Saturday, July 31, 2004

War Drums Beating: Chinese Anti-US Sentiment

The CSM reports this seemingly minor but ominious story.

from the July 30, 2004 edition

US, China in tiff over Niagara incident

China's media are whipping up anger over the roughing up of a Chinese tourist by a US border guard last week.

By Robert Marquand| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

BEIJING – A weird and unfortunate incident involving a US border guard who beat a female Chinese tourist at Niagara Falls last week is getting increasing play in China's state-run media as a high-emotions story, with the public receiving continual images of the woman's grotesquely wounded face in newspapers, on the Internet, and on TV talk shows.
For state media to feature so prominently a racially sensitive story, and to stoke the flames of considerable anger felt on the street here yesterday, suggests some cooling on the Chinese side of Sino-US relations, analysts say. After being phoned by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Secretary of State Colin Powell vowed to conduct a full investigation into the matter.

Zhao Yan, a Chinese businesswoman on holiday, was chased and grabbed late at night on July 21 near Niagara's famed Rainbow Bridge by a guard who thought she was part of a drug deal involving pounds of marijuana. After creating some suspicions by her movements, Ms. Zhao ran away just as authorities were doing a drug search. A customs agent, now charged with excessive force, grabbed Zhao, pepper-sprayed her, and roughed her up and badly bruised her face when she swung her arms at him in a struggle, according to US officials.

Now, shocking photos of Zhao with eyes swollen by the spray and panel talk shows featuring famous law professors on prime-time Chinese TV are playing here as part symbol, part stereotype of American aggressiveness. This comes after this spring's surfeit of images and other coverage here of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Moreover, the Zhao story seems to be featured by state media in China just as relations between the two powers are slightly less sunny and a bit more testy over the question of Taiwan, and with less than enthusiastic Chinese support for the US occupation of Iraq, analysts say.

I think we can expect little Chinese cooperation over North Korea, and an increasingly hostile tone over Taiwan. Unless we get this thing resolved in Iraq quick, the military may indeed actually need a draft if we're going to try to fight a second front preventing a Chinese invasion. Normally this would not be a consideration, but we're stretched pretty thin on ground troops and while our naval forces could repulse a Chinese attack the gap isn't as big as most people might think it is and its rapidly narrowing. Within one to two years, they could with their combined force structure and new naval deployments be a significant threat. 2006 is the time frame the controversial President of Tawain has called for a date regarding a referendum on Taiwanese independence, a goal China has stated that would be a unilateral causus belli.

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