Selling arms is such a convoluted business and it seems there is never any end to when it may return to bite you. Take this article from Asia Times where US meddling in foreign affiars has ticked off our largest creditor.
Large-scale air and naval maneuvers off China’s southeast coast last week demonstrated the post-17th Party Congress leadership’s determination to project hard power in view of tension in the Taiwan Strait. The week-long war games, which coincided with Beijing’s sudden cancellation of the USS Kitty Hawk battle group’s Hong Kong port call, are also meant to convey Beijing’s displeasure with Washington’s recent decision to sell weapons to Taiwan and to honor the Dalai Lama.
Moreover, this show of force reflects the commitment of President Hu Jintao, who was re-elected chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) at the congress, to speed up the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) already formidable arsenal.
Several hundred commercial flights along China’s southeast coast – the majority of which originated from airports in Shanghai and Guangzhou – were postponed during the exercises. It was not until last Saturday that the East China Civil Aviation Bureau lifted the highly disruptive aviation control (People’s Daily, November 26). Li Jingao, an official of the CAAC East China Air Traffic Management Bureau, claimed: “The delay resulted from a backlog caused by the control in previous days.” Military analysts noted that PLA authorities did not want the Kitty Hawk battle group – whose 8,000-odd sailors had earlier planned to spend Thanksgiving in Hong Kong – to be in the vicinity.
This is despite the fact that during his visit to Beijing earlier this month, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his hosts made new pledges to boost confidence-building measures, including establishing a military-to-military hotline. On a deeper level, the Kitty Hawk incident reflected Beijing’s anger at Washington’s plan to sell Taiwan a $940 million upgrade to its Patriot II anti-missile shield. Beijing apparently also wanted to protest President George W Bush’s presence at a congressional ceremony last month honoring the Dalai Lama, leader of Tibet’s pro-independence movement and deemed a “separatist” by Beijing.
There are also indications that this stupendous muscle-flexing was targeting more than the usual suspects; for examples Taiwan and the United States. Parts of the exercises took place close to the disputed Paracel Islands, including the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos in the South China Sea, a few islets whose sovereignty is claimed by Vietnam. Last Friday, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry pointed out that the war games were a “violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty”.
So what does all this have to do with magnets? Given my involvment now with wind energy the pricing and availability of magnets has brought some alarming issues to my attention. It so happens that high gauss magnets such as rare earth neodymiums used in my work are locked up by the Chinese, the causes of which can be traced back decades and directly tied to profits of US corporations. Today our missile guidance systems, jet fighters, defense monitoring, almost everything the military uses is beholden to little magnets that can only be got from China!