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China Complicates U.S. Foreign Policy

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By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
April 9, 2007

Several issues between China and the United States put the relationship between these two major powers at risk. China greatly wants to calm the waters before the 2008 Olympic Games, which Beijing will host. China’s goal is to stand tall and alone on the world stage for that event, demonstrating Chinese greatness. The U.S. wants to use the Olympics as a lever to influence Chinese behavior on a number of issues prior to next year’s events.

This week, the U.S. is expected to announce new restrictions on China as a result of copyright and trademark rule violations. China has long had little regard for international agreements regarding intellectual property. Copies of the mega-hit film “Titanic,” for example, appeared on Beijing streets for a dollar or two just one or two days after its Hollywood release.

China is a massive and growing contributor to air and water pollution as well as global warming. As China grows as an industrial super-power, it will have to face its responsibility to address these troubles. As it is now, China is exempt from any restrictions of the Kyoto Treaty because it has been labeled an “emerging or developing nation.” Only “developed” nations like the U.S. and Germany are bound by Kyoto: a major reason the U.S. has refused to join in the accord.

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China is home to 20 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities, the World Bank concluded in a report last week.

Officials here have acknowledged that 410,000 deaths a year are caused by pollution in China. And China is projected to surpass the United States and become the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases by 2009.

By some accounts, China remains two decades behind the United States in its environmental standards and as much as three decades behind Europe.

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The U.S. Department of State continues to list China as a major violator of human rights norms.

Freedom of the press is tenuous or non existant in China. Although the communist regime has eased some rules in advance of the Olympics, many journalist are skeptical that China can stick to its promises on freedom of the press. Critics of the regime continue to wind up in jail.

China seems out of step with some internationally held ideas and just positively opposed to the U.S. on others.

Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Sudan this year with nary a mention of the genocide in Darfur. The U.N., E.U., and U.S. have virtually denied Sudan all trade because of Darfur. China jumped right in to fill the void.

Chinese representatives at the U.N. have wrangled against stiffer sanctions on Iran for their nuclear weapon development program.

Militarily, China is shifting its focus toward more maritime and air power developments. China shot down an orbiting satellite earlier this year and last autumn a Chinese Song class submarine surfaced within five miles of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, an act considered unusual and provacative.

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China’s Chief of Naval Operations visited the United States for the first time last week and the U.S. Navy CNO Admiral Mike Mullen said he wanted a better understanding of China’s “strategic intent.”

And China is starting to assert global reach.  Last week China opened a new mega-seaport in Gwadar, Pakistan.

Also last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that the tainted pet food involved in the massive recall was due to ingredients from China.

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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.

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