Clarity Called for in Our China Policy

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 1, 2003 | Go to article overview

Clarity Called for in Our China Policy


Byline: Elton Gallegly, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

This week U.S. officials are attending a meeting hosted by China that is meant to defuse tensions with North Korea. This is a very constructive step, and it bodes well for peace in the Asian Pacific region.

But today the world also has an historic opportunity to persuade the People's Republic of China to end its confrontation with Taiwan. The Bush administration should seize this opportunity and press the communist rulers to stand down the weapons that now target Taiwan.

The people of Taiwan spend every day with at least 400 missiles pointed at them by a Beijing regime that professes a desire to deal with Taiwan in a peaceful way. This is unacceptable.

But with a combination of statesmanship and resolve, I believe there is a chance to end this aggressive stance. Beijing has just installed a new generation of leaders. If we act quickly, we have an opportunity to persuade China's new ruling class that its policy toward Taiwan is destabilizing and dangerous, particularly during this time of global insecurity.

In October, it was reported that Chinese President Jiang Zemin had offered President Bush a deal: The PRC will stand down its missiles targeting Taiwan if the United States cuts back on arms sales to Taiwan. Since then, neither government has said anything about this offer, which was intended to turn missiles into bargaining chips in Sino-American relations. President Bush should communicate there is no quid pro quo and that the U.S. will not back down on its commitment to providing much-needed arms to Taiwan.

While China's missile deployment is a continuing danger, an even greater danger comes from the possibility Beijing will interpret American silence as a step away from our longstanding pledge to defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression. The generals of the People's Liberation Army have been known to speculate that Americans wouldn't have the stomach for a fight over Taiwan. They are wrong to think so, as were Osama bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein, but if they continue to misinterpret our policy it could lead to a dangerous miscalculation.

To avoid any misunderstanding, we must clearly tell Beijing that continued provocations toward Taiwan will come at a steep price in terms of their relationship with the United States. …

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