Surviving Critical Times Hard To Deal With

Friday, April 21, 2006

Paranoid About China?

It seems that China has become the new bogeyman replacing the former Soviet Union. The article below takes a fearful and dim view of China's superpower status. As the new great game rivalry continues it will be interesting to see how this pushing match turns out.

China: The New Red Superpower

By Frederick W. Stakelbeck April 20, 2006

Chinese President Hu Jintao’s first visit to the U.S. this week to meet with President George Bush and corporate executives from Boeing Co. and Microsoft Corp. comes at a difficult time for the Chinese leader, as concerns regarding his country’s meteoric global rise continue to grow. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick warned China recently that it must begin to take definitive steps to address what he called a “cauldron of anxiety” in the U.S. and abroad over Chinese global intentions. “Many countries hope China will pursue a peaceful rise, but none will bet its future on it,” he said. Almost seventy years ago, Japan sought to dominate “Greater Asia”; eventually going to war with the United States and its allies. But unlike Japan, China in the 21st century has adopted an aggressive global positioning strategy that promotes relations with a select group of diverse global partners aimed at guaranteeing its continued cultural, economic, political and military transformation while at the same time, pursuing the systematic dismantling of perceived Western hegemony led by the U.S. Indeed, China’s plan is global in scope, reaching deep into Asia, Europe, Latin/South America, Africa, the Middle East and even North America. In Asia, China continues to threaten Taiwan with military force, employing a policy of total capitulation, rather than bilateral cooperation. Last year, China’s emerging navy challenged regional heavyweight Japan by violating the country’s sovereign waters. More troubling for the U.S., Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma and Vietnam increasingly look to Beijing for guidance on regional issues. Beijing continues to support a nuclear North Korea without hesitation or regret. The country’s leadership role in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), comprised of member states Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, has raised fears among Western observers that the arrangement is a modern day “Warsaw Pact.” The announcement this month by SCO secretary general Zhang Deguang that Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran would become permanent members in the near future has heightened concern.

In Europe, Beijing has reacted angrily to coordinated attempts by the EU to protect its decimated manufacturing base. Like their counterparts in North America and Latin America, millions of Europeans have lost their jobs as a result of cheap Chinese imports. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin have developed close trade, energy, intelligence and defense relationships with Beijing. Joint military exercises by China and Russia in August and the prospect of expanded exercises in 2006 present national security concerns for the U.S. and its Western allies. China’s recent bilateral energy agreement with Russia gives the country a deep footprint in Eastern Europe. Former Soviet satellites such as Georgia and the Ukraine have fallen under Beijing’s spell as well. In Latin/South America, Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Columbia and Panama are receiving instructions from Beijing on a regular basis. Recognizing an opportunity for a permanent base of influence and operations in the Western Hemisphere, China has stepped into the void left by the Soviet Union’s collapse to create a new, multi-faceted communist umbrella, using defense, trade and energy agreements as ammunition. Recent elections in Bolivia, Peru and Chile have resurrected fears in the U.S. of a socialist, pro-China continent devoid of economic pragmatism and resentful of U.S.-led free trade initiatives and long-held security alliances. Venezuela’s leftist agitator Hugo Chavez has become a close ally of China, regularly visiting Beijing and hosting high-level dignitaries from the country. “China offers the best option for breaking 100 years of U.S. domination,” Chavez noted last year. In its haste to gain Beijing’s favor, Caracas pledged to ship 300,000 barrels of crude a day to China in February, placing U.S.-Venezuela relations in a state of severe disrepair. Last month, U.S. Army General Bantz J. Craddock told a Senate Armed Services Committee, “More and more Chinese non-lethal equipment has been seen in Latin America and military officers from the region have become frequent students of Chinese military training.” Not surprisingly, China’s president Hu has become fast friends with Cuba’s aging dictator Fidel Castro, developing synergies in the areas of energy, intelligence and defense. Taken collectively, these developments translate into growing Latin/South American apathy towards the U.S. and greater convergence with the Chinese model of globalism.

In resource-rich Africa, Nigeria, Sudan, Angola, Algeria, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, have worked with Beijing in the areas of defense, trade, minerals and energy development. China has gained several strong allies on the continent by supporting known dictators like Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir; providing the economic, intelligence and military means for both leaders to remain in power. In the volatile Middle East, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iran have become close energy partners with Beijing. In December, Kuwait, an important regional U.S. ally, signed a multi-billion dollar energy agreement with China to invest in the country’s refinery and petrochemical infrastructure. At approximately the same time, Beijing began high-level discussions with OPEC to secure energy supplies from the organization’s suppliers. Another U.S. ally, Saudi Prince Abdullah, visited China in January and signed several bilateral agreements to assist China in the development of its strategic reserves and refinery capacity. Of particular concern to the West is China’s close relationship with a nuclear obsessed Iran, borne from China’s need for energy to run its growing economy and Iran’s need for cheap manufactured goods for its young, Western-leaning population. With a $100 billion, 25-year investment by China’s state-run energy enterprise Sinopec and an agreement to develop Iran’s lucrative Yadavaran oil field, Beijing’s continued presence in the country is virtually assured. In North America, China has made energy and trade agreements with traditional U.S. allies Canada and Mexico, while increasing its industrial espionage activities on the continent. Last year, Canada’s National Post reported that the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) warned the country’s parliament that foreign spies were seeking Canada’s science and technology secrets. The annual report specifically cited China as a “very aggressive pursuer” of sensitive information which could be used for military purposes. The report also noted, “China’s intelligence services are preparing Chinese scientists and students to act as spies to steal Canadian technology and classified information.” Beijing has actively pursued Canada’s valuable oil sands, natural gas and mineral deposits ahead of the U.S., increasing national security concerns in Washington. Chinese President Hu Jintao’s recent visit to Mexico City to meet with Mexican President Vicente Fox marked a new beginning in Sino-Mexican relations with both leaders signing agreements in the areas of bilateral trade, mining and energy. “The motive of my visit is to deepen the strategic association between Mexico and China,” Hu said.

At this time, it is important to understand that the Chinese philosophy of “globalism” is a far cry from the U.S. model based on individual freedoms, market competition and democracy. Instead, China’s philosophy is based on the development of a global system with limited individual freedoms, a state controlled media, highly regulated economic expansion and the use of state-controlled entities to secure strategic resources. The U.S. and China have different perspectives concerning global growth and responsibility, as well as different levels of capabilities. But what will occur once China’s global capabilities are well-established and in full working order? If China’s recent history is any indication, the world is in for a time of exasperating change. Over the past year alone, Beijing passed an “Anti-Secession Law” asserting its legal authority over Taiwan, pressured Central Asian republics to remove U.S. bases, obstructed UN Security Council action against Iran, actively supported several African and Latin American dictators, armed the authoritarian Nepalese regime and oppressed the people of Tibet. These are not isolated examples of a country laboring through a maturation process – unfortunately; this is the Chinese leadership model that will one day be applied to the rest of the globe. China has used military force several times since the Korean War, including operations in the Spratley Islands and Vietnam. These actions were not taken to defend freedom or to address social injustice; rather, they were taken to settle differences with the country’s regional neighbors. Those who believe that an empowered communist China with global military and economic dominance would choose not use that dominance against its ideological enemies are trading long-term security for short-term peace of mind. Although the U.S. welcomes the opportunity to work with competitive world powers, it cannot blindly ignore a competitor’s preparedness for armed conflict and the creation of hostile, anti-West global alliances. In the case of China, both are being actively pursued. Beijing has no interest in joining the current global security structure led by Washington and the UN – That much has been made very clear recently. China’s global actions should be carefully monitored and a proactive plan of action formulated to address an emerging adversary, not a potential friend and partner. Diplomatic visits aside, America must be prepared for what will come in the future – an increasingly capable China with military, economic, political and cultural influence and power. Michael Green, former director of Asian affairs at the U.S. National Security Council noted recently, “China is trying to expand its influence in the world at the expense of the U.S., which is not something we are going to give them a pass on.” As concerned American citizens, we can only hope that Mr. Green’s candid opinion concerning U.S. vigilance in the face of China’s unprecedented global expansion is heard by Washington very soon.

Frederick W. Stakelbeck Jr. is a foreign affairs expert. He can be reached at



    Recent events have caused me to reevaluate something I have known for over 30 years: The end of the world would be precipitated not by the Cold War, Islamic-Western conflict, global warming or any other cause, but due to US underestimation of China in many respects on its inevitable rise to dominance as a world power. They are capable of war, willing and will not be pushed or constricted into submissiveness.
    I used to think that it was something that I would not live to see, the end of the world, because I'm 53 years old. I now believe it could happen as early as this year. I don't care if I am right or wrong, but someone should know.

    President Hu of China is visiting this weekend with President Levin of Yale University. President Levin was summoned to the White House for a special meeting this week. China and Yale are surprisingly tight. I believe Yale is the only Western or perhaps US entity allowed to actively trade in the Chinese stock market, however, I might be wrong.
    The US trade deficit with China is becoming unbearable. China is using up the world's resources at an increasing rate, particularly oil, driving up prices and shutting others out. Iran is developing nuclear weapons and China refuses to approve sanctions on Iran requested by the United States at the United Nations. The United States has labeled North Korea, which has close ties to China, part of the “axis of evil”.
    No longer is the United States a benign world power that limits its foreign interdiction policy to diplomacy, sanctions, spying or black ops. The US is quite capable of an offensive first-strike or any action, however repugnant, the executive branch might deem necessary to protect national interests. It has also become evident that any restrictions on executive power by law, historic precedent, moral imperative, public opinion or the Constitution have little or no relevance.
    The final piece of this imminent ultimate annihilation pie is the possibility that the Republicans may lose the unrestricted power they now enjoy or see it diminished by the November elections. I personally believe that they find this unacceptable for many reasons. These reasons are: 1) The conservatives’ belief that they are the only political party capable of maintaining national security; 2) The fact that any loss of control over investigative agencies in congress or in a “red state” would lead to scrutiny of Republican methodology, funding, hidden agendas, etc.; 3) The potential for backlash or even a mere rolling back of the pro-corporate and pro-wealth policies enacted across the board, those laws and regulations written affecting every aspect of our society and culture creating a golden age for the few powerful elite the likes of which that have not been seen in over a hundred years, if ever. Republicans would do anything to avoid any one of those things.
    I am sure there are other reasons the conservatives would not countenance a shift of power in the U.S. That is not important nor the point of this essay. I’m sure there are valid reasons the liberals or Democrats might just as likely lead the world into a massive destructive scenario. I refer to the present world situation and the outcome I suggest, in my opinion, is imminent and certain, perhaps unavoidable. Politics with its party differences and allegiances be damned.

    Historical events and other facts considered in rendering these opinions will be referenced or not and are subject to criticism. A very limited list of these factors includes the Korean War and its aftermath, the standoff between Khrushchev and Kennedy in Cuba, the debacle of US foreign policy in South America, England’s pre-war appeasement of the Nazis, the US pre-war oil embargo of Japan, the Chinese cultural attitude regarding the value of human life and civil rights, the effect of Taiwan on US and Chinese foreign policy, and so on. Again, I welcome criticism and hope I'm wrong.
    I am sure the White House is pressuring Dr. Levin to convince President Hu that the Chinese government must agree upon entering contracts to buy US goods and technology on a national scale or to accept the inevitable alternative of trade restrictions. The US economy cannot sustain any further growth of the trade deficit with China. Unless something is done the United States will be crippled financially and suffer economic instability similarly endured by the Japanese and the USSR. The Berlin Wall fell and nations reorganized while Russian one party system did not cede political power. The Japanese have a workforce dedicated to corporate success by self-sacrifice, long hours, willpower and discipline. US capacity to accept and cope with such adversity is nil. Other US options are limited to sanctions and/or aggression, unlimited if necessary.
    Also, the US will ask Dr. Levin to impart to President Hu the urgency of cooperation in the consumption of the world’s oil supply. Free market principles will cause this limited supply to skyrocket in price unless the Chinese agree to a pact with the US to partition the available supply and therefore not compete to obtain oil. A worthwhile idea but a pact is unlikely given China’s non-cooperative record. The Chinese refuse to endorse UN sanctions proposed by the US against Iran for its work on nuclear weapons. China wants their oil and sees them as a deterrent to further US expansion in the Middle East. I do not foresee the Chinese entering into an oil trade covenant with a country they view as having enjoyed the benefits unrestricted oil consumption and now asks China’s help to support a sociopolitical power directly opposed to the communist ideology. They also have all the money they need to buy oil, US money.
    Relations are already severely strained by the US refusal to abandon its defense of Taiwan and South Korea. The Chinese resent US presence there and have consistently claimed Taiwan as part of China. The only reason the Chinese government has not invaded Taiwan is because it needed the US to strengthen its economy, infrastructure and industrial base. To do that, China had to take advantage of US industrial technology, organizational and distribution methods. More importantly, they had to keep the US available as an unparalleled consumer of inexpensive Chinese goods. Only the latter remains useful to the Chinese today. If the US restricts China’s access to foreign markets or places tariffs on their goods, the Chinese will no longer hesitate to pursue repressed objectives like repatriating Taiwan. This is true also if the US further expands in the Middle East (Iran), since the US controls Iraq and is confident in Saudi allegiance.
    Hence, we have the US administration’s pressure on President Levin to urge President Hu, visiting him this weekend, to cooperate with the US on oil, trade, and Iran. The US knows Dr. Levin is in a unique position. Yale University has a strong and beneficial relationship with China that has improved over the years for reasons not important now. No other US institution or citizen can say the President of China is an admirer and holds them in high regard. No one but Dr. Levin might learn the Chinese President’s true predilections. Could Dr. Levin influence the sequence of events leading up to war? What can be done to prevent a Sino-American conflict of global proportions? Can we be saved?

    The US needs to balance trade and drastically increase exports. Trade restrictions or tariffs would hasten conflict with China by eliminating China’s motive to cooperate (limited as it is) and an oil trade pact is not reasonable or enforceable. The Chinese might be convinced they would benefit from importation of US construction equipment and other advanced tools to build roads and factories or help in deforestation or chemical and food processing. My guess is the only way to make China buy US is to sell technology and equipment that can be utilized for weapons, weapon delivery systems, logistical solutions to military objectives, etc. It will delay the day that the US must act to sate its needs via aggression in the Middle East or other acts to capture and manipulate oil supplies. Lacking the export muscle to balance trade, the US must control a substantial amount the world’s oil to stabilize a weakening economy.
    Perhaps the US government will accept the economic downturn staring it in the face. It would make US products cheaper, slow US oil consumption, allow US debt to be written off and bring labor begging with concessions, lean and humble. All of these results are desired by the rich and powerful who do not suffer in such times. Except the Republicans would be blamed for the suffering and voted out. That, above all, can not be allowed to happen. This could also be the reason for eschewing the world’s only real hope. By taking a severe blow to its socio-economic structure while China thrives on badly needed resources, the US would allow the transition of world dominant status to China with the least toxic global consequences. The longer US diplomacy is allowed to sustain a dignified US survival without usurping world oil supplies, the quicker and less ballistic it would be to defeat the US in the inevitable showdown for ultimate control of dwindling resources.
    Appeasing the Chinese with the gift of Taiwan would get some real concessions and ease tensions. The restrictions on trade with China could be masked as universally applied trade restrictions based on civil rights violations. Good start but not enough. The trade deficit would remain and likely continue to grow, though at a lesser pace. The Chinese would maintain their industrial expansion, oil consumption and militarism. The deficit laden US would still need more economic clout to outbid the Chinese for oil.
    Perhaps Dr. Levin could persuade President Hu to allow the US to invest in China’s stock market and share in China’s great boon. That might be enough to put the US over the top. This would require some pressing need by the Chinese for foreign investment. At this point there seems to be no such need. After building the world’s largest dam, China seems capable of things yet unknown. Development projects are permitted exclusively by the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese people have tasted western culture, something the Chinese government allowed to placate their populace and develop industrial labor tactics. Western (US) influence is likely to be curtailed not expanded.
    How can Dr. Levin bear this onus foisted upon him by US executive pretense? I am sure he acknowledges the inevitable. The US uses a terrorism or nuclear proliferation excuse to attack an oil producer (Iran) or, highly improbable, North Korea. The Chinese have the excuse of liberating Taiwan or maintaining access to needed oil supplies. As long as the US weakens and the Chinese strengthen, war is inevitable.
    I think it might happen very soon, this year or next, Global War of unimagined dimension. To solve today’s problems now and hope tomorrow’s may not come is how most governments operate. I think China is stoic about what tomorrow brings. Individual life is worthless in their culture and massive loss of life is perfectly acceptable. Note their response to the US threat to go nuclear during the Korean War, “How many do you think you can kill with these bombs? A million, two million? Eh, no matter.”
    Look for China to make concessions on environmental and civil rights issues to maintain their trade status. Perhaps a trade agreement will be reached increasing China’s importation of US goods. These are indications of improvement. But China is most unlikely to allow an expansion of so-called “corrupt” western influences, financial or otherwise, upon their internal systems or affairs. They will not tolerate continued aggression by the US in the Middle East or any disruption of the world oil supply. How much international market manipulation or meddling by mandate in sovereign affairs will the Chinese tolerate before issuing an ultimatum? What number or sophistication of weapons do the Chinese need to be taken seriously?
    The present US administration has to maintain power and will try to do something to play up their strengths while marshalling public support. With the economy slipping, social security tapped out and public opinion against them, the right wing is desperate. Mere public enhancement of the terrorist threat will not suffice. A dramatic improvement in US stature and profit potential while eliminating resource depletion is required. The only question is when the US moves to secure these things, how is academic. To those in power in the US today, I have no doubt that the ends justify the use of any means. The required ends are to ensure the status quo of the US as the dominant world power.
    I predict a very bad terrorist incident on US soil will precede another invasion of a target hostile nation. Events precipitated by a pending disastrous election, an inability of the US cope with decline and slow Chinese expansion. All the security measures in the world will not make a difference. Something like that will happen because the US government is filled with ruthless sycophants who will not let it not happen. The Chinese response of global weapon deployment will bring on the end.
    I believe that we are here - our purpose in life - is to provide help and comfort to those of us who are in need. I have devoted my life to this purpose. I trust in God and pray for our deliverance. I am not frightened by the end. Does it frighten you?

    J.W., Clinton, CT
    April 20, 2006

    By Blogger Rypdahl, at 1:32 AM  

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