Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, abusing westerners for their propensity to take China’s feelings seriously, once observed that China was different: it had to be treated like a Ming vase. No better example can be found than the Bush Adminstration’s treatment of China:

The U.S. ambassador to China, Clark T. “Sandy” Randt, opposes Bush administration plans to sell advanced F-16 jets to Taiwan because of concerns that Beijing has grown “angry” over protests and harsh reaction around the world to China’s Olympic torch relay.

Mr. Randt, according to administration officials, informed President Bush recently that he opposes approval of the sale of F-16 C/D models to Taiwan because “China is now vulnerable and angry” because of the protests surrounding the Olympic torch relay in Europe and Asia.

Mr. Randt has told the president that nothing should be done to hurt China’s feelings before the Olympics, set to begin Aug. 8, and wants to wait until well after the Games, perhaps into the next administration before approving the warplane sale.

The ambassador has served in Beijing since 2001. Mr. Randt was behind State Department pressure on Japan’s government to block a pre-inaugural visit to Tokyo by Taiwan’s new president, Ma Ying-jeou.

The tale that Randt put pressure on Japan’s government (and apparently the US as well) to block Ma Ying-jeou visits to the US and Japan prior to his swearing-in has been running around on the internet for a couple of weeks at least, but this is the first I’ve seen it in print.

Thanks to secret informants, The View from Taiwan has obtained transcripts of Ambassador Randt’s most recent state dinner:

RANDT: My, that was delicious.
CHINESE WAITER: I’m sorry, sir, but you’re not finished.
RANDT: What? I’m stuffed.
WAITER: You’ll have to eat all your rice, sir. Otherwise you’ll hurt the feelings of the great Chinese people.
RANDT: Oh. Well, then, I’ll get right on it.
WAITER: Isn’t that bottled water from France? You’ve hurt…!
RANDT: [hastily] Oh, right! Someone else put that there. I wasn’t going to touch it.
DINER: I should hope not! And say, wasn’t that watch made in Switzerland? China makes perfectly good watches!
WAITER: Sir! I protest! You’ve hurt the feelings of the great Chinese people!
RANDT: I’m sorry! I’m sorry! [offers watch] Here, you take it.
WAITER: Bribing me to silence! This is an outrage!
SECOND DINER: An outrage against the feelings of the Chinese people!
RANDT: Please, accept my apologies on behalf of all the people of the United States. What can I do to make it up to you?
WAITER: Finish your rice. Oh, and about those F-16s for Taiwan…

China is “vulnerable and angry.” Poor China, perhaps it ought to be in therapy for its aggressive anti-social behavior and insecurities. There’s an object lesson in the current treatment of France, folks. The Taipei Times noted today that French travel agents fear a Chinese boycott:

French tour operators fear a “catastrophic” plunge in business after an order was apparently given to Chinese travel agents to stop selling trips to the country.

France is the most popular European holiday destination for Chinese tourists and some 700,000 flocked to the country last year, with Paris, the Cote d’Azur and the Loire chateau region the most popular destinations.

But many canceled their trips after demonstrators disrupted the Olympic flame’s passage through Paris last month, and travel agents in Beijing said they had now been advised to remove France from their destinations from this week.

“It is a catastrophic year for Chinese tourism in France,” Philippe Yao, director of the China Comfort Travel agency in France, said on Thursday.

One could hardly name a nation that has supported China more strongly, calling repeatedly for an end to the weapons embargo imposed after Tiananmen and touting its special relationship with China. It was French recognition of the PRC in 1964 that triggered the avalanche of recognition culminating in Nixon’s visit and UN entry. And what does France get for its service to the Dragon Throne? A couple of protests and BAM! you have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people! Maybe the US ought to try this approach next time some Parisian criticizes McDonalds, instead of treating France like a friend and ally with whom we sometimes have differences.

Some of you might think: See? If we be nice to China, we won’t be boycotted. But that is exactly the kind of blackmail that China wants westerners to submit to: the cringing submission of the abused wife who hopes that if she is just works harder to make her husband happy, he won’t smack her around, whereas the reality is that he smacks her because she abases herself before him. Shameful that Ambassador Randt has argued that the US ought to make submission to this kind of emotional blackmail US policy. There may be reasonable positions to take against selling F-16s to the US, but “the feelings of the Chinese people” are not among them.

In the Wall Street Journal McCain and Joe Lieberman published a piece calling for new US Asian policy. Given Bush Administration neglect of Asia, except for a few high profile diplomatic initiatives, like North Korea, such attention to the 21st century is heartwarming. Unfortunately McCain and Lieberman do not mention The Beautiful Isle. By contrast Obama wrote a letter congratulating Taiwan a while back, a letter I’ve heard was written by former AIT head and current Brookings fellow Richard Bush, a longtime US government Taiwan specialist. McCain and Taiwan were mentioned together in that issue of WSJ, but in an article on his ties to a lobbyist whose Orion Strategies company has lobbied for Taiwan, Randy Scheunemann, a prominent Neocon who was one of the driving minds behind our criminal war in Iraq. Just another example of how Taiwan has become a neocon project while progressives continue to perceive Taiwan through Cold War lenses. Wake up, lefties!

Speaking of neocons who drove the Iraq war and Taiwan, Michael Ledeen, a name anyone familiar with the Iraq mess will recognize, published a piece in the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) arguing that Beijing was embracing classical fascism. They may be moving through a classically Fascist phase in which the State proffers an authoritarian ideology, allies itself with big industry, suppresses the peasantry and workers through carrot and stick programs, locks up dissenters, and pursues an aggressive foreign policy, but I suspect that in the end Beijing will try rig a “soft landing” to a political system like Singapore or what the KMT appears to be aiming for in Taiwan. In any case it is difficult to disagree with what Ledeen is saying even if it is Ledeen saying it. This is a comment I have heard progressives make many times as well. Ledeen could have added that also like the Fascist and Communist states of the between-wars periods, China has generated a whole class of western apologists who should probably know better.

Feel like punishing yourself? Try former US ambassador Charles Freeman’s speech in the NCUSCR that is pure Establishment in its approach to China and Taiwan (scroll down to see, but at least short book reviews of Susan Shirk’s new book and Alan Wachman’s Why Taiwan are at the bottom).