Although it may not get much attention in Asian Studies courses, China exported the cruise missile that Hezbollah used to attack an Israeli ship, one of the components that set off the Israel/Lebanon conflict, the U.S. China Commission found. “China is in a position of conventional warfare that we never dreamed in the early 90’s they would be, although we have always known about their nuclear capabilities,” said United States-China Commission Chairman Larry Wortzel at a recent hearing on Capitol Hill.
The United States experiences similar trouble with China in regards to energy reliance. For example, when China offered foreign aid to Sudan during the crises occurring there, all of a sudden China was importing oil from Sudan! “There are strings attached with China and their foreign assistance,” United States Senator James Inhofe, a Republican representing Oklahoma said. “I’d bet my life on it.”
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Christensen addressed the question as to whether or not China is a “responsible stakeholder” in regards to China’s relationships with countries around the world, and the impact of those relationships on United States interests. “We have a vision for China’s future, we are not describing China today as a responsible stakeholder,” Christensen said. So, how well are we doing at encouraging China to become that responsible stakeholder?
The United States has experienced various problems with China lately, mostly due to Communism, in areas such as human rights. China has repeatedly violated proliferation treaties and continues to repress religious groups, particularly Christians. China also continues to support Iran (thirteen percent of China’s oil comes from Iran) in a time when Middle East conflicts are soaring.
Senator Inhofe and Deputy Assistant Secretary Christensen expressed their perspectives on the United States’ relationship with China’s policies during the recent years. While the United States has experienced significant disappointment with China and its foreign policy, there has also been significant progress, which suggests a hopeful future.
China has held an active presence in regards to the North Korea nuclearization issue, it has been a resonating voice along with the United States in calling on Iran to stop nuclear activity, and has demonstrated significant cooperation in the global war on terror, Christensen points out.
The Chinese government is concerned that the United States is attempting to pursue a containment strategy against them; in other words, hold them back from their economic progress and growth in international power. “We try to urge China to understand the nature of international energy markets,” Christensen said.
A board member from the United States-China Commission alluded to the fact that many Chinese newspapers, magazines, etc. are allegedly saying that the United States just wants to “contain” them while we build up our own military.
“It is very clear that the United States is not involved in a containment strategy against China; we see Chinese economic growth positively, and in general have always helped them to get to that point,” Christensen said, adding later, “After all, what country has been there to help China besides the United States?”
Weighing the progress China has made in becoming a diplomatic partner with the United States against the disappointments we have experienced with their foreign policies, we must reconcile the relationship China has with countries like Iran, North Korea, and Sudan in order for China’s supposed interest in being a dependable partner for the United States to become stable and credible.
Elizabeth Young is an intern at Accuracy in Media, Accuracy in Academia’s parent group.