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Location: Virginia, United States

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

House Armed Services Committee: CNOOC and Unocal – July 13th


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After failing to gain admittance into today’s House Armed Services Committee Hearing, due to lengthy lines, I have reason to be thankful for modern technology. Thanks to the House website, I was able to listen in on the hearing. It was a very lively event.

Of the four witnesses who testified, only one was a supporter of China’s move to buy Unocal. CATO institute’s Jerry Taylor forcefully argued that China’s purchase of Unocal would pose no threat to the US. His colleagues disagreed, and they argued with equal vigor. The event turned into a very heated debate, with a few of the Congressman making some rather unkind references to Mr. Taylor and the CATO institute.

In his initial testimony, Taylor indicated that Japan took action similar to China’s current move, back in the ‘80s. Though the media cried wolf, nothing ever came of it. Congressman Curt Weldon responded by pointing to Japan’s actions during WWII - they used our equipment against us. Weldon argued that we need to make sure this doesn’t happen with our oil. R. James Woolsey (former CIA Director) agreed with Weldon. He reminded the audience that we are still in the middle of a war against terror. Terrorists could strike at our oil supply and significantly increase its scarcity and cost. Thus, we should be hesitant to sell US oil to China. Also opposed to CNOOC’s purchase of Unocal was witness Frank J. Gaffney. He asserted that Chinese academics believe war with the US is inevitable. Hence, they shouldn’t be getting our oil.

Taylor did seem to have one supporter in Congressman Vic Snyder of Arkansas. Rep. Snyder made a very interesting observation. He claimed, ‘If you call someone an enemy, often they become an enemy.’ Congressman Snyder believes we are not yet an enemy of China; but if we continue to use such rhetoric, that situation might take a turn for the worse.

As for myself, I’m not prepared to come down on either side yet. I recognize good arguments on both sides. There is certainly a danger of China threatening Taiwan, and thereby the US. However, I don’t believe we should treat them as an enemy unless they actually are. It also seems unfair to condemn the Chinese for expanding their military or bettering their economy when the US is guilty of both. I am very much against double-standards. If the US has a right to expand and look out for its interests, I don’t think we have a right to deprive other nations of that same right without sufficient cause. The question at hand is whether we do have sufficient cause.

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