Please find below an opinion editorial by the American Hellenic Media Project (AHMP) that was published in the May 7th editions of The Army Times and The Marine Times (circ. 146,000), and in the April 22nd issue (2001) of The South Bend Tribune (IN, circ. 113,300)

A Crisis Unresolved: Changing Course in Our China Policy

By P. D. Spyropoulos

China's release of 24 servicemen and women ten days after their reconnaissance plane collided with a Chinese jet fighter does not signal the end of a crisis, but rather, the beginning of one.

Chinese Internet chatrooms seethed with anger over what Beijing saw as yet another example of U.S. aggression following our 1999 bombing of its Belgrade embassy. While holding Americans captive, China demanded an apology for an accident that occurred in international airspace and that the far more agile Chinese F-8 was likely responsible for.

Chinese anger against past U.S. adventurism means that the current administration is paying for the mistakes of the prior one -- which included an unwarranted war against Yugoslavia that killed thousands of civilians and earned the U.S. a worldwide reputation as international bully.

China's hostage-taking and belligerent posturing should serve as a harsh wake-up call to the failings of U.S. foreign policy. Rather than soft-pedal the Chinese military's intransigence, the EP-3 incident should be viewed by the Bush administration as an opportunity to make a clean break from a foreign policy that has undermined genuine U.S. interests worldwide and severely damaged America's ability to meet its destiny as the world's greatest democratizing force since the ancient Greeks.

President Bush and his successors will need Herculean courage, Solomon's foresight and at least two terms of office to achieve such a dramatic overhaul of our China policy, as its roots run deep into the heart of our governing apparatus.

With its bountiful source of cheap labor and the world's largest market of potential consumers, corporate interests have held our Chinese policy hostage since Nixon's thawing of the Sino-American Cold War. These interests have overridden far more critical long-term foreign policy concerns -- including the totalitarian threat that communist China will inevitably pose to many of Asia's nascent democracies in the near future.

As with Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan and a number of other authoritarian regimes, it is American support that has dangerously empowered the Chinese government to the point where it feels it can directly confront the West in such a brazen manner.

America is China's biggest trading partner. Chinese protectionism coupled with U.S. open-trade policies have resulted in China replacing Japan as the country with the largest trade surplus at America's expense. This foreign trade has propelled China's meteoric economic growth since 1975, fueling urbanization and doubling Chinese living standards.

China's current challenge to the U.S. should not simply be seen as an anomaly to an otherwise successful foreign policy of rapprochement. More likely than not it signals a key shift in China's image of itself as a rising superpower; its nationalist, hard-line stance constituting a very public debut of its new confidence and self-importance.

China has quietly been undergoing a major modernization of its armed forces, reshaping its military to one with far greater offensive capabilities. This has included the development of longer range ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, and the building of a "blue water" navy to project Chinese military might far beyond its shores. In the South China Sea, where the U.S. crew was forced to land, China's maritime claim extends hundreds of miles beyond the internationally recognized 12-nautical-mile limit, hugging the coasts of Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan. The accident involving the EP-3 may have been a result of increasingly aggressive maneuvers by Chinese fighters intended to harass U.S. spy planes.

How can the current administration change course from a heading so rigidly fixed in our foreign policy compass? Perhaps China itself can provide an answer. In his legendary treatise "The Art of War", the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu advised that one's weaknesses be turned into strengths and an adversary's strengths be turned into weaknesses.

Rather than remain beholden to corporate ambitions in China, the Bush administration can use China's dependence on the U.S. economy as both a carrot and a stick to encourage Chinese democratization.

China's most-favored-nation trading status can be revoked, and China is unlikely to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) without U.S. approval. The U.S could consider imposing sanctions for widespread human rights violations in Tibet and China as well as for belligerent acts against neighbors. The current administration could start building closer ties with newly democratic Taiwan, China's archrival, including formally recognizing Taiwan's government. America could also capitalize on the power struggle between military hard-liners and China's more progressive-minded civilian leadership to reinforce the latter and encourage genuine pro-democracy reforms.

China must not be seen primarily as a bonanza for short-term business interests. It should be recognized as an emerging communist superpower that we helped to build and that has already started to flex its muscles. More importantly, a change in our China policy must become part of a unified and coherent paradigm-shift in our foreign policy, one that will return the U.S to its founding democratic principles and bring an end to our reckless support of authoritarian regimes.


P. D. Spyropoulos is Executive Director of the American Hellenic Media Project (AHMP), a non-profit organization created to address inaccuracy and bias in the media and encourage independent, ethical and responsible journalism.

Commentaries, letters and opinion-editorials by AHMP have been published in scores of publications including: The Baltimore Sun, Billboard, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The Celator, The Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, The Daily Californian, The Daily Reporter (IN), The Daily Republican, The Daily Telegraph, The Dallas Morning News, The Detroit News, The Economist, The Mid-South Tribune (TN), El Nuevo Herald (Miami), The Financial Times, Forbes Global, The Fresno Bee, The Glendale News-Press (CA), The Globe and Mail, Insight Magazine, Investor's Business Daily, The Irish Times, The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Media Bypass, The Miami Herald, The National Review, New York Newsday, The New York Post, New York Press , The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Orlando Sentinel, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Plain Dealer(OH), The South China Morning Post, The St. Petersburg-Times (Fla.), The Star-Ledger (NJ), The Sunday News (PA), The Tampa Tribune, The Tech (M.I.T.), The Toronto Sun, Truth In Media, USA Today, The Village Voice, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and World Press Review


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