Azur. How could you desert your homeland in its moment of need? Do you really want Crimean girls to be raped by cruel and stupid American marines?"

I'm sure proletarians everywhere are glad they took this principled stand against a fictional character.

Photo: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images


China holds back its contempt

At the end of last week, the European Parliament found itself in a tight spot. Having made the courageous gesture of naming Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia this year's receipient of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the EU had to wonder how receptive would China be at the 43 country Asia-Europe Meeting over the weekend. China's cooperation was critical in addressing the global financial crisis. Meanwhile, the Chinese ambassador to the EU penned a stern letter vowing that Hu's award would "inevitably hurt the Chinese people once again and bring serious damage to China-EU relations."

But the summit came and went and no such damage was done. China agreed to back more vigorous regulatory reforms, and said nothing more about the Hu issue. So where was the pressure? If indeed it's an outrage that the EU should cast a spotlight on a man who has "libeled the Chinese political and social systems, and instigated subversion of the state, which is a crime under Chinese law," then the meeting would have been a perfect occassion for China to brandish some new-found might.

But China seems to have lost its stomach for these tiffs lately. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's meeting with the Dalai Lama in September 2007 was met with similar threats to block German companies from doing business in China. But the only punitive measures that China took were to boycott a few meetings in Germany and cancel a handful of ministerial visits. Token efforts at best and trade certainly didn't suffer. Ditto for Canada after Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit with the Dalai Lama last year.

Saving face is important for China. But while the government clearly finds foreign criticism humiliating, it doesn't want to put a blight on its future in the global economy, of which it aspires to be a heavyweight player. It's also possible that China is just tallying up its resentments for the right moment. If one day China is in a secure enough position to wield economic and political leverage over Europe, it may not be as conciliatory because of the slights it has received along the way.

Photo: Pool/Getty Images