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Get back when attacked

By Huang Xiangyang (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-01-31 09:39
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For many Chinese, the US-led war on former Yugoslavia and its invasion into Iraq were long past history. Washington's sable rattling against Iran and threat of pre-emptive attacks against what it believes to be rogue nations are just bluffing. So long as China's economy continues to expand in an adequately robust stride, who cares about those events of bullies and victims beyond China's border?

The latest US arms sale to Taiwan has once again come up as a wake-up call. It cannot but let us be clear that in a world where the law of the jungle still prevails, China, like any other developing country, cannot remain aloof from bullies.

It is painful to come to such reality. The feeling gripped us when our embassy was bombed in Belgrade; when our ace pilot was knocked down into the sea by spy plane at door step. It is gripping us now.

In a sense, we have to thank Uncle Sam for its $6.4 billion arms package that includes Patriot anti-missile systems, Black Hawk helicopters and Harpoon missiles. The generous offer to militarily equip Taiwan reminds us how grudgingly Washington sees China rise and compatriots across the Straits live in peace.

More than 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the US is still bent on integrating Taiwan into the American defense strategy in Asia, and still dreaming of using the island as an "unsinkable aircraft carrier" to contain the growth of China.

Forget about the pledge that "the United States does not seek to contain China" made by Mr Barack Obama when he was in Beijing just two months ago. Sincerity is subject to proof by action, not by words.

The US promised in a joint communiqué signed on Aug 17, 1982 - which forms the cornerstone of Sino-US relations - that "it does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan". It also pledged that Washington "intends to reduce gradually its sales of arms to Taiwan, leading over a period of time to a final resolution". But for how many times has Washington trashed its words for the sake of expediency or other ulterior motives. In the eyes of the world's only superpower, a promise is NOT a promise.

China's response, no matter how vehement, is justified. No country worthy of respect can sit idle while its national security is endangered and core interests damaged. When someone spits on you, you have to get back.

Compared with the US, China is still weak, both economically and militarily. The counter-measures that China has taken -- ranging from repeated protests to plans to halt military exchanges and punish US companies involved in the arms sale, may not be forceful enough to make Washington smart and mend its ways. But a message has to be sent: From now on, the US shall not expect cooperation from China on a wide range of major regional and international issues. If you don't care about our interests, why should we care about yours?

China must never waver to make sure that it means what it says.