/* Am I A Pundit Now?: Friedman On Euro Arms To China.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Friedman On Euro Arms To China.

From Thomas L. Friedman in yesterday's NYTimes -
"I am not part of the bash-China lobby. I believe that the U.S. needs to engage China, not isolate it, and work with it so that it takes its rightful place on the world stage. I believe China is largely a force for stability in Asia, not instability. But one reason for that is that the U.S. has countered any other impulses from Beijing by maintaining a stable balance of power among China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan - a balance that has helped the entire region prosper. The sale of advanced European weapons to China can only weaken that balance."
Actually, it is all China can do to muster enough strength to stabilize itself, let alone the rest of asia. The centrifugal political forces throughout chinese history have often pulled the nation apart - chinese unity has been the exception rather than the rule. Keeping the nation whole is always job one in Beijing. Chinese unity will remain as difficult to maintain, or get even more difficult, as the country continues to modernize and becomes more affluent. The focus on unity will sap whatever imperial ambitions Beijing might have, which were probably minimal to begin with. The chinese attitude has always been "why do we need to go to the foreigners? The foreigners should beg to come to us." Having said that, all of China's new arms will be focused at one place: Taiwan. The dispute over Taiwan is precisely about the chinese fixation with unity - the reason Taiwan is a seperate region of China is due to the embarassing weakness of China to stop this seperation. Foreign powers, once again, have thwarted chinese unification. China is in woeful need of modernizing its armed forces. They use second-rate russian equipment that became obsolete in the 60's (they still fly MiG-17's, if that tells you anything). It will take decades of modernization and trillions of dollars spent before China has anything like a modern fighting force. Taiwan has a much more modern military than does China, and so China needs euro arms before reacquiring Taiwan by force. Taiwan is the real China: free, wealthy and democratic - and a model of progress for the developing world. China will reacquire Taiwan when it deserves to, by virtue of acting in a mature, democratic and civil fashion, and not by force of arms. Taiwan will gladly rejoin a mature and free China, but not a petulant and autocratic China. Europe would aid this maturing process by not selling arms to China.

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