Robert Gates, almost certain to become the new US Secretary of Defense, did not mince words at his Senate confirmation hearings:
"We should maintain our capabilities to resist China’s use of force or coercion against Taiwan and assist Taipei in maintaining its self-defense," Gates said.
Gates wrote that while Beijing appears to want a peaceful merger with Taiwan, China’s "near-term focus is on generating sufficient combat power to rapidly erode Taiwan’s will to resist and to deter or deny effective intervention in a cross-strait conflict," Associated Press reported.
Just what Sino-American relations needs, another reactionary blowhard with zero tact. These statements are completely unproductive. Yes, China is building its military capacity. So has every other nation in their transition from third-world backwater to first-world economic powerhouse. America can’t prevent it just by wishing it away. The US needs China a lot more than it needs Taiwan. This has been more true every year since Nixon met Mao. It’s time to admit as much.
Why can’t my government employ more civil servants of the Hank Paulson mold? Paulson deals with China the way the Chinese like to be dealt with – that’s why he’s been effective and will continue to be so (provided his boss doesn’t overrule his methods). No one ever got their way in China by stubbornly repeating demands as if they were admonishing a child. When will Uncle Sam start applying the lessons of history?