View Full Version : The Chinese are a Hell of a Challenge . . .
11-20-2005, 07:52 PM
How to handle them?
First, you start out by assuming they are not interested in cooperation, they're interested in being a world leader. They want to dictate the pace of their "integration" into geo-politics and the world economy.
Second, they're scared sh*tless of Japan, that's why they attack the Japanese politically. The Chinese are after the Japanese like crazy these days as the Japanese are moving toward scrapping the "defensive military only" provision in their Constitution. The Chinese are transparent in that regard, they only attack what they are really, really scared of. Those they aren't that scared of they just try to take their face away - like the US and Russia.
Third, there is no hope at all that China will become a consumer nation of externally-produced goods. There is absolutely no way that is going to occur. They may import a few luxury goods, but China is not an importer of manufactured goods.
Fourth, China has a Muslim problem of their own. They've kept it under control so far by lining 'em up against a wall and shooting them, but that never works in the long-term.
Fifth, North Korea is as much of a thorn in the side to China as it is to the US. They have very little control over N. Korea as long as the N. Koreans have nuclear weapons and missiles that can deliver them. Those missiles that N. Korea has can hit China as well as Japan. The Chinese leadership has been playing a very dangerous game with N. Korea, using them to make the US lose face in Asia, but by not shutting them down fast in their nuclear ambitions, they are gambling they can shut them down later. The Russians are in the N. Korean game heavily, you don't hear a lot about it, but they are.
So you tell me. How's this going to play out? Very interesting game being played out in North Asia between the Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, US, and Russia. ANd Bush has made a point of visiting Mongolia.
Edit: Mongolia instead of Manchuria
L.A. BRONCOS FAN
11-20-2005, 08:40 PM
Well, it looks the the ol' Bush charm hasn't wowed the Chinese. I guess they don't listen to Rehab Rush over there, otherwise he'd explain what The First Moron probably meant.
Last week FUX News carried a clip of Dim before the visit where he said he was gonna let those Chiners know that democracy and free trade capitalism was the hot ticket for 'em. Why, all they had to do was look at the Asian countries practicing the USA method to see how well it was workin' for 'em.
Um, Mr. Pretzeldent, China has the fastest growing economy in the world and has set growth records every year for the past nine. You, on the other hand, were handed a budget surplus by one William Jefferson Clinton and turned it into the largest deficit in US history. Rumor has it you've run the country further into debt than all 42 presidents that preceeded you combined...
And you're going to lecture the Chinese on how to run their country?
Maybe your next trip should be to the Northwest Territories of Canada where you can lecture the Inuit on how to deal with cold weather. Better yet, why don't you take a part-time job at Wally World stocking shelves. Maybe that would help you figure out which way the wind blows, ya' think?
On second thought, considering what you've done with the US Treasury, I'm not sure Wally would want you on the payroll.
You forgot to mention China's biggest problem, Cito - its rapidly aging population.
I believe that one day it will be played out on the battlefield in the middle east. The Chinese will soon want to play a bigger role in the middle east as they grow even stronger militarily. There demand for more and more oil along with the eventual decline in oil reserves will have their troops crossing the Euphrates and Tigris rivers one day. Just a thought
11-20-2005, 10:16 PM
China is a HUGE problem.
A study of history leads us to the conclusion that a growing economy will create a stronger middle class and will also create a group of merchants/businessmen who will demand a route to political power. In Western Civ, that helped lead to the end of Monarchies as affluent people demanded stability/access to power/less corruption.
I think this is what Clinton believed when he engaged the Chinese in the 90s and invited them into the WTO. If China becomes an economic power, they will become more liberal, people with money will demand more rights... etc etc. Ideally, China will become a "good neighbor" in Asia and a stabilizing force on the planet.
While the theory seems all right, it is a hell of a gamble. Because there will be a period of time where China will be vastly powerful and still a tyrannical state. They could be standing astride the Asian continent, rolling across neighbors borders, demanding resources for their population, etc.
They are already ramping up their military... They are trying to challenge us on the high seas. They are trying to move from being a brown water coastal navy to a blue water fleet that can go toe to toe with us and sink our carriers. They are developing their own jet fighters, which is a huge step. Up to this point, they have bought Soviet crap. Finally, they are standing up their ground forces... the days of peasants with bolt action rifles may be a thing of the past.
Think of it... an industrialized China... lead by an inner circle of elites... hyped up on nationalism and racial pride... much stronger than their neighbors... it could be like Nazi Germany all over again. The difference being this monster would have the largest population on the planet.
11-21-2005, 12:33 PM
Good article on China and what can be a good relationship for everybody:
The Monitor's View
Wed Nov 16, 3:00 AM ET
Ever since Richard Nixon's historic 1972 visit to China, the US has tried to influence the development of that complex, communist country by connecting it with the US and the world, especially via trade. By now, China's well connected. So, what next?
That's a relevant question as President Bush prepares to meet with President Hu Jintao in Beijing this weekend. Mr. Bush is bringing a list of talking points as long as the Great Wall, including trade, currency, intellectual property rights, and religious freedom - perennial points of friction between the United States and the world's fastest growing economy.
But Mr. Bush also wants to address several issues that go beyond US-China relations. They include the war on terrorism as well as worrisome countries such as North Korea and Iran, which both present nuclear nonproliferation challenges. Energy is also on Bush's agenda. China's voracious appetite for petroleum drives up world oil prices. It also aligns China with oil-rich bad-boy countries such as Venezuela, Sudan, and Iran, whose human rights abuses or autocratic ways are immaterial to China.
In this broader set of issues lies the answer to the "what next" question - at least from the US point of view. According to a new policy thrust at the State Department, China needs to be encouraged to become more than merely connected to the international community - more than just a member of the UN Security Council or the World Trade Organization, for instance.
"It is time to take our policy beyond opening doors to China's membership into the international system: We need to urge China to become a responsible stakeholder in that system," said Robert Zoellick, deputy secretary of State, in a speech on US-China relations in September.
A responsible world citizen - that's a label that implies a more mature and democratically minded China, both at home and abroad. That would mean a China that won't hinder UN Security Council action on Sudan or Iran because it has oil interests there; one that will go beyond helping to broker a deal scrapping North Korea's nuclear weapons program to actually enforcing compliance; a China that will calm security fears in Asia by explaining its huge military buildup - including 730 missiles pointed at Taiwan compared to 500 last year.
To nudge China toward a role as a "responsible stakeholder" makes sense as a long-term American policy. But the jury's out on whether China will be a willing nudgee. Or whether Washington will be a persistent nudger, especially if Iraq stays front and center in US foreign policy, and if burning bilateral issues such as trade consume all the oxygen whenever representatives from both countries talk.
The appeal to China to become a better world citizen can't be made on altruistic grounds. If it's to have any hope of working, it must be pitched as being in China's own national interest - for instance, to preserve stable markets abroad and at home. Nuclear proliferation and terrorism threaten world stability, and by extension, China's markets.
What's behind the responsibility rhetoric is the desire to make sure that decades from now, this Asian giant is a peaceful power. Bush must not lose sight of this larger goal.
Trouble is, IMO, the Chinese are feeling their oats, as Lobo pointed out above. They're on a roll, they feel unstoppable, and they are quite a people. They're strong and resilient and prideful.
They have tons of history behind them, that is an ancient culture, and they're not all that interested in playing second-fiddle to anybody. They have big-time grievances against Western cultures (and Japan) since the 1700's. I have a feeling they want their ounce of flesh so to speak before they settle down and feel cooperative.
How to handle them? "You can't HANDLE handling them!!" to paraphrase Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men." It seems to me that they're gonna want to first prove they're the best before they settle down and become world citizens.
11-21-2005, 12:49 PM
I believe that one day it will be played out on the battlefield in the middle east. The Chinese will soon want to play a bigger role in the middle east as they grow even stronger militarily. There demand for more and more oil along with the eventual decline in oil reserves will have their troops crossing the Euphrates and Tigris rivers one day. Just a thought
sounds like "the bear and the dragon"
sounds like "the bear and the dragon"
I've never read it but have heard that it's pretty good.
L.A. BRONCOS FAN
11-22-2005, 07:08 PM
Back in the year 2000, I believed almost without thinking about it that the US was a "superpower", the only "superpower" in the world. Maybe it was true and maybe it wasn't, but there was a lot of money around, Americans were pretty prosperous, and most people around the world had a benign view of the US.
Maybe the clearest sign of our "superpower" status was that the right wing and the press could beat up on Bill Clinton with absolutely no effect on US power or the perception of US power. Beating up on Bill Clinton was a kind of parlor game that the participants cared about, but was in the end of no international import. The most surprising thing, then, about the last five years is how quickly and absolutely the US has ceased to be a superpower.
We are a country that can no longer pay our bills, no longer wage an effective military action, and no longer protect our citizens from disaster. And it doesn't matter what fiscal responsibility individuals show, what bravery individual soldiers show, or what generosity individual Americans show. As a nation-as a geopolitical entity-we have been stripped of all of our superpowers and many of our powers, and it has been done quickly and efficiently, in the name of blind patriotism, by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and their neocon advisors. The very powers that these people thought they were going to enjoy exercising have slipped out of their grasp. It's laughable now to remember the name of the campaign against Baghdad, "Shock and Awe". No one in Iraq feels any "shock and awe" toward the US presence there any longer. "Fear and Loathing" is more like it.
Whether or not the administration and the press know that the powers are gone doesn't matter. They are. And they aren't coming back, because the last twenty-five years of Republican free market political devolution have resulted in a completely different country from the one that in the course of the 20th century became a superpower. Bush and Cheney have provided the final, telling blows to American power, but actions of the corporatocracy laid the ground work. There is nothing left in the US of real substance. The only thing that remains is ego, bullying, and public relations. The question thoughtful Americans are going to have to answer eventually is one they should be thinking about now-when our superpowers are gone, what are we and what do we want to be?
As everyone knows, the multinational corporation has jealously preserved its right to pay its workers as little as possible-to put its factories wherever wages were lowest, and to exploit the natural resources of every corner of the globe while paying as little to the locals who ostensibly "owned" them as they could, preferably nothing This is such a precious idea for capitalists that when a company, like Costco, for example, operates on a different, more humane model, they become resentful and vengeful-it is implied that the power of Wall Street will be brought to bear on such a renegade business model-customers and workers must never come before shareholders. Nor must the public safety be considered. All regulations that protect the environment or even those who purchase some item, are to be as much as possible prohibited, or at least flouted with impunity. To these corporate types, the public safety of one's own fellow citizens is as much a matter of indifference as the public safety of people ten thousand miles away.
What most Americans, indeed, most people, normally think of as desirable, such as stable communities with histories, jobs, and a middle class, is not what the corporations have shown themselves to care about. They do not care about the actual substance of the US, a set of geographical areas with a varied population of human beings. The taxpayers present themselves to the corporation much as consumers do-a bunch of suckers to be fooled and robbed for the sake of shareholder profit. The way you rob customers is by dressing up something cheap and worthless to look desirable. The way you rob taxpayers is by constantly challenging them to defend their patriotism and their religion. The average American has a long history of being reflexively xenophobic, so getting him worked up about enemies from abroad, especially dark-skinned ones, has always been an especially effective way of distracting him while you pick his pocket. But I say, let me be exactly as patriotic as some corporate executive who has outsourced his American workforce to India, bought homes around the world, made sure his children don't have to fight in American wars, and banked his money offshore so that he can avoid paying taxes.
In exchange for the towns that Big Ag has depopulated, the cities that Big Manufacturing has hollowed out, the healthcare that Big Pharma has helped destroy, the environment that Big Chemical has contaminated, and the public school system that the corporate tax giveaways have hobbled, what has the average American gotten? Only the sense of grandiosity and self-righteousness that come from thinking of oneself as part of a "superpower."
What does Ken Lay have to do with George W. Bush other than for a while they were good friends? When Enron fell, it became clear that there was nothing there, that the officers of the company had used it as a private bank and a private club. It was not actually expected, contrary to the understanding of customers and workers, to produce anything. It was a huge shell-game for stealing money (particularly from customers in the state of California) and moving it around. George W. Bush and his administration have used the federal government in exactly the same way. Only an idiot would have thought that FEMA would not, in the course of eight years, have to confront a disaster, either man-made or natural. But Bush has turned FEMA and the other federal agencies that used to work, more or less, into a big club that the has filled, willy-nilly, with incompetents who not only don't know how to do anything, but actually don't care enough to do anything. When Michael Brown was put on the spot for causing the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of people in New Orleans, his first instinct was to defend himself, not to express remorse for his fatal misjudgments. This is Bush's first instinct, and Cheney's first instinct. It is the instinct of business, not the instinct of public service.
It is obvious that George W. Bush is a small, shallow man, the son of a rather dumb and bumbling father and a blinkered, vindictive mother. That his nature and nurture have been visited upon the country as a whole is an interesting detail of our decline and fall. No doubt someone, maybe Rove or Haley Barbour or some other corporate kingmakers that we haven't heard of, considered him attractive enough (remember when they tried to make use of Dan Quayle in a similar way) as a public relations front man. It is their problem that he can't be shown in public too often because his true character keeps peeking through. It is also their problem that he seems completely uninterested in his job. Lots of vacations and a very light daily regimen have not worked.
Now what we saw intermittently during the election of 2004 is evident in every public appearance- Bush feels that the duties of a leader require too much effort. And Cheney, who spent the week of the New Orleans disaster closing a real estate deal, is just as bored. Those who are a little bit energized by getting and exercising power are too jaded to do any work. Where have we seen that before? In the executive suite of Bernie Ebbers, for one. But unlike Bernie Ebbers, Bush never built anything. He was always brought in to enjoy the perks of power and influence while others did the work. Some reports say he enjoyed acting as his father's hit man in the early nineties. Maybe that was good use made of his mean-streak. Bush's main importance now is how he demonstrates the bankruptcy of the corporate model as a model of governing. Public service, even customer satisfaction, is out the window. Power, privilege, and perks are all they want. Enron and the US are now quite similar, and the US is engaged in an Enron-like futile effort to make the books look good before a final accounting. Bush's strategy, like that of Ken Lay, is to talk a good game and pretend ignorance. If he really is ignorant, then he is a fool. If he really isn't ignorant (of what is going on in Iraq, what is going on in our economy, and what went on and is going on in New Orleans), then he is a criminal. That's how it works with Lay and that's how it works with Bush.
The corporations-big oil, big pharma, big media, big construction, big agriculture, and big finance-may be happy with what they bought and paid for. I have no idea. It is quite likely that they are convinced that they do not actually live in the same world we do, and for a while (until the effects of global warming really set in) they may be able to fool themselves with that thought. But as a result of their efforts and those of their incompetent pawns, America's former superpowers are gone and the big corporations are going to have to spend a lot more time and effort corrupting a plethora of smaller and less globally influential governments. They have killed the big one. Imagine this-trying to bring the entire Eurozone to heel? You have to know a lot of languages to do that, and those Europeans are more politically sophisticated than the average American.
The fact is, nations don't get to be great just because they say they are or because they try to bully others into thinking they are. Great nations have to be, at least, places where the average human being wants to come to, to live in, and to contribute to. While the Bush administration and their supporters continue to labor under the illusion that the US is a superpower, other Americans might be content to ponder how to make their country a decent place to live, which right now it is not. A decent place to live is one where a large employed middle class can most of the time afford to house, feed, educate, and care for their children, who are, in the regular course of events, safe. Canada is a decent place to live. The US is divided largely between those who live in indecent ghost-towns that have been gutted by the evaporation of jobs and those who live in indecent affluent communities that they can barely afford but are terrified to leave. When the corporatocracy paid the Reagan revolutionaries to roll back any and all regulations so that they could do every short-sighted and selfish thing they wanted to, they started us down the road to this.
Whether there is any turning back remains to be seen. However, the fate of the Bush administration and their cronies is decided. Sooner or later they will be tossed and sooner or later America's powers will be so minimal that investment will go elsewhere. Money doesn't care who owns it, and it doesn't have ears to hear appeals to mere patriotism.
11-28-2005, 10:43 AM
Bush & Co have definitely pissed away much of the US's prestige and power.
It's the deficit that will really hurt long term. The window is about closed for getting the deficit under control. They upped the deficit by 50%, in return for what? They did pretty well for themselves.
However, there was plenty of middle and lower class people that bought into the whole program. They have only themselves to blame for being stupid and/or ignorant. It's still just flabbergasting lower and middle class people bought into that Three Card Monte scheme Bush & Co presented with that big huckster smile on their faces.
It's amazing the US populace is so damn stupid and/or ignorant. I'm not sure how it happened that I heard and still hear people constantly blamiing all their problems on liberals and environmentalists, and think all their problems will be solved by taking money from their own pockets and giving it to millionaires. You gotta be one ignorant fool to buy into that, but there was plenty that did.
Arianna Huffington is an idiot.
China's world order
Aphorisms and suspicions
Nov 17th 2005 | BEIJING
From The Economist print edition
As George Bush goes to China, the world's two biggest powers continue nervously to appraise each other's ambitions
Hu Jintao, China's president, has a favourite phrase these days: “harmonious world”, where countries of different outlooks live together in peace. Mr Hu first unveiled this John Lennonesque idea in a speech at the United Nations on September 15th. His official talks during recent visits to Asia and Europe have been peppered with it. And President George Bush, preparing for his first visit to China since Mr Hu took office, will doubtless hear it too.
Mr Hu does not say so himself, but the Chinese media have made it clear that harmonious world is a part-rebuff to American “hegemonism”. Countries with different political backgrounds should be listened to, and given respect. Everyone should interact “democratically” through the United Nations. The implication is that China, as an emerging power at odds with American ideology, would be a beneficiary of a world order in which American power is constrained.
There is nothing palpably new in Mr Hu's thinking. It suggests a willingness to engage with America despite political differences, but this has been China's stance for more than a quarter of a century. Ever since the end of the cold war, it has dreamed of a “multipolar” world order. What has emerged since Mr Bush's last visit to China, however, is that under Mr Hu the country's diplomacy has become distinctly more robust—partly, some in Washington fear, to the detriment of American security.
In February 2002, when Mr Bush was last in Beijing, relations between China and America were still under the spell of a post-September 11th surge of goodwill. China was eager to repair relations that had been badly damaged in April the previous year by the collision of a lumbering American spy plane with a prank-playing Chinese fighter jet that flew too close. America was keen to cultivate a potential ally in its campaign against Islamic terrorism. China quietly acquiesced in a big expansion of American military power on its doorstep in Central Asia as part of operations in Afghanistan. It criticised the American invasion of Iraq, but not stridently.
Three years later, China remains very far from ready to challenge America head on. It still sees enormous benefit in keeping on good terms with its biggest export market (see article). But just as America is hedging its relationship with China by maintaining a strong military presence in Asia, so China is trying to strengthen its relationships in Asia and farther afield. This is at least partly a precaution against encirclement by a string of American bases around Asia (see map) and an enhancement in recent years of American security ties with Japan and Taiwan. China has no bases abroad.
In Central Asia, the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO), a security forum comprising four Central Asian states plus China and Russia, is increasingly challenging America's military presence in the region. In July the SCO, prompted by China and Russia, demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from member states. In August, China and Russia staged their first joint military manoeuvres since the cold war. “Peace Mission 2005”, billed as a counter-terrorist exercise, looked far more like preparation for a Chinese assault on Taiwan.
On the Korean peninsula, China and America have been drawn together by a common desire to prevent tensions over North Korea's nuclear programmes from turning into a full-blown crisis. America has praised China's role in hosting talks aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its projects. But China has also deftly used the process to boost its ties with South Korea, a participant in the talks whose conciliatory approach to the north is often closer to China's than America's.
Despite tensions between South Korea and America over how to handle North Korea, their defence relationship remains solid for now. But China has an eye on the longer term when, if relations between the two Koreas improve sufficiently, greater uncertainty will arise about the need for American bases in the south.
In South-East Asia China has skilfully positioned itself as a central player, to the extent that the Americans are beginning to feel a little left out. On December 14th in Kuala Lumpur the first East Asian Summit will be held, involving the ten members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India. With no American leaders invited, there is no doubt that China will be the star of the show. Its position will be bolstered by a surging economy that is generating trade surpluses with China for several Asian countries, in contrast to the record trade deficit between China and America that is fuelling so much of American public fear of a looming China threat.
Farther afield, China came close last year to driving a wedge between America and the European Union. Much to America's consternation, the Europeans appeared to be moving towards accepting China's demand that they lift their embargo on arms sales to China, which was imposed in the wake of the Tiananmen Square killings of 1989. The Americans feared this would give China access to military technologies that could be used in a conflict with America in the Taiwan Strait.
In a relationship as vitally important and emotionally charged as that between America and China, it is easy for such manoeuvres by either side to be perceived as threatening. In America, a widespread political view of China as a looming menace is reflected in the latest annual report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a bipartisan congressional panel of usually gloomy cast.
The 263-page document, published last week, says that “China's methodical and accelerating military modernisation presents a growing threat” to American security interests in the Pacific. In Central Asia, the SCO's call for an American withdrawal shows that “China's commitment to combat terrorism is secondary” to its desire to reduce American influence in the region. It refers to the “growing volume and credibility” of China's threats against Taiwan. It speaks of unspecified “evidence” that Chinese companies are continuing to transfer key technologies related to missiles or weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to North Korea, despite China's efforts to settle the nuclear dispute.
But how much of this American unease is a justifiable response to a genuine threat? Chinese diplomacy, however disturbing, is still incapable of blocking the projection of American power. America may be irritated at not being part of the East Asia Summit, but without it such summitry is of limited importance. And in any case, it has close allies which are taking part, rather to China's annoyance.
Most South-East Asian countries are happy to cosy up to China for economic reasons, but they still see America as a vital guarantor of the region's security. Even China does, though it does not say so openly. Most of China's oil imports pass through the Malacca Strait between Indonesia and Malaysia. So do those of America's friends and allies, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. In this respect, China and America have strong common interests.
Kenneth Lieberthal, a former director at the National Security Council, says the Chinese have become “much more active” in Asia. But they are not, as he sees it, directly challenging America—rather “filling in” as the Americans have focused their attention elsewhere. Even though the SCO's call for an American withdrawal from Central Asia was unwelcome in Washington, Mr Lieberthal notes, America itself had said the bases could be given up when they are no longer needed for operations in Afghanistan.
In a report in July, the Pentagon expressed concerns about China's military power in the region, saying that current trends in China's military modernisation could provide China with a force “capable of prosecuting a range of military operations in Asia—well beyond Taiwan”. But even the hawkish Pentagon says China's ability to project conventional military power beyond its periphery remains “limited” for now. China, says the report, “does not appear to have broadened its concept of operations” to encompass sea control in waters beyond Taiwan. The limitations of Chinese power-projection in the region were amply demonstrated in the aftermath of the tsunami of December 2004, when, in contrast to America's highly visible military-backed role in the relief work, China's presence was marginal.
There is no sign that American remonstrations have persuaded China to put the brakes on its military build-up on the coast facing Taiwan—estimated by the Pentagon to include the deployment of between 650 and 730 mobile short-range ballistic missiles, with the number increasing by around 100 each year. But there are plenty of signs that China has little interest in resolving the Taiwan issue militarily and that it regards its extensive economic ties with Taiwan as hugely important. Assuming that Taiwan does not declare formal independence—a step that America would do its utmost to deter Taiwan from taking—China appears ready to live with the status quo of a Taiwan that is, in effect, independent already. China's growing military capability by no means gives it confidence that a military strike would help it achieve durable political control in Taiwan at a sustainable diplomatic and economic cost.
During his tour of Britain, Germany and Spain before heading off to South Korea this week, Mr Hu—despite all the enticements of China's surging economy—received a cool response on the arms-embargo question. European attitudes have changed significantly in recent months, thanks partly to American remonstrations as well as to China's enactment in March of a new law authorising the use of force against Taiwan should the island move towards independence.
A need for candour
Some aspects of China's more visible diplomacy do more than just grate on nerves. In its global pursuit of sources of energy and raw materials to fuel its economic growth, China has strengthened bonds with countries distinctly inimical to American interests, including Venezuela, Sudan, Zimbabwe and most crucially Iran, a big supplier of oil to China. Chinese opposition made it difficult last year to take up Sudan's Darfur crisis at the UN Security Council. Similarly, China is not keen to allow the council to take up the issue of Iran's nuclear activities. But it remains far from certain that China would use its veto to block such a move. For all its diplomatic bluster, China has remained reluctant to veto initiatives in the UN that are regarded by America as strategically vital.
America does have reason to worry about China's proliferation of WMD and missile technologies. Mr Bush's administration has imposed sanctions on numerous Chinese companies, mostly for transferring such technologies to Iran. But even in this area there are some grounds for cautious optimism. As Evan Medeiros, a researcher at RAND Corporation, an American think-tank, observes in a recent study of China's WMD-related export controls: “China is still several costly and time-consuming steps away” from a fully functioning export-control system. But, he says, China now considers implementation of its non-proliferation commitments a “priority item”, particularly since the September 11th attacks.
For all the growing scepticism among American politicians about China's global ambitions, Mr Bush's public view of China has evolved considerably from his pre-presidency characterisation of it as a “strategic competitor”. In the build-up to his visit this weekend, he has been conspicuously even-tempered towards his hosts. “We've got an important relationship, and it's a good relationship,” he told Asian reporters last week. To make a point about human rights in China, he met the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader-in-exile, at the White House on November 9th—but without press photographers, in apparent deference to Chinese sensitivities. On his arrival in Asia, Mr Bush also made sharp remarks about Taiwan's “free and democratic society” and China's need to “continue down the road of reform”. But his officials have focused on trade issues, rather than security matters.
The contours of Mr Bush's current strategy towards China were outlined in a remarkably upbeat speech in September by Robert Zoellick, the deputy secretary of state. “Picture”, he said, “the wide range of global challenges we face in the years ahead—terrorism and extremists exploiting Islam, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, poverty, disease—and ask whether it would be easier or harder to handle those problems if the United States and China were co-operating or at odds.”
Mr Zoellick pointed out significant differences between China and an erstwhile cold-war enemy, the Soviet Union. China, he said, was not trying to spread radical anti-American ideologies. It did not see itself in a “twilight conflict against democracy around the globe” nor (despite occasional mercantilism) as being engaged in a life-or-death-struggle with capitalism. Most important, Chinese leaders had decided that their success depended on being “networked with the modern world”.
But Mr Zoellick warned of the dangers of trying to “secure the Communist Party's monopoly on power through emphasising economic growth and heightened nationalism”. He said China could reduce anxieties by being more open about its military intentions and spending. Such views are strongly shared by many of China's neighbours, not least Japan, which feels particularly uneasy about China's rise and the party's efforts to strengthen its legitimacy by condoning virulent expressions of anti-Japanese nationalism.
The biggest weakness of Mr Hu's call for a “harmonious world” is that it does nothing to address a significant underlying cause of other countries' suspicions: China's opacity and disdain for democracy. Ironically, Mr Hu at the UN spoke highly of “democracy in international relations” and said that efforts to impose uniformity on different societies would only “take away their vitality and cause them to become rigid and decline”. But he made no mention of the need for any political pluralism at home.
“Change is coming”, Mr Bush told an audience at one of Beijing's most renowned universities, Tsinghua, during his trip in February 2002. He went on to quote Deng Xiaoping, China's late leader, as saying that democratic elections would eventually be held at the national level. But he will find on his trip that nothing has changed politically. For all America's hopes that economic prosperity would spur political reform, the best that China has offered (just this September) is the vague possibility that elections currently conducted at the village level could be extended to the next level up, the township, “in several years”. Village elections themselves have hardly proved shining exemplars of democracy in action.
When it comes to soothing catchphrases, the party has a patchy record. Before “harmonious world” came China's “peaceful rise”—a term that fell by the wayside as officials bickered over whether it sounded a bit too menacing, or perhaps just the opposite as far as Taiwan was concerned. It would be more reassuring to the outside world if Mr Hu abandoned aphorisms and simply talked straight.
Copyright © 2005 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.
11-28-2005, 11:03 AM
Novus Ordo Seclorum
11-28-2005, 02:06 PM
Interesting read. My first thought was the Comintern still has reach into British publications. My second thought was there is little mention of Japan. My third thought was if anybody should understnd "face" it's the Britiish.
China is all about "face." Do you have it? And if you don't, how can you get it, and how can you take face away from your opponent. It's ingrained in their culture, they can't get away from it. What the Chinese consider as "diplomacy" is nowhere near what the Western world thinks of as "diplomacy."
The Chinese are world players, they're not in the least bit interested in being somebody's ally, they're interested in who they can get as allies. Geopolitics is a game.
It's the most interesting game with the highest stakes, but it's still just a game. And the Chinese are gamblers. I bet the Chinese have as their highest stake gambling they can drive a wedge between Japan, the US, Taiwan, and S Korea. If they can keep the those four out of a strong alliance, they get good odds at controlling north Asia.
And it's a gamble, they're pushing things pretty hard. It started back in 2000 when they gleefully forced an American spy-plane down, and returned it to the US as an aluminum shell after 3 months. Some people can say Bush's trip to China last week was an attempt to further relations, I say they sent him home with a spanking. Face, it's all about face.
Let's see what the Japanese do in the next few years. They're a formidable people. The Chinese organize huge demonstrations because the Japanese Premier goes and visits a war shrine? What, the Japanese are forbidden from honoring their warriors? The Chinese are crapping their pants thinking the Japanese are ready to get back into geopoitics. I'm not. The more the merrier. Let's see who's best.
Thanks. It was intended as a counter to your "The Chinese are gonna kick our ass" mentality.
My first thought was the Comintern still has reach into British publications.
I hope you dropped that, because it's just silly.
My second thought was there is little mention of Japan.
Mainly because the article was about US/China relations. Japan plays a role, most certainly, but it's not the focus of the article.
It's the most interesting game with the highest stakes, but it's still just a game. And the Chinese are gamblers.
Actually, they're not, and, even if they are, they're pretty lousy at it.
The Chinese are crapping their pants thinking the Japanese are ready to get back into geopoitics. I'm not. The more the merrier. Let's see who's best.
Criminy, is the world an all-or-nothing, King-of-the-Hill, winner-takes-all setup? You're either #1 or you're crap? Didja ever think that perhaps it's that mentality that causes conflict, rather than resolves it more reasonably?
11-28-2005, 03:35 PM
Well, I can see how you would want to counter what I presented as a possibility that the Chinese may be kicking our ass. No problem, and you've presented a good rebuttal.
Now, just a sec, nothing I post is silly. You can say a lot of things about what I post, but silly isn't gonna be a reasonable retort. The first part of that article - a British publicatioin - was pro-Chinese, hence my first-thought, since the British have been known to be infiltrated quite a bit.
My second-thought, that there was little mention of Japan, was because to me if you mention the US in North Asia, you should also mention Japan. I realize this is a little ahead of the game, but if the US is to be a big player in N Asia, they better have Japan as a bigtime, weapons grade ally.
You don't think the Chinese are solidly in the game? I've said many times before that I think a lot of the message boards in the US are infiltrated by plants from enemy countries, masquerading as super-patriots, hoping to weaken the US.
Everything I've seen from you is meant to weaken the US. Reminds me of the Comintern assault in the late 50's through the 70's. No wonder you say "silly" when I mention "Comintern".
I think - and I have for a long time - thought that you are a Comintern kind of guy, trying to stir up nationalistic emotions counter to US interests. You have Comintern written all over you. Islamists have taken taken the same path. They infiltrate message boards posing as super-patriots trying to divide and conquer.
Which are you, Wags, Comintern or Al-Quada?
11-28-2005, 03:37 PM
I've often felt that way about another poster
11-29-2005, 08:15 AM
I tried to find a link yesterday, but couldn't, to the dialogue in Dr. Strangelove, between Ripper (Robert Stack) and Mandrake (P. Sellers). I found a script, but there was a lot of improv, and I suspect what I was looking for was improved.
Ripper is hold up in his bunker, after having intitiated a nuke strike on his own. Mandrake is trying to get him to recall his bomber wing, and Ripper is holding him prisoner.
"What about you Mandrake? You were in the last war, right?"
"Yes Jack. I flew a Spit. Shot down by the Japanese, actually. Lost a leg."
"Did they torture you, Mandrake."
"Well, yes, actually Jack, but I don't like to talk about that. .... Odd thing, They make such bloody good cameras."
Well, Cito, that was interesting.
If that was written straight-up, no mind-altering substances involved, about all I can say is "Wow."