Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Disturbing News out of China

There are two stories from East Asia today that are disturbing enough by themselves, but are particularly troublesome when read side by side. In the first instance, China has announced that it will be raising military spending 18% this year. But remember, the Chinese routinely lie about the size of their military spending. Expert estimates (such as the Pentagon's latest report on Chinese military strength) suggest that the real figure is two or three times the reported figure.

Simultaneously, a second story has come out, which was surely meant to be read in light of the first. Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, has been warned that Taiwan would pay a dear price for any independence-like moves. This threat is well-timed, of course, to coincide with a referendum in Taiwan on whether or not to press for UN membership, something China routinely blocks for the island.

"If the Chen Shui-bian authorities should stubbornly continue down the path, they will surely pay a dear price," a parliamentary spokesman in China said. "We are fully prepared to repulse any adventurous activities aimed at Taiwan independence, and prevent anyone from separating Taiwan from China."

That's a nice way of saying, "Remember that giant leap in military spending we just announced? We're not afraid to use it."
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