Friday, 10 October 2008

Sino-US triangulation

Even in theses strange days, it is a strange situation indeed when the sale of $6.5 billion of arms is seen as a welcoming sign of return to balance. But this is the crux of the argument in this article from the Associated Press:
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan's once-strained relations with the United States are back on track after the Bush administration approved a long-delayed $6.5 billion package of weapons to help the island defend itself against China.
Though China reacted angrily, the deal is also a sign that the sometimes shaky three way relationship between China, Taiwan and the U.S. is moving back into balance.
So we are back to normal. Taiwan is a province with its own government, foreign relations, armed forces, diplomatic service, currency, Olympic team, and flag. The US adheres strictly to the policy of One China, and makes millions off selling weapons to one of its provinces. China continues to refer to Taiwan as an inalienable part of its teritory, and in the same breath talks about improving cross-straits relations and point up to a thousand missiles at its own supposedly inalienable citizens. And all the recent promise of Sino-US defence ties have gone up in smoke.
Beijing has told the Pentagon and the US Defence department that it will not allow a series of senior military visits to go ahead. The trips included one visit to the US by a senior Chinese general.
US naval ships will also be banned from docking in Chinese ports and meetings to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction will be postponed "indefinitely".
At the end of the day, although Ma is supposedly more of a realist and than the Chen Shui Bian, I can't see any improvement or way forward in the relationship. On the one hand, you have direct flights between the two places. On the other hand, there are bigger and better weapons pointed at each other. Sum total of improvements in relations since Ma became pres? None.

What a dishearteningly predictable world it is.

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