March 15, 2005

China Syndrome


FoxNews reported yesterday: U.S. Displeased With China Vote.

The Bush administration said Monday that China's threat to use force to stop any Taiwanese move toward independence is an "unfortunate" development that could increase tensions in the region. ...

China's parliament on Monday, voting unanimously with two abstentions, enacted a law authorizing force if Taiwan pursues formal independence [from] mainland China.

Taiwan and China split in 1949, but Beijing considers the democratic, self-ruled island to be Chinese territory. Beijing has threatened repeatedly to attack if Taiwan tries to make its de facto independence permanent.

We shouldn't be surprised by communist China's aggressive moves. They already have hundreds of missiles aimed at the island, and in the short term they have everything to gain from annexing wealth-producing Taiwan. But what continues to be disappointing is how the Bush administration plays both sides. As the article goes on to explain:

Any outbreak of hostilities could ensnare the United States, which is Taiwan's biggest arms supplier and is bound by the Taiwan Relations Act to help Taiwan defend itself. There are 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan and 35,000 in South Korea. Under Washington's one-China policy, the United States agrees to have no diplomatic ties with Taiwan and recognizes Beijing as China's sole government.

This precarious position of supporting both a one-China policy and an independent Taiwan is why the administration so worships the status quo and "stability." When Taiwan last made moves for independence, the Bush administration came down against Taiwan (as we covered in this cartoon). Such diplomatic moral equivalence is not in America's long-term interest.

In yesterday's New York Post, Peter Brookes outlined the China Challenge. (Via TIA Daily)

With a white-hot economy, a burgeoning defense buildup, a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and a growing nuclear arsenal, China is fast becoming an Asian -- and global -- superpower.

Increasingly confident of its political and economic clout, Beijing is dead center of many of the days' most volatile international security issues, including North Korea, Iran and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

American relations with Beijing are arguably more stable than at any time in the recent past. But the potential for political, even military, confrontation with the U.S. and its allies over critical security issues is ever present -- and growing.

By far the greatest concern is China's military buildup. Buttressed by double-digit defense budget growth for 14 years in a row, including a 13 percent bump-up this year, China now has the world's second largest defense budget at $65 billion.

UPDATE I -- March 16: George Jonas writes in the National Post: Selling out Taiwan. (Via Martin Lindeskog)

Things may be looking up for democracy in the Near East, but the Far East is a different story. By the end of today [March 14], China's figurehead "parliament" will have rubber-stamped Beijing's new anti-secession law. China's rulers are giving themselves the green light to invade Taiwan.

They may not need to bother. The world seems ready to hand democratic Taiwan -- a.k.a. the Republic of China -- to Mao Tse-Tung's heirs on a platter.

UPDATE II -- March 22: This cartoon appears in today's Investor's Business Daily.

Posted by Forkum at March 15, 2005 03:27 PM