2005 March 13 Sunday
China Threatens Taiwan And Lures Away Old US Allies
China is becoming more bold in its bid to capture Taiwan.
BEIJING Mar 8, 2005 — China unveiled a law Tuesday authorizing an attack if Taiwan moves toward formal independence, increasing pressure on the self-ruled island while warning other countries not to interfere. The United States said Beijing should reconsider.
Taiwan denounced the legislation as a "blank check to invade" and announced war games aimed at repelling an attack.
China is trying to undermine US alliances in East Asia.
China has warned Australia to be careful about the way it treats the ANZUS alliance with the US in dealing with the Sino-US conflict over Taiwan.
Beijing is reportedly demanding the Howard government review the 50-year-old military pact, saying the alliance could threaten regional stability if Australia is drawn into taking sides on the Taiwan issue.
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun says South Korea will resist US efforts to use South Korea as a base from which to defend Taiwan.
"I clearly state that the U.S. Forces Korea should not be involved in disputes in Northeast Asia without our consent," Roh said in a speech at an Air Force Academy commencement ceremony.
It was the first formal response from the country's leader to a U.S. plan to use its troops in South Korea as a regional force, with missions to handle conflicts outside the peninsula.
Joshua Kurlantzick has written an important article in Prospect Magazine surveying changing attitudes in an increasingly powerful China and among East Asian countries toward China.
This growth has created a new confidence among ordinary Chinese; many believe that the government has been correct to focus on economic rather than political liberalisation. After Tiananmen there has been no anti-Mao campaign in China as there was an anti-Stalin campaign in Russia. This confidence convinces Chinese that their country should take a leading role in the world, even if it means challenging the US. The Asian affairs writer Daniel Snider reports that ordinary Chinese boast "about how Japan and South Korea now depend on selling their goods to China." Chinese strategists are advocating a "great power mentality" in foreign affairs.
In the past, state media, still the main source of information for most Chinese, rarely mentioned foreign policy. Today they constantly feature China's successes abroad, and harp on the problems of the US. Papers like the People's Daily run endless commentaries on America's "failing" foreign policies from unfriendly sources, such as Arab newspapers. Historians appear in the press to discuss China's imperial-era control of Vietnam, Korea and other parts of Asia. And as a 2002 report by the US congressional commission on China showed, official media often characterise the US as a "hegemon" or an "imperialist"—even comparing it to Nazi Germany.
The booming economy has lured overseas Chinese back to China, including former Tiananmen dissidents who have traded their pro-democracy stances for power and wealth. Several former dissidents have become hi-tech entrepreneurs and have backed a code of internet self-censorship.
Kurlantzick reports that while in public and in diplomatic channels China non-interference opposition to pressures from American in private they are talking about domination of Asia and creation of an empire.
Many members of the Chinese elite recognise that this advocacy of "multipolarity" and "non-interference," masks an aspiration to convert "comprehensive national power" into dominance, even military dominance of Asia. Beijing has not dropped its claims over the entire South China sea, and still refers to many parts of Asia as virtual Chinese possessions. In private, Chinese leaders admit that their goal is to build an empire in the region. And when it suits it China often acts unilaterally, as it has done by damming its part of the Mekong river despite protests that it has destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of Thais, Cambodians and Laotians who depend on its water.
Kurlantzick lists Burma, Laos, Thailand, and East Timor as countries which now assign greater importance to their relations with China than their relations with the United States. He notes that a number of other countries, notably South Korea, while not primarily oriented toward China are no longer reliable allies to the United States. The decline in American influence is well under way. But for cultural and historical reasons some countries may resist being captured in China's orbit. Vietnam, for example, sees China as an ancient and enduring enemy. The animosity between Japan and China makes Japanese subservience to China less likely. Filipinos and Indonesians resent their own Chinese economic elites and this may translate into greater resistance to China's overtures. However, Indonesian Muslim resentments toward America have reached such an intensity that China has an opening with Indonesia. The Australians are also likely to resist Chinese dominance. But all of these countries are going to develop far larger trade relationships with China than with the United States and money talks.
Kurlantzick sees the Bush Administration's single-minded focus on the war against terrorists as causing the priorities of Asians to be ignored and for Asian countries to feel ill treated by Washington DC. Kurlantzick advocates wiser policies by the Bush Administration to prevent so many East Asian countries from drifting into China's orbit. Certainly the Bush Administration has exacerbated the problem and accelerated the drift away from Washington. But the underlying cause of this trend is China's own continued economic development combined with the fact that some not-exactly-liberal governments (and not-exactly-liberal populations in many cases) in the region prefer to have their primary diplomatic relationship be with another unliberal regime.
Barring a revolution or war China looks on course to become the second largest economy and eventually the largest economy in the world. Authoritarian China will promote a different set of priorities around the world and serve as a very different role model than has democratic and liberal America. The continued rise of China is not a development that I'm looking forward to.
By Randall Parker at 2005 March 13 06:01 PM
Will China really be so bad?
Our policies are based on the rantings of a bunch lunatic neocons. We have attacked a country that did not threaten us at the cost of many lives and dollars. It is embarassing, really.
How can the US claim to hold the high ground anymore?
China supported Pol Pot in Cambodia. Our invasion of Iraq is piker stuff in comparison. At least we overthrew a bad guy. Granted, you could argue that it was effectively an older regime in China supported Pol Pot. The current dictatorship is wiser than the previous dictatorship. The current Beijung dictatorship, after all, supports a former Khmer Rouge official who professes to have seen the error in his past ways.
The high ground: Well, if freer societies have to be perfect in order to be a better alternative to authoritarian dictatorships then freedom doesn't have very good prospects in the future.
Thats funny, I seem to recall that the US warned Vietnam not to attack the Khmer and when Vietnam nevertheless invaded and routed the Khmer the US followed through with its threat and imposed additional trade embargoes on Vietnam. The US then funded 'insurgents' to push Vietnam out of Cambodia, even though the State Department believed that if Vietnam left the Khmer would return.
Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise that China is openly entertaining the idea of forcing Taiwan to become a suzerainty or worse. Japan is more likely than ever to keep increasing its military expenditures, and a confrontation with the PRC now is better than one later. I'm probably being too much of a dreamer, but if we were to use such an opportunity to exit Iraq and then route China (especially on the marine side) in sync with an embargo, we could set that behemoth back a few decades.
How can the US claim to hold the high ground anymore?
Do me a favor--print that out and pin it on your wall. Then look at it in fifty years. You'll be sorry you asked.
We have attacked a country that did not threaten us at the cost of many lives and dollars. It is embarassing, really.
Do you cringe every time you give to charity?
the killing of innocent people, i am sure, seems like charity to you
China has to decide which is more vital, Taiwan or access to the American market. It can't have both.
The Chinese government may be called a lot of things but not fools. They have learned that their brand of communism didn't work and are rapidly moving to a capitalist economy. As long as they have markets for their excess production and a place to buy what they need to import there is no real reason for aggression outside of their borders. I suspect the sabre rattling about Tiawan is more about shoring up their power among the populance than anything else.
Looking at the CIA fact book - US economy is 11T vs 6.5T for China. If US grows at 3% and China grows at 6% it will be 20 years before China's Economy eclipses ours.
For China to average 6% growth, they MUST continue to liberalize their society. They will have to establish a rule of law that respects property rights, human rights and transparency. If they don't, human potential is shackled, and wealth creation will slow. China CANNOT modernize their economy, and reap the material benefits of capitalism and globalization, without modernizing their political system. The two are inextricably linked.
The US will either shrug off a militarized, economicly weak backward China, or partner with dynamic, economicly powerful free China. It binary. My bet is on the latter (iShares ETF: FXI)
Yes Roger! I certainly concur. Capitalism cannot survive in a government with confiscatory taxes and no laws to protect property rights. And without capitalism it is back to the rice paddies.
Cruch41, if the US is in the charity business, there are many other places we could improve the lives of more people for less money and mouch less death on both sides.
Why pick Iraq for the first "charity" case?
Fact is, it was not done for charitable reasons, it was done in the name of protection of this country. But the premise has been proven completely and utterly false. So now we are falling back to the "charity" excuse.
We never would have gone in for "charitable" reasons, however, becuase we would have known that the cost was to high and there are much, much less costly and more effective ways to provide charity.
So now we have the worst of both worlds - no reduction in threat, plus we have "shot our load" militarily and financially.
Why did we attack Iraq? Becuase the neocons have emmotional and/or ethnic ties to Israel that clouds their judgement to the point of commiting fraud on the American people (and that is putting it nicely). They have been taking about invading Iraq since at least 1996. 9/11 was just an excuse.
There was no "yellow cake" or "aluminum tubes" and the CIA repeated told them so. They intentionally ignored the information from the CIA and lied to the American people. This is well documented by the paper trail left by these criminals.
I have absolutely zero fear that China will pose any military threat to the US, Europe or any other country that does not share a boarder with them. That is, unless the US sees fit to start confronting China on a regular basis. That is enough for me.
I am far more afraid of Congress or the US Supreme Court reducing my freedom than I am of China.
Furthermore, the US has shown itself to be a far more reckless country militarily than China.
So why is everyone so upset???
If we really cared about their econmic threat posed by China we would reduce the number of Chinese nationals at our universities, retrict trade, and otherwise try to prevent them from feeding off the american economy. Maybe the economy takes a hit if we took these steps, but noone gets killed and we don't spend hundreds of billions of tax dollars of non-productive military efforts.
We do not, so I must assume that we are not concerned with the econmic threat posed by China.
You appear to be wrapping together a lot of things under the label "liberalise". The Chinese leaders made a very conscious decision to allow more market forces while simultaneously becoming more intolerant of political dissent. This appears to be working for them and, yes, their economy is growing very rapidly as a result.
One reason China can continue to grow rapidly is that the parts of China that have not yet industrialized can be brought up to the level of the most industrialized parts.
South Korea grew rapidly under a military dictatorship. For decades Singapore had a very engineered semi-democracy where one guy really called the shots. Some people who have lived there describe Singapore as very apolitical.
Then there is the not so small problem that the most educated Chinese are intensely nationalistic and hostile to a number of countries including Japan and the United States. This resentment has compared by some (Condi Rice included btw) to the resentment of Wilhelmine and post-WWI Germany. Oh, and Germany too developed far before WWI under a semi-democratic system with a King who had a lot of power. Pre-WWI Germany surpassed Britain in industrial productivity before WWI. Though Britain was still ahead in agricultural productivity at the time WWI started.
if the US is in the charity business, there are many other places we could improve the lives of more people for less money and mouch less death on both sides.
There was no country easier to go after than Iraq; documented human-rights violations, violations of international law, proven external aggression against other countries, and so on. And yet there was intense resistance to remove a brutal dictator even when most entities (including George Tenet, Putin, and Eygpt) believed WMD to be in Iraq. I don't buy that there are many places in which it would be easier to undertake regime change.
Furthermore, the US has shown itself to be a far more reckless country militarily than China.
Isn't that the consequence of a lack of means? China will have no qualms against conquering Mongolia, Taiwan (btw--doesn't share a border with China), and the Korean peninsula when it begins a military expansion.
If we really cared about their econmic threat posed by China we would reduce the number of Chinese nationals at our universities, restrict trade, and otherwise try to prevent them from feeding off the american economy. Maybe the economy takes a hit if we took these steps, but noone gets killed and we don't spend hundreds of billions of tax dollars of non-productive military efforts.
As China gets more press attention, US consumers will become increasingly sensitive to buying Chinese products, and there will be a growing movement to do just that. That something has not yet been done doesn't mean it should not be done. Although if Japan, Taiwan, and Australia would get armed to the teeth nuclearly, the Chinese threat would be greatly reduced.
What is going to happen to (and in) China in the 21st century? here are some things to consider.
First, the domestic situation. China currently combines an extremely authoritarian central government with a relatively open capitalist economy. Growth has been rapid. What could happen?
Scenario #1. Continue the status quo. Except for the intelligentsia, the Chinese probably regard democracy and freedom as alien concepts. There is no history of democratic government. So far, the Chinese people have been quite tolerant of their authoritarian government as long as it produces prosperity. Plus, there hasn't been a major war in over 50 years. There's probably no reason this couldn't continue indefinitely. Plenty of precedent exists. For example, the Germans were quite willing to give up democracy for rule by the Nazi thugs as long as the country prospered.
Scenario #2. Evolution of democracy. Increasing prosperity, globalization and information exchange make the Chinese wonder why they sholdn't have prosperity and democracy instead of just prosperity. Not much precedent for this in China proper, although Taiwan did it. An economic downturn, with millions of unemployed, could foster thsi but might also lead to Scenario #3.
Scenario #3. Rise of the warlords. Chinese history is so long you can find almost anything you want. Some central governments have been powerful, but more recent history has demonstrated weak or absent central governments and powerful regional leaders (warlords, if you like). If you've ever seen the movie, "55 Days at Peking," about the Boxer rebellion, you'll know what I mean. The Chinese government is correctly portrayed as woefully impotent while foreign armies run all over the place. The only real opposition to them comes from the Boxers and warlords. The Chinese regard this as deeply humiliating (and I don't blame them).
I think the Chinese leadership must have nightmares about what happend to the USSR. In spite of their differences, this was the mother ship of world communism. At one time not so long ago, it seemed unstoppable, and then it just fell apart. In retrospect, we could see that the rot had set in long ago, but this wasn't so evident at the time. Although China is much more ethnically homogeneous than the USSR, I think this still scares the pants off the leadership in Beijing, which is one reason why they clamp down so hard at the least sign of dissent (although most dictatorships do the same thing). Prior to the creation of the PRC, China was being run by two warlords, Mao Tse Tung and Chiang Kai Shek, who spent more time and effort fighting each other than they did the Japanese in WW II. Of course, this struggle was attended by atrocities by all sides, but that's nothing new in this part of the world.
Potential flameups. The first is Tibet. The Chinese have been extending their influence into Tibet since the 18th century and regard it as a part of their country. The Tibetans have a different view, needless to say. The Dali Lama is a constant irritant to the Beijing leadership - one that won't go away. The second is the Muslim minority (the Uighurs) in Xinjiang province. They are ethnically distinct from the Chinese and speak a Turkic language. The Uighurs have strong transnational ties to their Muslim coreligionists in Central Asia. They were at one time a majority in Xinjiang province but are now a minority because the government has moved so many Chinese into the province. Beijing's rule is mightily resented here. Chinese Muslims have been captured as part of Islamic terrorist groups. The PRC keeps an iron grip on Xinjiang province. Another area of concern is the general disparity between rural poverty and urban prosperity. The Chinese cities are pretty nice, but the worst poverty I've ever seen has been in rural China (granted, I've never been to India or Subsaharan Africa).
The foreign policy of the PRC, with the exceptions of the invasions of Korea and Tibet and the bullying of Taiwan, which so far is just words, has been pretty conservative. Certainly it has lacked the global adventurism of the USA and USSR. In part, this may be reflective of China's inability to project power far beyond its borders, but deeper forces may be at work. So what's with Taiwan? To some extent, this may be for domestic political consumption. But I think what the PRC really fears is an authentic Chinese democracy - one that made the difficult transition from authoritarian rule.
I would make the bold prediction that the PRC isn't going to do anything militarily about Taiwan in the forseeable future. The odds against success are simply too great. The Chinese army (the PLA) is large and powerful on land but has zero experience with amphibious invasions. Ditto the navy (the PLAN), which is not especially large or powerful. In amphibious assults, the advantages all lie with the defenders. Just look at the casulities that the Japanese inflicted on the US at places such as Okinawa and Iwo Jima, even in the face of total Amer4ican control of the air and sea. Of course, casualties won't stop the Chinese, but the threat of defeat will. Taiwanese armed forces are modern and sophisticated, and the Taiwanese have had over 50 years to harden their island against invasion. If the US does nothing but resupply, the Taiwanese will probably win. If the US throws a couple of carrier battle groups into the mix, the PRC will certainly lose, leading to enormous loss of face. The PRC is trying to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, which does not have much of a downside for them and will probably continue. Of course, nuclear weapons are another option, but I don't think that China wants to use them against people thay regard as their own citizens, especially since Taiwan doesn't threaten China militarily.
Chinese expanionism? Definite maybe. Where does China want to expand? Taiwan? Sure. And there's the lingering dispute over claims to possible oil deposits in the South China Sea, which raises the potential of conflict with rival claimants, including Taiwan, Japan, the Phillipines and Malaysia. But where else?
Korea? The situation here is complex. The NK government is authoritarian and may be on the verge of collapse (although rumors to this effect have been around for a long time). It may or may not have nuclear weapons. When it comes to bulltying its neighbors, especially Japan, it could give the Chinese lessons. The PRC and SK governments have been propping up the NK government because neither wants to see it collapse, leading to millions of starving refugees streaming across both borders. But this situation is unstable and cannot last forever. NK regards the PRC as its only real friend. This policy has caused a growing rift between SK and the US, wich the PRC probably quietly encourages. Nonetheless, reunification of Korea under SK leadership will probably occur eventually. A reunified Korean government would certainly seek not to antagonize its giant neighbor, given the fact that China has invaded Korea several times in the past, but such a government would never be regarded as China's friend.
Japan? This country has the potential to be a real counterweight to Chinese expansionism. The Chinese and Japanese really don't like each other, despite strong trade relations. The Chinese recall WW II like it was yesterday. Japan has the second-largest economy in the world and a good but small military (the SDF). Japan has been loate to spend more tha 1% of its GDP and defense, but this has got to change, in spite of deeply ingrained pacifist traditions following WW II. Japan also has strong ties to the US. Don't be surprised to see Japan take a more active role if the dragon starts to growl.
Taiwan? Nuff said. Vietnam? A historic enemy of China. These countries fought a border war in the 80's. Expect to see closer US-Vietnam relations (I can't ignore the irony of this statement).
Myanmar? No problem from the Chinese point of view. But India is another story. India will surpass China in population in 20-30 years, so no worry about human wave assults here. India is a real democracy with nuclear weapons and sophisticated armed forces. Recently these have been pointed at Pakistan, but that situation may be improving, especially if the Kashmir issue can be resolved somehow. India and China fought a border war in the 50's over some of the worst terrain on earth.
Pakistan has historically friendly ties to Bejing but is tainted by Islamic fundamentalism. Tajikstan and Kyrgystan are no threat but are also contaminated by Islamic fundamentalism, which poses a possibility of causing unrest among China's suppressed Muslim minority, the Uighurs, in neighboring Xinjiang province.
And then there's Russia. Relations between Russia and China are pretty good now (they're even planning joint military exercises). But I don't think either side is fooled by this. These countries came close to war back in the 60's, and I don't think either has forgotten. The wide open spaces of Siberia (not to mention the oil and mineral resources) must look awfully tempting to the Chinese, especially since they can walk there. Russia is clearly decaying, and her military is of little use. Siberia is closer to China than it is to the population centers of Russia, to which it is connected by
a single railroad. China has been quietly encouraging an influx of its citizens into the areas of Russia bordering China. Stay tuned to this one.
I completely agree that the Bush administration (and the prededing Clinton administration) has been ignoring this area of the world, very much to the detriment of the US. If I were the Chinese, I would be delighted with the invasion of Iraq, which has angered Muslims against the US and caused a major foreign policy distraction. This works to China's benefit. Such a policy may be understandable after 9/11 but really does not help the USA in the long run. It will be interesting to see if Bush and Rice change their focus in the upcoming months.
"Conclusion: in the next twenty years, China is certain to contest militarily for the world's remaining oil with what has been the prime customer for its manufacturing output. That would be America."
The Coming Energy Crisis or Peak Oil
Crush41, if we really thought that regime change was a charitable thing to do, why didn't we just say so instead of invading Iraq on a false pretext?
Truth is, people would not have supported it because) they know regime change is not very likely to lead to a stable situation and therefore is not very charitable, 2) it would be a massive waste of money and life relative to almost any other charitable expense and 3) that claim the regime change is being done in the name of charity is so implausible that it would be seen as the pretext it was.
There are a whole host of other reasons.
I am embarrassed that we invade countries using known inaccurate information and then have the gall to worry about other countries "possibly" having expansionist tendencies.
If you are really concerned about a military threat from China, you should be violently concerned about our wasting money, life, and political good will on Iraq. We are only making China's goal that much easier.
Ofcourse we should worry about other countries having expansionist tendencies if we are expansionist ourselves. That's one of the basic principles of expansionism!
When the Chinese are the worlds super-power at least they won't be shoving multi-culturalism, guilt or responsibility for hopeless causes (Africa) down out throats. They will exterminate the idea of a looney-left. Unfortunately thats not all that will be exterminated, every organism that moves will be served up for dinner, the more endangered, the more expensive/prized. The Chinese will cause another mass-extinction through guiltless, gluttonous, status meals with their bosses and karaoke prostitutes. To divert attention from the poor animals, Western nations could provide package holidays for Chinese youth offering edible Arabs or Africans in a safe environment i.e. without having to go to Arab or African countries.
The Chinese arent aggressive by nature, they'd rather buy than kill. The will only invade for revenge or because they considered a place historically part of China. That does not reach to India, viewed as a dirty, backwater full of religeous weirdos or Russia, viewed as the worst of western aggressiveness and stupidity, willing to die in their millions for a plot of permafrost.
The wealth of mineral and food resources in sub-Saharan Africa could be an option for an established Chinese empire. The overseas Chinese in Madagascar could begin the colonisation, just wait for population numbers to dwindle from AIDS, starvation etc. The Chinese were invited to farm the land stolen from the white settlers in Zimbabwe recently. While the locals were busy dancing they could have created an economy, as was done below the noses of the Malays in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The population of 120m potential mentalists on Java would preclude a whole-scale invasion of Indonesia. All they have to do is buy off a few of the 1% that own everything - wait a minute thats happening on a worldwide scale now!
"property rights, human rights and transparency...globalization....modernizing their political system". These are just western notions. The Chinese don't waste time and effort on that rubbish. How many Chinese friends do you have? You've never been to Singapore, have you?
The Chinese don't care whos in charge of the countries, they're in. Contrary to pictures the BBC shows of some suicidal idiot waving a flag in front of a tank. Those few are quite the exception when it comes to the Chinese mentality. When did you ever see the locals in Londons/San Francisco's Chinatown concerned about whether Tony Blair will get voted in? The Chinese religeon is money (Taoism), the Chinese New Year is celebrated with a calculation of the years wealth and wishing for more money and "luck" next year. Not Christian "peace and goodwill" and all that pointless rubbish. The Chinese mentality is that if you don't screw someone in business, then you dont need to wish for goodwill and peace.
In Malaysia, they say "The Chinese are always eating, the Indians are always boozing and the Malays are always screwing (often their own children!)". While the Chinese say "If you see and Indian and a cobra walking up the road, which one do you kill first?" You can figure that one out yourselves.
Indians like sitting around drinking tea and talking about democracy and politics while the Chinese are too busy working, wheeling-dealing making money. Its fun doing business with the Chinese, things happen fast and after you celebrate with a bottle and some prostitutes. Doing business with the Indians is hopeless, they want everything for free and are just a waste of time. The Indians are still moaning about minor points while the Chinese are already on the 2nd bottle of Chivas! The Indians are tire-kickers while the Chinese can spin your head with the deals they bounce around in front of you. Indians consider themselves lazy compared to the Chinese and know their confusion over Hinduism makes them culturally disadvantaged by giving them an unobjective or illogical take on every aspect of life/science/engineering/business.
The Chinese also think westerners waste too much time on politics but they know they still need our scientific creativity, dynamism and willingness to stand out of the crowd and think out of the box. Thats why Singapore nowadays has more westerners than ever before. They also import Asians with western passports/experience e.g. Indians of the Canadian Citizen caste, to see if they can inject western creativity in to their population.
Although they're beginning to realise that basically you're white or you're not and having a western passport/lived in the west doesn't guarantee you'll think like a whitey. The chinese will always give white people jobs, at least until multi-culturalism stupifies us beyond usefulness. The Indians insist they can do it alone without western expats, but not in my experience. Its amusing to watch the Chinese run rings around the Indians, especially chinese girls. While the Indians wives are at home hauling their enormous bulk from chair to seat wrapped up in 6m of cloth (saree), making the most creative food on earth.
You really need to go to these places and meet the people rather than measuring the mentality of other peoples with your own value system. You need to spend time in these countries but not like transient journalists bouncing from one job to another. The more time you spend working/socialising with the Chinese the more you like them. But you tend to get fed-up with everyone else, Africans, Arabs, Indians etc.
This has turned into a rant hasn't it? Well I can't stop analysing the people I work, live and socialise with.
The Chinese are not very aggressive? Hmmmmm. That's a tough one. Do you mean to imply that some nations are inherently "aggressive" and, by extension, others inherently "non-aggressive?" In rare cases that may be true, but I rather feel that nations or peoples go through cycles of expansionism and isolationism or however you wish to call it. For example, today most people would view American foreign policy as aggressive, expansionist, even imperialist. But seventy years ago, isolationism was the dominant force in American foreign policy. This peaked just prior to WW II. Or look at the nations of Western Europe. Today they are pretty inward-looking and not too interested in extending influence much beyond the EU. But this wasn't true in the 1930's, when Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were calling the shots. Or when Napoleon or Louis XIV were running France, or when Victoria was Queen of England, or when Phillip IV was in charge of Spain. Even Portugal and the Netherlands carved out pretty nice empires for themselves. And who could be more neutralist and pacifist than Sweden? Yet there was a time when Swedish armies ran all over the Baltic nations (remember Gustavus Adolphus?).
So back to the Chinese. I would agree that Chinese foreign policy since the inception of the PRC has been fairly conservative. In part, this may be reflective of China's lack of external strength and internal struggles (killing off all the Communists' enemies, Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, etc). Yet even this time has not been without conflicts - the Chinese invasions of Tibet and Korea and nasty border wars with Russia, India and Vietnam. The bullying of Taiwan may in part be related to China's desire to expand into the South China Sea area and grab the possible oil reserves, a move that will assure Japanese opposition, I agree that India is too tough a nut for China or anyone else to crack - anyway, the border is over some of the worse terrain on earth. But Russia is another story. China covets Siberia with its empty spaces and vast oil and mineral reserves. The Chinese population in Russia has grown from about 5,000 to over 3 million in the last 20 years. Most of them are in Siberia, which holds about 18 million Russians, amny of whom are trying to leave. Both Mao Zedong and Deng Xioping asserted Chinese territorial claims to Siberia, although the two countries now have a treaty renouncing such claims.
Here's a quote for you (for the full text, see http://www.gateway2russia.com/st/art_144395.php).
Russia's latest census has produced a bombshell result: over the past decade, the Chinese have emerged as the fastest growing ethnic minority in Russia. While official data of the October 2002 census will be published only next month, preliminary figures leaked to the press show that Russia's Chinese population has grown from just over 5,000 in the late 1980s to 3.26 million today.
This makes the Chinese the fourth biggest ethnic group in this country after Russians (104.1 million), Tatars (7.2 million) and Ukrainians (5.1 million) - all indigenous inhabitants of Russia. More than three-fourths of Chinese immigrants have settled down in Siberia and the Far East. The census results lend chilling reality to Russia's age-old nightmare of a Chinese takeover of the Asian part of Russia. Eighteen million Russians scattered across the India-size expanse of the Far East and Siberia face 250 million Chinese cramped across a common border in China's northern provinces.
In the past the huge Chinese demographic pressure was contained by a tightly sealed barbed-wire border, but when the Soviet Union collapsed the 4,300-km Russian-Chinese border was thrown open to bilateral trade. Chinese traders poured in to sell clothes and other necessities to Russians struggling with a deep economic crisis and take back to China Russian timber, scrap metal, ginseng roots, frogs, jellyfish and what not. New glittering towns have sprung up in recent years on the Chinese side of the border thanks to the booming cross-border trade, while Russian border regions have remained stagnant. Russia's main Pacific port and naval base of Vladivostok, once closed to foreigners, today is bristling with Chinese markets, restaurants and trade houses. The former Mayor of Vladivostok, Viktor Cherepkov, estimates that Chinese businessmen control 30 to 40 per cent of the economy in the Far East and 100 per cent of its light industry.
Daveg, I think a Tariff for Democracy might be a good idea. The Tariff for Democracy would apply to imports from countries that don't have free (or sufficiently free) elections. An exemption would be made for raw materials so that oil from Saudi Arabia could be imported without being subject to the Democracy Tariff. Also some non-democratic countries such as Vietnam could be exempted from the Democracy Tariff.
I think that a Tariff for Democracy might be supported by some on the Left and some on the Right. I would guess that some neoconservatives would support a Tariff for Democracy.
A Democracy Tariff set at 25 percent could raise tens of billions of dollars in revenues.
Implementation of the Democracy Tariff should reduce the trade deficit with China, raise revenues for the US government, and encourage democracy in China.
Daveg and Randall, in the future immigration reformers may advocate reducing immigration from China.
Unlike Mexican immigrants Chinese immigrants tend to be well educated. A high school diploma requirement for an US immigration visa would greatly curtail legal immigration from Mexico but not substantially reduce immigration from China.
I think that it would be politically easier to implement an immigration time-out rather than an outright ban on immigration from a specific country.
Ned, just as Russia has thought of a Chinese takeover of parts of Asian Russia, Americans could think about a possible Mexican/Mexican American independent country in the Southwest or a return of the American Southwest to Mexico. Although not all Hispanics are Mexican or of Mexican descent, Hispanics now outnumber blacks.
Some of the Russian Far East used to belong to China. Perhaps some Chinese in the Russian Far East may say that they’re reclaiming lands that used to belong to China, as some Mexicans in the US may say that they’re reclaiming lands that used to belong to Mexico.
Maybe Russia should reduce immigration from China and encourage South Asians and Mexicans to immigrate to the Russian Far East. The US should reduce immigration from Mexico and increase immigration from Eastern Europe.
India has a massive population of over 1 billion people that continues to increase. It also has a relatively large and sophisticated economy that's experiencing strong growth and may continue to grow at rapid rate for the next several decades. It's additionally armed with nuclear weapons, missiles, and other modern military technology developed by its own scientific establishment. Most importantly India is a rapidly modernizing nation that appears ready to take off like China has done. Many analysts peceive these factors will contribute towards India becoming a major power in the 21st century.
As a major power, India will probably compete with China for influence in Asia. It may be in our national interest to form an economic and military alliance with India to counter the rising power of China.
Unlike most of you here, I do not fear China. I see the rise of China as an opportunity. I import manufactured products from China and I sell scientific instrumentation into China. Alot of what I am reading here is simply xenophobia.
John Derbyshire has a good article on the national Review site today about why we will never go to war with China and why such a war is completely irrational to even contemplate. As for the suggestion that we should ally with India with China, I can tell you that my experiences with dealing with the Chinese have been more pleasant than dealing with the Indians. I think that the Chinese are fundamentally more rational and have a more functional approach to the world in general than the Indians. Why would I feel an affinity for a less functional people over a more functional people? This kind of thinking is simply loopy.
I do not fear China because, at the end of the day, they are simply not interested in world conquest. I do not ever expect them to send 40 million man armies to conquer the Middle-east and Europe, or to send 100 carrier -group fleets to invade the U.S. Even the anti-Chinese pundits in our political melieu would not dispute this.
Yes, they want to become the Asian hegemon. Yes, they are far more likely to evolve politically into something like Singapore than they are into "western-style liberal democracy". But so what? What is the BFD about this?
I lived in Asia for 10 years and am more than likely to go back. What Asian people like, especially the Chinese, is both economic and personal freedom. To run whatever kind of business you want, make lots of money, and to go out on Friday and Saturday night clubbing and to get laid. Travel, party, and adventure. These are the kind of freedoms that continue to grow in China (and much of the world). As long as they get these things, many people don't really care about who gets to be president or who runs the government. This is the reason why Singapore is the way it is (and it is a very nice to live).
Many westerners have difficulty understanding this point of view. It actually comes quite natural to me.
The big problem with China, and this hurt them much more than us, is a lack of statutory due process (where the cops cannot arrest you for no reason at all) and a lack of transparency in business regulation and contract law. The Beijing government is begining to recogize that the second is a real problem, the first they haven't a clue about yet. I think that China will move forward on both of these in the coming years and decades.
I met someone who comes from a family that is heavily connected with the Beijing government. He says that they are quite open about their intent to become like Singapore. They could aspire for alot worse (like world conquest).
One trait I notice about Americans who have never lived as expat is the tendency to want to convert the rest of the world to be like us. Such people are obsessed with trying to convert the rest of the world to "our values system", like the U.S. is a "missionary" country. I think this mentality wrong headed. It costs us enormous amounts of capital (to finance the "missionary" foreign policy) as well as the ill will it creates. It certainly does not offer any return on trade and investment.
Personally, I don't care what values other countries operate on. If a country makes it difficult to do business or is unpleasent to be in, I go somewhere else. The global free-market will put competitive pressure on countries to be pro-growth and all that entails. As long as noone desires to enslave my arse, why should I care if they become western style democracies or not?
I simply do not understand why we should "fear" China.
Here's a good aticle for you
REPORT: CHINA, RUSSIA TO 'REHEARSE INVASION OF TAIWAN'
Thu Mar 17 2005 11:02:09 ET
MOSCOW, March 17. (RIA Novosti)-Yesterday, Chief of the Russian General Staff Yury Baluyevsky left for China to settle a scandal over the first Russian-Chinese military exercise, Commonwealth-2005, which is due to be held this fall off the Yellow Sea coast, writes Kommersant.
The initial plans were to practice operational teamwork in combating terrorism during the exercise. However, Beijing, skillfully changing the format of the exercise, has tried to re-orient the two countries' armies to practicing an invasion of Taiwan.
The choice of where the exercise will take place became a stumbling block. The Russian military selected the Xinjiang-Uigur autonomous region, basing their choice on the area's problematic nature due to Uigur separatists and its proximity to Central Asia, which has become an arena in the fight against international terrorism. However, Beijing flatly rejected the proposal. Instead, it suggested the Zhejiang province near Taiwan.
A joint exercise in this area would look too provocative and trigger a strong reaction not only from Taiwan but also America and Japan, which recently included the island in the zone of their common strategic interests.
Beijing is trying to use Russia as an additional lever of pressure on the disobedient island to show it that its policy is also causing dissatisfaction in Russia, from which the Taiwanese are expecting assistance in their dialogue with Beijing and bid to join the WTO and the UN.
On the Russian military's insistence, the exercise was shifted north to the Shangdong peninsula. However, the Chinese are trying to change the format of the exercise with proposals to enlarge the contingents with Marines and Pacific Fleet warships. Marine landings to seize the area will be practiced during the "antiterrorist" exercise.
Russia's agreement to hold the exercise will inevitably cause a furor in America, Japan and Taiwan. But a refusal will spoil relations with China, which three months ago courteously agreed to Russia's proposal to hold an exercise.