March 15, 2004
FRANCE IS JOINING WITH CHINA in an effort to intimidate Taiwan:
China and France will hold rare joint naval exercises off the mainland's eastern coast on Tuesday, just four days before Beijing's rival, Taiwan, holds presidential elections.
China's official Xinhua news agency made no link between the exercises off Qingdao -- about 780 miles from Taiwan's northernmost point -- and the election.
But the show of military strength and solidarity signaled China's desire to isolate the self-governing island before the vote and its first-ever referendum, which Beijing views as a provocative step toward independence.
Don McArthur observes: "Either the world is insane, the French are insane, or I've gone insane . . . the French are joining the Chinese Communists in an attempt to intimidate a Democracy?!?!"
There's apparently no limit to what the French are willing to do in order to feel important on the world stage. That's a form of insanity, I guess, though I suppose it's possible that these exercises were entered into without thought of the Taiwanese elections, at least on the part of the French.
Of course, it's unclear how intimidated the Taiwanese will be by the French navy. I wonder if the Charles De Gaulle will be there. . . . Heh.
UPDATE: Reader Kelion Kasler emails:
Don't the French-Chinese Naval Exercises once and for all put the lie to John Kerry's implicit assertion that the French are "people who were our friends nine months ago" and are "people who ought to be on our side in Iraq and aren't because this administration has pushed them away"? This is getting ridiculous.
Indeed it is.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.