Standing up to China
For the past year, China has adopted an increasingly muscular position toward the United States, berating American officials for the global economic crisis, stage-managing President Obama’s visit to China in November, refusing to back a tougher climate change agreement in Copenhagen and standing fast against American demands for tough new Security Council sanctions against Iran.This is consistent with my analysis of the timing of the move. China's reluctance to cooperate on Iran sanctions is nonsensical. It is not in anyone's interest and it is likely to push the world closer to a war with Iran.
Now, the Obama administration has started to push back. In announcing an arms sales package to Taiwan worth $6 billion on Friday, the United States leveled a direct strike at the heart of the most sensitive diplomatic issue between the two countries since America affirmed the “one China” policy in 1972.
The arms package was doubly infuriating to Beijing coming so soon after the Bush administration announced a similar arms package for Taiwan in 2008, and right as tensions were easingsomewhat in Beijing and Taipei’s own relations. China’s immediate, and outraged, reaction — cancellation of some military exchanges and announcement of punitive sanctions against American companies — demonstrates, China experts said, that Beijing is feeling a little burned, particularly because the Taiwan arms announcement came on the same day that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly berated China for not taking a stronger position on holding Iran accountable for its nuclear program.
One of the interesting aspects of the announcement was all the potential future sales that were mentioned. This was a signal to China that unpleasant consequences would continue if it did not cooperate on Iran.