China’s political strongman Jiang Zemin says he’s going to hold President Clinton responsible for any protests that occur while he’s in the United States later this month.

That’s OK with me. A curse on both their houses, I say. It’s not clear to me who is more morally repugnant — the brutal dictator or the appeaser, the man who forces women to have abortions or the apologist for such practices, the persecutor of Christians or the “Christian” who turns a blind eye to the persecution, the ambitious tyrant or the leader who sells his soul for power, the leader who tries to buy political influence or the one who sells it.

This visit is about one thing — money. That’s the common language Jiang and Clinton speak. This isn’t a meeting of the minds, it’s a meeting of the pocketbooks. It has never been more clear why Clinton is president. He’s the choice of corporate America. He’s the one who will bring home the bacon for them — no matter what the moral cost, no matter what principles might be violated, no matter how many American lives it may cost five years down the road.

That’s the bottom line that Americans better start considering. One of these days, somewhere, somehow, China is going to threaten the vital interests of the United States. It’s only a matter of time. It’s inevitable that we’re going to clash.

China knows it. America doesn’t, yet. China is preparing. America isn’t.

In August, Professor Paul Dibb, director of the Strategic and Defense Studies Center in Australia said China is more powerful and more confident about its military position in the East.

“The strong message I get is that … for the mid to longer-term, China is working on a policy which works to have the United States removed so there is less competition from what is, in fact, the only real competition to China,” he said. “We need to worry about Asia, and, most importantly, South-East Asia, being dominated by any one major Asian power.”

In September we learned from a top Taiwanese military expert that western countries had underestimated China’s military strength because they based their assumptions on outdated impressions. Lin Chong-ping said China’s ability to conduct high-technology warfare was considerable, though the west had not yet recognized the fact.

And those military “cuts” Jiang talked about during the Communist Party Congress last month? A ruse, according to the Rand Corporation. The “demobilization” announcement was designed to woo U.S. audiences and lull the west to sleep — to undermine the “China threat” theory, the report said.

China is involved in the kind of strategic deception that we witnessed during the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

To add insult to injury, less than three weeks before Jiang’s trip to the U.S., he ordered the arrest of a prominent leader in the Catholic underground church movement. Is this a move to test the will of western resolve on the issue of religious freedom? Or is Bishop Su Zhimin just a pawn in an international chess game — one who might be released days before the trip as a gesture of goodwill? Or has Jiang concluded that the United States is nothing more than what one of his predecessors would call a “paper tiger”?

I wonder how many of these issues will actually be raised with Jiang while he’s in the states. Will the press raise them? Will Congress? Will the president?

I doubt it — unless Jiang’s worst fear is realized. What concerns Jiang is that thousands or tens of thousands of protesters will use the opportunity of his appearance in the states to rally against kind of repression for which he stands. Do Americans care enough? Or is the economy just to good to worry about it right now? Are there enough freedom lovers left in the land of the free and the home of the brave to stand up to tyranny by shadowing Jiang’s entourage?

If so, you can be sure that the press, the Congress and even the president would suddenly find the courage to ask the tough questions of Jiang. The kids in the streets at Tiananmen Square were willing to give their lives for freedom. Do Americans have enough character and soul to write a letter to the editor? To call our elected officials? To attend a rally?

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