Tough words on Taiwan

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission sent its annual report to Congress yesterday. In it, the commission issued a warning about the proliferation of WMDs and other weapons in China, and China’s increasing economic power. The report also mentioned concern over military weapons aimed at Taiwan. Beijing’s official military budget rose 14 percent this ...

606062_mtaiwan5.jpg
606062_mtaiwan5.jpg

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission sent its annual report to Congress yesterday. In it, the commission issued a warning about the proliferation of WMDs and other weapons in China, and China's increasing economic power. The report also mentioned concern over military weapons aimed at Taiwan. Beijing's official military budget rose 14 percent this year to $35.3 billion, but outside analysts estimate that it's at least twice, if not three times, that amount. So it's not that surprising that Condi Rice, in Hanoi for the APEC summit, expressed alarm today about China's increasing spending on defense. She told CNBC Asia: "There are concerns about China's military buildup. It's sometimes seems outsized for China's regional role." She then went on to discuss, in typical diplo-speak, how China needs to behave as an engaged, responsible member of the international community. All in all, it was same old, same old. Fairly predictable stuff.

What's interesting, though, was China's response to Rice's comments and to the commission report. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said, "We are against the attempt by any country or any organization to interfere with China's internal affairs under the pretext of the Taiwan question and impede our reunification course." Uh, first of all, although Taiwan was certainly part of the commission's report, it was hardly front and center. And Rice didn't mention it at all. And secondly, what "reunification course"?  Is there some secret master plan that Beijing has to re-annex Taiwan? 

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission sent its annual report to Congress yesterday. In it, the commission issued a warning about the proliferation of WMDs and other weapons in China, and China’s increasing economic power. The report also mentioned concern over military weapons aimed at Taiwan. Beijing’s official military budget rose 14 percent this year to $35.3 billion, but outside analysts estimate that it’s at least twice, if not three times, that amount. So it’s not that surprising that Condi Rice, in Hanoi for the APEC summit, expressed alarm today about China’s increasing spending on defense. She told CNBC Asia: “There are concerns about China’s military buildup. It’s sometimes seems outsized for China’s regional role.” She then went on to discuss, in typical diplo-speak, how China needs to behave as an engaged, responsible member of the international community. All in all, it was same old, same old. Fairly predictable stuff.

What’s interesting, though, was China’s response to Rice’s comments and to the commission report. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said, “We are against the attempt by any country or any organization to interfere with China’s internal affairs under the pretext of the Taiwan question and impede our reunification course.” Uh, first of all, although Taiwan was certainly part of the commission’s report, it was hardly front and center. And Rice didn’t mention it at all. And secondly, what “reunification course”?  Is there some secret master plan that Beijing has to re-annex Taiwan? 

Christine Y. Chen is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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