It's time to make a stand

By Bill Hengst
web posted April 9, 2001

With the tension between Beijing and Washington continuing to mount over the collision of a U.S. reconnaissance plane and a Chinese jet fighter, it has become patently obvious that a hard line stance to Chinese transgressions is the best policy. China is an expansionist power with a growing military and the desire to eclipse American influence in Asia, and potentially across the globe. China is a competitor -- not an ally and not a partner -- but a competitor economically, militarily, and philosophically. For proof of this one need simply to look at China's actions as of late, ranging from detentions of U.S. scholars to allegations that Chinese companies have helped Iraq improve its air-defense systems. Not to mention the ongoing human rights violations and crackdowns on religious freedoms that Communism in general and China in particular are notorious for. With all of this having been said, why is there any debate as to how we should handle the current situation involving the detention of 24 American servicemen, and the unlawful seizure of an American plane? Shouldn't the response be obvious?

This one-meter resolution, color satellite image of the Lingshui military airfield on the southeastern coast of Hainan Island in the South China Sea, was collected at 10:12 a.m. local time on April 4, 2001 (10:12 p.m. EDT on April 3, 2001) by Space Imaging's IKONOS satellite. The U.S. Navy aircraft is visible and parked on a taxiway (north is up in this photo).
This one-meter resolution, color satellite image of the Lingshui military airfield on the southeastern coast of Hainan Island in the South China Sea, was collected at 10:12 a.m. local time on April 4, 2001 (10:12 p.m. EDT on April 3, 2001) by Space Imaging's IKONOS satellite. The U.S. Navy aircraft is visible and parked on a taxiway (north is up in this photo). Click for larger version

The aircraft in question has sovereign immunity similar to an embassy. International law prohibited the Chinese from entering it without permission, and yet U.S. officials have stated that they have strong evidence that the Chinese had not only spent hours scrutinizing the inside of the high-tech surveillance aircraft, but that they had also carried off some of its equipment. Beyond this humiliating act of blatant disregard for not only American interests and security, but a disregard for international law, lies the detention of the crew members. China has insisted on an apology from the United States, and has hinted that the issuance of said apology would perhaps warrant the release of the crew members. Perhaps, although its more likely that the crew members are a convenient bargaining chip to deter the sale of AEGIS equipped destroyers to Taiwan, something which the Chinese have angrily protested, warning that the sale would only increase the chances of hostilities in the volatile area. It is time for the United States to pull away from China, ending longstanding military-to-military contacts and to review its policy toward approving multilateral loans to China through the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Perhaps even to recall the U.S. Ambassador in Beijing and drop all pretenses of normal relations with China.

Unfortunately there is a large section of corporate America which sees China not as a threat to our national security. Not as a competitor in the world market. Not as the antithesis to all that we as Americans hold near and dear to our hearts. Rather this faction sees China as a vast untapped market which will fill their coffers and fatten their pots. A market which has them seeing dollar signs instead of warning signs, profits rather than omens, and an ally where an enemy truly stands. Global expansion of American markets is vital to our growth and prosperity as a nation, but at what cost? Are we willing to throw the baby out with the bath water and accept any behavior in the interests of an expanding market? Many lingering questions hang in the balance. Will Bush be an effective leader in the foreign policy arena? Is U.S. influence in the global arena waning? Are we a super power in decline? These are the decisions President Bush is faced with at the moment. One can only hope he makes the right choice.

Bill "Tiki" Hengst is the driving force behind "Tiki Trash". Subscribe to his free newsletter at tikitrash-subscribe@listbot.com.

Buy Bill Gertz's The China Threat: How the People's Republic Targets America for $22.36 at Amazon.com

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