Friday, January 21, 2011

Handling the Dragon Better - A Few Words On The China Visit

There has been a great deal of verbiage in many circles about the occaision of Chinese leader Hu Jintao making a state visit to America. Much of it is simply overblown and unnecessarily hostile.Allow me to make a few points.

  • The very fact that Hu is coming here rather than insisting Obama come to China is a sign of respect. President Hu Jintao is not coming to America to 'lord it over us'. In Chinese culture,traveling to someone else's turf is a sign of respect and accommodation, sometimes even subservience believe it or not.

  • China is not, at this time, an enemy or adversary except in the sense that every nation is an 'adversary' with its own interests.

    China's military buildup is only to be expected in a proud, centuries-old country that has known the shame and stigma of being weak and invaded by powerful neighbors. America has not known the tramp of foreign boots on its soil for centuries. For China, the last time it happened was a mere 60 odd years ago, and that memory is brutal and quite fresh.

    The military buildup itself is something that bears watching, but it isn't the imminent threat it appears to be at first, especially to the US. For instance, much is being made of China's new 'stealth' fighter, the China's J-20. While a definite advance,it doesn't even come close to other stealth fighters in the arena, is highly vulnerable to air-to-air attack, dependent on Russian parts and technology (which ought to clue you into something in terms of its ultimate utility)and is being produced in very limited numbers.

    Also, China's blue water navy is markedly inferior to the US Navy.

    China historically has never been an imperialist or aggressive nation except for those areas immediately on its borders like Tibet,North Vietnam or Korea it regards, rightly or wrongly as a necessary 'buffer zone'. Tread in China's buffer zone and traditionally you invite a forceful response, but otherwise,the Chinese historical attitude is best described as simply wanting to be left alone.

    Again, China's history plays in here,particularly its experiences with Russia and Japan and the Europeans in the 19th century with the aggressions known as the Opium Wars and the seizing of treaty ports and concessions.

    And finally, let me ask you a simple question..if you were China, would you want to get into a war with your best export customer, a country your economy depends on that holds $800 billion of your money as debt?

  • China regards constant references to its 'human rights violations', its laws and its internal affairs as rudeness and interference in matters that are no one else's business.

    Again, rightly or wrongly, the Chinese look at this as their own concern, just as they generally regard the internal affairs of another country as off limits to comment on. Incidents like the execrable Senator Harry Reid calling Chinese President Hu Jintao 'a dictator' as Reid did yesterday are an incredible faux pas. Jintao of course maintained his demeanor ( showing anger would have meant a loss of face) but it was an extremely stupid insult that accomplished nothing.

    The Chinese, never having had a democracy in a fractious country have no understanding of free speech as we permit it here, but they understand hierarchy. Obama permitting Reid to mouth off without rebuking him was seen as a major sign of weakness on Obama's part.

  • China is not some huge, unstoppable behemoth but a country beset with a number of problems, and their trade policies have to be seen in that light.

    As I pointed out previously, China is vulnerable on several counts.

    It is a manufacturing country heavily dependent on exports for foreign capital and social stability, still developing its infrastructure and its domestic markets, and lacking in the honest and relatively transparent financial and governmental infrastructure to handle the foreign capital coming in (which is why the money you spend for cheap Chinese goods at WalMart mostly ends up in Europe and the US as debt purchase).

    And finally, China is an aging society with low birthrates and no appreciable immigration or prospect of it.

    This doesn't mean that we should allow them to get away with what sometimes amounts to predatory and unfair trade practices. Far from it. But it's also important to remember that many American corporations have literally been forced to outsource manufacturing and jobs to China because of predatory tax policies and arcane regulations. Get rid of those and apply some judiciously used tariffs in certain areas and not only would we lower our trade deficit and unemployment by improving our domestic manufacturing, we would encourage Chinese companies to build plants here...just as the Japanese and Europeans did.

  • It's important to keep these sort of things in mind when considering our relationship with China.

    please helps me write more gooder!


    Scott Kirwin said...

    Excellent points worthy of rebuttal. I've been working on just that for a few weeks; hopefully I'll get it out for next Council.

    There's nothing wrong with what you mention; it's what you fail to mention, like Chinese foreign policy towards Iran, NK and Pakistan where it pursues an antagonistic position with the US and EU. 2/3 of those nations are not in China's backyard.

    China does view the relationship as zero-sum. We can't change that; we just have to live with it and hope that it eventually wises up. In the meantime we can't be pollyannish towards that nation, especially in regard to NK and Iran.

    Freedom Fighter said...

    Hi Scott,
    I don't suggest being pollyannaish at all. We have to keep our guard up, as we would with any world power. But in fact the three policies you mention very much fit with what I had to say.

    North Korea is, as we both know, on China's borders. They would much rather have a client state there that they control, however odious than a united Korea that might be pro-US and a possible source of problems. They prefer the status quo.

    China's relationship with Iran can be summed up in one short sentence - they need oil. That is why they have been antsy about sanctions. Th esame applies to the Myanmar regime and the Sudan.It's the oil.

    Pakistan is a matter of border security to the Chinese, and they consider a slight amount of support for Pakistan to be a counterweight to India,a country they had a border war with in the recent past.

    Frankly, the US, with its multi-billion dollar bribes to the Pakistani regime is hardly in a position to complain about China.

    China is far from a from a jihad friendly country, as I think you'll agree if you know anything about the situation with the Uigher Muslims there.

    The US with strong leadership could modify China's relationship with Iran and Pakistan easily. We simply have to present an alternative that works for them.

    It's all about seeing it from their POV.


    louielouie said...

    the photo you use is significant, to myself.
    hussein looks like the scared little child he is.

    Anonymous said...

    These are the same arguments as those that were made in the 1920s as Germany built up its military. China seems to be building a capability for power projection, which is at odds with the notion that the buildup is aimed at robust self defense.

    Freedom Fighter said...

    Thanks Louie, I try.

    Anonymous, I'm afraid your sense of history is a bit challenged, respectfully.

    Germany did not begin any kind of military buildup in the 1920's.That took place after 1933, when Hitler became Chancellor. In addition, after Hitler took over, Germany indulged in a great deal of rhetoric about 'lebensraum'( living space, expansion of their territory and uniting German minorities in nearby countries under the banner of the Reich. When China starts doing that , let me know.

    Second, Germany had a long history of imperialism and aggressive war on other countries,particularly France that went back to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and included armed intervention in China and Africa and an near war with America in the early 1900's in the Pacific as well as WWI.

    China has no such history.

    Third, any modern power with any kind of significant military is going to seek the ability for what you term 'power projection'. That list includes India, Israel, Argentina, France, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Australia, Turkey and probably a few other countries as well besides the US, China and Russia. That's simply the nature of modern warfare.

    I do not suggest that the US let down its guard or regard them as totally benign.Quite the opposite.

    What I am saying is that the relationship between ourselves and China needs to be handled far more skillfully and that they are no more of an adversary than any other power looking out for their own interests.


    Anonymous said...

    There is now significant evidence that the build-up began secretly the 1920s ( ), before Hitler came to power.

    I would take issue with your statement that any country with a significant military seeks capabilities for power projection. The Chinese have publicly demonstrated their stealth fighter which appears to be suited for a ground attack role and have made noise about aircraft carriers. Again, these capabilities would provide an offensive capability far beyond self defense. This is significantly different than any of the countries that you mentioned.

    It appears that the build-up is aimed at placing Taiwan at risk and pushing back against the US security umbrella in PACOM.

    Freedom Fighter said...

    Hello Anonymous,
    Not to be too dogmatic about it, but the site you reference gives absolutely no sources or evidence for what he's writing.

    Even if he's correct, a few WWI planes doing military training flights and some feldwebel companies drilling hardly constitutes a 'military buildup'.

    What was happening militarily in Germany in the 1920's was secret army organizations that kept the German army's command structure more or less intact, secretly trained small groups of infantry and maintained the army as a political force in Germany. Hitler himself got his start as a political operative for the army, which is where he ran into the then tiny Nazi party.

    Moving on, I would appreciate your providing an example of any country with significant military power and assets that does not seek to project an offensive capacity. It doesn't exist. And BTW, China's J-20, while a definite advance, does not even come close to other stealth fighters in the arena, is dependent on Russian parts and technology ( which ought to clue you into something in terms of its ultimate utility)and is being produced in very limited numbers.

    And let's not forget that China's blue water navy is markedly inferior to the US Navy..not to mention the fact that for all of China's friendly noises with Russia, the Bear has a history of using China's altercations with other countries as an excuse to grab territory.

    Finally, ask yourself this.If you were China, would you want to get into a war with your number 1 export market on whom your entire economy depends? Especially when you have over $800 billion in investment at risk in the US if hostilities start?

    As for Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea, China's ascendancy means that they're going to have to get serious about spending $$ on defense instead of expecting the US to do all the heavy lifting. I see this as a welcome development.


    Puzzled is my middle name said...

    Would you care to comment on this: ?

    As to China's long-term goals, unless their leaders are willing to allow freedom to their own people, I don't see why over the long term they'll allow other nations to have it when they become stronger militarily. I'm expecting a military clash eventually.

    While the current generation of Chinese leaders don't want war, I'm not so convinced about the next generation in the Chinese military. They're younger, willing to take more risks, grew up in a China on the rise, and see themselves as the new leaders of Asia, if not the world. The immediate trigger will be Taiwan, although I think the longer term objective will be to establish Chinese dominance over Asia. It'll be the Chinese equivalent of the Japanese idea of the Co-Prosperity Sphere and for many of the same reasons: access to natural resources and controlled trade.

    I'm sure many reasonable Britains thought the same about Germany before WWI as you do about China, and then the British thought another war was too terrible to contemplate. I know many Asians see us as the "Empire in Decline." I've had online debates with some who see us as the declining Evil Empire. Weakness, even if it's just a perceived weakness, always invites aggression. Again, I don't have confidence that the next generation of Chinese leaders will be peaceful.

    B.Poster said...

    The primary problem as far as foreign countries for America is Russia, not China. Much of the conflict between the US and China is egged on by Russia. China and Russia have or have had some hostilities to each other.

    China is right on Russia's border. Russia doesn't want conflict with China. Russia wants to undermine America and likley destroy it outright. As such, one of Russia's strategies is deflect Chinese energies away from it and toward America. This is a very clever strategy on their part.

    I agree with you that the relations with China need to be managed more competently than they currently are. One area that comes to mind is in the area of oil. If we simply develop all of our own oil and gas reserves and build more refineries, we could massively increase oil supplies available to the world. We could use this to offer alternatives to China. This might get them to withdraw support from Iran. Also, it would greatly reduce a large revenue stream that is currently going toward people who are hostile to our interests.

    Developing our own oil and gas reserves will give us greater utility for our national security interests by far than any thing we are currently doing. It would help us on so many levels that it is hard to calculate. Just one of many areas it would greatly help with is relations with China. Its very distressing to me that we aren't doing this.

    What does seem clear is by not utilizing these resources for the good of our people and for the good of the world we are not being good stewards of the resources that God blessed us with. Might God choose to transfer these resources from us to someone who might use them wisely? Something we might want to think about.

    Freedom Fighter said...

    Hi Puzzled,
    If the Chinese see the US as weak, I guarantee you it's because of our current leadership. And I wouldn't count on Obama hanging around past 2012 unless something extraordinary happens.

    As for the Germany/China meme, I'll say it again - Germany and China have and had completely different histories and cultures.China has never been an imperialist or expansionist power, and has never gone to war past her own borders.

    That doesn't mean she never will, and I'm not suggesting the US should ignore the possibility.Obama's ridiculous START treaty, for instance, is like putting a 'kick me' sign on the US. But China's military, economy and infrastructure have a very long way to go before getting close to what the US can muster.

    BTW, prior to WWI ( I assume you don't mean WWII) Britain was very much aware of Germany's expansionist aims and militarist goals, which is exactly why the Triple Entente was contain her.Britain's Royal Navy combined with France, Russia and later Italy's manpower against Germany, Austria-Hungary and later, Turkey.

    If you meant WWII, you're correct that many Britons didn't see Germany as a threat, because they were misinformed by Leftist politicians and their press ( as today,with Israel). But again, I don't see China destroying its economy, risking annihilation and losing over $800 billion in a military confrontation with the US.


    Puzzled is my middle name said...

    Never is a very long time, see BTW, that same argument is made about Iran being historically peaceful, therefore we can trust them. You and I don't buy it about Iran, while I don't buy it about the next generation in China. Whether you allow your own people to have political freedom is a better indicator of future aggression than past history.

    Also, I meant both WWI and WWII. Before WWI most Britains thought Germany was contained and wouldn't do anything to damage a system they benefited from. Unfortunately, pride goes before a fall. After Bismark was removed as Chancellor, Germany became intoxicated by it's own growing power, which helped lead to WWI. After WWI the British were too afraid to look at the truth, kind of like Obama.

    As for the $800 billion, without drastic cutbacks in government spending, it's quite possible that the U.S. will end up either inflating away the value of the debt or outright default on it. I don't think the Chinese will be very happy about that.

    Obama or no Obama, the U.S. and China are on a collision course.

    Freedom Fighter said...

    Actually, Bismark was removed as ReichsKanzler well before WWI. And again, if you look at Germany's behavior in the decades prior, it was very different from China's. Read Babara Tuchman's 'Th eProud Tower' and 'The Guns Of August' fo ra reasonably good capsule history of the pre-war and WWI era.

    Also, for that matter, Germany before WWI was actually more democratic than China is today, which sort of voids your democracy argument just a bit.

    Vis a vis Iran, they have been openly in a state of war with the Great Satan since 1979 and have acted on it. I see China's actions as far less inimical, especially when you consider the degree of scale but I suppose we can agree to disagree on that.

    I would also argue than in the case of China, we're basically dealing with rational actors.In the case of Iran, we're dealing with people that see apocalyptic war as necessary to help the Twelfth Imam arrive to rule the world as dar Islam.

    Much of the rhetoric I'm hearing about China today reminds me of the sort of stuff people were spouting in the '80's. Remember 'Rising Sun'? 'The Coming War With Japan'?

    Again, remember that China has a number of vulnerabilities and problems to deal with internally, as I mention in the article.We may be on a collision course and vigilance is imperative..but I doubt that we are.


    B.Poster said...

    "I wouldn't count on Obama hanging around past 2012 unless something extrodinary happens." That's a very interesting statement. Actually the only way I wouldn't expect him to be reelected is if something extrodinary happens. Yet here you are saying he only hangs around if something extrodinary happens. I think the only way Obama doesn't come back for another term will be if something extrodinary happens. The reason I'm thinking this is because of the following. 1.)If the economy shows any improvement, he gets to take all of the credit. If it gets worse, he's not harmed by it or he shares the blame equally with the Republicans. Sort of a "pox on both of your houses" will be how the electorate will view this. 2.)The Republicans are compromising with him at every turn. This is making him appear "Presidential." 3.)He and his supporters control the government beuracracy. This means any competitor would need to win by at least ten points in order to tie him. 4.)There is not a single Republican in the field right now who could come close to beating him if the election were to happen today. 5.)There is a kind of intangible but it is not to be underestimated. Alot of people have alot invested in the success of our first African-American president. As such, the American people will stick with this President much longer than they would stick with any other man or woman who were to hold this position. Also, they will close ranks around him faster and longer than they would any one else in a time of crisis.

    These six reasons are harldy exaustive but it does begin to scratch the surface. I'm thinking only something extrodinary keeps him from a second term. Yet you seem to be saying he only sticks around if something extrodinary happens. To me this seems obvious but you come to the complete opposite conclusion. What am I missing here?

    Freedom Fighter said...

    Hello Poster.

    According to Gallup( which oversamples Democrats)only 41% of the electorate think Obama deserves to be re-elected. To address your points one by one:

    1) The economy is not going to get much better by 2012.The best we can hope for is stasis.

    The GOP House will, I guarantee you, propose a number of changes that the Dem Senate will override because they undercut key Dem constituencies like the Unions and the Trial lawyers.It will be impossible got Obama to rise above the fray, especially as Darrel Issa and the Oversight Committee start issuing subpoenas and calling fo r a special prosecutor - and rest assured, they will.

    2)The GOP is going to do everything they can to differentiate themselves from Obama's agenda, and just with ObamaCare they're going to have plenty of ammo. They are being tactful, not 'cooperative'.

    3)I disagree with your figures here completely.The tactics you mention can work in a few select Dem strongholds like Cook County, but not enough to swing a Presidential race unless it's very close, ala' Kennedy-Nixon. Dems as a whole are much more concentrated in select counties than they used to be, thanks to gerrymandering.

    4)With what I think is coming with the economy and foreign policy challenges, we may very well see a scenario where pretty much any decent GOP candidate could win.Th egeneric ballot is a pretty good clue as to where things are now and as for today, I think Sarah Palin could pull off a pretty devastating win if she ran.

    5) Being the first black president once was a novelty. It isn't anymore, and doesn't carry the same firepower except among blacks and extreme Lefties.


    B.Poster said...


    Thanks for the reply to my post. You may well be right. We will just have to see how things work out. Actually, I hope you are right. I really hope you are right about the Republicans being tactful as opposed to cooperative. Unfortunately main line Republicans have always had a history of trying to "compromise", "show bipartisianship", "reach accross the aisle", and be "statemen." As such, its hard for me to fathom their motives are an different now but maybe, just maybe with the new "tea party" folks they will behave differently now. Perhaps maybe they get it now and will stop trying to be Democrat-lite.

    As far as a special prosecutor, who would they prosecute? In the recent past, Republicans have been far to "bipartisian" to engage in such actions. See paragraph above. Even if they did the Senate would never go along. I just don't see it happening. Even if it did, I have mixed feelings about it.

    With regards to the first African-Amreican president admitedly it is an intangible factor but I think you underestimate it. The novelty of this wears off after we have two or three of them. As such, should the Republicans try and move forward with a special prosecutor they could find themselves facing an intense backlash from the voters who will close ranks around this President. Here is where "tact" will need to be used should they pursue this.

    How is Mrs. Palin going to pull off a devestating win if she runs? According to polls she has a disapproval rating of over 50%. Are these polls wrong?

    If we assume the polls are wrong, how does she "run"? The RNC will NEVER give her the nomination? The people who run the RNC would rather slice their hands off than to nominate Mrs. Palin as their candidate for President. So, if she is going to run, she would have to form a third party. Forming a third party that is viable on the national level will take time and money. Does she have this kind of ground game to be able to do that and, if not, where is she going to get it?

    Freedom Fighter said...

    A Special Prosecutor could go after a number of figures in the Obama Administration...including Eric Holder, Rahm Emanuel and perhaps David Axelrod,depending on what he investigates. These things start low on the food chain and then move upwards, as people are granted limited or total immunity to rat out the ones above them on the ladder.

    I think the polls severely underrate Governor Palin's appeal. We'll find out if and when she runs. As for the RNC 'giving' her the nomination, all she needs to do is win primaries. Even the RNC will coalesce behind whomever gets the GOP nomination. Actually, with what I expect to be happening in 2012, there's a good chance any halfway decent Republican could thrash Zero, except perhaps Romney,because he would not be able to run against ObamaCare.

    Moreover, I'm convinced Governor Palin would win.A debate between her and Obama would probably be stopped after fifteen minutes as a TKO.Remember what the so-called 'Caribou Barbie' did to Joe Biden?

    As with Reagan, the elites tend to underestimate anyone not from the same Ruling Class background.