Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the United States has been accustomed to being the superior partner in Sino-US relations.
When there is trouble between the two countries, China reacts with restraint. Such restraint was found after the US bombing of China's embassy in Yugoslavia in 1999 and the George W. Bush administration's announcement of its decision to sell arms to Taiwan in 2008.
However, times are changing. When the US announced its latest arms sale to Taiwan, Beijing showed the strongest reactions and more rapid decisions. In a broad simultaneous response from departments including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of National Defense, NPC and CPPCC, it halted military exchanges, imposed sanctions on US companies and warned of noncooperation on nuclear issues involving Iran and DPRK.
China deems that it is time to let US feel the pain of deteriorating Sino-US relations.
A change in Chinese attitudes is irreversible as the Sino-US relationship evolves into a more equal one. China's role in the world's affairs is growing politically and economically. In 2009, more than 50% of world economic growth was contributed by China. China has grown to be a dominant element in almost all crucial international issues, including climate change, global recovery and Iranian nuclear capability.
As the biggest debt holder and main trade partner of US, China is also indispensable to the US. Now that China's international status is enhanced and its clout with the US heightened, it is unreasonable to maintain the original imbalance of Sino-US relations.
Public opinion is the firmest base of the Chinese government's strong opposition. The 2008 Olympic Games and China's outstanding economic growth (8.7%) arouse a strong sense of pride and patriotism across the nation, which makes Chinese people more sensitive and uncompromising about their national core interests. We find millions of Internet posts support strong reactions by the Chinese government.
It is an obvious fact that keeping a healthy and stable Sino-US relationship is crucial to American global and domestic interests. For that reason, the US must realize and understand China's desire for an equal relationship before taking any measures.