- The Washington Times - Monday, November 14, 2005

This week, President Bush visits the People’s Republic of China. As with all such high-level diplomatic missions, he will doubtless be tempted to accentuate the few, putatively positive aspects of the Sino-American relationship, and gloss over the increasing number of negative ones.

In that happens, history may record this as a moment when the failure to speak truth to the Chinese communists condemned the two nations to conflict later.

That grim prospect might just be avoided if Mr. Bush reads in the course of his Far Eastern visit the report issued last week by the congressionally mandated, blue-ribbon U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Its bipartisan conclusion is that “over the past year, on balance, the trends in the U.S.-China relationship have negative implications for our long-term economic and security interests.”

The commission backs this up with nearly 170 pages of analysis based on 14 hearings. It represents the only “second opinion” on China both informed by full access to classified information and available to the American people, as well as their elected representatives. This panel performs a real public service and its conclusions deserve careful scrutiny — by President Bush, as well as the rest of us.

Such a review is made all the more necessary insofar as the U.S.-China Commission notes the United States lacks a “coherent strategic framework… grounded in a clear-eyed understanding of how the Chinese military and political leadership leads the country, how decisions are made and how their economy works… . China is an authoritarian regime and a nonmarket command economy still controlled by the Communist Party. The central goal of its leadership is maintaining its own power, at all costs.”

It flows from this basic insight that we must be concerned about such developments as:

The persistent assertion by the Chinese leadership to their political cadre and military officers that America is the “main enemy” and that war with the United States is “inevitable.”

Official Chinese efforts to secure energy resources from all over the world to meet its yawning needs (notably for oil, coal and natural gas) in a way that seems meant to deny such resources to the U.S. and other global competitors.

The PRC’s predatory trade practices and intellectual property theft that continue in violation of past commitments and World Trade Organization obligations. In part, the result is a bilateral trade deficit that has increased “over 140 percent in only four years.” The wealth thus garnered by China is used — among other things — to fuel the plundering of America’s remaining high-technology industrial base and the utter liquidation of our manufacturing sector.

Wealth transfers from the United States are underwriting Beijing’s ominous build-up of its armed forces, as well. The commission says: “China is engaged in a major military modernization program, the motives of which are opaque and unexplained. It is building a modern navy and air force, upgrading its nuclear-armed ICBM force and beginning to operate in a power-projection mode. It has markedly expanded its information warfare operations to a level that is clearly designed to disrupt American systems.”

The commission has also helpfully warned about the PRC’s increasingly bringing economic dinosaurs — its biggest “banks” and other state-owned enterprises — to the U.S. capital markets. By so doing, it is offloading the financing of otherwise unsustainable entities onto American investors. As a result, the latter are unwittingly helping underwrite the unsavory activities of such enterprises — including: China’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, arms build-up, environmental depredation, technology theft (including the Navy’s Aegis fleet air defense system and nuclear warhead designs), espionage and slave-labor manufacturing operations, etc.

Finally, China is engaged in activities that pose a more immediate danger. Two of its nationals were recently arrested trying to sell Chinese-made QW-2 man-portable surface-to-air missiles in this country. Had they done so, the result could have given rise to a potentially grave threat to American airliners. And Chinese micro-satellites are being readied to attack our space assets as another, potentially devastating manifestation of Beijing’s pursuit of what the Pentagon calls “asymmetric warfare” capabilities against the United States.

Few things would be more dangerous than to continue giving Communist China a pass on its increasingly brazen pursuit of its strategic goal of displacing this country as the world’s leading economic power and defeating us militarily, if necessary.

Mr. Bush must use his visit to China to disabuse its leaders of the notion we are indifferent to that agenda or unwilling to resist it. The valuable U.S.-China Commission has laid out in its 57 recommendations things we should be doing.

The president should make clear we are fully prepared to go farther, if need be, by helping the Chinese people liberate themselves from a regime that oppresses them and increasingly threatens us.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is a columnist for The Washington Times and lead author of “War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World” (Naval Institute Press, November 2005), available at www.USNI.org.

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