China’s tougher than before

February 2, 2010

global_post_logoKathleen E. McLaughlin

China’s irate reaction to the Obama administration’s approval of a $6.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan comes at a delicate time amid already growing tensions between the two global heavyweights.

The United States appears to be taking tougher stance on China than last year and Beijing is pushing back with confidence. In their latest quarrel, China lashed out at news of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan with a swift and strident reaction, raising red flags about the emerging power’s increasingly tense relationship with the United States. (In Taiwan, most back the deal.)

On Saturday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador John Huntsman in Beijing to express its “strong indignation” over the weapons sale, according to a ministry statement. Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said the sale “will certainly damage China-U.S. relations, exert a very negative impact on bilateral exchanges and cooperation in many important areas and lead to consequences that neither side wishes to see.”

Policy analysts said the heightening tension is worrisome.

“China’s strong reaction to the U.S. announcement of plans to sell weapons to Taiwan is part of a tougher, more assertive tone coming out of Beijing,” said Stephanie T. Kleine-Ahlbrandt, north east Asia project director for the International Crisis Group. “The real tragedy would be if a downturn in U.S.-China relations damages international efforts — particularly through the U.N. — to cooperate on threats to international peace and security.”

At the heart of the latest spat is the Obama administration’s decision to proceed with a 2008 Bush administration plan to sell $6.4 billion in mainly defensive weapons to Taiwan (notably deferring a decision on F-16 fighter jets). Congress now has 30 days to approve the deal. U.S. weapons sales are not new. What is new is China’s self-assurance, and a brazen attitude that has emerged several times in recent months and may be contributing to tougher talk in Washington than was seen in 2008.

Though China has responded to arms sales before with tough rhetoric, this time it upped the stakes. Beijing said it would suspend military ties with the United States and threatened sanctions against American businesses. It revealed no details, but the reaction called into question the future in China for American aerospace companies like Boeing.

Beyond industry-specific questions, the U.S. move and Chinese reaction signal increased trouble ahead in the already fraught relationship. Over the past three months, the two sides have engaged in an escalating series of highly publicized spats, beginning with President Barack Obama’s first trip to China in November and building through the failed Copenhagen climate change talks in December.

Tensions inched even higher this month, when internet giant Google announced it might quit China over censorship and hacking. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton followed up with a speech decrying internet censorship, drawing China’s ire. On the side are a series of trade spats that escalated in part with the global financial meltdown.

In China, policy experts question the timing of the arms sale announcement — particularly as it would undoubtedly provoke Beijing. China’s irritation at the United States is only bound to grow, with Obama expected to meet with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in coming weeks.

“The problem, perhaps, is there is some indication that the Obama administration intended the timing of the announcement to be a signal to China — a signal that ‘we are going to not allow China to be assertive,’” said Wang Dong, an international studies specialist at Peking University.

“This is really an action-reaction cycle happening here,” said Wang. “It’s not a good situation.”

But some Chinese policy analysts are more matter-of-fact about the arms sale, noting that it has been in the pipeline — despite Beijing’s best efforts to derail it.

“I don’t think this means that America is taking a harder or softer position on China,” said Zhang Jiadong of the Center for American Studies at Shanghai’s Fudan University.

“Obama’s government is just continuing Bush governments plan and policy,” said Zhang. “It is a contract for more than $10 billion signed by Bush.”

What has changed, he noted: “China’s attitude is tougher this time than before.”

If Washington is hardening its stance on China, and China is tougher before, 2010 is likely to be a tough year in China-U.S. relations.

More stories from GlobalPost:

Taiwan says hello to arms

Kidnapping in China

China Vs. Google: Beijing fights back

A world of trouble: Is the nightmare over?


24 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Do not worry mathematically (proved in 2007 and with even my synereconologistics Int’l econo-politico-social forecasting system) China is going to spend an outrageous amount of money from 2012 to do roads,Healthcare,fight huge pollution,get their people some electrical goods and cars per families,and for trying to find new partners in biz as about 12 countries will pull out of Chinese making goods and about a dozen others will have “made in” goods in Romania,Turkey,part of India and then some… China? Like a match,a quick flame. It will teach their government and quite some people there that money in a long term only works if it has some Social entrepreneurship value (as small as it can be) and if people via
themselves are themselves,not just to exist under the boot…The clock is tickin…before there were many cheap goods flooding the market “made in Hong kong’”made in Taiwan”,Made in Japan”…where are they now for those goods and that top of the list power? China and Thailand,Malaysia,Indonesia and the Philippines as well as three Arab countries and seven African ones are next,from 2012 to 2015,then,a new cooler age will start very sooner that you think..I have been right a along since 1991. The USA will come back because they were created by pioneers coming for a better world via their efforts,imagination and guts which all are,dormant or not according the person,in the USA DNA.

Posted by franceviausa | Report as abusive

This is pretty much for internal consumption in China; it will blow over in a few weeks. The reality is that China is far more dependent on the US than its leadership likes to acknowledge. In fact, China is a very good export market for US goods. According “Export Outlook China-Mainland”, its industries will need to import more than 275 types of American-made goods other than raw materials annually between 2010 and 2014.

Posted by JimInNevada | Report as abusive

I hope this isn’t the start of Obama ruining Chinese relations over the next three years!!!

Posted by docthree | Report as abusive

If that would help the US behave decently instead of bullying China as if it’s a small country, I would say there is no harm.

Posted by Pterosaur | Report as abusive

China will wake up one day in about, one year.
than it will be said of him Obama, who is is that dares waken Genghis Khan

Posted by BillyHobe | Report as abusive

As a Chinese, I am quite happy with the arms sale: the more advanced weapons the U.S. sells to Taiwan, the more advanced weapons we will obtain the day comes when we reclaim our soveignty over the island.

Posted by M82-A1 | Report as abusive

family fight between neighbors. just be use to calm with these things

Posted by xxxwzb | Report as abusive

Let’s hope it is just posturing on both sides for domestic consumption, and that behind the scenes relations are not going sour.

If my history is correct, US maintained the fiction that Taiwan was the legitimate government of all China until the Carter Administration, when the UN seat was taken away and given to Beijing. That was 3 decades after the mainland went communist in 1949. Wouldn’t it have been better to face reality at the outset? Time has shown that the better the relations with us or the West, the faster China has become entrepreneurial again. (This is not to say that human rights standards are acceptable by our standards, but this will follow inevitably.) China would not have had to rely on USSR during those years. Vietnam may never have happened. The Cold War would have ended early. Communism would have ended sooner.

With the war mongers in our military-industrial-aerospace-national security complex running our country, we can be sure that paths to peace will always be destroyed, until it destroys us too.

Can you blame them for having a memory of how we shunned them for all those years?

Posted by pilgrimson | Report as abusive

us will see no good for doing this.

Posted by Peacekeeper | Report as abusive

Thanks Obama. China can cry and scream all they want.

Posted by Macdux | Report as abusive

Well, the world is finally seeing China for what it is, an international bully boy. Being an Australian, we stand side by side with the US, as a highly respected (but much smaller) partner. If China was to become the world’s dominate power, all other countries would become vassal states.
Because a country has a large population, that does not make it great. Because it has a large economy, that does not make it great. Unfortunately, China thinks otherwise. A country with such a long history, never has, and still hasn’t, developed the concept of law and order. There is order, but no law. This does not make a country great.
I hope the US takes a strong line against Peking, because the only thing bullies understand is brute force.

Posted by VR_Sparks | Report as abusive

Why Obama, who winned the nobel peace prize, love to sell weapon to taiwan, maybe he want to make a war with china.

Posted by tiger1976 | Report as abusive

My country sits right in the middle between Middle East and Far East. Trade and commerce have been going on for many many hundred years between these 2 regions. And people from these 2 regions have been plying the region I live in and if I am not mistaken China did not really bully any of us here.
More than 500 years ago, they came with a very very large armada to our ancient port in Malacca, and nothing happened. In fact they offered one of their princesses as a bride to our Sultan and I think this was an excellent goodwill.
In contrast, there was some western powers who came to our shores with a much smaller armada, created a pretext and conquered our land. And continued to dictated us for 446 years.
Now almost 500 years has passed and I still could not see a trace of China being an international bully. BTW, our country have a very large Chinese population but somehow I could not see these Chinese bullying the natives.
In summary, I just want to say that being a bully is not in Chinese psychic. It is all just a fiction made up by the real bully thru their controlled media.

Posted by Mutalib | Report as abusive

It is reasonable for china to be angry, but it is not wise to do anyting in return at this stage.
Time is on china’s side, 20 years later, they can get all this back at US, and they can only cry but do nothing just like china does now.

Posted by hotndy | Report as abusive

It is reasonable for china to be angry, but it is not wise to do anyting in return at this stage.
Time is on china’s side, 10 years later, they can get all this back at US, and they can only cry but do nothing just like china does now.

Posted by hotndy | Report as abusive

??????????????????????????????????

Posted by Jacknowledge | Report as abusive

I just want to say,all Ameiricans drive Toyota.To be or not to be,that is a question.

Posted by Jacknowledge | Report as abusive

quote:

————
Why Obama, who winned the nobel peace prize, love to sell weapon to taiwan, maybe he want to make a war with china.

Posted by tiger1976 | Report as abusive

————

honey, a lot of US presidents being award Nobel Prize, and yet US is selling not only weapons but even wars everywhere….

see what happened since last century… Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Panama, Somalia….

I think that can explain why so many people in so many other countries dosn’t like America.

Posted by urgod | Report as abusive

2012,the World War III?

Posted by leeteng | Report as abusive

the gov’t is producing and spending way more than there is actually demand for, according to time magazine. Only 30% of what they are building, making and producing FOR THEIR own target market of chinese is being consumed. As the others said, soon it’ll fizzle out.
their gov’t is overspending..I think even more than our curious george is capable of…

Posted by blackpagoda | Report as abusive

——————————————————

Make one of the best IQ tests! http://iq-test.co.uk/#30192

——————————————————

Posted by loloosvk | Report as abusive

The US should not do business with communist countries. That said, when I was in school Japan was arogantly proclaiming that they would own the US in ten years. Pride comes before the fall, and China’s Godless, enslaved country is soon to fade. Buy American, sink China. When their people tire of servitude, and revolution brings freedom, then embrace their people. Free trade for free people. Death to dictators = Freedom. China should join the free world and stop their imperialistic communism.

Posted by MyFathersSon | Report as abusive

First off China signed a trade contract which was part of the process for them to join the WTO. since then China has broken those requirenents in the contract. The contract will expire in 2012 or 2013. But why does the news report the usa is protecting its markets? Fact is China does not live up to its agreements and is winning the PR war about trade. When Obama talks enforcing teade thats what he is talking about. Who makes the tires in China? A american company has invested and makes the tires in China. Why hasnt Australia increased its intrest rate? Because China told them not to, so who is the bully? inflation will come to Australia thank your leaders for following and obeying Chinas bullying tactics, China are communist imperailists to the extreme.

Posted by chinaman1 | Report as abusive

China has discovered how useful a network of general aviation facilities and general aviation aircraft, i guess china is real tougher now
http://airsoc.com/articles/view/id/4fa17 7f5c6f8fa6c03000001/is-the-future-of-gen eral-aviation-in-china?ev=10&evp=tl

Posted by johnysmith | Report as abusive