Beijing is right in refusing to knuckle under Washington's heavy-handed approach to slash China's textile export quota by 195,000 dozen garments. The United States' unilateral action smacks of big-stick diplomacy. Washington accused Beijing of illegally transshipping garments through third countries. The quota deal was signed in 1994 between Beijing and Washington. Had the US wanted to amend it, it should have discussed it with China and presented evidence to support its claims. The United States' cavalier behaviour would only provoke, needlessly, another round of confrontation with the mainland. Machiavellian it would have been had the trade sanctions been used for political expediency. In an election year, Bill Clinton would do anything to boost popularity: bombing Iraq was not a total surprise. Penalising China obviously would win votes among US garment manufacturers. Hong Kong, albeit an innocent bystander, would be caught between the cross-fire. The slash also appears treacherous. With only three months to the peak Christmas sales season, mainland factories churning out goods for Hong Kong companies for export to the US might suddenly discover they no longer have the export quota. The loss to Hong Kong companies, in terms of revenue and hard-earned credibility, would be hard to fathom. The US would be doing all parties, including American importers and consumers, a great service by suspending the cut and negotiating a mutually-acceptable solution.