Friday, December 21, 2007

China's prerogative as an independent nation

The US had lodged a formal protest on 29 November 2007 after senior US military officers expressed regret over the rejection of the request to allow its Carrier Group, Kitty Hawk, to call upon Hong Kong for the Thanksgivings celebration and also the berthing rights to two US minesweepers, two weeks earlier.

Then the actual melodrama began when the official White House cited a “misunderstanding” had transpired between the two countries which gave rise to more confusion. Yesterday, China related the true picture of what was really communicated to the US President by the Chinese Foreign Minister. The Chinese told the media that the US irrational behavior was the reasons that led to the banning of US ships or vessels into any territory under its jurisdiction. The announcement of the sale of the Patriot Missiles Systems valued at US$940 million to Taiwan and the US Congressional Award to the Dalai Lama were the primary reasons that led to the decision. The announcement of the Patriot Sales comes shortly after the US Defense Secretary visit to the Chinese Mainland. If this is not a stab in China’s back then I do not now what it is called. Perhaps, we can ring up the White House for an answer.

One Chinese official went a bit further by saying that how could one country expects a warm embrace after it had ignored Chinese protests on the two US initiated events. It is akin to a typical home situation where you showered praised on your neighbor’s “enemies” and then advised them on how to deal provocatively with your neighbor’s unorthodox lifestyle and yet you still want to call on your discredited neighbor on a particular festival occasion. If this is how US diplomacy is being crafted, then we have to be extra cautious of the two-faceted relations with the US. I know for sure that in a traditional Asian courtroom we do not act this way, though there could be unpleasant remarks passed behind the scenes.

Managing the Taiwanese affairs is one of the most sensitive issues surrounding Sino-US relationship, given that the US is the only country which has to date indicated its support of the Taiwanese if it comes under attack. And China top priority under its military development program, if I read correctly, is to develop a strong enough force to deter or defeat US forces in the event of an outbreak of hostilities in the Taiwan Straits.

In this century, Sino-US relationship is very important to the stability of Asia and also to the rest of the world. The growth of China as an important power demands that the US manages this relationship in the correct perspective in an appropriate manner. At this juncture, US engagement policy has failed miserably.

From an analytical point of view, let us reverse the same scenario and do you think the US will allow a Chinese destroyer to berth in a US port after it awarded Chinese Highest State Honor to Mr. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and later announced the sale of advanced weaponry and Missile Systems to Cuba. Your answer I presume will be as good as mine.

In the light of such arguments, China has every right to approve and reject port berthing rights to any country including Uncle Sam who cast a big shadow over the Asia Pacific region. After all, China, unlike Japan or the Philippines, is truly an independent and sovereign nation.

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