"Strategic Partnership" -- bought and paid for

By Charles Bloomer
web posted March 6, 2000

Foreign policy may seem a bit incomprehensible. The average American wonders why we send millions of dollars to countries that despise us, why we sell arms to countries that threaten us, or why we pay foreign aid to those countries that consistently vote against us in the UN. The diplomatic machinations and intrigues seem to occur without any reasonable, obvious motivation. The mainstream media contribute to this confusion and lack of understanding by providing little more than snippets of information about our dealings with foreign countries and the rationale for our foreign policy decisions.

But sometimes our foreign policy is so flawed, so obviously wrong that no amount of spin can convince us it is correct. American policy toward China, our "Strategic Partnership", is seriously flawed.

Over the past few weeks, China has become much more belligerent toward the United States and more bellicose about our relationship with Taiwan. Consider the following actions:

-- China has warned Taiwan that military force will be considered if Taiwan continues to refuse to negotiate re-unification with mainland China.

-- China refused to rule out the use of force against Taiwan during discussions with the Admiral Dennis Blair, US Pacific Commander-in-Chief.

-- China has placed its military on alert to intimidate Taiwan during the run-up to Taiwan's March 18th presidential elections.

-- China has threatened the United States with long range (nuclear capable) missile strikes if the US defends Taiwan.

-- The Chinese military leadership has insisted that US block passage of the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act recently passed by the US House of Representatives.

Based on the aggressive actions and words of the Communist Chinese leadership, a reasonable observer would conclude that our "Strategic Partnership" with China is in need of a serious re-evaluation. Former Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger said that the threat by the Chinese military leadership to launch long range missiles at the US needed an "unequivocal, immediate, unambiguous, firm response".

Compare Mr. Weinberger's statement to the response of the Clinton administration.

President Clinton dismissed the Chinese statements and actions as being merely political posturing. White House spokesman Mike Hammer said that the threats appear to be coming from the military and not from the "highest policy levels", ignoring the influence that the Chinese military has on Chinese policy.

As for an "unequivocal, immediate, unambiguous, firm response", the Clinton administration said it would rush legislation clearing the way for a congressional vote on admitting China to the WTO. US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said that the administration would submit the necessary legislation "shortly", asking Congress to provide China with permanent trading privileges.

The President defended his position on trade privileges for China by saying that the trade deal represented a "once in a generation" opportunity that was more important than China's human rights abuses, nuclear and chemical arms sales to rogue nations, or threats to Taiwan. President Clinton said further that the deal is vital for America's economic and national security interests, and would be a "devastating setback" if Congress did not approve the trading privileges.

Let's step back and review. China is a Communist dictatorship that is openly hostile to America and the democracy we represent. In order to maintain its authoritarian grip on its people, the Chinese leadership has killed an estimated 20 million of its own people since coming to power in 1949, including an estimated 5000 unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989. China continues religious oppression and persecution today, recently arresting an 80-year-old Catholic archbishop and beating to death an imprisoned Fulan Gong woman. This same Communist dictatorship has put its military on alert, threatened Taiwan with military force, and threatened the United States with a nuclear attack.

The President's response is to rush legislation to reward China with trade privileges and membership in the World Trade Organization. The President, who as a candidate railed against George Bush and his alleged coddling of dictators, now tells us that trade with China is more important that human rights for Chinese citizens. The President now tells us that trade privileges for Communist China are more important than the Chinese sale of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical, and missile technologies, to rogue states such as Iraq, Iran, and Libya. The President now tells us that this trade deal improves national security, while ignoring the long range missile threat made possible by the Chinese theft or purchase of American technology. The Nike sneakers we buy that are made in China will not protect us from the incoming missiles that are made in China.

Our national security, as well as the security of our allies, is better served by letting China know that we will not accept belligerent, obnoxious behavior. Aggressive, confrontational talk and actions will not be rewarded. If the Communists in China want to join the rest of the world and share in the wealth that free trade promises, China will have to cease its aggressive behavior, tone down its rhetoric, and conduct itself in a more civilized manner.

The Clinton administration may have trouble pressing these points since the Chinese Communists invested heavily getting Clinton elected and re-elected. US companies also have a stake in avoiding a confrontational stance with the Chinese. Access to a potential customer base of a billion people is very tempting – tempting enough to lobby against leaning too hard on the Chinese.

Obviously, the "Strategic Partnership" with China is a failure. The policy is not a partnership, but an appeasement of a brutal dictatorship. It is a Chinese strategy to get what it wants with little or no change in its behavior. They threaten. We reward. A policy that lopsided is not a partnership.

"Strategic Partnership" is the foreign policy the Communists in Beijing bought and paid for. The Chinese are getting their money's worth.

© 2000 By Charles Bloomer. Mr. Bloomer can be contacted at chuck.bloomer@comcast.net

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