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HVK Archives: UN-China entente: Neighbours' distress?

UN-China entente: Neighbours' distress? - The Observer

Nandini Dasgupta ()
July 9, 1998

Title: UN-China entente: Neighbours distress?
Author: Nandini Dasgupta
Publication: The Observer
Date: July 9, 1998

The US-China summit in Beijing last week has delivered more of
the same: Both have found it prudent to pretend that everything
is fine between them, despite the latent tension over the motives
of each other.

However, the wide-ranging talks President Clinton and his Chinese
counterpart Jiang Zemin have held are a testimony that in future
their relations will be governed more by strategic and economic
considerations rather than ideological ones.

The summit, which witnessed the signing a several commercial
deals, has added a strong economic dimension to their ties.

Though the differences over Tibet, Taiwan and human rights
dominated the US President's nine-day visit, they were relegated
to the backseat.

The main aim of the summit has turned out to a Sino-US strategy
to counter-weigh the threat posed by the recent nuclear tests by
India and Pakistan.

Clinton and Jiang entered into an agreement to de-target the
strategic nuclear missiles that each side has pointed towards the
other and agreed. to work closely to promote nuclear non-
proliferation in South Asia.

The two leaders also issued a joint statement specific to India
and Pakistan to stop nuclear testing, sign CTBT and settle their
differences through mutual dialogue. The statement is a
categorical rejection of any attempt at modifying the NPT and an
insistence that India and Pakistan enter into firm commitments
not to weaponise or deploy nuclear weapons and missiles capable
of delivering them.

It is ironical that the two countries, which must share the
responsibility for tensions in South Asia, should speak of their
mutual interests being put in risk by the N-tests by India and

During the cold war, the US saturated Pakistan with military
hardware that the latter had no use for; the technology of the
recent nuclear tests was actually supplied by China.

The two leaders also decided to implement the 1985 Sino-US
agreement on peaceful nuclear cooperation which could not be
implemented because of the sanctions imposed on China after the
1989 en square massacre. The pact will allow the US firms to
export nuclear power technology to the growing Chinese market, a
prerogative which the US MNCs have been looking for, as Beijing
is expected to spend more than $60 billion on the nuclear plants
in the next two decades.

The US and China also signed seven contracts worth $3.7 billion,
including the sale of 27 Boeing aircraft to Beijing in a bid to
bridge the trade gap between the two countries.

President Jiang has got every reason to feel satisfied because he
got what he wanted - civil nuclear power deal and acknowledgement
of China as the paramount power in Asia-Pacific, responsible for
maintaining Asian security in the future. The pact not to target
each other's cities does not mean much. Also, China did not
commit itself not to proliferate, just as the US made no promises
on arms sales to Taiwan.

As a result of its economic strength, China has the political
ability to sustain an autonomous foreign and security policy in
defiance of non-proliferation concerns of the US. China now also
has the US support for the entry into the World Trade
organisation, though Washington has warned that it has to make
concessions in opening its domestic market before it can join

Clinton's visit has also proved the limits the US power has
reached and its growing dependence on China. Apart from the
massive trade imbalance in favour of Beijing and the vast
potential for investment, the US is also dependent on China to
safeguard its strategic interests in a region that is heading
towards economic meltdown and nuclear arms race and without the
supporting effect of any multi-lateral security organisations
like Nato. As the Asian crisis demonstrated, China has the
financial clout and cannot be dictated like Indonesia, Thailand,
Korea and even Japan.

Moreover, Clinton's visit has stirred anxieties in other Asian
power centres. It is no longer Japan that the US can rely on
when looking for an ally in Asia in the future. For India, Japan
and other Asian powers, China's ascendance and now its
partnership with the US are dangerous as both are built around
the same objective of dominating Asia.

The recent summit has proved that the non-proliferation goal of
the US has a price tag in terms of US commercial Interest. Lured
by nuclear deals which may total well over $65 billion, the US
administration has decided to sacrifice its much advertised non-
proliferation goal for commercial gains.

India has to take vigorous steps to attract US business without
sacrificing its interests. As the US Congress is divided over the
outcome of the US-China summit, India must look for allies among
the US Republicans who are uneasy about the present US policy of
appeasing China.

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