The Daily Demarche
Sunday, April 03, 2005
The China Syndrome: 2015 and beyond- UPDATED!
UPDATE:
“The China project” is off to a great start- in addition to our post below American Future and View from Tonka have already posted new items and The Fourth Rail has provided a link to a post from a few weeks ago. Several other bloggers have committed to the project and we’ll be adding links to them as their posts come on line over the next day or two. Readers have left some very astute comments, including one from C.J. in Taiwan- host of Going Crazy (one inch at a time) and there are several great comments by readers who did not leave a blog link. Finally, at the end of our original post I have added on a great e-mail from Peter Rice- frequent commenter and occasional guest blogger. If you have not read the original post below please do so first. If you have just click here then scroll down in the new window to read Peter's e-mail (I am putting it all in this post to keep the comments together). END OF UPDATE

BEGIN ORIGINAL POST
We haven’t done a group blog project in a while and now seemed like as good a time as any to start up another one. To that end we have cast a net out to some of our favorite bloggers and asked them to play along- the theme this time is China in the coming decade. While China is in the MSM again over the recent EU decision to abandon their self-imposed arms embargo, I try to keep an eye on all things China as much as possible. I have never served there, and am by no means an expert, but it is my personal opinion that we (the U.S.) will be much more involved with China and the region than we have been in recent years over the coming decade. With over a billion people, and expanding economy and middle class and a growing impact on world culture this is one country we cannot simply take for granted and accept as the place that produces many of the products we love to buy.

The invitation we sent out was very broad, asking those who wish to participate to imagine China and her role/impact on the world in the next ten years or so. We suggested looking into the crystal ball at military, economic or cultural events. I imagine here at the Demarche this will be a multipart post. For this, the initial post, I plan to touch on a wide range of ideas, and will return to those that resonate to address them in more detail. I have to warn you, this is a long one.

I first sat up and took notice of China when I heard a quote a few years ago from a high-ranking Chinese defense official who was speaking on the topic of Taiwan. When this official was asked if China would risk war with the U.S to force Taiwan back into the fold he responded with this statement:

"And finally, you do not have the strategic leverage that you had in the 1950's when you threatened nuclear strikes on us. You were able to do that because we could not hit back. But if you hit us now, we can hit back. So you will not make those threats. In the end you care more about Los Angeles than you do about Taipei." (Note- the author of this piece claims this is not a threat, but it sure seems like one to me).

Threat or not it sure got my attention. Now we have the EU on the verge of lifting an arms embargo it placed on China largely as result of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Interestingly enough it appears that the EU citizenry is against such a move (aligning itself with a U.S. foreign policy for the first time in a long while). Consider this:

Since December, European newspapers have run at least 70 different commentaries about the China arms embargo – the vast majority strongly against lifting it. The influential German newspaper Frankfurter Allegemeine called the decision “dangerous.” The Berliner Zeitung was dumfounded at the E.U.’s eagerness to sell weapons to Beijing and despaired, “China, China, China … We are watching, flabbergasted, the unanimous motions of the Peoples’ Congress in Beijing” that call for unleashing war against Taiwan. Austria’s influential Die Presse asked, “even if we disregard the U.S. warnings, is it really wise to open the E.U. arms floodgates to China?”

The EUrocrats claim that lifting the embargo would send a signal that if China plays along better things will come. Or as the French Minister of Defense explains it:

“So maybe if we can sell them the arms, they will not make them. And in five years' time, they will not have the technology to make them."

Let me see if I understand this- we don’t want the Chinese to be able to build advanced weaponry, so let’s just sell it to them. Gotcha. I mean, its not as if the Chinese have shown any inkling towards using these weapons.

Call me a cynic, but with France already having sold China over $220 million in arms (in 2003- who knows since then- see the link above the EU polls quote) it seems more likely to me that the French want to cover their rear ends for subverting an embargo (shades of Saddam, see last link above) and that the EU in general sorely needs a shot in the arm for its lagging economy.

But China is turning a corner on communism, right? I mean after all China now has a “middle class” who enjoy doing things like skiing:

"Chinese families like to do things together, but I didn't want to go shopping again," said Zhang Fanyun, a schoolteacher watching his daughter and son-in-law ski. "Skiing is a new, fresh thing."

"Ten years ago, only 500 people in China could ski and they were all professional athletes," said Lu Jian, an Oxford-trained economist who founded Nanshan after being inspired by a visit to the U.S. ski haven of Vail, Col. "This year, 5 million Chinese people will visit ski resorts. You can say this represents the new China."


There are now more than 200 ski resorts in the country, up from none a decade ago.

A citizen in a communist country saying he did not want to go shopping? Can you imagin a Muscovite or East German of the early 1980’s saying that? And 200 ski resorts? Before long these folks are going to need more than bicycles to get around- they are going to want cars. Know what that mean? They are going to need a lot of oil:

With real gross domestic product growing at a rate of 7% a year, China requires increasing amounts of oil to sustain its economic development. Its oil consumption grows by 7.5% per year, seven times faster than the U.S.'

Growth in Chinese oil consumption has accelerated mainly because of a large-scale transition away from bicycles and mass transit toward private automobiles, more affordable since China's admission to the World Trade Organization. Consequently, by year 2010 China is expected to have 90 times more cars than in 1990. With automobile numbers growing at 19% a year, projections show that China could surpass the total number of cars in the U.S. by 2030. Another contributor to the sharp increase in automobile sales is the very low price of gasoline in China. Chinese gasoline prices now rank among the lowest in the world for oil-importing countries, and are a third of retail prices in Europe and Japan, where steep taxes are imposed to discourage gasoline use.

As any economist or tree-hugger will tell you, there is only a finite amount of the gooey black stuff out there. In 25 years will there be enough to sustain the global demand? I don’t know, but I can tell you that we shop in the same markets for an extremely limited product which is currently out of production- and I have seen suburban soccer moms trample each other when it comes to “Tickle me Elmo.” I would not say that this bodes well for the relationship between China and the rest of the world. Is it a far stretch to imagine China propping up terrorist regimes (and supplying them with EU weapons technology) in order to feed their thirst for oil? Not in my book.

But this is the new and improved China, right? The smiling face of the 2005 Olympics. Never mind that a top Chinese athlete has been kicked off the national team for not being Communist enough. After all, the Heiz Corp. (hmmm, why do I know that name?) is all set to rake in the dough from these Olympics. I suppose the image of Heinz ketchup flowing over hot dogs in Tiananmen Squarea won’t look too much like the blood of pro-democracy protestors, or the Premier who dared to not crush them all.

Access to information in China is still tightly controlled- and may in fact be getting worse. How will the regime keep the millions of visitors who go to China for the Olympics from “polluting” the minds of their citizens? Let’s not forget the police state is alive and well in China. A quick story- a friend (who works in private industry for an international firm) went to Beijing for the first time about 18 months ago and stayed in a Western chain hotel. Exhausted from the long flight he went into his room, draped his coat over the TV and went to bed. Ten minutes later there was a knock at the door- a young woman from the hotel staff announced she was there to “fix the TV”. She took his coat and hung it in the closet and left without saying a word. Talk about Nielson ratings. Can they, and will they, keep this up during the Olympics? Will international tourists put up with having their rooms tossed or the TV watching them?

So, keeping in touch with our main theme, where does this place China in 10 years? Still reaping residual benefits from the Olympics and with a growing middle class and ever increasing squeeze on global oil demands China will be forced to look for a way to increase revenues. Taiwan will beckon, with the current tallest building in the world, Taipei 101, providing an easily identifiable symbol of financial strength. Even the Germans can picture it:

War has just broken out in the Taiwan Straight. Taipei 101, the world's tallest building, has sustained major damage in a horrendous bomb raid on the Taiwanese capital and Chinese war ships are steaming full speed ahead toward the island. As American aircraft carriers and warships veer into the straight, they are attacked by Chinese fighter jets.But the fight is not just the US against China. The Chinese fighters find their targets using British radar and electronics. The People's Liberation Army fires missiles and flies helicopters designed by the French. The Chinese track the movements of both sides using satellites built with the help of Germany and Britain.

Will the U.S. and other allies respond? Perhaps concurrent with the attack on Taipei a resurgent al Qaeda, funded by Chinese hardliners, will strike at the U.S. heartland. Do we take on the nearly 2 million man Peoples Liberation Army with it’s over 10,000 tanks, 4,350 aircraft along with its dozens of submarines and surface warships, not to mention the 400 plus nuclear weapons China is known to posses (all figures found here) over an island in Pacific; or do we resume the war against terror, against an enemy tossing hand grenades in shopping malls in middle America? One need not be Tom Clancy to picture this happening.

Granted this is an extreme scenario- but so was the total destruction of the two World Trade Center Towers. I may have gone over the top, but this is merely my introduction to the China series, and I think it has gone long enough for now. As more bloggers come on-line with their pieces and as we receive your feedback this series will grow and evolve. Please feel free to leave comments or to write your own piece- if you post it on your blog leave a track back or a comment- no blog and too much to say for a comment? Post your two cents at My Blog is Your Blog and leave us a comment to clue us in, or e-mail us something with your permission to publish it. END OF ORIGIANL POST

Begin new material:

Observations On China & The Chinese
A few comments about China and the Chinese from my five years in East, South, and SE Asia, not from any formal study of China, the Chinese, or their languages.

There are several Chinas, the biggest being the People's Republic of China, the richest (or until recently the richest) the Republic of China (AKA Twain), and Singapore (for all intents another Chinese country with about 85% of its citizens being Chinese, mainly from the far south of China. The Chinese people and culture are the dominate forces of East and Southeast Asia. Even the cultures of Japan and Korea are largely based on the Chinese. The Chinese on the mainland have no history of democracy and no history of incremental change, rather change directed from the top or by conquest (such as by Mao and the PLA - People's Liberation Army). The two other Chinese countries are functioning democracies and economic powerhouses.

China is the only country that exists today that existed 4,000+ years ago and there have been a clear succession of Chinese rulers for those 4,000 years (yes, the Mongols ruled for awhile, but as Chinese emperors, the Chinese way). Though out their 4,000 years they have been inwardly focused and uninterested in expansion beyond what they defined as China. Yes, over the years the definition of China has moved out a bit. The wars between China and other countries have been wars over exactly where the border line was located, ten miles in or out. The wars since the 1949 have been: Korea - keep the UN forces out of China; Vietnam late 1970s, fussing over the border line; USSR, fussing over the border; and India, fussing over the border line at 15,000 feet. I do not view the Chinese to be expansionist.

The Chinese citizens of the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia are VERY successful economically and are hated, to varying degrees. In Indonesia there have been two pogroms in the past 40 years, one in the mid 1960s when about 3/4th million Chinese were liquidated with extreme violence and the second in 1998 when five to ten thousands were permitted to be killed by the mobs. In the Philippines, the Chinese (many with Spanish names and having been in the country for 400+ years) are often kidnapped and are the favorite targets of officials for extraction of bribes. The 95% Malay majority of the Philippines hates the Chinese, but accepts that they need them. The number one issue in Malaysia is affirmative action for the Malay majority (about 50%) to keep the Chinese from running everything. As it is, the Chinese run businesses and the Malays run the government. Singapore was created ONLY because the Malays could not accept equality for the Chinese in Malaysia. In Thailand, the Chinese are well integrated and because the Thai (Malay) majority is almost all Buddhist, there are fewer problems. The Thai Muslims are in the far south. The Malay majorities of Malaysia and Indonesia are Muslims and Roman Catholic in the Philippines and this may add to their conflicts with their largely Buddhist Chinese citizens. When asked what is the principle difference between the First and Third World, my answer is that the difference is how rational are the people. The Malays are not very rational and the Chinese are. The Chinese, with a proper British legal system and free market, accomplish wonderful things, as they have in Singapore and Hong Kong. Twain (aka Republic of China) is also successful, but only in recent years as they have moved to nearly full democracy. Singapore's former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew has advised the PRC Govt. that they need to get their economy running properly BEFORE they switch to democracy, that very difficult decisions had to be made that could not be made by a democracy. The PRC has done this and to date they have produced a very successful economy. The USSR/Russia went the other route, they switched to democracy first and then tried to reform their economy later, it is still working badly. The PRC Govt. has had various trade/diplomat efforts elsewhere in the world. I seen tiny bits about their buying up businesses in Africa and know that they have deals with Robert Mugabe (Life President of the People's Starving Republic of Zimbabwe). The PRC is willing to do deals in the Third World that most white First World countries will not do for ethical reasons. The PRC is also involved to some level in the Panama Cannel that concerns some of our DOD folks, the US Navy in particular.

Peter Rice
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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

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