In the coming weeks, an army of China experts is going to tell us that selling advanced arms to Taiwan is too risky. If history is any guide, however, it will be even riskier if Beijing thinks it is dealing with another "young and weak" American president.
Civil society is not the only group of actors which recognizes the potential political power of the Internet. Authoritarian governments are wary of the political communication the Internet makes possible. Many have pushed measures to control the technology and shape the Internet's development to their needs.
Ultimately, China's attempts to manipulate the private sector will be only one of a number of factors determining the success and transformative power of the Internet in the Middle Kingdom. Domestic and foreign entrepreneurship might very well eventually play their hand in helping to open up the country's economic and political system.
President Clinton is correct that the decision to grant China permanent most-favored-nation trading status will have a historic significance equal to Richard Nixon's opening to China and Jimmy Carter's normalization of relations. But if that's true, why is the president rushing Congress to make a hasty decision, with almost no time to consider the merits and consequences of this momentous step?
Last week, while many China experts inside and outside the Clinton administration were confidently predicting that China would not escalate the conflict with Taiwan, others warned that Beijing might well be contemplating an attack. This turned out to be correct.
The official U.S. posture of prostration before Beijing -- the China hands call it "engagement" -- would be merely pitiful, perhaps even amusing, were it not so dangerous. But the Clinton administration is now applying its strategy of appeasement to the brewing crisis over Taiwan, and the result may be to hasten the military conflict the administration is trying to avoid.
Since the beginning of 1997, Beijing and the man it appointed to be Hong Kong's chief executive, C. H. Tung, have been rewriting Hong Kong's laws to put new restrictions on political activity and free speech. The Hong Kong canary is already short of breath as the PRC coal mine closes in around it. By the time we wake up to find that political liberties have been extinguished, it will be too late.
No leader of either party has had the courage to tell the American people that preserving the current benevolent international environment may be less expensive than fighting the Cold War, but not that much less. We keep cashing in the same "peace dividend" over and over.