China is making a big deal out of the Navy reconnaissance flight because they know that they can get away with it. The Chinese government has issues that they want to see resolved and embarrassing the Bush Administration is a good way to force the matter.

The reconnaissance flight itself is irrelevant. Such missions have been ongoing for over 20 years. Anything that the US cannot figure out with a “welfare to work” naval spy program can be discovered via satellite. Even the lost Sino fighter pilot isn’t really an issue. Human capital is readily available to the Chinese government. Their primary concern on that part of the issue is that a military craft was lost. That’s an expensive piece of hardware that is not easily replaced.

Rather, China wants to prove a point: the Bush Administration can’t back up any unilateral language, has no useful foreign policy experience and, by extension, no hegemonic power over the outcome of international crises or the behavior of their actors.

China wants to settle the matters of Taiwan and make their opinion of the proposed US National Missile Defense(NMD) crystal clear.

The US has no diplomatic ties to the island nation of Taiwan and China considers it a renegade province. Since 1979, however, the US has armed and trained the Taiwanese military. Both sides have a very lucrative economic relationship with Taiwan.

Money cures a lot of problems. If the US were simply an economic partner, China would likely continue the status quo of their relationship with Taiwan. Such an innocuous relationship would probably create a policy of occasional saber rattling to put a sense of impending doom into Taiwan and then business as usual.

Arms sales, however, hurt the long term desire of the Chinese government to simply talk tough. China feels a need to act tough. They might not go through with an invasion of Taiwan but strong relationships with Cuba in the Western Hemisphere in the form of economic and military aid could duplicate China’s fear and loathing of Taiwan.

A renewed fear of Cuba is a definite possibility that the US must consider. China has the resources to make it happen. A crop of modern Long March missiles south of Key West would overwhelm any US-based NMD.

Geopolitical reality makes NMD is a real sticking point. A defensive shield for the US would render obsolete all offensive capabilities of all other nations—adversaries and allies alike. Such a shield requires other nations to prepare for the possibility of war by spending on enough weapons to overwhelm the shield. When all nations decide that more weapons equal “better safe than cinders”, an accelerated arms race ensues. Instead of merely conventional weapons, more powerful weapons are researched, designed and built.

Overwhelming an NMD becomes every military’s obsession. Every country without a fighting chance against the US would theoretically have to bend to any US demands.

China is among dozens of nations that don’t like the idea and have the ability to trigger such a hypothetical arms race. On an individual level, anyone who gives it a moment’s thought should be against NMD. There are more important things to accomplish than giving your government the green light to turn your house into a missile magnet.

Only the Bush Administration thinks it’s a great idea. Their arduous support of the idea is yet another example of how little they care about anybody else, including US citizens.

The Navy servicemen on Hainan are safe, sound and still on the payroll. China won’t hurt them. Until they are returned, they can enjoy their South Pacific Chinese vacation while the pressure mounts on Dubya to make public statements on the matter and possibly even get forced into pronouncing the names of his counterparts.

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