TCS Daily

Menacing Language from China

By Arthur Waldron - March 28, 2001 12:00 AM

Chinese President Jiang Zemin's increasingly confrontational stance toward the West is motivated largely by his domestic political concerns. The failure to recognize that has led the Clinton administration to adopt a conciliatory policy toward China, which has actually increased military tension in South Asia rather than reducing it.

Chinese take the maxim "every decade a great change" as a guide to the vagaries of their political system. Events of recent weeks suggest the West should perhaps do so as well, bearing in mind that the changes can be for good as well as ill.

Why did China decline Japan's invitation to join the G8 meeting? Why did China let World Trade Organization accession talks with the Europeans break down? Why did the Chinese release their menacing new document threatening military force against Taiwanparticularly just hours after Strobe Talbott and his colleagues left China?

The signs are that Jiang Zemin is having domestic political troubles and that the new hard line against the West is part of his survival strategy.

Faltering economic growth over the past year has swelled a rising tide of protest by farmers and industrial workers and has also driven a steadily increasing crackdown on all forms of dissent, including democratic activists (even as they scrupulously follow prescribed procedures in seeking recognition), the harmless followers of the Falun Gong movement, Roman Catholics, as well as Protestants and Tibetan Buddhistsand now the Internet and international business interests involved in it.

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