Voice of the White House March 16, 2005

“ The clock is ticking on the Chinese ultimatum over the question of US support for Taiwan. Bush is inclined to “call the chink’s bluff” but others are not as confident. The counter-attack, viz: “We won’t do any more business with you and pull your economic rug right out from under you if you don’t back down,” is not going to work. Also, Bush’s plan to pour money into India (he ought to, because they are getting all of our technical jobs now) as a counter-balance to the PRC is not going to work either. India has the population but not the resources and the Chinese are homogeneous and very focused. Japan is too tied to the US to be of much use any more and China is pissed off over Japanese rumblings about increasing their military power in an arena that China now views as its very own. They both hate each other and are starting to renew their old quarrels albeit less violently. China sees that Japan, and possibly Korea, will support Taiwan and are now getting ready to flex their muscles. The government of Taiwan, hopefully believing in unquestioned US military support (as it has for decades) is probably due for a very nasty surprise. First off, if the PRC makes good on its threats to dump dollars, the US economy will tank almost at once because others will rush to dump their dollars and not be caught with the very dirty end of the stick. However, the joker in this deck is Bush who is liable to do almost anything except the rational thing. We are no longer a manufacturing country but a debtor country and China’s economy is booming. If they take over Taiwan, they can add their industrial development to their own and emerge from a short, nasty and fratricidal war , way ahead of everyone else. The PRC holds all the aces in this game and all Bush can do is to hope for a good bluff. I learned a long time ago not to play poker with the Chinese. They don’t move unless they are certain of their hand and they will play it. More later…”

See our Inside the White House archive: