Monday, February 1, 2010

Obama Administration & China Spar Over Taiwan

The Obama Administration has up until now looked weak and ineffectual in its dealings with China.

First, there was President Obama's snub of The Dalai Lama, a fellow Nobel Laureate, last October. He did this so as not to offend China preceding his state visit. Second, there was his bow before Chinese President Hu Jintao during his aforementioned state visit. Then there was Copenhagen when he was unable to get the Chinese to agree on a binding climate change agreement. Obama was reduced to asking Premier Wen if he was ready to receive him. This was the meeting that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and most of the American media was kept out of while the Chinese media was permitted entry.

But last Friday the Obama Administration announced $6 billion sale of arms to Taiwan. That same day, while speaking in Paris, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took China to task for not supporting tougher sanctions against Iran. Considering that China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory they are none too pleased. They have suspended direct military contacts with the U.S. and are also threatening to sanction U.S. companies involved the sale of arms to Taiwan.

One must wonder if toughening up on China is an attempt to atone for earlier missteps as well as Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts. Whatever their reasons the question now is who will blink first. Because if Obama stands firm he will gain credibility in the international arena. But if Obama backs downs then he will be all talk and no action. The Chinese, nor anyone else, will take anything he says or does seriously.

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