The Heritage Foundation

News Releases on Asia

April 18, 2001

April 18, 2001 | News Releases on Asia

Bush Administration Should Weigh Measures to Punish China, Analyst Says

WASHINGTON, Apr. 18, 2001-"No more Mr. Nice Guy." That's the stance a new Heritage Foundation paper urges the Bush administration to take in dealing with China.

"Chinese officials should be made to understand that the United States can be pushed only so far," says Larry Wortzel, director of Heritage's Asian Studies Center. "They've insisted on apologies after their fighter pilot endangered the lives of our crewmen. They've arrested and harassed U.S. citizens and permanent American residents of Chinese descent. They've escalated their threats against Taiwan and sold arms to rogue states such as Iran. Enough is enough."

Given Beijing's belligerent stance over the April 1 collision between a U.S. surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter jet, Wortzel argues, U.S. negotiators should think twice about its trade relations with China. Indeed, the United States should seriously consider imposing a host of other measures designed to respond to China's behavior.

Wortzel says China's wanton disregard for the rule of law raises serious questions about its suitability for membership in the World Trade Organization and its permanent normal trade status with the United States. After all, companies that wish to trade with China can't be sure their contracts will be honored or their disputes settled fairly. With regard to trade, U.S. officials must enforce strict controls on exports from American companies whose technology could benefit the Chinese military.

In addition, the United States should warn its citizens traveling to China about Beijing's harsh treatment of those it deems a threat, Wortzel says. Examples include its arrest last August of three Taiwan-born members of a Christian evangelical group from San Jose, its kidnapping of an American University professor and her family, and its harassment of the Falun Gong meditation group.

The United States should not support holding the 2008 Olympics in China without significant improvements in the human rights arena, Wortzel says. American TV rights money dwarfs all over sources of income for the Olympic movement.

Perhaps most significantly, the United States should maintain a strong military presence in Asia and continue to exercise its rights to free navigation of international waters and air space, he says. And it should sell Taiwan the weaponry it needs to discourage Chinese intimidation tactics.

"The EP-3 crisis and the arrests of American scholars in China should cause all Americans to re-evaluate just how far the United States is willing to go to improve relations with Beijing," Wortzel says. "A series of measured responses is needed when Beijing chooses to ignore its obligations."

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