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Jewish World Review Sept. 7, 2000 / 6 Elul 5760

Don Feder

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Chinese colonels at Harvard -- only in Bubba's America -- LET'S RECAP: The People's Republic of China is engaged in a vast program of military expansion, has looted our nuclear secrets, sees America as its principal adversary, threatens war with Taiwan if the island doesn't acquiesce to a hostile takeover and promises to launch a nuclear strike against us if we intervene.

So, what are 24 senior colonels of the People's Liberation Army doing at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School as you read these words?

Why they're being lectured by current and former national security officials on how the United States would respond militarily to a crisis over Taiwan -- presumably on the theory that the more the enemy knows about your strategic planning the better for you.

Harvard's current guests are the third group of Chinese colonels run through a program established in 1997 by Joseph Nye, a former Clinton defense official and China soft-liner, now dean of the Kennedy School. It's funded by a $1 million-grant from a Hong Kong businesswoman with extensive mainland ties.

Marshall Goldman, Harvard's Russia expert, observes, "Almost all the Chinese are intelligence people" -- unlike the people running the program. The Kennedy School lectures are an attempt to circumvent an amendment to last year's defense appropriations bill that limits military exchanges with the PLA. Congress had grown increasingly wary of these misadventures -- like letting Chinese officers witness the training of Navy fighter pilots at Top Gun -- which were starting to resemble a Wal-Mart for intelligence gatherers.

But the administration is so eager to show its friendship for Beijing that it must devise other ways to share sensitive data.

The president just can't do enough for his strategic partners. This spring, he pledged to do "whatever it takes" to get Permanent Normal Trade Relations for China, to assure a continuation of the trade that finances its military build-up. He's repeatedly threatened to veto the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act (designed to bolster the island's defenses), which passed the House in February.

When Taiwan's new president, Chen Shui-bian, was in California in August, in transit to Central America, a bipartisan congressional delegation wanted to meet with the man who led the first democratic change of government in 5,000 years of Chinese history.

Fearing it would antagonize the PRC, the State Department pressured Chen into declining the meeting. But, it rolled out the red carpet for Lt. Gen. Xiong Guangkai, the PLA's deputy chief of staff, when he visited Washington in January.

During the 1996 Taiwan crisis, when China was test-firing missiles in the island's direction, Xiong warned that Beijing had ICBMs which could take out Los Angeles. That's how to get the royal treatment from this administration -- threaten to turn America's second largest city into radioactive rubble.

Four Gore years of this policy and the People's Liberation Army could be marching down the main street of Carthage, Tenn.

For the vice president, China is an "extremely important partner." He's against "isolating and demonizing" China (dealing with it realistically) and wants to "build a bridge" -- to Tiananmen Square?

In a 1997 trip to the mainland, he repeated the Clinton mantra on humanizing totalitarian thugs, "We seek real progress on human rights, not confrontation." This high-sounding rhetoric really means that no matter what bloody atrocities Beijing commits, America will never criticize it directly but hope that our kindness will somehow infuse the regime with a spirit of benevolence.

China is evolving in a somewhat different direction. On March 6, Beijing announced that the nation's military budget will increase by 12.7 percent this year, the eighth straight year of double-digit growth.

The same day, the Liberation Army Daily warned that American intervention in a conflict with Taiwan would result in "serious damage to U.S. interests" and casually noted its "capacity of launching a long-distance strike."

Along with the Kennedy School sessions on our strategic planning, perhaps the administration would like to help Beijing with procurement and recruitment. We've already sold it supercomputers to help improve the accuracy of its ballistic missiles.

Just when you thought Clinton's China policy couldn't get more surreal, you find we've fallen down another rabbit hole, arriving at a whole new level of Wonderland.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate