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Thursday, February 4, 2010
Changing China tied to rough ride with U.S. | Reuters
"BEIJING (Reuters) - "Ride on a tiger and it's hard to climb down," goes a Chinese saying that is proving apt for Beijing's quarrels with Washington this year, when swollen ambitions at home are driving China on a harder tack abroad. China | COP15 China's outrage over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and President Barack Obama's planned meeting with the Dalai Lama has shown that, in the wake of the global financial crisis, Beijing is growing pushier in public. In past decades, a poorer, more cautious China greeted U.S. weapons sales to the disputed island with angry words and little else. Not now, as China enters the Year of the Tiger in its traditional lunar calendar cycle of talismanic animals. The Obama administration last week announced plans to ship $6.4 billion of missiles, helicopters and weapons control systems to the self-ruled island Beijing calls its own. China threatened to downgrade cooperation with Washington and for the first time sanction companies involved in such sales. Beijing this week also condemned Obama's plan to meet the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader reviled by China. China's loud ire adds to signs the country is becoming surer about throwing around its political weight, growing along with an economy soon likely to whir past Japan's as the world's second biggest, though it will still trail far behind the United States. Behind this assertiveness are domestic pressures likely to make it harder work for China's leaders to cool disputes with Washington and other Western capitals. "There is this paradox of increasing confidence externally and lack of confidence domestically," said Susan Shirk, a professor specializing in Chinese foreign policy at the University of California, San Diego. "There's also what I consider a serious misperception of the country's economic strength and how that translates in power.""