May 2, 2001
Beginning of the Road
By Dane Sorensen
For many Americans the escalation of the Chinese Cold War seems unimportant and far away. For some people it is just good TV. Most Americans have taken our government's views as gospel. In all probability most of what we have been told is true.
We believe our spy plane was in international air space and not in China's air space. We believe no pilot in their right mind would use his plane as a battering ram and hit another plane; especially a jet fighter that is twice as fast and loaded with weapons. The mid air collision seems to be one of those accidents that is regrettable, but when considering human error it is something that was bound to happen.
Our military feels the Chinese pilot was trying to thump our plane. Thumping is a Russian invention., which when done properly will cause a bigger and slower plane to temporarily loose lift on one wing and cause the plane to dip on one side. It is a discomforting experience for the occupants of the bigger plane - all good Top Gun fun.
However, much of the world feels otherwise on this issue. They point to this as the latest example of American domination and interference. They don't think of us as the World Policeman, but instead as the USSA. Their thoughts shape their response to situations such as the spy plane mishap. We don't give the event much weight in the scheme of things, but to the Chinese and other countries this event only confirms their mistrust and hate of our government.
My main livelihood is importing from countries like Red China. I have the opportunity to communicate with Chinese citizens through the medium of email. Although the Chinese are suppose to be monitoring and censuring email much is not monitored due to the shear amount of data. Access to the Internet is available to Chinese businesses and a select few.
My concern over the spy plane mishap was mostly financial. When the two planes hit each other on April 1, I was preparing to wire a Chinese company $25,000.00. I hesitated on completing the wire until I heard that our crew was heading back to the USA for Easter. During that time between the first of April and Easter I emailed my friends in China to find out how they felt. I did not want to wire a large percentage of my working capital only to have an embargo slapped on my import goods by the United States or to see the Chinese seize assets as a response to the USA not apologizing. Governments tend to have a tendency to act like children.
The main thing I sensed during the spy plane mishap by my Chinese friends is that they were really mad at our government. They think China is a peaceful giant that does not poke its nose into anyone's business. The South Koreans may think otherwise, but that is the perception of my friends in China. They tend to agree with their government. One business associate wrote, "!! If Chinese air plane entry into your air space,and clash down your plane and land in your airport, you are happy? So, your people must to hear other voice which come from other countries in the world! Your politians always think you are number one, you are world policeman! You can do anything, you sent troups to other countries, we make trouble in the world, you occupied Korea, Vetnam, Iraq, Yugoslavia, you politicians very like war, they made war to controle other countries! Your goverment is a very very bad government in the world! They never consider other countries people 's feeling!!!!" This is from a man that I have met with personally and is normally so calm and quiet. For him to speak with such passion leads me to have realize he and his countrymen do take the spy plane mishap as a very big deal.
They firmly believe our plane was in their air space. Who is right is beyond my knowledge. Our government insists we were not in China's air space, but I have not seen any satellite photos proving our innocence or guilt. I do believe our spy planes are unarmed. So when one of my Chinese friends email me the drawing of our plane hitting their fighter, I was very amused. I don't think we have any planes that carry missiles under both the wing and the fuselage. Why our spy plane didn't use a missile instead of a plane wing is not addressed by the Chinese. Nor is it explained why all these missiles can't be seen on the photos of our spy plane on their tarmac.
It is clear that the Chinese government took the event and used it for all it was worth. It helped rally the people to the government. It is odd how people can support a government they don't like when another government threatens them. The best example of that was the Soviet people during World War Two. They fought with everything they had against the German army because no one was going to conquer Mother Russia!
My friends in China gave me many examples of our government's evil ways. Foremost was the oppression of Iraq. They think Sadam is a nice guy. They still remember our Navy shooting down an Iranian airliner full of pilgrims flying toward Mecca back in 1988. The Lockerbie Flight 103 bombing during the Christmas season was merely payback for the Mecca plane. Another example was our bombing the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999. The Chinese claim is was deliberate.
So the arrows and barbs fly back and forth with our government and the Chinese. The trouble is I find little to feel good about. Much of what my friends feel is true is a tainted reality formed for them by their government's propaganda department. Misinformation is made gospel truth. However, our government has a history of lies as well. We have all heard lies come out of the mouth of our Presidents. Richard Nixon and William Clinton come to mind as our best practitioners of untruth.. They were masters of hiding a lie within a body of truth. I just hope we never have to fight another war because of a pile of lies.
If China and the United States do get into a cockfight it would not be a pretty sight. Most of America would end up without any shoes to wear. Our source of cheap goods would be disrupted. Many Chinese workers who are working for privately owned companies would be left unemployed. The Chinese middle class would be cut off at the knees. It is my hope that the new middle class in China will grow into a force that will eventually insist on the same liberties as enjoyed by the middle class in other countries. Chinese capitalism has saved China from falling into the poverty that we see in Russia and North Korea. It has bought time for the Communist Party, but that is all it has done.. As more wealth becomes controlled by the middle class the power of the Chinese government will have to have their support or risk becoming meaningless. I hope democracy will come to China and hopefully Communism will just fade away into history.
China is still catching up in technology. China wants to be our equal in technology. Until she allows liberty to exist, she will never have the tools to match our ability to grow and change.