The strength of Sino-US relations is vital to global peace and prosperity, The Economist said in its latest issue, adding that the US and other countries must at the same time “stand firmer” against Beijing’s whims and wants.
The international community should also demand that China bear its share of the responsibility on matters of global importance, the editorial said.
A decision by the administration of US President Barack Obama last week to sign off on the sale of US$6.4 billion in arms to Taiwan sparked a not-unexpected protest from Beijing, which suspended military contact as it did in 2008.
Yet this time around, Beijing seems to have taken its anger one step further by imposing sanctions on US arms companies Raytheon Co, Boeing Co, United Technologies and Lockheed Martin Corp, as well as threatening to withdraw its cooperation with the US on various causes, The Economist wrote.
“Those threats, if carried out, would damage China’s interests seriously, so its use of them suggests that it hopes it can persuade Mr Obama to buckle — if not on this sale then perhaps on Taiwan’s mooted future purchases of advanced jet-fighters,” it said.
While some say the arms sale is a perfect conduit for the US to show its muscle in the face of China’s growing power, other US politicians, such as Pat Buchanan, disagree.
In a recent blog entry, Buchanan wrote that “Taiwan is herself deepening her relationship with the mainland. Is it not time for us to cut the cord?”
The Economist article cited three trends as significant: China’s failure to woo the majority of Taiwanese into supporting “peaceful unification” despite the increase in cross-strait exchanges; Beijing’s increasing intolerance of being defied; and the West’s increasing sympathy for “decisive authoritarianism.”
To avert an imbalance in the Sino-US relationship, which has been called the most important bilateral relationship in the world, the international community must “stand firmer.”
“Beefing up the deterrent capacity of Taiwan, which China continues to threaten with hundreds of missiles, is in the interests of peace. Mr Obama should therefore proceed with the arms sales and European governments should back him,” the editorial said.
“If American companies, such as Boeing, lose Chinese custom for political reasons, European firms should not be allowed to supplant them,” it said.
Furthermore, the West must do a better job in forcing China to become a responsible stakeholder in global governance, it said.
“Too often China wants the power due a global giant while shrugging off the responsibilities, saying that it is still a poor country. It must be encouraged to play its part — for instance, on climate change, on Iran and by allowing its currency to appreciate,” it said.
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