China's Big Chance?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

[Update: For related posts, go here.]

Time to take a look at China again, and a good place to start is through an article I found at RealClear Politics about how our handling of the nuke situation in North Korea is playing right into their hands. The one-sentence blurb on the Tom Donnelly article echoes my own concern: "They're happy to let us worry about North Korea while they assemble long-term plans to counter American hegemony." I wouldn't be surprised in the least if it turns out the Red Chinese are doing more behind the scenes -- like helping North Korea.

The article first points out that, in our distraction, we are letting the man with the knife in his hand guard our back.

But even as proliferation mania distorts U.S. policy toward the Korean peninsula, it also fuzzes our China strategy [We have one?] beyond recognition. The combination of September 11 and North Korean nukes puts us in the position of begging for Chinese help on two fronts where they can't or won't do much and diverts our attention from those issues where China is of greatest concern; we've taken Chinese priorities as our own. Little wonder that Beijing wants to string out the Six Party Talks to eternity and has been trying to portray its repression of Turkic Uighurs in western China as actions against Islamic terrorists.

China's interests are not only different from ours. They're often at loggerheads with ours. Pretending the guy watching your back isn't holding a knife isn't going to make that knife disappear. And if we're busy wrestling down someone else, all the better for him.

And China's not even being too careful to hide that knife or even its intention of using it.

We're thus blinded to a whole host of worrying developments that reveal China's progress as a geopolitical--and increasingly global--competitor. The Chinese "legislature" just passed an "anti-secession law" that not only "legitimizes" an attack on Taiwan but greater internal repression as well; the Beijing government sees secessionists everywhere. China is beginning to string together a necklace of client states in the oil-rich Middle East--Iran and Sudan, to name two--and even into the Americas, cozying up to Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. Venezuela supplies about 13 percent of daily U.S. oil imports, and just as Beijing fears the U.S. Navy's ability to sever China's connection to international energy markets, China wouldn't mind being able to return the favor with Chavez's help.

And don't forget how easily our pal Hugo Chavez could help smuggle terrorists in through Mexico! And, while we're on the subject of Latin America, remember that China is already the gatekeeper of the Panama Canal and already has strong commercial ties with Brazil. These developments help China in two ways: (1) They give China easy access to oil and large export markets, so its economy can continue to support military expansion, and (2) They give China the ability to exert its own influence in the Middle East while helping Islamofascists get into our own country. China is busy erasing its military inferiority while remaining a threat even though they are weaker. Their immediate goal is to annex Taiwan, of course. But how might China neutralize Taiwan's most powerful ally? An old article by Phyllis Schlafly is chilling when we recall the changes that have taken place both near Taiwan and in our own back yard near the Panama Canal since 1996.

The Carter-Torrijos Treaties, bad as they were, gave the United States the right to defend the Panama Canal militarily. The Chinese leases, however, will make it impossible to do this without directly confronting the Chinese Communist regime.

In 1996, when China was "testing" missiles to scare Taiwan before its election, the United States sent warships to the area and China responded by impudently threatening to "rain down fire" on Los Angeles from its China-based ICBMs. Would Communist China do the same if it bases its shorter-range missiles in Panama?

China will be able to ship its shorter-range missiles across the Pacific, unload them at Balboa, and conceal them in warehouses until the time is ripe. If Congress doesn't act immediately, we are heading for a Panama Missile Crisis like the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Thus the Chinese government poses an immediate security threat to the United States. (And I am sure that if it needs any help, Hugo Chavez, and Fidel Castro for that matter, will be happy to provide assistance.)

Could a revolt save us from this ghastly scenario? An article mentioned in TIA Daily offers some hope that North Koreans (and by implication, the Chinese), are getting exposure to Western ideas and thus that both regimes could be on shaky ground.

"You have private money lenders, you have inns, you have brothels, you have canteens," he said, adding that most North Koreans survive through a combination of foreign aid and a fledgling private economy.

Draconian controls on internal travel and on travel to China have been breaking down, he said, and hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have traveled to and from Korean-speaking areas of China, exposing them to a thriving market economy and more South Korean television broadcasts.

"They are gradually learning about South Korean prosperity," Dr. Lankov said. "This is a death sentence to the regime. North Korea's claim to legitimacy is based on its ability to deliver the worker's paradise now. What if everyone sees that it is not delivering?"

Of course, by the argument implicit in that last paragraph, China's relative material well-being might make its regime less likely to be in immediate trouble. The fall of North Korea's regime would help us in the short-term, but not necessarily in the long term.

The good news is that revolution is undeniably afoot in the world and it could conceivably flower in China. Unfortunately, chance doesn't always smile on us. I fear that if the regime in China is ever overthrown, it won't happen fast enough. We should be getting ready to confront the Red Chinese and we should think about getting rid of the two pit bulls, Hugo and Fidel, in our own back yard. We got it right in the Middle East. We should plan on getting it right again. (And I don't mean wishful thinking like this. My sarcastic name for this would be "America's Road Map to Peace".)

So in this topsy-turvy world, China has its big chance, both in the bad sense that its evil regime has only a distracted and apparently irresolute foe stopping it from grabbing power across the Strait of Taiwan, and in the good sense that its people could join the rising tide of democracy. Which China will triumph? And if the people of China do, will it happen fast enough to spare us another war? So far, it looks like the wrong China has the advantage.

-- CAV


3-18-05: Maybe it's even worse than I thought! See also the following related posts: China's support of Iran's nuclear program and China's recruitment of computer hackers at Phatic Communion, and this roundup at Ego.
4-6-05: Updated first two links of previous update. The blog "Klados" was moved and renamed "Phatic Communion."
4-17-05: Added reciprocal link to index post.

1 comment:

Curtis Gale Weeks said...

Gus, I wonder if you are familiar with the term "unrestricted war"...? China's already moving against us, I suspect. I wrote about it in a post exploring China's support of Iran's nuclear program. [E.g., two Chinese colonels anticipated bin Laden's attack and the WTC bombing in 1999—although they didn't put the two together, apparently. Or maybe they knew in advance?] China's already recruited computer hackers for their unrestricted warfare, should things come to that. I doubt they'll risk direct, conventional warfare anytime soon, though. Unless the groundwork is already being put in place.

There can be no doubt that they'll challenge the U.S.; but perhaps they'll do it through economics and technology. (IBM, anyone?)