Sen. Jon Kyl said today that the administration did not offer an adaquet response to China`s recent successful attempt to shoot down a satellite. Kyl blamed the response on the preoccupation with the war in Iraq and a delicate relationship with China. He called for the administration to be more straightforward with China.
Sadly, this is just the latest in a series of instances in which the United States has failed to confront the Chinese threat. In recent years, President Bush has spoken of the problems with Russian President Putin and his power grabs that have been reminiscent of the Soviet Union, a country that supposedly had undergone a profound change. At the same time, he has largely ignored the ongoing domestic and foreign problems with the People`s Republic of China.
The Clinton Administration, which proposed extending Most Favored Nation Status to China on a permanent basis in the late 1990`s, and the Republican Congress which granted it, are largely to blame for China`s feeling of freedom to do as it pleases. The United States surrendered its first-choice bargaining chip and sent a clear message that it was not serious about dealing with China. It is clear now that China has gotten that message and will do as it pleases.
Internationally, China continues to threaten Taiwan, impose heafty tariffs on foreign products, have control of the Panama Canal, and now seeks to militarize space. Each of these in and of itself would be cause for concern. Put together, one cannot help but consider the possibility that China is preparing strategically for a new competition on a scale comparable to the Cold War. Unfortunately, the United States once again is turning a blind eye in the opening stages of the stand-off, thus again endangering national security and allowing the other side to gain advantages that it need not have.
Domestically, China continues to be one of the world`s greatest violaters of human rights. Their one-child policy continues to be enforced in many parts of the country, torture remains commonplace, censorship is standard practice, and religious freedom continues to be denied. As with the Soviet bloc, governments enforcing such policies must seek to expand their sphere of influence, as free nations show their people that there is a better way. While some point to progress such as local elections, all improvements are entirely subject to the whim of the Communist government and can be withdrawn at the will of those at the top.
Few would suggest that military action to stop these attrocities is an option. Unfortunately, most have also effectively rejected any action to improve the situation. Sen. Kyl is absolutely right that it is time for the United States to stop ignoring the dangerous actions of the Chinese government. The time has come to address these problems rather than ignore them, and China`s recent test offers an excellent opportunity to begin to engage China rather than allowing it to do as it pleases. Hopefully, the administration will heed Sen. Kyl`s advice and show China that the decisions of its leaders have consequences.