- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Chinas insistence that the United States haul home its reconnaissance plane in so many pieces is more revealing than may be immediately apparent. The pettiness of the regimes latest muscle-flexing exercise illustrates a certain impotence, both domestically and internationally.
Conspicuous displays of geopolitical prominence are crucial to the despotic Chinese regime, which is rendered somewhat vulnerable through its unethical and illegitimate claim on power. In order to maintain its iron grip on its repressed people, Beijing must show signs of internal and international might.
Unfortunately for the regime, things havent gone its way since that April air collision. Immediately after the U.S. reconnaissance plane collided with a Chinese jet fighter on April 1, the regime demanded an apology from the White House. And although the Bush administration did issue statements of regret about the pilot and the situation in general, it did not issue an unequivocal apology. More importantly, the United States refused to discontinue its surveillance flights off the coast of China.
Shortly following the reconnaissance plane episode, President Bush stated the United States would do "whatever it takes" to defend Taiwan militarily and approved the largest-ever arms sale package to the island nation. Last week, Mr. Bush unapologetically invited Tibets exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to the White House while U.S. lawmakers graciously met with Taiwans democratically elected leader, Chen Shui-bian, in New York.
As expected, China has responded with indignant rhetoric. "The U.S. has interfered in Chinas internal affairs and has damaged Chinas national interest on issues such as Taiwan and Tibet," said Zhu Bangzao, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing.
In taking these principled positions, the White House has demonstrated to the world that it isnt necessary to kowtow to the illegitimate dictators in Beijing. And, since China needs the U.S. Congress to renew normal trade relations this year, it cant rail against America too violently. So the dictators are in the awkward position of wanting to show-up America for domestic consumption, and yet striving to preserve its trade status with the United States which is crucial for its economic growth.
In response, China has laughably demanded the United States take back its reconnaissance plane disassembled. To the United States, this is nothing more than a costly nuisance. To the Chinese and international observers, it should signal the weakness of the despots rule.


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