The United States and China are locked in an escalating row over US arms sales to Taiwan. The row was sparked by a 6.4 billion-dollar sale of missiles, helicopters, ships and other weaponry. China retaliated by announcing it would suspend military and security contacts with Washington and impose sanctions on US firms involved in the deal, including Boeing.
China, backed by its growing economic power, has adopted an increasingly muscular stance towards the West, most notably visible through its reticience at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and its encumbrance of the UN Security Council negotiations over Iran sanctions.
Now, however, the U.S. is pushing back. The weapons sales coincided with some public criticism by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of China's stance on Iran. Recently, the U.S. has also been vocal in championing Internet freedom.
Last summer, in a row over Chinese dumping of tyres, China loudly announced investigations into imports of several U.S. products, but the actual sanctions eventually levied were minor. The actual significance of the current falling out remains to be seen.
Keith Bradsher, "China Threatens Sanctions in Fallout Over Taiwan," New York Times, January 30, 2010,http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/31/world/asia/31china.html?ref=asia
Helen Cooper, "U.S. Starts to Push Back Against China in Growing Rift," New York Times, January 31, 2010,http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/01/world/asia/01china.html?ref=asia