Yet when W became President in 2001 many Christian conservatives
the base of his political support believed he
would spur policies to oppose communist China and support
In 2000 W differentiated himself from the Clinton view of
China as an important "strategic partner" in trade
by referring to China as a "strategic competitor"
overall. This slogan was no doubt coined by the "Vulcans,"
W's foreign policy advisors, people such as Condoleeza Rice,
Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle, all "neo-conservative"
Republicans steeped in the traditions of the Cold War.
Neo-conservatives view current American policies on China
as outdated and call for recognition of Taiwan. That's good
news to evangelicals who see Taiwan as the vanguard in the
American crusade to make a Christian China.
Many evangelicals believe that a confrontation with China,
America's putative superpower rival, must occur as part of
a final global test that will bring on the "end-times,"
the return of Jesus Christ.
The neo-conservatives also want confrontation in order to
so disrupt China that it cannot become a "peer"
rival of the USA and jeopardize American dominance of the
world in the 21st Century.
During the first 100 days of the Bush administration it appeared
that evangelicals and neo-cons had indeed usurped long-standing
policies on China and that a conflict was a very real possibility.
In March 2001 Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld met privately
with W and presented a new military strategy singling out
China as America's principal adversary.
Less than two weeks later, on April 1, a USA Navy spy plane
collided with a Chinese jet fighter off the coast of southern
China. The spy plane made an emergency landing on the island
of Hainan (China's "Hawaii") where the crew was
held for 11 days.
plane incident unleashed a torrent of anti-China bashing
about America's new enemy. Capitalizing on the mood W said
in a nationally broadcast television interview that the USA
would do "whatever it takes" to defend Taiwan from
The remark was a significant departure from the "strategic
ambiguity" that traditionally defines USA relations with
Taiwan. The USA Congress followed with a hefty arms deal for
But the crisis with China quickly diffused and by summer
criticism of Beijing was limited mostly to differences on
human rights. After September 11 the focus was off China.
To date, the arms package for Taiwan exists only on paper
and a senior
State Department official is under house arrest for passing
documents to Taiwan agents.
According to James Mann, author of "Rise of the Vulcans:
The History of Bush's War Cabinet," it was a deliberate
tactic of the Bush administration to get China foreign policy
issues out of the way early in the presidency.
During the tense periods of early 2001, the Bush administration's
and Bush family's dealings with the Chinese were unusually
Before W was even inaugurated both the outgoing and incoming
Chinese ambassadors visited George Bush Senior in Texas. Colin
Powell's first meeting was with the current Chinese ambassador,
Yang Jiechi, a Bush family friend.
A visit to China by W was announced by Beijing in March and
the day after Rumsfeld revealed the Pentagon plan to confront
China, a senior foreign minister (Qian Qichen) visited the
Intriguingly, W's uncle Prescott Bush flew to China immediately
after the spy plane collision and remained in China until
after the crew was released. Prescott Bush claims his visit
with the USA ambassador in Beijing was merely social.
And only days after the spy plane crew arrived safely on
Guam, Vice President Dick Cheney spoke at Fudan University
The Bush family's connections to China are well known. Prescott
Bush founded the USA-China Chamber of Commerce and acted as
its chairman until just recently. George Bush Senior travels
regularly to China and entertains the top Chinese leaders
in his home. W's brother Neil Bush and family cousin Elsie
Walker are known to have business deals with Chinese companies.
Just this past week, Colin Powell met in Beijing with Chinese
President Hu and other officials. It was Powell's fifth trip
to Beijing since 2001. Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor
Condoleeza Rice make regular official visits to Beijing and
The close interaction between the Bush administration and
China is in sharp contrast to the more hands-off policy under
Yet the Republican party continues to play a "Taiwan
Card" politically. At the Republican National Convention
in New York City the Texas Republican Party approved a plank
for the party platform that calls for the "recognition
of Taiwan as a sovereign and independent country."
But there was no mention of Taiwan by W or any other convention
speaker, including Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao whose family
came from Taiwan.
In fact, the official word of the Bush administration is
strongly against Taiwan. Last December, when he met with Chinese
Premier (Prime Minister) Wen Jiabao, W said he opposed Taiwan
President Chen Shui-bian's moves toward independence and reaffirmed
America's commitment to Beijing.
And in Beijing last week Colin Powell said "we do not
support independence. It would not serve the interests of
the region." Further, he told a Hong Kong television
reporter that the USA supported the reunification of Taiwan
and China, the goal of the Beijing government.
Four days after W said the USA would defend Taiwan at all
costs, he joked at the annual correspondent's dinner in Washington
DC, "I'm the one who committed the state of Texas to
defend Taiwan." His witticism begs the question: are
the most vocal supporters of Taiwan in America really on the
side of the Chinese communists?
© Ben Calmes for Sinomania!
Complete notes and sources for this report will be posted