Saturday, August 28, 2004
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China's growth as a regional power, redux
Almost exactly one year ago, the New York Times ran a story on China's growth into a world power, about which I blogged here -- I thought it made some stupid historical analogies.
Today Jane Perlez -- one of the Times' best foreign correspondents, in my book -- has a similar story. This one has no dumb analogies and a lot more meat on it:
Read the whole thing. It remains the case that China's power is only felt at the regional level -- and Perlex asserts rather than proves her argument about America disengaging because of the war on terrorism.
Still, it's worth chewing on.posted by Dan on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM
I'm all for economic engagement with China in the interests of sustaining an upliftment of the middle class in hopes that economic free enterprise will eventually lead to politically liberalization. But let's not forget that China is a brutal thugocracy which murderously oppresses large numbers of its citizens such as the Falun Gong. Giving them the Olympics was exactly the wrong thing to do, the west should be continually criticizing in the harshest terms the repression and persecution of Chinese dissidents. Taking a moral stand instead of letting vile behavior slide by encourages the liberty minded in China and sets a standard of acceptable behavior for governments everywhere.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
That's the problem with having someone who thinks of himself as a "war president." Regardless of your party sympathy, I think we can all agree that a person comfortable with tunnel vision is not the best candidate to sit in our guide horse saddle.posted by: tex on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
I think it's pretty clear from the Taiwan exercises that the White House is paying attention to East Asia.posted by: Matthew Cromer on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
A few decades from now, people may see 9/11's biggest beneficiary as China.posted by: gc on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
“Almost exactly one year ago, the New York Times ran a story on China's growth into a world power, about which I blogged here -- I thought it made some stupid historical analogies.”
Why would Dan Drezner expect much else from the New York Times? This is a mediocre publication barely useful enough for the bottom of a bird cage or house training a puppy. The “paper of record” is a piece of crap. Am I exaggerating? Not in the least. Insightful and well done articles are becoming the exception. Both the Times of New York and Los Angeles seem to be lead by incompetent liberal fools and hire mostly Democratic activists. Each morning they appear to receive their marching orders from Terry McAuliffe. Our University of Chicago professor obviously needs to visit more often the blogs of Glenn Reynolds and Roger L. Simon, two gentlemen who are not exactly conventional right-wingers.posted by: David Thomson on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
Now, if we can convince a powerful China that they have more to gain by being friendly with us instead of hostile like those sad idiots in the former Soviet Union, the world can really grow closer with less chance of conflict. A democratized China would probably do the trick. They could still dislike us like France but work with us like India today.posted by: Ptolemy on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
“China's higher profile is all the more striking, analysts, executives and diplomats say, as Washington's preoccupation with Iraq and terrorism has left it seemingly disengaged from the region”
This is truly silly. The United States has earned the grudging respect of the Chinese despots by going to war in Iraq. We can take it for granted that these Communists thugs will think twice before messing with us. But what can you expect from the New York Times? How bad has the situation deteriorated? This is what Glenn Reynolds says concerning that newspaper and other major news organizations:
“But the press -- and this, to me, is the most interesting and disturbing part of the (Swift Boats) story -- has been shamelessly covering for Kerry, first by ignoring the story, then by spinning it, and now by confusing it.
A few years ago -- maybe even a few months ago -- I would have looked at a story like this and, if it never got much major play, would have assumed that there was nothing to it. Now I know better. (Question: Was the press more professional decades ago, or was it just harder to tell when they cheated?)
This seems like a big deal to me.”
“But if the institutional press is, as Evan Thomas suggested, capable of delivering a 15% margin to its preferred candidate, enough to decide almost any election, and if they're willing to go to almost any lengths in delivering that margin, well, then, we've got a serious problem. (And we don't, really, have a democracy.) To me (and to others) that's a bigger deal than Bush v. Kerry, but it's certainly illustrated by the Kerry issues of the last few months.”posted by: David Thomson on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
Let China sleep. When she awakens, the world will be sorry. -- Napoleonposted by: Herostratus on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
Dock a couple of points from this one for failing to discuss the recent flap between China and South Korea over Koguryo history, which has dramatically worsened Korean impressions (both publically and that of lawmakers) of the PRC in the last month or two. The unnecessary insult to South Korea and Koreans in general does undercut the "deft diplomacy" argument.
The Australia stuff is reasonably significant, of course-- yet it's the same country and Howard administration that's been repeatedly criticized for being a US lackey.posted by: John Thacker on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
Dan (and anyone else), have you seen this paper?
(from the SSI at the U.S. Army War College -- it should be freely available).
"LEARNING FROM THE STONES: A Go APPROACH TO MASTERING CHINA'S STRATEGIC CONCEPT, SHI"posted by: arthegall on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
In many ways, China---an established order---has similar problems to the United States, and all established orders confronting the new rules of the 21st century.
As a society and a culture, we celebrate and profit from simultaneously maintaining and deconstructing our own establishments. As a result, our cultural dichotomy puts all of us on both sides of the war against terrorism. We like the cheap goods from China, the free music, and the good life the Internet affords us. But we don’t like the bombs, and the threats to our way of life. And yet, we continually resort to means that come from a place that is anywhere but our way of life. Only ten years old, the World Wide Web is transforming and deconstructing our entire past. Let no stone go unturned. If any part of anyone represents the establishment, they are at war with the future, apparently.
What The Times' China article should do is remind us of the one respect in which Iraq is indisputably like Vietnam -- it involves a very large commitment of American resources of all kinds to an area of secondary importance to the future of this country.
The United States paid a significant price for this during the Vietnam era, and afterward. The price paid was an opportunity cost during the war itself -- money and lives spent on the war could not be devoted to other things. Because of the way the war ended America then spent most of the 1970s contending with a wave of Soviet adventurism that included flooding the Middle East and Africa with weaponry, the consequences of which we are still dealing with today.
At the present time we are spending very large amounts of borrowed money on the political equivalent of building a skyscraper in a swamp -- creating a durable liberal democracy in the midst of a backward and violence-prone Arab culture. The proponents of this enterprise have held out the prospect of great benefit to American national interests if it is successful. They had better be right, because a lot of the money we are borrowing for it is being borrowed from the Chinese.posted by: Zathras on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
David Adesnik has this to say about the “paper of record.”
“What I can say with a good amount of confidence is that the stories already up in the NYT and WaPo give a very superficial and often misleading impression of what it was what like to be at today's protests.”
Reading the New York Times to learn more about China may leave something to be desired. This paper apparently can’t even cover a protest.posted by: David Thomson on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
Will try to be succinct.
Free enterprise, invisible hand, millions of rational choices is farcical to smart and savvy types. Fallacious, outdated concepts propagandized by univs (and k-12) on the too young and spoiled for three decades. They developed armies of paper professionals (and attorneys) who have taken a devastating toll on this country.
During Clinton's admin. all kinds of secrets were handed over to the Chinese. All kinds of trade and technol. handed over too so that much of so-called American cos. are producing in China at slave wages and selling here to the jackass Amer. consumers. Univs. have been traitors there too with their naive embrace of unbridled massive immigration.
Our global military approach has hurt this country--in several ways. I think we're outright Fools to provide military assist without "paid tribute" to countries, including Japan.(for trade purposes alone without adding the buying up of our treasuries)
National Guard or Coast Guard required service for all citizens --m and females --to learn how to defend our borders ould help somewhat at this point.
Until the majority are ready to roll up their sleeves, to de-emphasize paper professions and attorneys, to reduce the numbers in all aspects of the media (as well as their costs to us), to re-emphasize productive work and products, and technological prowess, and to relearn the better of the values the seniors perpetuated for so many years in order to turn this ship around......
And,only those types will be termed my fellow Americans.
posted by: Alex on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
Unfortunately we are funding China's ascent. We have allowed them to manipulate their currency to give themselves a hugely favorable balance of trade. They use the dollars that they earn from us to purchase resources, industrial equipment, and weaponry and to pull others into their orbit by stepping into the middle of relationships that the US had with other countries. They use trade as a potent weapon in a way that we can't because of a firm commitment to free trade and because we are afraid of upsetting various consituencies in the US by restricting imports of various products.
I'm a big believer in the idea that trade will bring people out poverty around the world, but I'm not so sure we should allow certain countries access to our markets and our technology when those countries' style of government are incompatible with ours. One contributing factors to winning the Cold War against the Soviet Union was our determination to deny the Soviets access to advanced technology and to discourage trade between them and our allies, even for basic resources like oil and gas. Unfornately the Clinton administration did not take heed of this lesson with regards to China. Now the genie is out of the bottle and dealing with China and changing China will be more difficult. 9/11 was certainly a distraction for the US and has no doubt reduced our ability to deal with China.posted by: ZZ on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
The UNCTAD World Investment Report 2002 asserts the "top 12 Chinese TNCs, mainly State-owned enterprises [SOEs], now control over US$30 billion in foreign assets with over 20,000 foreign employees and US$33 billion in foreign sales."
I've been tracking Chinese FDI in Southeast Asia for a while now and while I can't say I've got the whole picture in view, I've got a part. Something will be coming out shortly in the Pacific Review, but you can see a version of it here (http://www.cityu.edu.hk/searc/WP67_04_Frost.pdf). The ridiculously abbreviated version is that Chinese investment in SE Asia is increasing rapidly, especially in countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Burma. There are some interesting implications to all of this, none of which people here seem to have thought about; i.e., what is the role of Burma sanctions in the face of increased Chinese investment?
But it's not just about FDI (although that's important). I've spent the whole afternoon ploughing through the Chinese press looking for stories on All China Federation of Trade Union links with African trade unions. I've come up with material on Senegal, Namibia, Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia so far.
I could go on, but you get the gist.posted by: Stephen Frost on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
The biggest risk to us China poses is a Chinese economic meltdown due to inter-regional or other civil strife. It's extraordinarily difficult for a centralized regime to preside over such a rapid economic transition as is occurring in China today. Inevitably there will be huge social and political pressures due to varying growth rates within the country, urban-rural conflict, tensions between capitalists and their communist party minders.
Given the above, and the fact that we and the Chinese are now in economic terms joined at the hip, it seems to me that we need to shift our focus away from Europe and toward the creation of a manageable working relationship that can help guide China safely through its adolescence.
It's time to recognize that our destiny is now hitched to China's star. If China fails, we fail.
Why are we still wasting so much diplomatic and political bandwidth on the Euro-dwarves? Makes as much sense in today's world as Teddy Roosevelt focusing on the Austro-Hungarian and Turkish empires.
In the late 18th and early 19th century, the British Empire wasted its energy, manpower and wealth in holding onto a far-flung empire, and in futile battles. That allowed the United States to surpass it in industrial and then in military might.
Now, something similar is happening. While we waste our money and resources in Iraq, China --- which has not fought a major war since Korea, and not fought a minor war since 1979 (Vietnam) builds its industrial and military might. People who talk about a democratic revolutioon against the autocrats in Bejjing are dreaming. The young people of China want to start their own business, not get involved in dissent.
Now China is surrounded by India and Russia, but those 3 countries have been putting their differences aside somewhat in recent years. I predict greater economic co-operation between the 3.
It's time to recognize that our destiny is now hitched to China's star. If China fails, we fail.
Barring heroic effort, this is true.
However, look at the other side of it.
If China succeeds, will there be room for the USA to succeed too?
Very Good Comments.
China desires the export markets of the USA. It makes it easier to fill bellies and reduce internal tensions. Beijing desires stabilty first. We all want that since the alternative is 50 Million Chinese relocating countries.
The question that has to be answered is the same question that our ancestors asked 200 years ago. "What has the rest of the world got that China needs?" For us now we have to ask "What will the USA trade to China in 2014?"
This might be a surprise to the USA but the USA is not considered a long term threat to China since its Capitalist system has been co-opted by the Chinese. Do you think that the Walton family will tolerate any interference with their biggest supplier to Walmart? It is the Indian population growth that is the medium and long term threat to China. IMHO is that Asia NOW considers China to a superpower. This is one of the reasons why the Phillipines withdraw their token force from Iraq, they do not have to worry about US opinion anymore.
As an aside please do not write off the European Union. Singularly no country in Europe can match the USA but the economy and population of the European Union is bigger than that of the USA. While Europe has a declining population it has a growing economy. Not only that but Europe has provided an alternative to the dollar. Why do you think they introduced the E500 note?posted by: Eunoia23 on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
Now China is surrounded by India and Russia, but those 3 countries have been putting their differences aside somewhat in recent years. I predict greater economic co-operation between the 3
Wrong century. You forget that there was far, far greater economic and political cooperation when socialist India was aligned with the Soviet Union. I don't have the exact numbers but I'm certain that today's India-Russia trade is a tiny fraction of the India-SU trade that occurred in the 1970s. While such trade may be growing-- I don't see much evidence of this, but perhaps it may be growing-- it's not likely to be anything significant for the next twenty years. Russia and India today are, more than anything else, economic rivals in areas such as software and related services (of which India exports s.t. like $10B per yr vs Russia's $200M).
The most important and interesting change in India's foreign policy posture IMHO is the rapidly accelerating cooperation between India and Israel, not Russia. I believe one of Dan Drezner's guest bloggers set up a thread to discuss this aspect of a new "Triple Entente" (also mentioned Turkey's increasing ties to Israel).
As to China-Russia relations, those will worsen. China is rapidly conquering, by osmosis, Russia's Far East region. Russians in the border regions are finding they have to learn Chinese if they wish to survive economically. Sorry I can't provide good links on this-- our idiotic, incompetent mainstream media doesn't know or care about events that don't fit the Bush-as-source-of-all-evil meme, so they haven't bothered to travel to the Amur or Irkutsk or Vladivostok regions to report on this huge development. In any case, it's very likely that within a generation Russia will break up into a very loose federation in which the far east becomes a Chinese vassal state. Putin has had little success in reining in these regions, partly because no Russian leader really can.
I'm hardly EU-noiac. I'm a realist. My prescription for an Asia-centric strategic orientation does not preclude continuing to deepen our economic and intel-police-judicial cooperation with the EU. Perhaps it's difficult for people on both sides of the Atlantic to grasp, but the fact is that vis-a-vis the EU we're now moving in opposite directions on two tracks: more economic (and cultural) integration, less strategic cooperation.
This trend is not reversible. I argue that we should admit reality and seek to guide these two developments in a more mature, realistic relationship that recognizes where we have a close harmony of interests with the EU (in preserving the free trade regime and expanding transatlantic flows of capital, people, ideas as well as goods) and where we diverge (in our policies and perceived strategic interests rel to the muslim peoples of the near east, esp).
So how about this: we propose and begin working intensively toward a comprehensive NAFTA-EU free trade deal while shutting down NATO and shifting our military/strategic focus to the east? In other words, cut in half the 1,000 or so diplomatic staff in Paris, shifting them either to the free trade project or to Beijing and New Delhi. Ditto for the staff in Berlin.
"China desires the export markets of the USA. It makes it easier to fill bellies and reduce internal tensions."
What exactly does this mean? Export markets mean china gets to put a lot of people to work making things that get shipped to us.
That doesn't benefit china directly. Chinese people fill bellies when they take their US dollars and buy US food, or something else they need. At the moment they are more successful at exporting than they need to be; they have a surplus of dollars. They'd do better to export less to us and consume the difference themselves -- if the welfare of their people is the issue.
"The question that has to be answered is the same question that our ancestors asked 200 years ago. "What has the rest of the world got that China needs?""
I went to a family reunion in southwest virginia a few weeks ago. I listened to one of my cousins -- a construction contractor -- talk to his brother, stockbroker. He was getting all the business he could handle but it was hard to predict how fast materials prices would rise. 1/4" sheet plywood was $7 last year, now it's $18. Everything, all the trim and fittings, is going up fast. Concrete has an energy surcharge tacked onto it which is bigger every time, and you don't question it, you just pay it. His brother broke in about the construction boom from the low interest rates, so materials were in demand. "Yes, and also so much stuff goes to china. They just buy it up like they don't care how much it costs." "So, what happens when they raise interest rates? The rates have to go up pretty soon." "I guess I'll be sitting around while the chinese get it all."
Just then I asked him, "So, are you voting for Bush?"
"Yes, sure. Why do you ask?"
So how about this: we propose and begin working intensively toward a comprehensive NAFTA-EU free trade deal while shutting down NATO and shifting our military/strategic focus to the east?
The EU *could* field a rather large hi-tech military if they wanted to. They haven't wanted to so far.
So long as the USA is heading NATO, NATO members who put money into their military just find us pressuring them to send forces where we want them to. They have zero incentive to do that.
But if the USA got out of NATO, it would become a european thing. (Europe plus canada?) They might argue about who was in charge and not do anything. But they might almost as easily turn it into a real force, maybe something with a navy that could guard the northeastern atlantic from us. (We could defeat them, we can defeat any regional navy, but we can hardly afford to start a war with the EU.) They could take the mediterranean from us; not that we couldn't beat them but again, who has more right to a navy in the med, us or the EU? They'd let us in whenever we wanted provided we asked first and let them escort us.
They could defend europe from us, and they could send forces into XSSR countries and the middle east. A giant complication for the USA.
So the longer we can keep NATO going as a nothingness that prevents a something from replacing it, the better it will suit the USA militarily. Why pull the plug until the europeans fully ignore it?
re david thomas; from one conservative political blogger to another:
EMAIL OF THE DAY II: "The 'Email of the Day' you posted, about the Swift Boat people, is horrifying. It is, perhaps, the most eloquent example I have yet seen of how coarse and vile our political culture has become. The President's supporters are so twisted with hatred of their opponents that they cannot even acknowledge the simple fact that John Kerry put himself in harm's way, fought with courage, bled for his country. He could so easily have been killed -- that's a very strange way to plan your political future. Dozens of Swifties died on the rivers of the Mekong Delta, including Kerry's close friend and fellow Swift commander, Don Droz. He was ambushed and killed just a few weeks after Kerry shipped back sateside. It could just as easily have been Kerry. They patrolled side by side countless times. Like Droz, Kerry exposed himself to enemy fire to save men's lives. That anyone would begrudge Kerry taking the three Purple Hearts and the right to go back home that came with them is truly depraved."
My feelings entirely. I notice, however, that now that the smears have taken their toll, the talking point from the GOP is that the real issue is Kerry's 1971 testimony. That indeed is a completely legitimate issue. But if these vets had just started with that, would they have gained traction? No - they had to challenge Kerry's medals in order to get the media attention that would allow them to refight the Vietnam war. What galls me is how people like the elder Bush and Dole and Gillespie and Novak and others now refuse to back up specifics impugning Kerry's medals but ask open-ended questions like: "Could they all be liars?" Or: "There are inconsistencies," - without having the balls to say what they are (because the most reliable records refute Kerry's critics on all but one trivial count). This is a classic smear tactic. But it's no use complaining, and Kerry was wrong to hope the media would ignore the smears. What worries me is what happens if Bush wins the election and a huge swathe of blue America concludes it was because of this swift boat business. The rancor that we have seen already could metastasize into something even more bitter and divisive. I cannot see how that benefits anyone in the long run.
As the foreign ministers of India, China and Russia meet this week [Sep 27, 2003] in New York as part of a trilateral process that began two years ago, diplomatic observers and analysts are busy appraising the strategic implications of their growing affinity. Some see it as leading to the establishment of a "strategic triangle" to save the world, particularly Asia, from the uncertainties of a unipolar world that resulted from the collapse of Soviet Union. Others dismiss it as routine and inconsequential, pointing to the primary foreign-policy goal of all three to get in the good books of the sole superpower and to resolve their bilateral problems...
Officials in all three capitals, New Delhi, Beijing and Moscow, keep stressing that their growing strategic closeness is not directed against any third country, meaning the United States. Indeed, all three are separately engaged in improving their bilateral relations with that country; economic compulsions and demands of globalization force them to do so. But the historical and contemporaneous context in which this axis is being forged slowly and cautiously makes it difficult to hide the fact that, like the rest of the world, they, too, are scared of US unilateralism and the so-called doctrine of preemption.
re india-russia trade, for example...
Russia, India and Iran signed an agreement on the development of the North-South corridor in September 2000. In March 2002, President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill ratifying a trilateral agreement on the development of the North-South link.
The ministry estimates that the North-South link would be able to handle some 15-20 million tons of freight per year, hence becoming a rival of the Suez Canal. The route would be a channel for goods shipped to and from Russia, as well as an alternative transit route between Asia and Europe.
Russia and other partners in the North-South link project hope to lure shippers by the low cost of transportation via this corridor. Now most South Asian cargo bound for Russia is moved either to Russia's Black Sea ports or via the Atlantic Ocean and Baltic Sea to St Petersburg.
The new corridor is expected to reduce delivery time by 10 to 12 days compared with traditional routes through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal. The planners also hope that the link will cut operation costs by about 20 percent, or US$400, per container.
Russia's southern Astrakhan region has started building a 51-kilometer long rail link between Olya port and Privolzhye railway system. The project is estimated to cost $140 million, including $60 million loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The corridor has good chances to connect Asia and Western Europe, Transportation Minister Sergei Frank has argued. The Transportation Ministry estimates that the annual trade turnover through the corridor could reach $10 billion per year, with Russia, Iran and India becoming the main beneficiaries.and, fwiw, russia's northern trans-european gas pipeline project is a go. posted by: choco on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
Choco, please put forth your own thoughts instead of spamming.
btw, the railway you mention is a joke. Even if it were to be completed less than ten years late, and to drive half as much trade annually as the Russian government official projects, the total volume of trade it would deliver between Russia and India would not amount to more than the monthly trade volume that occurs right now between the US and China.
Run along now.posted by: lex on 08.28.04 at 05:06 PM [permalink]
You will be pleased to learn that the DoD is investigating discrepancies in Kerry's medals. Maybe the swifties were on to something?
Steal this sig:
Why did John Kerry meet three times with the representatives of the Viet Cong and Communist North Vietnam?
Some times it takes a while to sell out your country.
What is the War Hero Afraid of?
Good sig! I'll steal it.
Why does G W Bush need a second term?
Some times it takes a while to sell out your country.
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