The China Illusion

The Obama White House sees Taiwan's free enterprise as an affront.

The Obama administration has been toying with a proposition so dangerous it dare not utter it directly.

The NY Times oped pages headline writers helped generate the proper spin for this pernicious ploy: “To Save Our Economy, Ditch Taiwan.” The story by Paul V. Kane, a Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq war and former international security fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, spelled out with wide-eyed enthusiasm a fantasy that would have disastrous consequences for America if it were ever enacted.

Mr. Kane urged President Obama to make a Faustian bargain with China’s leaders.

“He should enter into closed-door negotiations with Chinese leaders to write off the $1.14 trillion of American debt currently held by China in exchange for a deal to end American military assistance and arms sales to Taiwan and terminate the current United States-Taiwan defense arrangement by 2015,” Kane wrote.

In support of his “grand bargain,” Kane argued that “Today, the America has little strategic interest in Taiwan,” an argument the “China-is-not-a-threat” lobby has been making unsuccessfully for years.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is in China this week, ostensibly to win China’s support for the latest round of Iran sanctions, an embargo on Iranian oil sales and a ban on Iran’s Central Bank.

Given the lack of public outcry over Mr. Kane’s trial balloon, will Geithner make the debt-for-Taiwan pitch while he is there?

The Chinese appear to be playing along. In a story filed from Beijing on Tuesday about Geithner’s upcoming visit, the Associated Press touted China’s hostility toward more Iran sanctions.

“China has no reason to go along with this,” the AP quoted an Iran analyst at Peking University as saying. “China does not want to be seen as helping the U.S. when China’s own interest is concerned.”

So in other words, if the U.S. wants to get China’s cooperation on the oil cut-off and Central Bank sanctions, we are going to have to offer something really, really important. How about Taiwan? These days an island of free enterprise just across the Strait from China is seen more as an affront than an asset by the Obama White House.

And let’s not forget that in signing the new Iran sanctions into law on December 31, President Obama said he disagreed with the sanctions and had no intention of applying them.

So the table is set for a betrayal of Taiwan.

This President needs no lessons in cynicism from anyone. He recently announced a permanent deployment of U.S. Marines to Australia to defend against a growing China threat, so he can argue that he is no softie when it comes to Chinese expansionism. But defend Taiwan? Why? After all, as Kane says in his NY Times gambit, “our relationship with Taiwan, as revised in 1979, is a vestige of the cold war,” and “fear of a Red China menacing Asia is anachronistic.”

The Republican National Committee is taking the debt-for-Taiwan gambit so seriously that they will vote on a resolution at their annual winter meeting in New Orleans on Friday that would enshrine U.S. military support for Taiwan as a guiding foreign policy doctrine for the party’s presidential candidate this year.

What happens to Taiwan is “potentially the biggest foreign policy challenge that a new president will face, so we want our candidates to know our position and help them formulate their own,” Indiana RNC member James Bopp told the Washington Times.

The draft RNC resolution includes support for continued arms sales to Taiwan, and an acknowledgement of Taiwan’s strategic relationship with the United States. Several of the resolution sponsors are seeking to get the presidential candidates to talk about Taiwan during the campaign. They have included a provision requiring the RNC to send the resolution to all the GOP presidential hopefuls, something the Washington Times says is “a first” for the GOP and has never been done by Democrats.

Some of us have been warning about Communist China’s intentions since the early 1990s and before. A series of investigative magazine articles I wrote for the America Spectator about the sell-off of U.S. military technology to China became part of the “China-gate” scandal of the Clinton years. (Those stories are now available in a low-price Kindle edition).

It was clear then that we were laying the bed for our future defeat by selling China the dual-use equipment they craved to be able to produce high-tech weapon to compete against us by 2020.

In January 2011, they performed the first test flight of a fifth generation fighter, the J-20, which the Chinese are touting as a rival of our F-22 stealth fighter. Over the next eight years, China will spend hundreds of billions of dollars to modernize its ballistic missile fleet, install advanced missile defense batteries, expand its navy, and train an expeditionary Marines-type force.

If President Obama truly cared about the future security of our nation, he would listen to the man he recently appointed as Chief of Naval Operations rather than contemplate a catastrophic debt-for-Taiwan betrayal, thinking it will get him re-elected in November.

Addressing a Washington, DC think tank on Tuesday, Admiral Jonathan Greenert warned that a newly-powerful China might try to “limit access in the region.”

To counter China’s growing military might, Adm. Greenert noted that half of the U.S. Navy’s deployed fleet is now patrolling or based in the Western Pacific.

“About half of those are forward deployed naval forces in and around Japan,” he said. “That’s the most advanced air wing we have, the most advanced cruisers and destroyers, ordnance, anti-submarine warfare. And we screen our sailors and our commanders very carefully. We put our best in the Western Pacific.”

He noted that China, which has hacked into some of the Pentagon’s most highly-classified computer systems, is also targeting U.S. warships.

“The first and most significant area will be the Western Pacific, and that is where the vast majority of our afloat cyberinvestments are right now today and will be in the future,” he said.

Cyber-analysts working with government analysts believe that Chinese hackers have already launched probing attacks against major U.S. civilian infrastructure, including the 1999 Olympic pipeline explosion that killed three people in Bellingham, Washington.

An NTSB investigation ruled that the pipeline explosion was caused by criminal negligence, but subsequent cyber-forensics have established that a failure in the SCADA computer-control system caused the pipeline to rupture.

“The SCADA system was hacked,” said Ronald Plesco, the president of the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, a public-private alliance. “Who did it? Was it a test? We still don’t know,” he told a conference on cyberwarfare at the U.S. Army War College last month.

Perhaps President Obama believes that by handing over our allies to a known regional predator will encourage China’s communist leadership to ignore even bigger allies such as Japan.

But as Churchill said famously, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

Stay tuned.

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