REP. NANCY PELOSI, an outspoken and often lonely critic of China's
government, says the "spy plane" incident has created a slew of suddenly-
kindred souls on Capitol Hill.
Speaking on Michael Krasny's fine "Forum" program on KQED-FM, Pelosi said
that "people who have been diametrically opposed to me on human rights issues"
are now hopping mad and eager to flex America's rippling biceps to show China
Much as I admire Pelosi's principles and guts, if I were she, I might be a
tad uneasy at all my new, enthusiastic bedmates.
When she speaks out against handing China the store via permanent normal
trade relations, Pelosi is essentially a choir of one.
But when a U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane bumps into a Chinese fighter jet
in the South China Sea, all of Congress is transfixed with the many warts of
the People's Republic.
When the Chinese government then takes its own sweet time to allow U.S.
diplomats access to the crew members, and refuses to quickly return them and
their badly damaged plane to U.S. authorities -- presto! -- we've got a full-
blown outrage on our hands.
Why, to hear the indignant cries now coming from Washington, you'd think
the Chinese air force had overtaken a private charter of Methodist tourists
from Nebraska and forced them to land in the middle of the Forbidden City.
Suddenly, it's nasty old China, playing hardball with the noble and utterly
innocent United States. How dare they?
After all, the only thing our Navy boys and girls were trying to do in that
EP-3 was their job -- which is to cruise almost daily up and down China's
coast, often a little more than 12 miles off shore, and "gather intelligence."
It's "just routine."
Never mind that we do not tolerate such intimate surveillance of our land.
Never mind that, if the situation were reversed -- if a Chinese "intelligence
gathering" plane happened to bump into a U.S. fighter off San Diego and make
an emergency landing on, say, Coronado -- we would be all over that aircraft
like maggots on a fresh corpse.
Never mind that, if China had accidentally bombed our embassy in Belgrade
(oops, sorry, old maps), and if its president recently had called us a
"strategic competitor," we might be inclined to heap every bit of the blame
for the bumping incident on China.
And if the Chinese president also were thinking about selling weapons to a
country that we consider a renegade from our nation? Well, never mind that
we'd likely demand an apology and try to use the Chinese plane and crew as
bargaining chips to get a few concessions regarding future reconnaissnce
missions and proposed arms sales.
But, of course, the situation is not reversed. The U.S. is not China.
Everything is different when we do it, even "intelligence gathering." Our
motives are always pure. And our actions in the international arena are never,
ever influenced by domestic politics.
So, fluff up the pillows and move over, Rep. Pelosi. Make room for all the
enemies of the People's Republic. Nasty old China. It is lying, manipulative
and -- gosh, who knew? -- it's got no respect for basic human rights.
©2001 San Francisco Chronicle