The American Interestrnby Srdja TrifkovicrnAverting War With ChinarnNo foreign-policy issue facing the UnitedrnStates is more important than our longtermrnrelationship with China, the mostrnpopulous nation and the fourth-largestrncountry on Earth. If we think in terms ofrnuninterrupted statehood, China is thernoldest nation-state, accustomed to takingrnthe long view in foreign affairs. More significantly,rnif its present rate of economicrngrowth continues unabated, it may becomernthe second most powerful countryrnin the world within a generation.rnIt is, therefore, as puzzling as it isrnfrightening that the notion of an inevitablernwar with China is gaining credencernin Washington, D.C. It is beingrndiscussed within the “Blue Team” —arnloose coalition of hawkish neoconservativernadvisors, think-tank analysts, and lobbyistsrn—with the same cool detachmentrnthat characterized Cerman considerationsrnof a “preventive war” against Russiarnbefore August 1914. “We did not willrnthis,” the kaiser murmured despondentlyrnfour years later, as he surveyed Europe’srnsmoldering ruins and his empire followedrnthat of Czar Nicholas into demise.rnHe was wrong: Not acting to avoid war isrntantamount to “willing” it, just as the absencernof specific murderous intent doesrnnot absolve reckless drivers of homicide.rnThis message seems to be lost on thernBush administration as it pursues a policyrnthat seems designed to provoke a violentrnconfrontation between the United Statesrnand China within the next decade.rnAlmost 50 years ago. President Nixonrnaccepted China’s conditions for the establishmentrnof diplomatic relations. ThernUnited States withdrew recognition ofrnTaiwan as the “Republic of China” andrnpulled its troops from the island. In thernfamous Shanghai Commimique brokeredrnby Henry Kissinger, Washingtonrnaccepted that “all Chinese on either sidernof the Taiwan Strait maintain there is butrnone China and that Taiwan is a part ofrnChina.” This was followed by JimmyrnCarter’s 1979 communique in whichrnthe United States recognized Beijing asrn”the sole legal government” of China.rnFinally, in Alexander Haig’s 1982 communique,rnthe Reagan administrationrnpledged to reduce arms sales to Taiwan.rnNixon, Carter, and Reagan—a “realist,”rnan “idealist,” and a Cold Warrior sharedrnan appreciation of China’s importancernin world affairs and acted accordingly.rnTheir decisions did not imply an endorsementrnof China’s communist regime.rnThey reflected the American interest inrnestablishing a working relationship with arnmajor power. The three communiquesrnwere political acts, and thus imperfect,rnbut for decades, they have provided a viable,rnbipartisan basis for Sino-Americanrnrelations.rnApril’s 11-day crisis following the emergencyrnlanding of an American spy planernon Hainan after the collision with arnChinese fighter led to a radical alterationrnof the Nixon/Carter/Reagan policy.rnThroughout the standoff. PresidentrnBush was under mounting pressure to escalaternthe conflict. Leading Republicansrnin Congress —including Richard Shelby,rnchairman of the Senate Select Committeernon Intelligence, and Henry Hyde,rnchairman of the House International RelationsrnCommittee —began referring tornthe spy plane’s crew as “hostages.” ThernPresident nevertheless ended the deadlockrnby declaring that he was “very sorry,”rnwhile insisting that he was not apologizing.rnThis alleged disgrace threw the BluernT«am into a fit of rage. Sen. John McCainrngreeted the release by denouncingrnthe Chinese policy of dangerouslyrnchallenging our lawful and essentialrnsurveillance flights in internationalrnairspace over the South ChinarnSea. We must avoid, at all costs,rngiving Chinese leaders the impressionrnthat they will profit by challengingrnAmerica’s global responsibilities.rnThe April 8 Weekly Standard featured arnlead commentary by William Kristol andrnRobert Kagan headlined “A NationalrnHumiliation.” They called for full-scalernretaliation, including a curtailment ofrntrade relations, massive arms transfers tornTaiwan, and opposition to holding thern2008 Olympics in Beijing.rnThe administration needed little prodding.rnOnce the plane’s crew was stateside.rnPresident Bush declared that thernUnited States would do “whatever it tookrnto help Taiwan defend itself” He alsornsaid that he wanted to extend the TheatrernMissile Defense System to cover Taiwanrn—essentially reviving the defenserntieaty that had been defunct since 1979.rnThe administration announced that itrnwould sell submarines, destroyers, missiles,rnand electronic equipment to Taiwan,rnalthough this decision violates bothrnthe spirit and the letter of Al Haig’s subsequentrnpledge to reduce arms sales. It isrnalso at odds with the domestic law—thernTaiwan Relations Act—that restrictedrnsales to defensive weapons.rnThe subsequent decision to allow TaiwanrnPresident Chen Shui-bian to meetrnU.S. congressmen during stopovers inrnthe United States amounted to grantingrnTaiwan semi-official status, in violationrnof the “one China” commitment. Almostrnsimultaneously, Mr. Bush receivedrnthe Dalai Lama at the White House onrnthe anniversary of China’s occupation ofrnTibet. And Defense Secretary DonaldrnRumsfeld recommended that the UnitedrnStates’ strategic focus be shifted from Europernto Asia and admitted that the proposedrnmissile-defense system was meantrnto counter the threat from China, not justrnfrom such “rogue states” as North Korearnand Iran.rnSecretary of State Colin Powell suggestedrnthat Japan shoidd help defendrnTaiwan and asked for Japanese help inrnbinlding eight submarines that the UnitedrnStates had promised to sell to Taiwan.rnBut Japan, and other U.S. allies in the Pacific,rnremained distinctly aloof The chillrnin Washington’s relations with Beijingrncoincided with the rise to power of JunichirornKoizumi, a tough and popularrnnationalist politician who has made itrnclear that he would not be subservient tornWashington. As soon as he won the premiership,rnKoizmni appointed MakikornTanaka, the daughter of Kakuei Tanakarn(Japan’s controversial prime minister ofrnthe I970’s), as his foreign minister. Onernof Tanaka’s first moves was to declare thatrnthe time had come to review America’srnuse of military bases in Japan. She alsornmade it clear that Japan wanted peacernand relaxed relations between China andrnTaiwan.rnSo far, the response from Beijing hasrnbeen muted. Chinese President JiangrnZemin was carefid to put immediate con-rn38/CHRONICLESrnrnrn