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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Spoiling Beijing

December 3, 2007

By George H. Wittman
The American Spectator
Published 11/30/2007 12:07:55 AM
China is showing all the signs of a spoiled brat -- a spoiled brat with
thousands of years of cultural history, a booming economy, an arsenal of
nuclear-tipped missiles, and a crucial vote on the United Nations
Security Council.

Having become accustomed to applause for everything they've done -- from
succeeding in melding a form of market economy with totalitarian
communism, to organizing the six-power talks with North Korea -- China's
rulers now seem to expect adoration of their every thought and action.
Meanwhile they have become quite adept at subtly dictating their desires
to a near sycophantic Western world.

The imperiousness with which they often have charged the occidental
powers has been a successful device in obtaining advantage in
international political matters. In the simplest terms China has
leveraged its own status as economically underdeveloped into a leading
role among Third World nations in recent decades even while it is
growing into a major industrial power.

Recently Beijing has thrown a tantrum over Western officials' meetings
with the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan spiritual leader has made very clear he
doesn't contest that Tibet is part of China, but rather that he only
seeks autonomy as the right of the Buddhists in his homeland. For this
the Chinese revile him as a "splittist" and seek commercial
countermeasures against such countries as Germany that have honored the
famous Tibetan.

The Beijing government's reaction to the American recall of millions of
dollars of Chinese-made toys impregnated with lead paint and other
poisonous substances has been characterized by infuriated comments from
its ministry officials instead of fulsome apologies. One official
suggested the problem was caused by "American imperialistic standards"
rather than any fault of China's lack of proper controls.

Of course these matters pale in significance with the Chinese, and
Russian, refusal to support increased sanctions against Iran for its
driving ambition to develop a nuclear weapon capability. Beijing acts as
if it were totally unwitting of the connection between Tehran's
accelerated uranium enrichment program and the Iranian government's
obvious steps to acquire nuclear war fighting armament. China, at the
same, time condemns as "provocative" the United States' attempt to
upgrade Taiwan's anti-missile shield against the substantial array of
Chinese missiles aimed at that island nation, which Beijing considers a
province.

The now well-publicized refusal of the Chinese to allow the already
officially approved Thanksgiving visit to Hong Kong of the Kitty Hawk
carrier group was clearly a purposeful slight. Far more egregious,
however, was the prevention earlier of two small U.S. Navy minesweepers
from seeking safety in the port of HK from the expected powerful storm
predicted to hit the South China Sea. Forced back out in contravention
of all naval custom regarding "seeking safe harbor," the American ships
rode out the dangerous high seas. These calculated insults are examples
of Beijing's willingness to utilize any device to exert political
pressure at its convenience.

The U.S. is not the only target of Chinese sharp elbows. The French
president, Nicolas Sarkozy, during his trip to China this past week, was
greeted by a refusal of the Chinese authorities to accept the fact that
the renminbi, the Chinese currency, is undervalued close to 25% against
the euro that ultimately adds to the massive trade imbalance ($200
billion annually) with the European Union.

Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform, explained the
situation quite succinctly: "Europeans will hope China takes its place
in the multilateral sort of world that they would prefer. But China may
not want a rules-based international system with strong multilateral
institutions."

In other words, the Chinese want what they want, when they want it.
Meanwhile, we are not supposed to challenge them. Don't upset the Asian
apple cart. After all they have seen the light and are now opening up
their markets and are far less isolated. They hardly ever hack into our
government computers anymore, buys their way into our political
candidates, manipulate the UN's General Assembly, block the Security
Council, suppress the free pursuit of religion in their country, coerce
their minority communities, or have a large portion of its manufacturing
industry owned by friends and relatives of the ranking officers of the
Peoples Liberation Army.

To "kowtow" is an old Mandarin term. The Chinese are quite expert in
getting others to do so. It must be avoided in order to have a balanced
relationship. All of which is a nice way of saying diplomacy doesn't
require us to prostrate ourselves in front of anyone -- and that
includes the new Chinese emperors.


George H. Wittman, a member of the Committee on the Present Danger, was
the founding chairman of the National Institute for Public Policy.
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