China today is reaching deep into Central Asia to tap oil and gas reserves, using pipelines and investments to challenge Russia's monopoly on gas shipments and to thwart Moscow's hopes of controlling a bigger share of the region's oil.
In recent years, China and Russia have forged a strategic alliance, as part of a group called the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to squeeze the United States out of Central Asia, after the U.S. established military bases here. They have largely succeeded.
However, friction is developing between the two neighboring giants. And given China's 1.3 billion people and its economic strength, it seems certain that Russia, with its dwindling population and economy based narrowly on energy, will increasingly be on the defensive.
Of course, Russia's two-century presence in region gives it potent advantages in trying to preserve its influence.
But Niklas Swanstrom of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies argues China is succeeding in using "soft power" - judiciously apportioned aid, aggressive diplomacy and massive investment - to shove Russia aside.
"China will be the dominant player over time," he predicts.
Neoconservative military strategizing will come to nothing compared to a massive growing economy exporting large volumes of finished goods and importing large volumes of raw materials. The money spent on the stupid Iraqi war would be far better spent eliminating US dependence on imported oil. For the weekly cost of the Iraq war we could complete 1 nuclear reactor per week. Then we could shift all of our heating to ground sink heat pumps powered by nuclear electricity and shift most rail and a portion of vehicle transportation to electricity.
The China-Kazakhstan border is like the US-Mexico border.
Nowhere, perhaps, is China's presence more starkly evident than at Khorgos, straddling the Kazakh-China border.
On the Kazakh side sits a sleepy village, a mosque and arid steppes where shepherds ride horseback. On the Chinese side sprawls a city, its skyline punctuated by two construction cranes, the skeletons of several large buildings and a massive white arch topped by two scarlet Chinese flags.
Talipzhan Suleimanov, a captain in the Kazakh border service in Khorgos, stood outside his ramshackle post and pointed at the gleaming Chinese city across a dry riverbed.
"This looks like the U.S.-Mexican border," he said. "We are the Mexicans, because the Chinese are so much more advanced."
While George W. Bush and allies have pursued their losing strategy of what Steve Sailer calls "Invade the world, invite the world, in hock to the world" the Chinese have been busy building up capital stock, making fancier things, and pursuing commerce. The hope of the neocons to have continued influence on foreign affairs depends on the US continuing to be a world power. But that neocon hope will most certainly die unless the neocons start supporting policies that seek to reverse the financial and demographic trends that will otherwise make the United States into a second tier power.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2007 December 16 12:19 PM China|