Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review April 16, 2001/ 23 Nissan 5761

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

When the thrill goes out of the romance -- IT'S an ill wind that blows nobody good, even a cold wind out of the China Sea.

Illusions die hard, especially in the minds of our corporate patriots for whom selling is everything, but the illusion that barbarians can be reformed with the transfusion of trade lies severely wounded this morning.

The notion that the men in charge in China would never be so stupid as to do something stupid suddenly sounds pretty stupid. But far better to destroy such illusions on Hainan Island at no cost of American lives than at the cost later of a Beijing missile banging into downtown Taipei at rush hour, or with a torpedo lobbed into the belly of an American destroyer on patrol in the Taiwan Straits.

The Chinese generals who gambled that Americans are too proud (and flaccid) to recognize insult and injury may be rattled in that conviction this morning. The aging Chinese politicians and diplomats could see what the generals could not, that American patience was beginning to wear thin even as the White House continued to play word games, not only with the Chinese but with Americans, insisting that the hostages were not "hostages," that the prisoners were not "prisoners," that captives were not in "captivity."

Arthur Waldron of the American Enterprise Institute, writing in London's Daily Telegraph, likens the popping of the carefully contrived official pretense over American relations with China that they're happy relations to the popping of the Wall Street conceit that the new economy had made hard times a relic of the past.

"For example," he writes, "top political and business leaders in America have for too long overestimated the value of what they imagine are close personal ties to China's leaders. In America, we have often heard references to 'my friend [the prime minister]' or 'my good friend [the president].' Yet when the American ambassador to China, Joseph Prueher, tried to contact his carefully cultivated friends in the Chinese military as the crisis began, they were nowhere to be found. This points to an important lesson. Washington sometimes imagines that friends in China will be both willing and able to save the . . . relationship in case of real trouble."

The Chinese hold a similar conceit, that they understand America while remaining inscrutable themselves. "The Chinese study America because America is the superpower," the Chinese ambassador, Yang Jiechi, told a group of American business executives and corporate lobbyists the other day, "but the Americans do not make such a study of China." What Chinese diplomats see, in fact, is not ignorance of China but insights ignored in the headlong pursuit of profits. Selling the "oil for the lamps of China" is the illusion that has been a driving obsession of American big business since Noah was a boy.

The Republicans are not always quick to get it it's the mercantile party, after all and the corporate Republicans who run the party will put up with any insult or injury to keep Wall Street humming with the grease of greed. "The president believes as a result of this conclusion, and the manner in which the diplomacy was handled, that the framework for a productive relationship with China has been preserved," the president's press agent told reporters.

Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, repeated the argument that trade would eventually make small-d democrats out of the Chinese communists, that any day now the old men in Beijing will wake up as compassionate conservatives, full of remorse and eager to quit brutalizing Chinese peasants. "I think we all believe that trade with China, the effort to try and build an entrepreneurial class in China, to try to bring some freedom to that society through freer economics, is an important goal," she said.

No, not "all." This is the argument first used by George W.'s daddy, and it was tired argument then, that the path to the Chinese soul runs through the purse. Two decades on, Beijing's abuse of its own people has intensified, and in the wake of Hainan, the temperature, text and tone have changed in Washington.

"This incident calls into question our current policy of sending American trade dollars to a nation that has displayed signs of hostility toward the United States," says Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, a Republican sponsor of legislation to overturn trade law favorable to the Chinese. Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, another Republican, agrees. "The Chinese didn't act in a normal way, so it brings the trade deal under greater scrutiny," he says.

The thrill is clearly gone from the romance. The first rule of good business, as any madam could tell you, is that what you get is what you pay for. Hainan taught us to listen to the lady.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.


04/10/01: We have no bananas, they have hostages
04/06/01: Putting a little face on the China 'crisis'
04/04/01: No caving, please, to the cave men
04/02/01: Child abuse, anyone? Try dodging this
03/28/01: In fear of the peril of the Weak Sisterhood
03/23/01: Dubya disowns the dirt dishers
03/21/01: Why can't senators be nice to Mom?
03/19/01: Knocking hard heads at the Pentagon
03/14/01: Second thoughts on the faith initiative
03/12/01: Getting punch drunk on disappointment
03/07/01: The dazzling triumph of Saddam Hussein
03/05/01: How can a real gent tell the lady no?
02/28/01: Who won that war? Best not to look
02/26/01: Bonnie & Clod, gifts who keep on giving
02/21/01: It's Hot Springs week in downtown Harlem
02/13/01: Some of our riots seem to be missing
02/07/01: When a hate crime is something to love
02/07/01: Lifting a few spoons, cutting a few taxes
02/02/01: A few small surprises and a large lesson
01/31/01: Serving fried crow in the press mess
01/26/01: The gathering storm over Jesse Jackson
01/23/01: A graceless getaway, a graceful beginning
01/19/01: Once more to wave the bloody shirt
01/16/01: Bring on the lions, the clowns are ready
01/12/01: The dastardly plot to restore slavery
01/10/01: Mr. Lott's generosity to the Dems
01/05/01: Looking to the past for a bad example
01/03/01: A modest proposal for Arkansas folk
12/19/00: The reflexive sneer at George W. Bush
12/15/00: Taking inspiration from John Birch
12/12/00: It's time to raise high Florida's standards
12/08/00: A President Bush, and about time, too
12/05/00: Here come the judge --- and he's got a hook
11/28/00: Cry no tears for Al, lawyers are the losers
11/21/00: The useful loathing of America's sons
11/17/00: When this is all over, we spray for lawyers
11/14/00: Something murky in the twilight zone

11/10/00: Something sinister in Palm Beach

11/07/00: Low days in the life of the ruptured duck

11/06/00: A little race baiting in the final hours

11/01/00: Creator gets a hard time on the hustings

10/27/00: The sorcerer rides to rescue his apprentice

10/25/00: The founding father with a story to tell

10/23/00: A lonely passion for religious rights

10/16/00: Spending blood on the folly of fools

10/11/00: A big night for the embellisher-in-chief

10/06/00: AlGore's black problem

10/04/00: In headlong pursuit of the bigot vote

10/02/00: A modest proposal for Rick Lazio

09/27/00: When folks at home give up on a scamp

09/25/00: Gore plot exposed! The secret minutes

09/18/00: Playing politics with the blood supply

09/14/00: Al sets out to find his 'tolerance level'

09/12/00: When it's time for a thumb in the eye

09/07/00: Making a daughter a campaign asset

09/04/00: A footnote to the lie: How he beats the rap

08/30/00: Unbearable lightness of a cyberjournal

08/21/00: Clinton chickens on AlGore's roost

08/16/00: The long goodbye to California's cash

08/09/00: Innocence by proxy is a risky scheme

08/07/00: After insulin shock, an authentic rouser

08/02/00: When it gets hard not to get a little giddy

07/31/00: George W.'s legions of summer soldiers

07/26/00: He's set a surprise --- or a trap for himself

07/24/00: How do you serve a turkey in August?

07/19/00: Would Hillary sling a lie about a slur?

07/17/00: Process, not peace, at a Velveeta summit

07/12/00: The Texas two-step, a nudge and a wink

07/10/00: The Great Mentioner and his busy season

07/05/00: No Mexican standoff in these results

07/03/00: Denting a few egos in the U.S. Senate

06/28/00: Bureaucracy amok! Punctuation in peril!

06/26/00: The water torture of American resolve

06/21/00: The happy hangman is a busy hangman

06/19/00: Dick Gephardt finds a Dixie dreamboat

06/14/00: Taking a byte out of innovation

06/12/00: 'Go away, little boy, you're bothering us'

06/07/00: When a little envy is painful to watch

06/05/00: Fire and thunder, bubble and squeak

05/31/00: South of the border, politics is pepper

05/26/00: Running out of luck with home folks

05/24/00: The heart says no, but the head says yes

05/22/00: A fine opportunity to set an example

05/17/00: The Sunday school for Republicans

05/15/00: Hillary's surrogate for telling tall tales

05/10/00: Listening to the voice of an authentic man

05/08/00: First a lot of bluster, then the retreat

05/02/00: Good news for Rudy, bad news for Hillary

04/28/00: The long goodbye to Elian's boyhood

04/25/00: Spooked by Castro, Bubba blinks

04/14/00: One flag down and two memorials to go

04/11/00: Consistency finds a jewel in Janet Reno

04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)

04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts

03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table

03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day

03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult

03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology

03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain

03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end

© 2000 Wes Pruden