Quantcast

Nation Topics - World | The Nation

Topic Page

Articles

News and Features

A grassroots movement for immigrant legalization is gathering strength.

What exactly Bob Kerrey did one night in a Vietnamese community should concern every citizen.

Prevention and treatment require a focus on overall health and development.

The war was years ago, but that does not excuse misrepresenting one's participation in it.

With NAFTA as an ugly precedent, the proposed trade pact is generating serious opposition from a number of social and economic sources.

A campaign to help sick people in need of unaffordable medicines is clashing with forces in the global pharmaceutical industry.

America's provocative military posture in Asia makes war with China more likely.

While Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien promised to "dialogue with indigenous peoples and listen carefully to their concerns" and Mrs.

Fascism is presentable again--but without the torchlight rallies.

Thankfully, the clash between Washington and Beijing over the downing of a US reconnaissance plane off Hainan Island never spiraled out of control like the Chinese jet that buzzed the EP-3E. On Whidbey Island, Washington, where the US crew is based, people broke out the yellow ribbons, but Administration spokespeople carefully avoided the term "hostage." Although George W. Bush jumped out of the blocks with harsh words that sounded like leftover campaign rhetoric, he commendably cooled it, silenced his hawks and gave diplomacy a chance.

The successful resolution of the spy plane impasse underscores an important principle: Diplomacy must be paramount in the contentious US relationship with China, whether it is a question of releasing detainees, easing tensions in the Taiwan Strait or confronting the Chinese on workers' rights.

What does not augur well for future diplomacy is the rising chorus of demands to punish the Chinese. A series of flash points in US-China relations loom--arms sales to Taiwan, most-favored-nation status, Beijing's bid for the Olympic Games, missile defense systems. The Pentagoners in search of a reliable threat and the conservatives who cast China as the new communist Antichrist are agitating to sanction, contain and undermine the regime (see Michael T. Klare, "'Congagement' With China?" April 30).

A reckless Chinese pilot may well have been at fault in the spy plane collision, but that's not the main point. The incident illustrates the larger danger of increasing military confrontations impelled by both sides. Conservative commentator Edward Luttwak writes in the Los Angeles Times that in the Clinton Administration's waning days, Adm. Dennis Blair, commander in chief of US forces in the Pacific, accelerated electronic intelligence flights on his own initiative. And when the US plane was downed, Blair proposed that the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk sail toward the Chinese coast; this was fortunately rejected as too provocative. Such actions point up the danger of military-driven policy replacing civilian control. China is not a military power and won't be for another decade, so why play into the hands of Chinese army hawks with more US intelligence flights or advanced arms sales to Taiwan?

China and the United States must work to reduce military confrontations. They should move away from bilateral slanging matches and toward greater use of multilateral regional forums. Unilaterally, the United States should ground the intelligence planes. We do need intelligence about China--but not the kind gathered by spy planes. We need a better understanding of the strains and struggles within the Chinese government. We need to understand public opinion, such as that expressed on the Internet (where anti-American feelings are vented these days), which can influence the leadership. We need more exchanges--not just military to military but people to people, institute to institute--to weave a wider web of understanding and respect between the two nations. (China's arrest of three Chinese-American scholars is a setback to such exchanges. The arrests, like right-wing demagogy about Chinese espionage in this country, only fuel distrust.)

Similarly, the next shopping cart of arms for Taiwan should not include Aegis-equipped destroyers or other advanced weapons that might encourage a precipitate move toward independence by Taiwan. The democratic government deserves continued US support in the international arena, but Washington should stick to the ambiguous one China, two China formula that has allowed both countries to gradually build deeper economic and political ties.

How the Bush Administration handles Taiwan and other issues in the weeks and months ahead will determine whether the Hainan Island incident will be remembered as a model for resolving US-China disputes or as the pretext that triggered an East Asian cold war and a nuclear arms race.

Blogs

Fox needs Shep’s anti-Fox narrative now more than ever.

October 16, 2014

The only thing Poroshenko has going for him is that Putin wants him to stay in power.

October 16, 2014

The US has a sorry track record of actively working to dilute the effectiveness of Cuba’s overseas medical assistance.

October 15, 2014

He has the authority to provoke a profound national debate about the nature of US militarism.

October 14, 2014

Between the conflict in Syria and Ukraine, the thaw bewween the US and Russia seems to be over. 

October 14, 2014

With a new film out about Webb, Kill the Messenger, we look back at Cockburn’s testament to the investigative reporter.

October 14, 2014

Don’t overlook the fact that Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai have challenged economic and political elites, including multinational corporations and President Obama.

October 10, 2014

Many journalists went after Webb, destroying his reputation and driving him out of the profession and into a suicidal depression. Now they’re at it again.

October 10, 2014

Beijing is experimenting with "soft power" approaches, but brute force remains an omnipresent threat.

October 9, 2014

A Republican Senator criticized Obama’s plan because it “focuses on Africa.”

October 9, 2014