Xinhua is China’s official and largest press agency. Yesterday it wrote of our country: “The United States should stop its role as a sneaky troublemaker sitting behind some nations in the region and pulling strings.” That’s not nice. And the facts don’t bear it out. Yes, we’re obviously more focused on Asia, and yes, we’re advocating a multilateral approach to territorial disputes in the region, and not China’s preferred divide and conquer strategy. But that doesn’t warrant getting nasty and fomenting discord. The Global Times, China’s second biggest news organization, wrote yesterday: “Many Chinese people do not like Secretary Clinton. The antipathy and vigilance that she personally has brought to the Chinese public are not necessarily in the United States’ diplomatic interest.” It might as well have added, “Perhaps she should sleep with one eye open.” Isn’t it obvious what’s going on? Why don’t we realize that China’s insults are sincere? Despite the fact that Uncle Sam has been known to get his gander up, I am not saying we should trade insult for insult, but why in the world would we not call them out on being insulting? And if not now, when?
The Diaoyutai, or Senkaku islands, are what’s got China riled up at the moment. Japan controls them; China wants them. Huge energy deposits lie beneath them. And next to them run some of the most popular shipping lanes in the world. But if China thinks that they can bully their way into getting them, we ought not continue to appease them. The US ought to insist on a public and transparent framework for this kind of dispute resolution, ought to reject the tone China likes to take while at the same time not lowering ourselves to it, and ought to stand up to these threats by saying quite publicly that threats of this kind and mean spirited communication have no place in the world of mutual inter-dependence and cooperation we are creating. If we don’t respond now with some plain speaking, it’s going to be a lot worse later. Trust me; I’ve been there.
China is gearing up for huge land grabs in all directions. To the east, China claims the entire continental shelf right up to Okinawa. The US and Japan are never going to put up with that, so why not say so now? China wants the Chunxiao gas field, known as Shirikaba in Japanese, despite the fact that it is much closer to Japan than China. To the south, China claims territory much much farther south than even the southernmost tip of Vietnam, well into the southernmost parts of (and only a few kilometers from) Indonesia. All the waters from the shores of Vietnam to the shores of the Philipines to the shores of Indonesia belong to China, according to China. If you look at it on a map, it just looks crazy. And it goes beyond that. Indeed, all the major countries in Asia have territorial disputes with China. For example, the Paracel Islands, right next to Vietnam, which also have energy deposits, are coveted by China, despite the fact that looking at a map reveals these claims to be unjustifiable on geographical grounds.
To the west of course is Tibet and India. China has already annexed what it now calls the Tibet Autonomous Region. Our government refuses to intervene, or even speak up for human rights or democracy there. The genocide and culturicide now occuring in Tibet is an affront to everything I, Uncle Sam, and our country has stood for. It is a global tragedy we will be ashamed we allowed to happen. Regarding India, while actual fighting along the border wars has cooled off, the two countries – both nuclear powers with very thin skins – have fought bloody wars over these borders, with few issues resolved. And China has occupied Aksai Chin in the far west against India’s wishes. And finally, there’s Taiwan, China’s Ruby Slippers, which it threatens with missile tests from time to time, as if to drum into our heads its Wicked Witch like mantra: “One day my little pretty!” It’s obvious that if China thought it could get away with taking any of these places it wants by force that it would. Our job is to push back enough to keep China from getting that confident.