A Time for Reevaluation

  Americans are rejoicing today that the impasse with the Chinese has been broken. President Bush and our diplomats deserve credit for negotiating so skillfully, coming up with language both sides could accept. And we should also congratulate those being held, because, by all accounts, they conducted themselves honorably under difficult circumstances. It reminds us how much we owe to those who wear the uniform of our country. Many of us, however, are still troubled that the Chinese would hold our men and women for eleven days, and then refuse to release our aircraft. I don't know of another civilized world power that wouldn't return our equipment, as prescribed by international law. Yet, the Chinese are apparently dissecting our plane, to steal more secrets -- as they've done before. This episode, though it ended happily, ought to serve as a basis for revaluating our policy toward China. Ironically, even as they were debating with Beijing, the administration was formulating a new policy toward Iraq. While considering reducing the strict sanctions put in place after the Gulf War (which hurts civilians), the administration says it will still keep tight controls on trade and oil exports. The U.S. still regards Iraq a rogue nation -- though, tellingly, much of the technology that makes Iraq a threat was sold to them by the Chinese. If you look at U.S. policies toward Iraq and China, you have to wonder who the rogue state really is. Both Iraq and China are dictatorships with a long history of human rights violations. Both have invaded their neighbors repeatedly -- and continue to threaten them. There's one major difference, however. Iraq's Christian minority is not subjected to state- sponsored persecution like China's. On the contrary, Iraq's Christians are a "small but respected" part of Iraqi society. So why are we hard on Iraq and soft on China? Because American businesses have invested more than $80 billion in China -- and they're tantalized by the prospect of selling goods and services to China's 1.3 billion people. American business has become, as the New Republic put it, Beijing's "most powerful ally." Well, we can all be grateful, especially in this Holy Week, that the immediate crisis is over. But we must not forget this incident, or what is happening in China. Their human rights violations continue; millions of Chinese are being persecuted; and incidents like this make it clear their leaders are ruthless. I learned, working with President Nixon, that totalitarian regimes respond not just to the carrot but also to the stick. If we're unwilling to get tough with China now, then we're only inviting more incidents like this one in the future. So what can you and I do? Well, you can contact your lawmakers and tell them not to forget this incident, particularly when it comes to renewing agreements or giving the Chinese favored status. Also, I, for one, have decided I won't buy any more products made in China until the Chinese start behaving like a civilized nation. I may have to go without some things, but that's a small price to pay. Because there are things more important than profits, and compromise with evil is no virtue. For further reference: Battye, Michael. "China Says Powell's 'Sorry' helpful in Plane Row." Reuters News Service. 10 April 2001. Sipress, Alan. "U.S. Hopes Revised Sanctions Will Get Neighbors to Monitor Iraq." International Herald Tribune, Washington Post News Service. 27 March 2001. Strickert, Fred. "Christianity in Iraq: A Small But Respected and Multi-Faceted Population." The Ethnic NewsWatch, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 31 March 1999.


Chuck Colson


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