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Putting China on notice
Daily Times ^ | John Tkacik

Posted on 05/29/2003 1:14:42 PM PDT by maui_hawaii

During my career in the US State Department, I was one of the handwringers when it came to levying economic sanctions on China, even those mandated by US law. We old China hands would always warn that “now is not a good time to antagonize Beijing.” Yet that was just to disguise the fact that we never believed there was a good time to annoy the Chinese. As a result, whenever the department got around to recommending economic sanctions against Chinese firms, they were generally of the harmless, slap-on-the-wrist variety.

Now that has finally changed, ahead of next week’s summit between US President George W. Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao. On Friday, one of China’s biggest conglomerates, China North Industries Corp. (Norinco), was hit with an unprecedented two-year ban on exports to the US That will affect at least $100 million in goods annually — and possibly close to half a billion dollars if US Customs can identify all of Norincoo’s subsidiaries.

The sanctions followed two stern messages the State Department sent to Beijing last year, warning Norinco — Chinaa’s premier arms manufacturer — to stop selling rocket fuel and missile components to the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, the Iranian government agency in charge of developing and producing ballistic missiles. But, after years of toothless sanctions, the Chinese Foreign Ministry apparently believed they had little to fear and ignored the warnings..

Yet still the State Department hesitated. Out came the old excuses so common in my day. Last October was said to be a bad time because President Bush was preparing for a summit with then Chinese President Jiang Zemin. November was bad because the UN Security Council was about to vote on Iraq. In January, North Korea announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, providing a fresh excuse for avoiding any action that might complicate resolving this issue. In February, all attention was on Iraq and North Korea. Ditto for March.

But all that temporizing began to change after the US-North Korea negotiation fiasco in Beijing on April 23. On that day, the North Koreans announced (in the presence of a Chinese diplomat) that Pyongyang had “essentially completed the reprocessing plutonium from spent nuclear fuel rods.” A few hours later they threatened (this time without a Chinese witness) to export nuclear materials. “What are you going to do about it?” the Pyongyang envoy demanded of his US counterpart.

After an experience like that, even the State Department lost its collective patience. President Bush and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice were in no mood for more North Korean threats, and almost as exasperated by Beijing’s failure to do anything about them. US Secretary of State Colin Powell gathered his top advisors and drew up an unprecedented sanctions regime against a Chinese government-owned corporation.

It is unprecedented because, for the first time, these sanctions include a blanket ban on a Chinese state-owned corporation exporting anything to the US And Americans buy quite a bit from Norinco, at least $100 million a year according to the US Commerce Department.

Central Intelligence Agency estimates put the figure far higher, pointing to the more than 4,000 product lines manufactured by Norinco’s vast business empire, from toys and shoes to binoculars and auto parts.

The company’s — now-banned — exports to the US reportedly include everything from Turkestani carpets to aluminum siding. It is also the worldld’s biggest producer of aluminum heat sinks for computers and, given the broad language of the ban, computers and other electronic products which use these components could be affected.

There are so many Norinco subsidiaries in Shenzhen, one US official said, that even Norinco doesn’t know the full impact of the sanctions. In the end, the total amount affected could be nearer half a billion dollars a year.

Never before has a Chinese firm, much less a huge one like Norinco, been subject to a blanket ban on exports to the US After some of its employees were caught helping smuggle 2,000 fully automatic AK-47 assault guns to drug dealers in Oakland, California in 1996, the Clinton administration banned Norinco from selling any more AK-47s — but only for two years. Last weekk’s sanctions are much more serious, designed to inflict pain and demonstrate that the Bush administration is willing to back its warnings with actions.

Yet there is little fear in Washington that Beijing will retaliate, despite an angry statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday, denying Norinco had any contracts with Iran. First, Beijing has been chronically in the wrong.

It has exported dangerous weapons and technologies to irresponsible regimes, and the US has warned for years that strong counterproliferation sanctions would come. Moreover, China is seen broadly within the Bush administration (though not by the State Department) as having offered relatively little help in dealing with North Korea.

Nor has China been much help in the war on terror where the much-vaunted “cooperation” with Beijing has been a one-way street. The US gave China’s secret police access to Chinese Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo; the Federal Bureau of Investigation trained Chinese police in triaging and analyzing terrorist archives and financial documentation. But there is no evidence of any substantive Chinese contribution to the sum total of counterterrorist intelligence. Typically, State Department officials insist that China’s antiterrorist cooperation has been “good” but they “can’t talk about it.” However one senior CIA officer painted a very different picture, describing China’s help as “close to zero.”

This isn’t surprising. China’s new leaders certainly aren’t committed to helping the US fight terror. As the influential Chinese foreign affairs journal Outlook Weekly explained in February, “China cannot be without any reservations when cooperating with the US in combating terrorism because the US is using the fight against terrorism as an opportunity to pursue its hegemonic strategy, which in turn would harm China’s security environment.”

Nor is there much appreciation for China’s role in the Iraq campaign. Beijing essentially did nothing but complain about American hegemony and line up with Paris, Berlin and Moscow on most major issues. Of course, the Chinese leadership played only a bit part in harassing the American efforts to disarm Baghdad, preferring instead to let the French take the heat of America’s post-Iraq retribution. This is understandable. China is loath to antagonize the US too much — after all, its economic growth is powered by a trade surplus with America that reached $103 billion last year..

President Bush and Mr Powell have repeatedly stressed the administration’s desire for a “constructive, cooperative, candid” relationship with China, and their policies have generally been consistent with that. China, for whatever reason, has done little to reciprocate. Now, as President Bush winds up three weeks of summits with the leaders of South Korea, Japan and Russia and prepares for his first presidential summit with Mr Hu, at least the US-China relationship will be candid. —WSJ

Mr Tkacik, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., is a retired officer in the US foreign service who served in Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Taipei

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: norinco

1 posted on 05/29/2003 1:14:42 PM PDT by maui_hawaii
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To: maui_hawaii
2 posted on 05/29/2003 1:42:37 PM PDT by y2k_free_radical
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To: y2k_free_radical
China's use of Sun Tsu strategy to keep its opponent at a disadvantage is clear. We fight while they enjoy prosperity selling anything to everyone. President Bush shows again that he is a tough player on the world stage.
3 posted on 05/29/2003 2:44:11 PM PDT by q_an_a
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To: maui_hawaii; HighRoadToChina; Free the USA; rightwing2; soccer8; Libertarianize the GOP; ...
IMHO, I think the Bush administration has been far to soft on the Chinese Govt. In fact, they have been down right lax when it comes to US-Sino issues. Especially with those in regard to National Security. However, with main event being concluded in Iraq, perhaps this is a sighn that the Administration is begining to focus it's priorities towards those threats which can be dealt with now, rather than in the future when it will not be so advantageous to us.

Lets hope there is more to follow.
4 posted on 05/29/2003 4:08:49 PM PDT by Enemy Of The State (Common sense is instinct, and enough of it is genius.)
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To: maui_hawaii
"I was one of the handwringers when it came to levying economic sanctions on China, even those mandated by US law. We old China hands would always warn that “now is not a good time to antagonize Beijing.”"

That is the same mentality that America had prior to WW II towards Japan.

"But if we stopped supplying oil and scrap metals to Japan, they may just attack us."
5 posted on 05/29/2003 4:21:02 PM PDT by HighRoadToChina (Never Again!)
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To: Enemy Of The State
I have been able to discern some ups and downs myself. I think the NORINCO deal with a total ban is FAR past due though.

I also think the Admin can do more, and should do more to openly oppose the communist party line. Of course we shouldn't take them lightly militarily, but I think not accepting CCP claim on absolute power and their views of the world should be a cornerstone of US policy.

In the end it will result in education.

Right now things are kind of lukewarm. Sometimes warmer than others.

6 posted on 05/29/2003 7:42:13 PM PDT by maui_hawaii
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To: HighRoadToChina
See post #6.

We should have an open forum and spend time and effort openly challenging CCP claims. History is the problem. We should stir that history up.

Right now we are just letting sleeping dogs lie, and the CCP is still believing things their own ways. Its not good and things can not progress further until its addressed.

If we shake the history tree it will challenge and shake the CCP to its roots. It will go a long way in settling old issues such as the one with Taiwan. It will challenge the CCP's phobias and cause them to look at them and examine them.

7 posted on 05/29/2003 7:49:31 PM PDT by maui_hawaii
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To: HighRoadToChina; Enemy Of The State
In other words, China is riding and ideological tiger, and is having a hard time getting off.

The fundamental guiding foundations of the CCP need to be challenged. They are believing their own propaganda and that is a problem.

8 posted on 05/29/2003 8:02:48 PM PDT by maui_hawaii
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To: Enemy Of The State
Thanks for the ping! This sounds good.
9 posted on 05/30/2003 4:39:19 PM PDT by batter ( Boycott "Made in China")
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