Scare Tactics

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Nervous State Department officials insisted Wednesday that China's agressive anti-Taiwan posturing does not amount to preparations for war. In the last two weeks, the Chinese have threatened to launch missiles at Taiwan, have planned elaborate military maneuvers off the Taiwanese coast, and moved ahead on a deal to buy 72 SU-27 fighter bombers from Russia. Making matters worse are indications of a split between Chinese President Jaing Zemin and hawkish Chinese Generals who insist on a harder line with Taiwan. According to TIME Senior Foreign Affairs Writer Bruce Nelan, these are attempts to manipulate the March 23 Taiwanese election: "The Chinese are trying to intimidate Taiwanese voters into picking a candidate who wants to make up with the mainland, and if President Lee Teng-Hui is reelected, he will be forced to deal with the independence issue from the start of his term." Relations with the U.S. have worsened as China has violated numerous international and trade agreements. Newly-released intelligence reports show that China has sold nuclear equipment to Pakistan and cruise missiles to Iraq. It has also refused to crack down on software, music and movie pirates, incurring potential penalties of $10 billion, if retaliatory U.S. sanctions halt goverment-financed business deals. Says Nelan: "Clinton's policy of conciliating to China just doesn't work. From every standpoint, economics, security and human rights, it is a failure."