Monday, April 9, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 128



Crisis created to cancel commerce

Melissa Kummer

More than a week ago, an American Navy surveillance plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet. According to the Chinese government, the fighter crashed and the pilot is missing.

The situation boils down to politics. The American pilot did his job (spying) and the Chinese fighter pilot did his job (intercepting).

The United States said the plane was in international air space. The Chinese government forcefully disagreed.

No immediate benefit is gained by keeping the members of the crew hostage, other than petty posturing in front of the world.

Since the beginning of this pointless ordeal, American officials have been concerned about the possibility of our military technology falling into the hands of the Chinese.

Is the issue here our new, high-tech spook technology and the integrity of Chinese boundaries, or do the Chinese pursue a different agenda?

Consider this: Could it be possible these 24 American crewmembers are being held as pawns in the center of a simmering battle between the United States and China? I think so.

When you consider this mini-crisis as President George W. Bush's first attempt at foreign negotiations, I question whether or not he is off to a good start.

The Chinese want an apology. According to Quian Qichen, China's deputy prime minister and senior foreign policy official, our government must say, "We're sorry, guys‚" to secure the release of the captured Americans.

President Bush has presented our nation's regrets, but has yet to offer an apology. Chinese President Jiang Zemin has stated that the televised expression of regret will not suffice.

China is testing Bush on the world stage. Can they push the United States into saying "sorry," or will Bush hold firm?

That's why I despise the politics of war and foreign relations: image is everything. To appear strong politically supersedes the basic issue of one dead and 24 captured.

The irony in this charade is that both nations are at fault. The crash occurred because China and the United States can't keep their noses out of other people's business.

The timing of this crash was intentional. America's intent to sell arms to Taiwan is viewed as a threat by China. It's not too farfetched to think the Chinese will use this "crisis" to block the deal with Taiwan.

The dispute gives both sides something concrete to take to the bargaining table. We make a trade: our crew for a promise not to sell weapons to Taiwan.

Relations between the United States and China remain contentious. This event represents little more than a propaganda coup for the Chinese.

The dramatic crash would not have occurred if the two nations weren't already irritated with each other.

The standoff will continue until somebody blinks. Whoever stays resolute perceives a gain in prestige, for the moment.

Here is a suggestion: Stop looking at the world in terms of Chinese and American hegemony and start looking at it in terms of humanity.

Kummer, a senior communication major, 
can be reached at

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