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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Beijing's 'arrogance' has US on defensive

February 22, 2010

By Richard Halloran
Taipei Times (Taiwan)
February 22, 2010, Page 8

For several years, China has repeatedly accused
the US of "arrogance." Now some Americans have
taken to asserting the same about China.

There is a difference, however. Chinese
allegations are publicly orchestrated via
spokesmen for the government, the Chinese
Communist Party, the People’s Liberation Army and
government-controlled press and television news.
Withering Chinese criticism has been aimed at US
President Barack Obama’s meeting last week with
the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, at the White House.

American suggestions that the Chinese have become
arrogant come from "China hands" who specialize
in the study of China and they are assessments
made privately so as not to arouse more Chinese
ire. In public, allegations of Chinese arrogance
come from conservatives who profess to see a Chinese threat to the US.

These transpacific rhetorical barrages reflect an
underlying distrust between the US and China that
affects their political, economic and military relations.

An upbeat glimmer of hope -- the US aircraft
carrier Nimitz and four other warships arrived in
Hong Kong on Thursday to resume military
exchanges. The Chinese have often suspended such
exchanges to express their political displeasure with the US.

That was the case last month when the Obama
administration announced that the US would sell
US$6.4 billion in arms to Taiwan. The Chinese
erupted in anger, with the China Daily
contending: "China’s response, no matter how vehement, is justified."

"Washington’s arrogance also reflects the stark
reality of how a nation’s interests could be
trampled upon by another," said the
English-language paper, published to reach the foreign community in China.

Earlier, a Chinese contributor to the China Daily
called Obama’s plan to meet with the Dalai Lama
"pathetic, deplorable" and evidence of a "cold
war mentality" stemming from "ideology-driven politicians and China bashers."

The contributor avoided the word "arrogance," but
called it "the audacity of shame."

In the US, China watchers quietly caution that
the Chinese have become arrogant because their economy has been surging.

US military officers note that their Chinese
counterparts have become self-confident to the
point of arrogance because they have experienced
a decade of double-digit increases in military
spending and have acquired new planes, warships,
missiles and high-tech equipment.

The US fear is that this arrogance might cause
the Chinese to miscalculate. Leaders of the
Pacific Command from Admiral Joseph Prueher, who
dealt with the Chinese when they fired missiles
at Taiwan in 1996, to Admiral Robert Willard, who
took command in October, have cautioned the Chinese not to miscalculate.

Some China hands assert that the Chinese have outmaneuvered the US.

As one put it: "They are shaping us more than we are shaping them."

They contend that the US is on the defensive,
continually attempting to placate the Chinese, as
seen in the scripted meeting between Obama and the Dalai Lama.

Obama received the Tibetan leader in the Map
Room, not the Oval Office. No reporters or
photographers were admitted. Only an official
picture was published. There was no joint press
conference after the meeting and no briefing on the conversation.

A White House statement said Obama expressed
support for "the protection of human rights for
Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China."

However, the statement ended on a bland, deferential note.

"The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the
importance of a positive and cooperative
relationship between the United States and China," it said.

* Richard Halloran is a writer based in Hawaii.
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