Join our Mailing List

"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Obama crosses fingers on China in new year

January 12, 2010

Kuwait Times - January 12, 2010 By Shaun Tandon

President Barack Obama's administration is starting the new year with its
fingers crossed on China, hoping that upcoming tough decisions do not
inflame tensions with the growing Asian power. The Defense Department on
Wednesday gave the go-ahead to sell upgraded Patriot missile equipment to
Taiwan, a move that some experts said showed the cautious approach of the
Obama administration as it enters its second year.

The contract was part of a package approved more than a year ago under
former president George W Bush. While the move is sure to upset China, the
Obama team has yet to authorize fresh arms to the island claimed by Beijing.
Taiwan is not the only issue on the horizon. Obama is expected to meet as
soon as next month with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who
is widely respected in the United States but is vilified by Beijing. Obama
faced intense criticism at home in October when he declined to meet the
Dalai Lama, the first time in nearly two decades that he has not met the
president during a visit to Washington.

Bonnie Glaser, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International
Studies (CSIS), believed that Obama has been cautious in his timing but not
necessarily in his underlying policy. "There really was a desire to try to
get some trust and relationship building before we started to make decisions
that might irritate the Chinese," Glaser said. She said that Beijing would
"yell and scream" about the Pentagon decision on arms to Taiwan, even though
it was part of a previous package and the United State s has previously sold
Patriot missile equipment to Taiwan.

They fear that if they don't, a soft response would be interpreted here (in
Washington) as meaning that the Chinese are willing to tolerate US arms
sales to Taiwan," she said. US experts sense a sharper tone from China as
its clout grows in the world, with the US economy wobbly and indebted to
Beijing which holds more than $800 billion in US Treasury bonds.
"Undeniably, the Chinese have an attitude about them now," said Victor Cha,
who served as former president George W Bush's top adviser on East Asia.

China made no known concessions to Obama when he paid his maiden visit in
November. Unlike during previous visits by US leaders, China did not release
any dissidents as goodwill gestures and did not nationally broadcast Obama's
one public forum. Some Western leaders also accused China of torpedoing
efforts for a stronger agreement at last month's climate change summit in
Copenhagen, although Beijing said that Premier Wen Jiabao played a "crucial"

But Cha, a scholar at CSIS and Georgetown University, doubted there was yet
a paradign shift with China outpacing the United States. "We always have to
remember that China is big, flashy, rising, but still, American per capita
income is 40,000 dollars and in China, it's still 3,000 dollars," Cha said.

John J Tkacik Jr, a retired State Department official long concerned about
China's rise, said the Obama administration was letting down Taiwanese,
Tibetans and Uighurs, a Muslim minority embroiled in ethnic clashes last
year. He noted that the United States was legally obligated to ensure
Taiwan's self-defense under the Taiwan Relations Act, approved by Congress
in 1979 when Washington recognized Beijing as China's sole government.

The hesitation of the United States to even execute its own laws on dealing
with Taiwan because of a fear of China is a psychological milestone in
China's rise to superpower status," Tkacik said. "The United States is now
dealing with a global superpower that unlike the Soviet Union is in a
position to out-produce it, out-spend it and out-arm it over the next decade
and we simply don't know what to do about it," he said. - AFP
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank