Sunday, February 07, 2010

So Much for China's "Peaceful Rise"

I was not surprised to read China’s hawks demand cold war on the US in the Times Online.

[A]lmost 55% of those [in China] questioned for Global Times, a state-run newspaper, agree that “a cold war will break out between the US and China”...

An independent survey of Chinese-language media for The Sunday Times has found army and navy officers predicting a military showdown and political leaders calling for China to sell more arms to America’s foes...

This time China must punish the US,” said Major-General Yang Yi, a naval officer. “We must make them hurt.” A major-general in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Luo Yuan, told a television audience that more missiles would be deployed against Taiwan. And a PLA strategist, Colonel Meng Xianging, said China would “qualitatively upgrade” its military over the next 10 years to force a showdown “when we’re strong enough for a hand-to-hand fight with the US”...

As a crescendo of strident nationalistic rhetoric swirls through the Chinese media and blogosphere, American officials seem baffled by what has gone wrong and how fast it has happened...

“The truth was that the atmosphere was cold and intransigent when the president went to Beijing yet his China team went on pretending that everything was fine,” the diplomat said.

American officials have been "baffled" because they fell for the so-called "peaceful rise" propaganda promulgated by the Chinese government and its sympathizers and apologists in the West. Now that the Chinese government is feeling confident, it's less inclined to keep its true intentions out of its state-run media. As Liu Menxiong, a member of the Chinese people’s political consultative conference, said in the article:

“We have nothing to be afraid of. The North Koreans have stood up to America and has anything happened to them? No. Iran stands up to America and does disaster befall it? No.”


hogfly said...

The greatest trick the devil played was convincing the world he didn't exist.

gunnar said...

whoops, this is one quote from some random officer not official policy. If you shoved a mic in front of someone in US military and got them yammering, some percentage would say the same silly off base things.

Of course, the trap that this thinking falls into is that the military on either side gets to decide any of this. They don't. They have to answer to politicians. And the politicians have to answer to economic _reality_ not cold war fantasy.

So yes, dinosaurs still roam the earth in certain parts of the military, but luckily the wiser heads are prevailing here

Quartzman said...

I'd agree about the everyman opinion - and I shun frenzytalk, yet, this is quoted in a "state-run" paper.
I'm not 100% on their editing methods, but I'm pretty sure a member of the Chinese "censor bureau" has his marching orders on what message should allowed to leak out and what shouldn't be...

What shocks me, is that diplomatic folks on our side expressing shock. That, is, not, good.

Reminds me of the kid in the playground that befriended you to try the monkey bars with him - just to shove you off at an awkward moment.

gunnar said...


yes I do remember that kid on the monkey bars.

here is the thing - China had a golden opportunity to do just that during the financial crisis, and instead of pulling the plug, they led us out of the morass. An inquisitive soul might ask why? The economic reality is that they basically had to. You see, we owe them several trillion dollars and they need to feed a few billion people.

This seems to be lost on some people who don't study economics and markets, but our economies are linked at a structural level and this will trump all the other military BS posturing.

Military conflicts are win-lose zero sum games, economic competition is often (as in the case of US-China) win-win.

gunnar said...

From Superfusion:
"Our world order is like a stool -- and China and America are its most important legs. If either is destabilized, everyone loses. Through investment, production, and trade, almost every brand name Americans know has a stake in the success of 'Chimerica"

Cold War ended in 1989, reviving the ghost misses current realities and is distinctly unhelpful to present issues.

Quartzman (aka - needs to get an openID) said...

Ok, fair statement.
But the news article can't be random...
So in the light of your comment, you figure it's safe to think of the news as internal propaganda?
To what purpose would you imagine?

If we are, indeed, stuck in this economic dance with China, why risk churning up the anti-China groups in the US?

Richard Bejtlich said...

Gunnar, I studied economics and public policy during my master's degree at Harvard, while serving in the military. Do my comments mean anything more to you now?

gunnar said...

Richard - you are super sharp and I agree with you way more than i disagree with you (this being an exception). Don't think school plays much into it, Karabell (Superfusion) and Barnett both studied/taught at Harvard and disagree with the "China as threat" read.

China's been to the 15th century and is not stupid enough to want to go back. There's no evidence of any economic benefit that China gets by escalating, at least there is none that you have presented so far. I am pretty sure they would like to get back the trillions of dollars they have invested here, so why would they? What would they possibly gain by fighting their biggest customer and someone who owes them trillions? Besides a hiccup here and there globalization is working quite nicely or at least better than anything else so far.

From a standing start, they've achieved a remarkable amount in a short amount of time $5k per capita income for a billion people, over 90% literacy rate and so on. They have not done it 100% the way we did, but the direction of changes is very positive. We can keep preaching at them all we want or we can look at the actual problems they're solving and the future opportunities

Richard Bejtlich said...

Gunar, you said

whoops, this is one quote from some random officer not official policy. If you shoved a mic in front of someone in US military and got them yammering, some percentage would say the same silly off base things.

The article quotes a colonel and a major general. These are not "random officers." I challenge you to find quotes by anyone with similar ranks in our military. You're not going to find US military officers saying "we must punish China" or "we must make them hurt."

I think the "dinosaurs" here are those who choose to reject developments that contradict their world-view.

If you knew anything about the US military, you would know we are the last group on Earth that wants to fight. In fact, it's the politicians you glorify that usually want to fight, not the warriors who have to shed their own blood.

gunnar said...

You can read more on US-China friendship here

My point is this: without America's willingness to serve as reserve currency and take on massive debt, AND provide its Leviathan security role to quell Asia's long-standing rivalries, there is no rising Asia, but rather a region that by now would have been engulfed by great power war. Asia has never, on its own, managed to have a strong and prosperous Japan AND China AND India AND Korea, and America's grand strategy gets a lot of credit for that, just like helping a similar, historically-conflicted quartet to rise all simultaneously in Europe (UK, France, Germany, Russia). So for Asia to now turn around and decry this situation without acknowledging both that grand strategy and its immense success would be most hypocritical--not to mention dismissive of history.

Having said that, of course, all sides must recognize that this American grand strategy has come to an end. We cannot leverage ourselves much more and we are overstretched militarily. But the bad news for China is that, although it's hard for some in our government to admit it, we now need China to step up and become a global power--both militarily and economically--far faster than I'm sure Beijing is ready to pursue. Now, we need China to become a serious demand center in the global economy, so your stimulus package better work. Now, we need China to move in the direction of ultimately creating a basket of Asian currencies that become the third reserve pillar after the dollar and euro (and yes, that means your yuan must become convertible far faster than you want). And now, we need China's PLA to quickly rebrand itself as a force for global stability and be able to assist the rest of the world's great powers in peacekeeping and in hot spots to a degree far larger than it has managed in the past.

So this is what China learns when some in its ranks start crowing about "America's decline" and how America "no longer runs the world": with great power comes great responsibility. China has great power and demands much in the way of resources and finances and trade from the world, but China does not give much back in return. It hides behind diplomacy, denying that its troops should ever spill their blood in defense of Chinese economic interests that are now protected by American blood spilt in the Middle East. It pretends it does not support evil dictatorships around the planet. It simply does not fulfill its rising--and already enormous--responsibilities as a great power. So, yes, if you were waiting for the time to declare America to be no longer omnipotent, that time has arrived. But the bad news is, now is the time for China to stop simply talking and start actually doing something. Slogans are not enough. Socializing every problem by declaring it a "global issue" is not enough. China needs to start pulling its weight. It may be only 30 years old--measured in Deng years--but it must now start acting much older and much wiser and much more willing to play a seriously active role, because the days of hiding behind the skirt of the U.S. Leviathan and pretending Beijing can always play the "good cop" to America's "bad cop" are over.

Mad Irish said...


Gunnar, I studied economics and public policy during my master's degree at Harvard, while serving in the military. Do my comments mean anything more to you now?

Snap! ;)

No disrespect, but those of us who have been to graduate school in an ivy know that such laurels are not always as impressive as they can sometimes sound. I'm sort of surprised you would play that card. I tend to agree that a couple of quotes from high level military personnel in China does not their foreign policy make. In fact, it seems perfectly in line with their inscrutable, deliberately obtuse foreign policy. I think US diplomats would be less phased by this than the general public. I'm not a huge China fan right now, but I think their reaction is pretty understandable. After all, we did just sell Taiwan a whole boat load of high tech military hardware to help them support their "revolt" against the mainland.

Ryan M. Ferris said...

Our industry (security) is part and parcel of the counter-intelligence war between the two nations. We accuse them (quite publicly now) of "APT" and we put missiles offshore. They accuse us of "network centric" warfare. Will they put missiles in Cuba?

I am under the opinion that our "Great Recession" is orchestrated to destroy and weaken China at the expense of our middle and working classes. There are some indications that this is China's belief as well.

Richard Bejtlich said...

Ryan, what offshore missiles do you mean? I think China's missiles aimed at Taiwan dwarf anything we have floating in that part of the world?

Paul Hite said...

Richard, what of the recent news concerning Obama's visit to the Dalai Lama?

Paul Hite said...

Sorry I had that backwards. The Dalai Lama is visiting the White House.