Time for Washington to Take a Realistic Look at China Policy

Report China

Time for Washington to Take a Realistic Look at China Policy

December 22, 2003 About an hour read
John Tkacik
Former Senior Research Fellow
John is a former Senior Research Fellow.

In the aftermath of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's December 8-10 visit to Washington, Congress must take stock of the Bush Administration's concessions to China on the Taiwan issue and assess what the United States received in return for compromising its commitment to Taiwan's democracy. A cold-eyed assessment of the U.S.-China relationship since the beginning of the Bush Administration will dispel the policy myths that have colored the U.S. perception of China's role in Asia and suggest how best to manage China in the coming decades. But dispelling the myths requires an understanding of why the early Bush Administration's China policy changed after September 11.

China's April 2001 downing of an American aircraft in international airspace and the subsequent two-week detention of the crew brought a temporary sense of realism to China policy that was buttressed by the incoming Bush Administration's judgment that China was becoming a serious challenge to many American interests in Asia.

However, in a post-September 11 world, the Administration's preoccupation with the war on terrorism, Iraq, and especially North Korea has led policymakers to downplay China's resistance and hostility to U.S. initiatives in Asia and elsewhere. Over the past year, U.S. officials have proclaimed themselves "absolutely delighted with the state of our relations with the People's Republic of China and the direction we're going,"1 and those American China scholars long known for their sunny views of the People's Republic of China (PRC) have added glowing commentaries of their own.2 12

In September, Secretary of State Colin Powell was only a shade less ebullient in his observation that "U.S. relations with China are the best they have been since President Nixon's first visit." Not that relations were warm and fuzzy, he explained, but rather that "neither we nor the Chinese leadership anymore believe that there is anything inevitable about our relationship--either inevitably bad or inevitably good."3

In contrast to Secretary Powell's balanced assessment, the general appreciation of America's post-
9/11 relationship with China is riddled with myths and misconceptions. Indeed, even President George W. Bush declared that China was a "partner in diplomacy working to meet the dangers of the 21st century"4--certainly an overstatement.

A dispassionate review of China's foreign affairs, trade, and national security policies over the past two years reveals that China has usually opposed U.S. interests, sometimes remained neutral, but never cooperated in achieving American goals. In the wake of Premier Wen's visit to Washington, the Administration and Congress should reexamine their China policy and consider why their candid, firm, and successful pre-9/11 China policy has been abandoned in favor of a policy of conciliation and compromise that has yielded little beyond rhetoric.

Specifically, the Administration should:

  • Reassess America's strategic interests in the Western Pacific with an eye to how China fits in, whether as a friend, a neutral, or--as is so often the case--an adversary.
  • Make democratic reform in China the top priority of America's China policy.
  • Firmly adhere to America's 50-year-old policy of dismissing China's claims of sovereignty over Taiwan.
  • Be publicly candid about China's behavior and avoid painting U.S.-China relations in undeservedly glowing terms such as "delighted" and "better than ever."
  • Hold China to a results-based standard rather than blandly accepting China's promises that its proliferation behavior, unfair trade policies, and aggressive military buildup will change in return for concrete concessions from the U.S.
  • Reconsider China's growing military threat to Taiwan in the context of Secretary Powell's simple benchmark:

The differences between China and Taiwan are fundamentally political. They cannot be solved by military means.... An arms build-up, like those new missiles opposite Taiwan, only deepen tensions, deepen suspicion. Whether China chooses peace or coercion to resolve its differences with Taiwan will tell us a great deal about the kind of re-lationship China seeks not only with its neighbors, but with us.5

Thus far, China has chosen only coercion against Taiwan.

Many American policymakers, scholars, and journalists view China not for what it is, but for what they hope it to be. Promoting myths about China neither helps change the behavior of the Chinese government nor serves American national interests. In fact, it gives the Chinese leave to perpetuate bad practices while at the same time creating unrealistic expectations that will ultimately undermine U.S. policies.

At the outset, it should be recognized that China:

  • Has stepped up threats of war against democratic Taiwan;
  • Has not been a "partner," strategic or otherwise, in the war on terrorism;
  • Was not helpful during the Iraq War and is not supportive of U.S. goals in reconstructing the country;
  • Fully supports North Korea in its tense nuclear negotiations with the U.S.;
  • Is the world's premier proliferator of dangerous materials, precursors, and equipment and technologies relating to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems;
  • Neglects, and even willfully violates, its World Trade Organization and bilateral trade commitments;
  • Continues its pattern of severe human rights abuses; and
  • Is likely to force another maritime confrontation with the U.S. in the South China Sea.

Common China Policy Myths

Myth #1: China has helped the U.S. in the war on terrorism.

Assessing the course of the U.S.-China relationship as the war on terrorism enters its third year, it may be instructive to examine how China has or has not cooperated in meeting the challenge of global terrorism.

The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S. stunned China, and on September 12, the Chinese president conveyed his deepest sympathies to President Bush. Soon afterward, however, China hedged its support for the brewing war on terrorism with immediate words of caution that American military action should "respect the United Nations' charter and norms of international law."6 China also incongruously linked "terrorism" with what Beijing characterized as Taiwan's "splittism"7 and called for "reliable evidence" before it would countenance American military strikes against Afghanistan.8

From the beginning, China lobbied U.N. Security Council members to put the brakes on American action. In a telephone conversation on Sep-tember 18, Chinese President Jiang Zemin told British Prime Minister Tony Blair that U.N. approval and "irrefutable evidence" were needed for China to back armed retaliation for the attacks on the U.S. In a similar call to French President Jacques Chirac before Chirac's trip to Washington, Jiang cautioned that "under current circumstances, keeping sober-minded is especially needed, and prudence should be exercised in handling relevant issues." Jiang's message to Russian President Vladimir Putin was the same.9

After September 11, the official People's Daily Web site reportedly posted an article declaring that the United States brought the tragedy upon itself because of its hegemony.10 Chinese journalists visiting the U.S. at the time of the terrorist attacks were reportedly expelled after cheering the news--a charge that a State Department spokesman pointedly refrained from denying.11

In the immediate post-attack period, the U.S. hoped for Chinese assistance in "the financial area" (to freeze terrorist assets and funding) and in "rescue efforts" (possibly including permission for damaged U.S. aircraft to land at Chinese airports), two areas in which then Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan indicated on September 22 that China was willing to cooperate. While China's state-owned financial institutions may not have been prime conduits for terrorist money, Beijing governs Hong Kong's foreign affairs, and a nod from Beijing was surely necessary before Hong Kong's government and banks could cooperate fully and transparently with U.S. counterparts. This was one of China's few useful contributions to the war effort.

Other Chinese gestures of assistance, however, failed to produce results. For example, a U.S.-China "expert group" met in Washington on September 25, 2001, for "wide-ranging talks" on cooperation in the global anti-terrorism effort. While the State Department characterized these talks as "serious and productive" because they "successfully identified areas of common interest," there was little indication that the group managed to agree on anything other than the general statement that fighting terrorism is a good thing.12

Some analysts have claimed that China encouraged Pakistan to cooperate with the United States in the first months after September 11. The opposite is true. Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, China's top Asia specialist, was dispatched to Islamabad on September 22 but was unable to reach any consensus with the Pakistanis other than the vaguely worded statement, "it can be said that China and Pakistan's position on the fight against terrorism are in accord with each other."13

The strange lack of a joint statement following such an important diplomatic move suggested that the vice minister's real purpose in Islamabad was to reassure Pakistan of its support against American pressure.14 Chinese troop movements that same day down the Karakoram highway toward the mountainous areas around the Pakistani and Afghan borders were obviously designed not to prevent Afghan intruders--the mountains separating China and Afghanistan are over 20,000 feet high and were controlled by anti-Taliban forces--but instead to reassure Pakistan of the proximity of Chinese forces.15

Beijing's diplomatic coolness toward U.S. plans to strike terrorist bases in Afghanistan was grounded in fears of greater U.S. involvement in Central Asia, a region that it saw as being within its own sphere of influence. Heralding a split in the Chinese leadership on the nature of China's anti-terrorism cooperation with the U.S., the Liberation Army Daily quoted Chief of General Staff Fu Quanyou as warning the U.S. against using the war on terrorism to dominate global affairs: "counter-terrorism should not be used to practice hegemony."16

In February 2003, a prominent Chinese scholar wrote in one of China's most respected foreign affairs periodicals that "the United States uses the fight against terrorism as an opportunity to pursue its hegemonic strategy and hegemonism is carried out under the cover of antiterrorism." Moreover, he blamed American "hegemonism" on the incumbent Administration, noting that "the pursuers of hegemonism are just some of the people in power in the United States." For this reason, he explained, "tactically, China cannot be without any reservations when cooperating with the United States in combating terrorism."17

This assessment explains why China's post-9/11 Middle Eastern and Central Asian diplomacy was not helpful in the war on terrorism either operationally or diplomatically. In April 2002, for example, Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited Libya and Iran to stress his country's strong ties with those nations--just before Vice President Hu Jintao visited Washington. According to the Iranian press, "Jiang has now sent a clear message to the American administration that he will not abide by U.S. rules and that he is determined to pursue an independent foreign policy." By the time Jiang left Tehran, the Iranians believed that "Iran and China have at their disposal all necessary potentials to turn into two strategic partners in the region" and were confident that "the Chinese will surely stay with us 'til the end."18

Additionally, the week after Vice President Hu's visit to Washington, China pressured its Central Asian "allies," Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, to back away from their support of the U.S.19 Under pressure from Beijing, the Kazakhs scaled back offers of airspace and bases to American forces while the Kyrgyz did not.

U.S.-China anti-terrorism cooperation has been a one-way street. FBI agents are said to have trained their Chinese counterparts in the intelligence exploitation of terrorist archives, yet there is little indication that China has made any substantive contribution to anti-terrorist intelligence. In April 2002, Admiral Dennis Blair, the U.S. commander in the Pacific, told reporters that, "with other governments that we're operating with more closely, like the Philippines or Singapore and Malaysia, it's very detailed, tactical information of the type you need to take action," adding that "I think we need to get to that level with Beijing, and it's not quite there yet."20

In February 2003, State Department coordinator for counter-terrorism J. Cofer Black led a U.S. delegation to Beijing for the third session of U.S.-China anti-terrorism consultations and the second consultation of the Sino-U.S. Financial Counter-Terrorism Working Group.21 While the State Department was polite about China's stance in the war on terrorism, the most Black could say about China's cooperation was that "we are very pleased with our cooperation" and "we think it has great potential"22--a full 18 months after 9/11.

All in all, China's diplomatic support in the war on terrorism has been marginal at best. The most that could be said is that China voted in support of both U.N. Security Council resolutions after the September 11 attacks, though it could hardly have avoided doing so.23 In August 2003, China also committed to join the Container Security Initiative (CSI), which permits U.S. Customs officials to pre-screen cargo containers bound for the United States. But China had no choice: Two-thirds of all containers headed to the United States come from China, and the alternative to Chinese CSI participation was delays of Chinese ships entering U.S. ports.

In addition, contrary to media reports, China has provided relatively little support in rebuilding Afghanistan, and virtually none through the United Nations.24 Meanwhile, the Chinese used "terrorism" as an excuse to jail and in some cases execute Uighurs (a Turkic ethnic group) in western China who oppose the progressive Sinicization of their traditional homeland.

Myth #2: China "stood aside" in the Iraq War.

In mid-2002, China appeared to be supportive of U.S. efforts to get Iraq to accede to reconstituted United Nations inspections for weapons of mass destruction. In late August 2002, during a visit by Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to Beijing, the Chinese extolled their long friendship with Iraq, but also warned that Iraq must "strictly implement U.N. Security Council resolutions" in order to avoid "the emergence of a new complexity with the Iraq issue."25 Reading between the lines, Beijing told Baghdad that Iraq had brought its problems on itself and that, while China did not "approve" of the use of force, it would not oppose a Security Council resolution authorizing such force.

By September 24, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman signaled that Beijing was "ready to study" American and British "proposals" that may be raised in the Security Council.26 On October 25, President Jiang Zemin privately notified President Bush that China would not obstruct U.S. military action against Iraq,27 and by November 8, China (like Syria) had voted for Resolution 1441 in the Security Council.

By January 2003, however, China saw that two other permanent members of the Security Council were ready to block a U.S. attempt to gain U.N. approval for military action, and Beijing's diplomats discreetly lined up against Washington.

On February 4, Powell met with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, in New York to brief Tang on Iraq. The next day, Tang privately reassured Powell that "as Chinese President Jiang Zemin had reassured U.S. President George W. Bush last October at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, China would `stand aside' on the Iraq issue at the U.N." Minister Tang also told French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin that China supported France's "strong and principled stance" calling for "more time" before approving the use of force against Iraq. Rather than "stand aside," China instead lent rhetorical support to France and Russia, who both indicated that they would veto any use-of-force resolution.28

In the end, the U.S. and its allies went ahead with the military invasion of Iraq without a new and explicit Security Council authorization, and China condemned the action in its public media as "nothing short of a war crime."29

Although China has acquiesced in the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, it remains committed to placing Iraq under U.N. authority and steadfastly opposes U.S. efforts to enlist U.N. assistance under U.S. leadership. In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on September 24, 2003, Tang continued to snipe at the U.S. position in Iraq.30

As late as October 2003, China joined Russia, Germany, and France in pressing the United States to commit to a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq at the earliest possible time, turn administration of Iraq over to the U.N., and give the U.N. oversight of Iraq's financial reconstruction. China insists that the United States turn all sovereignty over to Iraq and make arrangements for a new constitution--uninfluenced by the United States--at a later date.31

Myth #3: China has helped in the North Korean nuclear crisis.

As early as 1999, Richard Armitage (now Deputy Secretary of State) wrote a report for the National Defense University in which he observed that China had not been particularly helpful to the U.S. in the North Korean nuclear crisis. Specifically:

China has resisted active cooperation--with the Korean Peninsula Energy De-velopment Organization, with the World Food Program, and on missiles. Its inde-pendent actions pose a challenge to any successful U.S. policy.32

Armitage recognized that China had its own distinct agenda separate from the American effort to coax North Korea (DPRK) to abandon its nuclear weapons efforts.

By late 2003, it is painfully clear that Beijing is not on Washington's side, or even neutral, in the North Korean debate. Initially, Washington apparently calculated that enlisting Beijing in the North Korean nuclear debate would cause Beijing to move Pyongyang in the direction the U.S. wanted. Instead, Beijing has expended virtually all its energies on getting the United States to move in North Korea's direction.33

North Korean "negotiators" continued their threats to "demonstrate or transfer" nuclear weapons at the failed U.S.-North Korean talks hosted by China in Beijing on April 23, 2003, and repeated their demands for a formal U.S.-DPRK treaty guaranteeing the security of the Pyongyang regime, extensive economic aid, a resumption of construction of a nuclear power plant, and formal diplomatic recognition from Washington. In addition, the North Koreans demanded that the U.S. use its influence with Japan to deliver on Japanese economic aid and diplomatic ties. But the North Korean representative did not respond to U.S. insistence that North Korea dismantle its nuclear weapons program "completely, verifiably, and irreversibly."

A subsequent American effort to engage the North Koreans in a six-party multilateral setting was also fruitless. To balance the sides, the Chinese recruited Russia to join a multilateral forum, which was finally held in Beijing on August 27, 2003, with China and Russia supporting the DPRK and the U.S. backed by Japan and South Korea. In those talks, the North Koreans continued their vituperate threats and insults, saving the most pointed jibes for the hapless Russian deputy foreign minister whom the North Korean delegate referred to by name as a "liar" and a "lap dog" of the Americans.34 Moreover, the North Koreans refused to budge from their insistence on the right to develop and maintain a nuclear arsenal. The session ended acrimoniously but was nonetheless painted as "a good beginning" by the State Department.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly commented that at least "it was possible for all who were there to hear what was said by any"--that no longer would the world simply have to take Kelly's word that North Korea's envoys behaved abominably. One State Department official said privately that American's biggest "trump card is Kim Jong Il," whose behavior, reflected in his diplomats, is so irrational as to undermine hope that a peaceful resolution of the nuclear crisis is even possible.

Even Russia's normally sympathetic Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov was heard to have shaken his head in dismay and mutter "there go 55 years of history."35 The Russian remained noncommittal in public and would only "suggest" in private "that the North Koreans had not been listening to Mr. Kelly's presentation."36

China, however, remains firmly in North Korea's corner. The weekend after the talks, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi declared that "the main problem we are facing" is not North Korea's histrionics, but "the American policy towards [the] DPRK." This after the vice minister was described by all present at the six-party talks as "visibly angered" by the North Korean delegates' outbursts.37

Powell played down Wang's attack on the U.S. position, saying that "neither I nor my staff, nor have Chinese officials we have talked to in Beijing about the matter, seen a full transcript...and I am quite sure the Vice Foreign Minister was not resting the problem on the United States."38 Nonetheless, the view that Wang's attack reflected Chinese policy was given credence by another key State Department official who said, "normally, hearsay evidence is inadmissible, but there is an exception for the `excited utterance.'"39

There were other signs of strain in China's relationship with the DPRK. In mid-September, Vice Minister Wang apparently confided to reporters that he would accompany Chairman of the National People's Congress Wu Bangguo, the second ranking member in the Chinese Communist Party hierarchy, to Pyongyang in an attempt to nudge Kim Jung Il on the talks. But intelligence sources in Washington say Kim postponed the visit for several weeks and in the end conditioned the visit on additional Chinese shipments of oil. Indeed, Wu's visit finally took place at the end of October with promises of additional aid, and Wu returned to Beijing with assurances that North Korea would return to the conference table, provided Japan abjures any mention of its kidnap victims.40

The kidnapping issue is of critical political importance to the Japanese government, and one that North Korea wants marginalized. When Pyongyang declared in September that it saw no use in further talks, Beijing blamed Washington. When Pyongyang demanded that Japan be dropped from the talks because of Tokyo's insistence on including the issue of abductees, China lent support. China also demarched the United States to cease mention of the Japanese abductees at the six-party talks.41

Then it was reported that China had turned responsibility for border patrols on the Yalu River over to the People's Liberation Army. News reports indicated that the People's Armed Police, which had previously patrolled the border, was just too corrupt to be trusted, but intelligence reporting indicates that the Chinese military is working more easily with DPRK troops in repatriating refugees. One official in Washington says replacing the police with the army may be more a signal to the United States not to get involved in the North Korean refugee issue than a signal to North Korea that it is truly worried--finally--about a major refugee influx.42

Whatever China's motives, it still acts as the DPRK's enabler. No public complaint, no exasperation, no hint of impatience with Pyongyang comes from Beijing. China is North Korea's fuel and food supplier of last resort. In 1998, for example, the DPRK imported only 609,000 tons of crude oil, of which 83 percent came from China.43 The U.S. Department of State cites numbers of some $500 million per year in Chinese food aid to North Korea.44

On the other hand, the Chinese harangue the Americans for being obstructionists in these talks. One Chinese official told reporters that the Chinese government had "some concern...that the Bush Administration's position had hardened to the point where compromise might be extremely difficult." That official pointed to the resignation of the Administration's special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, "who had advocated a somewhat more conciliatory approach than the one now popular with the White House."45

As the U.S. negotiating team prepares for a second round of six-party talks in Beijing in the coming year, they should expect further pressure from the Chinese government to accede to North Korean demands. They can be assured, however, that China will not pressure North Korea for movement on "complete, verifiable, and irreversible" dismantling of its nuclear program.

During Premier Wen's early December visit in Washington, the North Koreans again demanded that, before North Korea takes any action, the "United States must remove our country's name from the list of terrorism sponsoring countries; lift its political, economic, military sanctions and blockade; and give us heavy oil, electricity and other energy assistance from the United States and neighboring countries."46 Key Administration arms control officials remain convinced that Beijing and Pyongyang developed this position jointly and hoped to ram it through the U.S. bureaucracy during the Wen visit, but were unsuccessful. They say that, in the several weeks before the Wen visit, China "stepped up deliveries to North Korea of fuel oil and food" to the DPRK and that, "as an added incentive, Beijing shipped an entire glass factory to North Korea."47

Myth #4: China has slowed its support of WMD proliferation.

In March 2002, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet reported that Chinese activities not only "continue to be inimical not just to our interests, but [also] stimulate secondary activities that only complicate the threat that we face, our forces face and our allies face, particularly in the Middle East," and added that "in some instances these activities are condoned by the government."48 In fact, the CIA reported in January 2002 that China provided "extensive support" to Pakistan's nuclear programs in the past and that, even as late as the first half of 2001, "continued contacts" between Chinese entities and Pakistani nuclear weapons developers could not be ruled out, despite China's 1996 promise to stop assistance to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.49

The Administration's frustration with China was explained by Assistant Secretary of State Paula De-Sutter in July 2003: "At the highest levels, the Chinese government has claimed that it opposes missile proliferation...[U]nfortunately, the reality has been quite different." DeSutter went on to document 15 years of China's broken promises, mendacity, and prevarications on missile, nuclear, and chemical weapons proliferation issues.50

The CIA's January 2002 report also documented that Chinese firms had "provided significant assistance" to Pakistan's ballistic missile programs, including serial production of solid-fuel short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM), and noted that there were "some interactions" in early 2001 between Chinese and Iranian missile and nuclear weapons development entities.

In June 2002, the White House reported to Congress on weapons proliferation. It revealed that Chinese, North Korean, and Russian companies "have continued to supply Iran with a wide variety of missile-related goods, technology, and expertise."51 In May 2002, the U.S. sanctioned eight Chinese entities for selling missile-related equipment and other unspecified WMD-related materials to Iran. The unspecified materials apparently were components for Iran's anti-ship cruise missile program.52

China's missile proliferation to Iran continued unabated through 2002, resulting in further U.S. sanctions against Chinese firms on July 9 for "knowingly and materially" contributing to the proliferation of destabilizing numbers and types of cruise missiles in Iran. Nor was Chinese proliferation to Iran limited to missiles. On both January 16 and July 9, the Administration sanctioned several Chinese firms for transfers of anti-corrosive glass-lined equipment to make chemical weapons and for other chemical weapons-related sales to Iran.

China also has a long history of aiding North Korea's missile program. Intelligence has recently revealed that China sold specialty steel and missile-related accelerometers, gyroscopes, and precision grinding machinery to the DPRK for its missile program.

Moreover, China has worked with Pyongyang on its space program, which is closely associated with its military. The CIA's January 2002 report noted that North Korea acquired Chinese missile components in the first half of 2001 and apparently resold those items to Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, and Libya.

On October 4, 2002, during talks with American diplomats, North Korea surprisingly acknowledged its secret program to enrich uranium to develop nuclear weapons, a flagrant violation of the commitments made by the DPRK in the 1994 Agreed Framework to cease its nuclear program. American intelligence learned that the North Korean uranium technology and equipment was transferred from Pakistan, which air-shipped the cargo via Chinese military bases, probably well into 2002.53

Libya is another worrisome customer of Chinese missile technology. Defense intelligence learned in December 1999 that China intended to build Libya a hypersonic wind tunnel for its "Al Fatah" SRBM program and was training Libyan missile experts at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. China also provided Libya with navigational and guidance systems, which the CIA's January 2002 report said were "critical" to Libya's ballistic missile programs.54

As of May 2003, China was still selling missile components and technology to Iran. The United States responded by placing economic sanctions on China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO), one of China's largest arms manufacturers, which directly halted over $100 million in Chinese exports to the United States.55

On July 3, 2003, the Bush Administration im-posed economic sanctions on five other Chinese firms for assisting Iran's weapons programs. As the New York Times noted, "it did so even as American officials were meeting with a senior Chinese diplomat, trying to coax Beijing into forcing North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program."56

Again, on July 30, the State Department an-nounced further sanctions on Chinese firms for aiding Iraq's nuclear weapons program. The State Department spokesman explained, "we think it's the responsibility of the Chinese Government to impose the kind of controls and regulations to ensure that it stops this kind of activity that it's proliferating."57

News reports said that the State Department had levied additional sanctions on Chinese firms as of September 18.58 The CIA's most recent public assessment of China's proliferation behavior says that "Chinese entities remain key suppliers of WMD and missile-related technologies to countries of concern" and adds that the evidence "during the current reporting period continues to show that Chinese firms still provide dual-use CW [chemical weapons]-related production equipment and technology to Iran."59

Beijing's support for North Korea also apparently includes nuclear weapons assistance. In October 2002, the New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, and Wall Street Journal published separate articles alleging that China was, directly or indirectly, complicit in the transfer of Pakistani uranium-enrichment technology to North Korea.60

In fact, China has been North Korea's nuclear enabler for over a decade. Even into 2003, Beijing has continued to supply North Korean laboratories with chemicals needed to separate plutonium from spent fuel.61 The Chinese government also continues to permit North Korean aircraft to overfly Chinese airspace to deliver dangerous missile, nuclear, and chemical contraband to Iran and elsewhere.62

Myth #5: Maritime tensions are easing.

For the past half-century, American naval vessels and surveillance aircraft, in innocent passage, have patrolled international waters and airspace in the Western Pacific. In recent years, Chinese forces have harassed these U.S. craft. In late 1994, the USS Kitty Hawk carrier battle group twice encountered Chinese submarines, and subsequently fighter aircraft, in international waters in the Yellow Sea, but China resisted U.S. requests to develop rules of engagement or an "incident at sea" agreement until late 1997 after the first Jiang-Clinton summit.63

Yet, when a U.S.-China Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) was finalized in 1998, the Chinese continued to ignore it.

  • In April 2001, a Chinese warplane struck an American reconnaissance aircraft flying in international airspace, and China refused all American attempts to open a channel of com-munication as called for in the MMCA.
  • In the summer of 2001, and again in late 2002, Chinese ships and aircraft harassed the USNS Bowditch and the USNS Sumner, two American naval oceanographic ships, in international waters.64
  • Well into 2003, Chinese fighter jets continued to harass American reconnaissance aircraft, in at least one case coming within 90 meters.65
  • In June 2003, Chinese jets shadowed a Japanese antisubmarine warfare plane over international waters.66

This behavior undoubtedly reflects a new Chinese policy of assertiveness in the international waters of the Western Pacific. In February, Xinhua news agency reported that China would "expand its maritime surveillance and control rights from 50 nautical miles (nm) to 100 nm by the year 2010 and further expand its jurisdiction to the entire 200 nm Exclusive Economic Zone by the year 2020."67 It is clear that, despite its accession to the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), China considers the 200 nm exclusive economic zone (EEZ), rather than waters within 12 nm of shore, as "territorial seas."68

With the passage of China's first national "administrative regulation on uninhabited islands" on July 1, 2003, China served notice that it intended to be more aggressive in asserting its claims to landforms and reefs in the South China Sea. The headquarters of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army announced the regulations on June 17, along with the warning that "China's island administration had, for a long time, been relatively weak, and disorderly exploitation of uninhabited islands" had "posed a threat to national defense and military security." In other words, the fact that China had not asserted its claims in the past should not be taken as precedent.69

Even earlier, in January 2003, American press reports said that China had adopted new statutes prohibiting foreign military "survey and mapping" operations in the EEZ. In response, an American official was quoted as saying, "we have continued to maintain over the years that our military surveys are a high-seas freedom and are not subject to restrictions placed within any EEZ."70 Although the U.S. has not ratified the 1982 UNCLOS, it does consider military and non-commercial state-owned ships immune from foreign jurisdiction (as per UNCLOS, Articles 58 and 59) and considers all surveillance and survey activities for non-commercial purposes to be legitimate outside foreign territorial waters; i.e., beyond the 12 nm limit.71

Also in January 2003, Beijing's Zhongguo Qingnian Bao (China Youth News) reported that China's Maritime Patrol Service had "effectively responded"72 against incursions into Chinese "territorial seas" by American and Japanese ships and aircraft and specifically charged the USNS Bowditch and USNS Sumner with engaging in unauthorized military mapping activities.

On July 1, 2003, the headquarters of the General Staff Department of the People's Liberation Army, together with the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), issued new regulations protecting uninhabited islands around the base points of China's territorial waters. This includes all of the disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea and prohibits activities that might damage these islands. The regulations require all "organizations and individuals" to apply for approval if they want to use the islands.73 The Chinese were swift to begin enforcement of the rules.

On July 11, Chinese patrol ships seized five Taiwanese fishing boats that were operating in the open sea more than 129 km from the southeast coast of China. The Chinese accused the Taiwanese boats of infringing on China's economic exclusion zone. Although the Taiwanese ships were operating far from China's coast, China claims a 200 nautical mile economic exclusion zone, which covers the entire Taiwan Strait.74

There may not be a way to bridge the gap between China's demands that American military and non-commercial government vessels first gain Chinese authorization to conduct maritime surveillance in waters within 200 nm of Chinese landfall under Articles 246 and 248 of the UNCLOS and the U.S. demands for "freedom of access" on the high seas.75 But given the Chinese government's extensive territorial claims in the South China sea, in the Ryukyu chain, and on Taiwan, China's actions promise friction not only with the U.S. in the coming years, but also with all other nations in the Asia-Pacific region with overlapping maritime claims.76

Myth #6: China's human rights situation is improving.

China's citizens today enjoy increased economic freedom as a result of the Communist Party's attempt to retain some legitimacy. However, there has been no substantive improvement in China's human rights or civil liberties since the Tiananmen Square tragedy of June 1989. Virtually all movement forward has been accompanied by a step or two backward.

The 2003 annual report of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China reveals that the changes Beijing has made in its legal process have had little impact on the state of human rights in the country. China still has no freedom of speech or of the press, in addition to which its judicial system is plagued by corruption and its massive repression of religious movements and non-state-run organizations continues unabated. The country continues to enforce its invasive family planning laws and does very little to protect women's rights. Despite the legal framework it has built to protect women's rights, once again, the implementation has been weak.

Chinese officials are not held accountable for their actions. As explained by Assistant Secretary of State Kelly, "China remains a one-party system where the people who rule and who make the rules are by and large not accountable to the general population."77 During 2002, Beijing appeared to be taking steps to improve its human rights record and address some international concerns. The country released a number of dissident prisoners and even extended an invitation to the U.N. Special Rapporteurs on Torture and Religious Intolerance and the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Later in the year, however, the government arrested democracy activists, put labor leaders on trial for "subversion," and imposed death sentences on two Tibetans without due process.78

In early 2003, China began to focus on constitutional development, thereby encouraging citizens to engage in discussions of constitutionalism. The government quickly grew concerned with the tone of the discussions, however, and prohibited talk of political reform in the media and among academics. Additionally, during 2002, the government continued its "strike hard" campaign against crime. The main crimes targeted were dissent and separatism. As a part of this campaign, Chinese officials are reported to have executed over 4,000 people, often without due process. Amnesty International reported that China carried out more executions than all other countries combined.79

For example, in October 2003, a young Tibetan political prisoner died soon after being moved from prison to a hospital;80 a young Turkistani political prisoner deported from Nepal in 1999 was sentenced to death by a Chinese court;81 12 underground Roman Catholic priests and seminarians were arrested in central China, and an unauthorized Roman Catholic Church was bulldozed to the ground;82 a lawyer who helped a group of Shanghai residents sue a prominent real estate developer was sentenced to three years in prison;83 and a Chinese court charged a former high school teacher with trying to subvert the government by posting tracts on the Internet.84

The Chinese government still does not permit nongovernmental organizations to monitor human rights conditions. It also refused to permit the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to operate along its border with North Korea and deported thousands of North Koreans, many of whom face imprisonment or worse in the DPRK. Responding to reports that the U.S. government urged the U.N. investigator of torture to visit China, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official claimed that the views were based on "arrogance and prejudices."85

Myth #7: China's military expansion
is normal.

For over a decade, China has massively increased defense spending. The Pentagon estimates that total Chinese defense spending ranges from $45 billion to $65 billion per year, making China's military budget the second largest in the world after that of the United States. Moreover, the Pentagon sees additional double-digit defense budget growth as likely, at least through the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-2005).86

The Department of Defense assesses that China's military has improved in a number of important areas that will pose a major threat to Taiwan. This includes a revised doctrine of preemption and surprise:

Chinese doctrine is moving toward the goal of surprise, deception, and shock effect in the opening phase of a campaign. China is exploring coercive strategies designed to bring Taipei to terms quickly.87

In the event China takes Taiwan by force, it wants to work fast in order to preclude U.S. intervention.88 According to the Department of Defense report, much of China's increased defense spending is on missiles, both short-range and long-range. In July 2003, China had 450 short-range ballistic missiles, and factory output indicates that this number will increase by over 75 missiles per year for the next few years. All of China's known short-range missiles are deployed opposite Taiwan.

China has also improved its military training and joint operations. China's military expansion and treatment of the U.S. as an adversary in its military exercises suggest that the country still poses a challenge to America's interests in the Pacific and is a significant threat to the security of Taiwan, a democracy that the U.S. has carefully nurtured over 50 years. America would be loath to allow a communist dictatorship to take Taiwan by force.89

Given the exigencies of international politics, the U.S. support of the Taiwan people's right to determine their own future softened during the Wen visit.90 This policy has not stabilized the Taiwan-China balance. Just the opposite: It has emboldened China to step up its missile deployments and drive Taiwan's leaders to ever more insistent declarations that Taiwan is independent from Beijing.91

What Washington Should Do

Strengthen Ties with Japan and Australia
The key to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region is not China, but rather a strong alliance with Japan and Australia. In 2000, George W. Bush ran on a platform that called for a major change in managing relations with China: "A misguided policy toward China was exemplified by President Bill Clinton's trip to Beijing that produced an embarrassing presidential kowtow and a public insult to our longstanding ally, Japan."92 During his first weeks in office, President Bush saw China as a strategic competitor, and the catharsis of the Hainan incident on April 1, 2001, belied the value of the Clinton "engagement" policies.

In a January 2000 article in Foreign Affairs, Robert Zoellick (now U.S. Trade Representative) chided President Clinton for taking a nine-day trip to China but passing up Japan, a U.S. ally that China had just criticized for agreeing to new defense guidelines with the U.S.93 He also criticized Clinton for "failing to prepare the American public for China's missile buildup, its nuclear espionage, and its crack-downs on democracy."94

Reject "engagement" and promote candor
The Defense Strategy Review issued by the Pentagon before 9/11 underscored the challenge of a rising China, and an earlier "Asia 2025" assessment depicted the China of the future as a potentially dangerous force.95 Seen in the context of the Hainan incident and China's military expansion, these are valid judgments. "Engagement" with China is a worthy sentiment, but it must be conducted with a clear understanding that China sees the U.S. commitment to Asian democracy both as a threat to the legitimacy of the Beijing regime and as a hegemonic threat.

Watch China's public posture, not its private assurances
In facing the North Korean menace, the Administration would be better advised to coordinate closely with Japan and Australia than to rely on the kindness of the Chinese leadership, which views the survival of the Pyongyang regime as a major security interest.

Although they tell American counterparts in private that their government genuinely seeks a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, Chinese officials have never uttered either a public word of condemnation against North Korea's nuclear weapons program or a public word of support for America's efforts to disarm the North. In spite of this, the exigencies of the war on terrorism, the reconstruction of Iraq, and a potential crisis over North Korea's nuclear ambitions are clouding America's judgment of its relationship with China.

Take a "back to basics" approach
In 1945, President Harry Truman told General George Marshall (about to embark on the Marshall Mission to China) that a "strong, united, and democratic China is in the most vital interest of the United States and all the United Nations."96 In the intervening half-century, the "democratic" has fallen off the list to the point that Secretary of State Powell merely observes that "America welcomes the emergence of a strong, peaceful and prosperous China."97 The Administration and Congress should approach the China issue in a way that focuses attention on the fundamental American values of freedom and democracy.


In an article written for Foreign Affairs during the 2000 presidential campaign, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice acknowledged the need for China's integration into the international economy, but also warned that China's human rights situation must not be ignored: "Rather, the American president should press the Chinese leadership for change."98 Indeed, this message came through loud and clear during President Bush's two visits to China in October 2001 and February 2002.

Moreover, in her article, Rice recognized that "even if there is an argument for economic interaction with Beijing, China is still a potential threat to stability in the Asia-Pacific region." She conceded that China is a "strategic competitor," not the "strategic partner" that the Clinton Administration envisioned.99

Rice also examined U.S. policy toward Taiwan, asserting that the U.S. has a "deep interest in the security of Taiwan." She foresaw a Bush Administration that would press China to renounce the use of force in resolving the conflicted relationship between Taipei and Beijing.

A dispassionate examination of how China has approached key foreign policy, trade, and national security issues over the past two years suggests that, far more often than not, China has opposed U.S. interests or, at the very least, has remained neutral or aloof. China has provided little support in the war on terrorism, did not simply "stand by" during the Iraq War, has hampered efforts to ease the reconstruction of Iraq, and has not helped to bring North Korea around to dismantling its nuclear weapons programs.

Before they joined the Bush Administration, Rice, Zoellick, and Armitage all articulated clear-eyed, realistic, and unsentimental views of how to manage the challenges that a rising China poses to the interests of peace and democracy in Asia. A constructive and cooperative relationship with China can emerge only if American policymakers understand that the promotion of democratic ideals and a stable American presence in Asia are objectives that China's leaders seek to obstruct, and engage China on that basis alone.

The bottom line is that any portrayal of China's foreign policy behavior as somehow sharing American interests is a disservice to the American people and their elected representatives in Congress.

John J. Tkacik, Jr., is Research Fellow in China Policy in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.100

1. Richard Armitage, "Remarks by Richard L. Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State," Asia Society Forum, Sydney, Australia, August 13, 2003, at

2. For example, see Michael Swaine, "Reverse Course? The Fragile Turnaround in U.S.-China Relations," Policy Brief, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Vol. 22, February 2003, at www.ceip.org/files/pdf/Policybrief22.pdf. See also Evan Medieros and M. Taylor Fravel, "China's New Diplomacy," Foreign Affairs, November/December 2003, pp. 22-35.

3. Colin L. Powell, "Remarks at the Elliott School of International Affairs," George Washington University, Washington, D.C., September 5, 2003, at www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2003/23836.htm.

4. Press release, "President Bush Welcomes Premier of China to the White House," White House, December 9, 2003, at www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/12/20031209-1.html.

5. Colin Powell, "Remarks at Asia Society Annual Dinner," New York City, June 10, 2002, at www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2002/10983.htm.

6. Steven Mufson, "China Tells U.S. It Will Share Information," The Washington Post, September 22, 2001, p. A30. For the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman's comments, see Zhu Bangzao, "Waijiaobu Fayanren Zhu Bangzao Zai Jizhe Zhaodaihui shang Da Jizhe Wen" (Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhu Bangzao responses to reporters' questions at press conference), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, People's Republic of China, September 25, 2001, at www.fmprc.gov.cn.

7. John Pomfret, "China Offers Help--With Conditions," The Washington Post, September 18, 2001, p. A8. Pomfret quotes Zhu saying, "The United States has asked China to provide assistance in the fight against terrorism. China, by the same token, has reasons to ask the United States to give its support and understanding in the fight against terrorism and separatists. We should not have double standards." Zhu went on to say that the United States and China had "common interests" in fighting Taiwan independence activists, who present the main threat to stability across the Taiwan Strait. However, when pressed on whether U.S. opposition to Taiwan independence would be a condition for China's support in fighting terrorism, Zhu insisted that it "is a different issue, we are not making bargains here." Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan also denied that China was making such a link. Tang Jiaxuan, "China Is Also a Victim of Terrorist Attacks," interview, The Washington Post, September 22, 2001. Zhu "rebuked reports in the Washington Post" that asserted he had made such a link. Zheng Min, "APEC Meeting to Promote Regional Economy," China Daily, September 21, 2001, p. A1. However, in an apparent contradiction of Foreign Minister Tang's comments, Zhang Mingqing, China's top spokesman on Taiwan issues, told a press conference on September 26 that the linkage of Chinese support for the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign and continued U.S. arms sales to Taiwan "should still be examined." Agence France-Presse, "Beijing Stance on Arms Sales, US Support Unclear," Taipei Times, September 27, 2001, at taipeitimes.com/chnews/2001/09/27/story/0000104681.

8. Zheng Min, "APEC Meeting to Promote Regional Economy," China Daily, September 21, 2001, p. A1. Certainly, the Chinese government never signaled approval for coalition military action in Afghanistan. Instead, it said it had been in touch with all parties urging peace. See statements by Foreign Ministry spokesman for 2001, at www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/c7501.html.

9. Jeremy Page, "China Sets Terms for Backing U.S. War on Terror," Reuters, Beijing, September 18, 2001.

10. Nicholas Groffman, "Letter: View from China," The Independent (London), September 22, 2001. See also Hsu Tung-ming, "US-China Relations Strained by Attacks," Taipei Times, September 22, 2001, p. 8, at www.taipeitimes.com/news/2001/09/22/story/0000104030.

11. When asked about the expulsion of Chinese journalists by the State Department, spokesman Richard Boucher said, "We curtailed the visit on September 14 because, under the circumstances, it was decided not to continue the tour." When asked whether the journalists had "laughed or cheered or applauded," Boucher said, "I know there have been rumors and things like that talked about. I just don't know." Another reporter pressed: "But they were asked to leave?" Boucher repeated: "The visit was curtailed. That's the way I put it." Richard Boucher, Daily Press Briefing, U.S. Department of State, September 18, 2001, at usinfo.state.gov/topical/pol/terror/01091813.htm.

12. The exchange at the briefing was: "QUESTION: What are the areas of common interest, other than the general fight against--that terrorism is a bad thing? Or is that all they--is that as far as they got? MR. BOUCHER: Once again, I am not in a position to go through specific areas that we might have discussed with specific governments." Richard Boucher, Daily Press Briefing, U.S. Department of State, September 26, 2001 at www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2001/5067.htm.

13. Willy Wo-Lap Lam, "The Terror Attack and China's Deeper Concerns," China Brief, Vol. 1, No. 6 (September 27, 2001), at china.jamestown.org/pubs/view/cwe_001_006_001.htm.

14. For example, a toughly worded article in the PRC-owned Ta Kung Pao newspaper shortly after the visit warned Pakistan that Washington is cooperating with New Delhi to encircle Pakistan. Ba Ren, "The United States Meddles with Afghanistan to Kill Three Birds with One Stone--On The White House's Military Deployment and Variable of Central Asian Strategic Patterns," Ta Kung Pao (Hong Kong), September 24, 2001, transcribed by Foreign Broadcast Information Service, FBIS-CHI-2001-0924.

15. Agence France-Presse, Beijing, "More on China FM Spokesman Comments on Border Security, Terrorism," September 25, 2001, transcribed by Foreign Broadcast Information Service, FBIS-NES-2001-0925.

16. "Fu Quanyou Yu Ba Canlianhui Zhuxi Huitan" (Fu Quanyou meets Pakistan Chairman of Joint Command), Jiefang Jun Bao (Liberation Army Daily), January 16, 2002, at www.pladaily.com.cn/gb/pladaily/2002/01/16/20020116001011.html.

17. Liu Jianfei, "Renqing Fankong yu fanbade guanxi" (Grasp relation between antiterrorism and anti-hegemonism), Liaowang (Beijing), February 24, 2003, pp 54-56, transcribed by Foreign Broadcast Information Service, FBIS-CHI-2003-0307.

18. Aftab-E Yazd, "Iran Daily Carries `Media Monitor' Feature for 22 April," Iran Daily (Tehran), transcribed by Foreign Broadcast Information Service, FBIS-NES-2002-0422, April 22, 2002.

19. Almaty Kazakh Commercial Television, "China Summons Kazakhstani Foreign Minister over US Bases," transcribed by Foreign Broadcast Information Service, CEP20020502000119, May 2, 2002. Kyrgyz diplomatic sources in Washington privately confirm that China made similar demands of them.

20. Admiral Dennis C. Blair, Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, "Adm. Blair Discusses Taiwan, Fight Against Terrorism," press roundtable, Hong Kong, April 18, 2002, at usinfo.state.gov/regional/ea/uschina/blair418.htm. When asked about China's intelligence contribution to the war on terrorism, one senior American intelligence officer offered, "Yes, they are helping us. But if they stopped tomorrow, no one would notice." Arthur Waldron, "Guess Hu's Coming to the White House," The Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2002, p. A18. See also Blair's complaints that intelligence sharing with Beijing is minimal in Dirk Beveridge, "US: China Could Help War on Terror," Associated Press, April 18, 2002. General Tommy Franks pointedly declined to comment on China's refusal to grant overflight or landing rights at Chinese bases. General Tommy Franks, "General Franks Says Afghan Situation Still Tough, Murky," press briefing, U.S. Department of State, Washington Foreign Press Center, April 11, 2002, at usinfo.state.gov/regional/nea/sasia/afghan/text/0412frnks.htm. See also Greg Torode, "Beijing Left Out as US Praises Neighbours for War Support," South China Morning Post, April 13, 2002, p. A1.

21. Hu Qihua and Shao Zongwei, "Anti-Terror Talks," China Daily, February 21, 2003, p. 1.

22. Ambassador J. Cofer Black, quoted in Joe McDonald, "Amid Tensions over North Korea and Iraq, Us Envoy Praises China's Anti-Terror Role," Associated Press, Beijing, February 19, 2003, in "US on PRC Anti-Terror Role," NAPSNet Daily Report, February 19, 2003, at nautilus.org/napsnet/dr/0302/FEB19.html#item7 (italics added).

23. See James A. Kelly, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, "U.S. Policy on China and North Korea," remarks to the World Affairs Council, Washington, D.C., January 30, 2003, at www.state.gov/p/eap/rls/rm/2003/17164.htm.

24. U.S. government sources say they have no idea what, if any, Chinese aid has actually gone to the Kabul government. China pledged only $1 million at the January 2002 Afghan Donors Conference in Tokyo, but subsequently pledged $150 million in direct aid to Afghanistan. In April 2003, a source directly involved with the U.S. Afghan aid program noted privately, "The claim of $150 million for China is very much larger than information supplied to us by China."

25. Lian Junwei, "Qian Qichen huijian Sabuli, wei Yi bangqiang" (Qian Qichen meets Sabri, evinces sympathy), Gongshang Shibao (Taipei Commercial Times), August 29, 2002. See Wang Zhuozhong, "Meijun Gong Yi, Tang Jiaxuan mingque biaoshi fandui" (Tang Jiaxuan explicates PRC opposition to U.S. strike on Iraq), China Times (Taipei), September 10, 2002, p. 3. Chinese Foreign Minister Tang was quoted as saying that China "absolutely opposes...any arbitrary [renyi] expansion of the scope of the attack."

26. See Ministry of Foreign Affairs, People's Republic of China, "Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman's Press Conference," September 24, 2002, at www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/35257.html.

27. John Tkacik and Nile Gardiner, "China Will `Stand Aside' on Iraq," Asian Wall Street Journal, February 10, 2003, at online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB1044827848882052943,00.html.

28. Ibid.

29. Yan Xizao, "US Action Nothing Short of a Crime," China Daily, April 10, 2003, p. 4.

30. "FM Outlines 5-Point Plan to Address Global Challenges," China Daily, September 26, 2003, at www1.chinadaily.com.cn/en/doc/2003-09/26/content_267541.htm.

31. See "Li, Powell Talk over Phone," China Daily, October 12, 2003, at www1.chinadaily.com.cn/en/doc/2003-10/12/content_271124.htm.

32. Richard L. Armitage, "A Comprehensive Approach to North Korea," National Defense University Strategic Forum, No. 159 (March 1999), at www.ndu.edu/inss/strforum/SF159/forum159.html.

33. For an expanded discussion of China's support for North Korea's nuclear diplomacy, see John J. Tkacik, Jr., "Getting China to Support a Denuclearized North Korea," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1678, August 25, 2003, at www.heritage.org/Research/AsiaandthePacific/bg1678.cfm.

34. Private conversation with U.S. government officials.

35. Ibid.

36. David E. Sanger, "U.S. Said to Shift Approach in Talks with North Korea," The New York Times, September 5, 2003.

37. Joseph Kahn, "Chinese Aide Says U.S. Is Obstacle in Korean Talks," The New York Times, September 2, 2003, at www.nytimes.com/2003/09/02/international/asia/02KORE.html.

38. Colin L. Powell, "Remarks with Republic of Korea's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Yoon Young-Kwan After Their Meeting," U.S. Department of State, September 3, 2003. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also claimed to know nothing of Wang Yi's remarks. See Ministry of Foreign Affairs, People's Republic of China, "Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference," September 2, 2003," at www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/xwfw/2510/2511/t25603.htm.

39. Private conversation with U.S. government officials.

40. That China offered more aid is mentioned in "Wu Bangguo Chengnuo Xu Yuan Bei Han" (Wu Bangguo commits more aid to North Korea), The World Journal (in Chinese), October 30, 2003, p. 2. According to private conversations with U.S. government officials and Japanese journalists in Washington, it was conditioned on Japanese silence on the abductees issue.

41. Conversations with U.S. government officials.

42. Philip P. Pan, "China Deploys Troops on N. Korea Border," The Washington Post, September 16, 2003, p. A13, at www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A15610-2003Sep15.html. See also "Review & Outlook: Tightening the Screws on Kim," The Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2003, at online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB106374977379016100,00.html.

43. "Jong Hoon Kim Overview of the North Korean Energy Sector," U.S. Department of Commerce, US&FCS Market Research Reports, International Market Insight, IMI 102193, December 18, 2000.

44. Testimony before Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, September 11, 2003, in verbatim transcript, "U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-IN) Holds Hearing on Relations with China," prepared by Federal Document Clearing House.

45. John Pomfret, "U.S., N. Korea Meet, Discuss Nuclear Arms, Both Sides Stake Out Uncompromising Positions," The Washington Post, August 27, 2003, at www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54126-2003Aug27.html.

46. Associated Press, "N Korea Urges Initial Nuclear Deal, Wants Aid," Taipei Times, December 10, 2003, p. 5, at www.taipeitimes.com/News/world/archives/2003/12/10/2003079038.

47. Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, "Inside the Ring: China-North Korea Axis," The Washington Times, December 12, 2002,
p. A6.

48. George Tenet, Director, Central Intelligence Agency, testimony in hearing, Worldwide Threat to U.S. Interests, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, March 19, 2002, transcribed by Federal News Service (italics added).

49. Shirley A. Kan, "China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues," Congressional Research Service, updated October 22, 2002, RL31555, p. 5, at www.cia.gov/cia/publications/bian/bian_jan_2002.htm.

50. U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission, China's Proliferation Practices and the North Korean Nuclear Crisis, hearing, July 24, 2003, pp. 7-31, at www.uscc.gov/july24.pdf.

51. Ibid., p. 9.

52. Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, "Inside the Ring: Iran's Missile Boats," The Washington Times, May 17, 2002, p. A7.

53. Danny Gittings, "Battling the Bribers," The Asian Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2002, p. 18. See also David E. Sanger and James Dao, "A Nuclear North Korea: Intelligence: U.S. Says Pakistan Gave Technology to North Korea," The New York Times, October 18, 2002, p. A1. A compelling case that the Pakistani shipment transited Chinese military bases is made by Edward Timperlake and William C. Triplett II, "N. Korea, Pakistan, China," The Washington Times, December 8, 2002, at www.washtimes.com/commentary/20021208-32877640.htm.

54. Kan, "China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles," p. 14. As this paper was going to press, Libya announced that it would scrap its nuclear weapons program.

55. The sanctions are published in "Bureau of Nonproliferation; Imposition of Nonproliferation Measures on an Entity in China, Including a Ban on U.S. Government Procurement," Federal Register, Vol. 68, No. 100 (May 23, 2003), pp. 28314-28315. See also Guy Dinmore, "US imposes new sanctions on China," Financial Times, May 22 2003, at news.ft.com.

56. David E. Sanger, "U.S. Penalizes 6 Asian Firms for Helping Iran Arm Itself," The New York Times, July 4, 2003, p. A1.

57. Richard Boucher, Daily Press Briefing, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., July 31, 2003, at www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2003/22956.htm.

58. Bill Gertz, "U.S. Tags China with Stiff Penalties," The Washington Times, September 19, 2003, p. A18.

59. Central Intelligence Agency, Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions: 1 January Through 30 June 2002, March 1, 2003, at www.cia.gov/cia/reports/721_reports/jan_jun2002.html.

60. In addition to articles cited in Kan, "China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles," footnote 10, see Glenn Kessler, "Pakistan's N. Korea Deals Stir Scrutiny, Aid to Nuclear Arms Bid May Be Recent," The Washington Post, November 13, 2002, p. A1; Bill Gertz, "North Korea Can Build Nukes Right Now," The Washington Times, November 22, 2002, p. A1; and David E. Sanger, "In North Korea and Pakistan, Deep Roots of Nuclear Barter," The New York Times, November 24, 2002, p. A1, at www.nytimes.com/2002/11/24/international/asia/24KORE.html.

61. Bill Gertz, "CIA Shifts on North Korean Nukes," The Washington Times, July 4, 2003, at www.washingtontimes.com/national/20030703-114656-2535r.htm.

62. For an expanded discussion, see John J. Tkacik, Jr., "Decision Day Looms over North Korea," The Asian Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2003, at online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB105839894625819400,00.html.

63. Jing-Dong Yuan, "Sino-US Military Relations Since Tiananmen: Restoration, Progress, and Pitfalls," Parameters, U.S. Army War College, Spring 2003.

64. Erik Eckholm, "China Complains About U.S. Surveillance Ship," The New York Times, September 27, 2002, p 13. See also Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, "Chinese Harass Ship," The Washington Times, September 20, 2002, at www.washtimes.com/national/20020920-30728294.htm. In June 2001, a Chinese frigate "locked and loaded," obliging the unarmed Bowditch to depart the area. See Tammy Kupperman, "U.S., China in New Naval Dispute," MSNBC, September 19, 2002.

65. Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, "Inside the Ring: Chinese Intercepts," The Washington Times, April 11, 2003, at www.washtimes.com/national/20030411-25280691.htm.

66. See "Jian Qi Zhanji Gonghai Lanzai Riben Zhencha Ji" (Chinese Jian-7 jet fighter intercepts Japanese surveillance aircraft), Shijie Ribao (World Journal), New York, July 19, 2003, p. 2.

67. "Haijian Zongdui Cheng Zeng Jiankong Mei Liang Jiandie Chuan" (General Maritime Patrol Service claims to have monitored two American spyships), Shijie Ribao, New York, January 30, 2003. There was no mention of the Sumner in the English-language press; however, China's media specifically named the USS Sumner as a spyship that had repeatedly violated Chinese territorial waters.

68. Article 7 of China's EEZ law requires that "all international organizations, foreign organizations or individuals that wish to explore the exclusive economic zone" shall be subject to the "approval" of the PRC government for such activities, whereas Article 56 of the UNCLOS limits such coastal state jurisdiction to "exploring...the natural resources" of the EEZ. See Law of the People's Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, adopted February 25, 1992, at www.chinagate.com.cn/english/2162.htm, and Law on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf of the People's Republic of China, adopted June 26, 1998, at icm.noaa.gov/laws/PRC_EEZ_law.html.

69. See "China Enacts First National Regulation on Uninhabited Islands," Asia Pulse, Beijing, July 1, 2003, cited in "PRC Uninhabited Islands Regulation," NAPSNet Daily, at www.nautilus.org/napsnet/dr/0306/JUL01-03.html#item10.

70. Bill Gertz, "China Enacts Law Extending Its Control," The Washington Times, January 27, 2003, p. 1. While it is unclear that China has actually enacted a new law, Chinese law is apparently being interpreted to extend China's regulatory jurisdictions in its territorial seas (i.e., within 12 nm from the coast) to the full area of the exclusive economic zones (200 nm from the coast), including putative EEZs surrounding islets and shoals claimed by China in the South China Sea.

71. See "United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of December 10, 1982: Overview and Full Text," at www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/convention_overview_convention.htm.

72. The term "effectively responded" is a Chinese euphemism indicating that the Chinese did, in fact, take some official action in response to the incursion. In this context, one might note that the Chinese Minister of Public Health said on April 3, 2003, that the government had "effectively controlled" the spread of an epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and was fired two weeks later when his assertion proved to be a wild overstatement.

73. See "PRC Uninhabited Islands Regulation," NAPSNet Daily Report, July 1, 2003, at nautilus.org/napsnet/dr/0107/JUL01-03.html#item10.

74. CNA, "Fishermen Seek Help over Chinese Seizure of Vessels," Taipei Times, July 15, 2003, at www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2003/07/15/2003059470.

75. See Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, remarks delivered at Submarine League Annual Symposium, Alexandria, Virginia, June 14, 2001, at www.cpf.navy.mil/speech/speeches/010614subleague.html.

76. For a comprehensive look at this issue, see Dana Robert Dillon, "How the Bush Administration Should Handle China and South China Sea Maritime Territorial Disputes," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1470, September 5, 2001, at www.heritage.org/Research/AsiaandthePacific/BG1470.cfm.

77. James A. Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, testimony before Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, September 11, 2003.

78. U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights 2002: China, March 31, 2003.

79. Ibid.

80. "Ex-political Prisoner from Tibet Dies Suddenly," Radio Free Asia, October 3, 2003.

81. Uyghur American Association, "UAA Press Release on the Execution of Shirali," October 22, 2003, citing Xinjiang Daily, October 21, 2003.

82. "Chinese Arrest 12 Catholic Clerics," The Washington Times, October 28, 2003, p. A12, at www.washtimes.com/world/20031027-092749-3882r.htm.

83. Associated Press, "Shanghai Lawyer Who Sued Developer Jailed," October 28, 2003.

84. Dow Jones Newswires, "Chinese Court Charges Internet Activist with Subversion," October 29, 2003, at online.wsj.com/

85. "China Lashes Out at Critical U.S. Report," The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 6, 2003, p. A5.

86. U.S. Department of Defense, Annual Report on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China, July 28, 2003, at www.defenselink.mil/pubs/20030730chinaex.pdf.

87. Ibid, p. 2.

88. James Harding and Peter Spiegel, "Beijing Looms Large in the White House's Defence Strategy," Financial Times, October 17, 2003, p. 19.

89. Section 2(b)(6) of the Taiwan Relations Act (Public Law 96-8) mandates a national policy "to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan."

90. John Tkacik, "Abandoning Taiwan," The New York Sun, June 6-8, 2003, p. 6.

91. For a deeper analysis of this issue, see John J. Tkacik, Jr., "China Pulls at Bush's Three Pillars," Asian Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2003, p. A9, at online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB107058065848118700,00.html.

92. See Republican National Committee, "Who We Are: 2000 Platform," 2000, at www.rnc.org/GOPInfo/Platform/2000platform8.htm.

93. Robert B. Zoellick, "A Republican Foreign Policy," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 79, No. 1 (January/February 2000), p. 66.

94. Ibid.

95. Harding and Peter, "Beijing Looms Large in the White House's Defence Strategy," p. 19.

96. The China White Paper (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1967), p. 133 (italics added).

97. Colin L. Powell, "Remarks at Conference on China-U.S. Relations," Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, November 5, 2003, at www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2003/25950.htm.

98. Condoleezza Rice, "Promoting the National Interest," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 79, No. 1 (January/February 2000), p. 55.

99. Ibid., p. 56.

100. Asian Studies Center intern Melissa Parham contributed to this paper.


John Tkacik

Former Senior Research Fellow

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