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Year of the Tiger

Year of the Tiger

Courtesy of Michael Panzner, When Giants Fall

Tiger

(Image Source)

Even though there’s still a week to go before the Year of the Tiger celebrations begin, there seems to be lots of growling coming from the East. If the following reports are anything to go by, it looks like the 12-month period dedicated to one of the animal kingdom’s most ferocious creatures might just live up to its name.

What Guides the Chinese Tiger As It Grows Stronger?" (The National)

The Chinese will celebrate their New Year on February 14. The year of the ox will close and the year of the tiger will begin. China’s leaders don’t appear to have waited for the stars to tell them to pursue a more aggressive course.

First they derailed the climate change talks at Copenhagen in December. Then they took the stage at Davos in January to denounce any accusations that they were manipulating the value of their currency. Throw in disputes with Google and their rebukes of the US president Barack Obama for meeting the Dalai Lama and approving weapons sales to Taiwan, and the world has seen another side of China.

China is emboldened; its coffers are swollen with $2.4 trillion in currency reserves and it is no longer prepared to kowtow to anybody, particularly the United States. For the first time in centuries China is ready to strut on the world stage.

"China’s Hawks Demand Cold War on the US" (The Times)

MORE than half of Chinese people questioned in a poll believe China and America are heading for a new “cold war”.

The finding came after battles over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, climate change, internet freedom and human rights which have poisoned relations in the three months since President Barack Obama made a fruitless visit to Beijing.

According to diplomatic sources, a rancorous postmortem examination is under way inside the US government, led by officials who think the president was badly advised and was made to appear weak.

In China’s eyes, the American response — which includes a pledge by Obama to get tougher on trade — is a reaction against its rising power.

Now almost 55% of those questioned for Global Times, a state-run newspaper, agree that “a cold war will break out between the US and China”.

An independent survey of Chinese-language media for The Sunday Times has found army and navy officers predicting a military showdown and political leaders calling for China to sell more arms to America’s foes. The trigger for their fury was Obama’s decision to sell $6.4 billion (£4 billion) worth of weapons to Taiwan, the thriving democratic island that has ruled itself since 1949.

“We should retaliate with an eye for an eye and sell arms to Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela,” declared Liu Menxiong, a member of the Chinese people’s political consultative conference.

He added: “We have nothing to be afraid of. The North Koreans have stood up to America and has anything happened to them? No. Iran stands up to America and does disaster befall it? No.”

Officially, China has reacted by threatening sanctions against American companies selling arms to Taiwan and cancelling military visits.

But Chinese analysts think the leadership, riding a wave of patriotism as the year of the tiger dawns, may go further.

“This time China must punish the US,” said Major-General Yang Yi, a naval officer. “We must make them hurt.” A major-general in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Luo Yuan, told a television audience that more missiles would be deployed against Taiwan. And a PLA strategist, Colonel Meng Xianging, said China would “qualitatively upgrade” its military over the next 10 years to force a showdown “when we’re strong enough for a hand-to-hand fight with the US”.

Chinese indignation was compounded when the White House said Obama would meet the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, in the next few weeks.

“When someone spits on you, you have to get back,” said Huang Xiangyang, a commentator in the China Daily newspaper, usually seen as a showcase for moderate opinion.

An internal publication at the elite Qinghua University last week predicted the strains would get worse because “core interests” were at risk. It said battles over exports, technology transfer, copyright piracy and the value of China’s currency, the yuan, would be fierce.

As a crescendo of strident nationalistic rhetoric swirls through the Chinese media and blogosphere, American officials seem baffled by what has gone wrong and how fast it has happened.

During Obama’s visit, the US ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, claimed relations were “really at an all-time high in terms of the bilateral atmosphere … a cruising altitude that is higher than any other time in recent memory”, according to an official transcript.

The ambassador must have been the only person at his embassy to think so, said a diplomat close to the talks.

“The truth was that the atmosphere was cold and intransigent when the president went to Beijing yet his China team went on pretending that everything was fine,” the diplomat said.

In reality, Chinese officials argued over every item of protocol, rigged a town hall meeting with a pre-selected audience, censored the only interview Obama gave to a Chinese newspaper and forbade the Americans to use their own helicopters to fly him to the Great Wall.

"China Says US Protectionism Endangers Trade Ties: Xinhua" (Agence France-Presse)

BEIJING — China accused the United States of protectionism that has "seriously affected" their trade ties, state media reported late Monday, amid a worsening spat between the two countries.

Ministry of Commerce spokesman Yao Jian made the comments on the ministry’s web site in response to US moves to impose anti-dumping duties on electric blankets and wire trays from China, news agency Xinhua said.

"Since the outbreak of the financial crisis, the US trade protectionism has been apparently on the rise, and China has become the biggest victim of US abuse of trade relief measures," Yao said, according to Xinhua.

Tensions between Beijing and Washington are already high over the US approval last week of a 6.4-billion-dollar arms deal for Taiwan, which follows on from a range of disputes including Google’s revelations last month about alleged cyberattacks by China.

"With Defense Test, China Shows Displeasure of U.S." (New York Times)

BEIJING — China said late Monday that it had successfully tested the nation’s first land-based missile defense system, announcing the news in a brief dispatch by Xinhua, the official news agency. “The test is defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country,” the item said.

Even if news accounts on Tuesday did not provide details about the test — and whether it destroyed its intended target — Chinese and Western analysts say there is no mistaking that the timing of the test, coming amid Beijing’s fury over American arms sales to Taiwan, was largely aimed at the White House.

In recent days, state media have been producing a torrent of articles condemning the sale of Patriot air defense equipment to Taiwan. China views the self-ruled island as a breakaway province, separated since the civil war of the 1940s, and sees arms sales as interference in an internal matter.

The Defense and Foreign Ministries have released a half-dozen warnings over the weapons deal, saying it would have grave consequences for United States-China relations. A columnist in Global Times, a populist tabloid, urged readers come up with ways to retaliate against the United States.

Writing in the newspaper Study Times, Maj. Gen. Jun Yinan said China had the power to strike back. “We must take countermeasures to make the other side pay a corresponding price and suffering corresponding punishment,” wrote General Jun, a professor at China’s National Defense University.


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