A conservative news and views blog.

Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Too Much or Too Little Ado About China?

Timothy Birdnow Many (and most especially the Chinese themselves) are predicting that China will become the dominant world power this century. All of the metrics are looking up for China; manufacturing, resource development, rising demand, etc. But there is more to becoming a world leader than merely having a strong economy. There is innovation, both technical and intellectual. There is the matter of good government, and the satisfaction of the people who live under it. There is religion - something ignored by modernity yet critical for the long-term health of any society (it's that very ignoring that has caused the decline of America and Europe before her). But, while a nation may appear strong, often that is an illusion. Certainly many thought the Soviet Union was a mighty regime, capable of overtaking America - until the rot in her roots was exposed and the populace prefered to face bullets to starvation. Writing at American Thinker Stephen Mauzy makes the case that American fears of China are unwarranted. I ultimately agree with his conclusion, but not exactly with the way he arrives at that conclusion. Let me explain... Mr. Mauzy opens his argument with this: "No country raises more suspicion in America than China. For one, it's big and it's far away; size and distance arouse suspicion, because size and distance stimulate our imagination to run amok. Citizens in big, faraway lands inflate into superior beings -- people with more discipline, stronger work ethic, and higher intelligence. This, in turn, deflates our own self-confidence." End excerpt. I disagree in almost every way. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is big and far away, yet we in America devote little time to worry about the DRC. Outer Mongolia is big and far away, too, as is Kazakstan, or Brazil for that matter. The reason China is feared is that 1.there are over a billion of them 2.they have a modern nuclear arsenal, space technology including satellite killers, and, thanks to William Jefferson Blythe Clinton they have rockets capable of hitting America's cities with those nuclear weapons c.they are a communist country d.their generals have all claimed war with the United States is inevitable e.they have launched cyber attacks on the u.S., hacking secure servers and the like f.they maintain an aggressive espionage system to steal American secrets and technology g.they don't play by our economic rules, but rather are happy to pollute, to burn as much carbon as they wish, and to pay workers pennies while we have environmental laws, labor unions, and a host of other restrictions. Remember that the Olympic athletes in Beijing could barely train outside because of the air pollution; we can't compete economically against a cavalier regime. h. they own our debt, meaning they own us I. they back our enemies in Iran and elsewhere J.they drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico in such a way as to steal from our oil pool K. thanks to teh one child policy they are a nation of mostly young men, young men with no natural aggressive outlets and no civilizing restraints from women. That last is an explosive one; the chances for marriage and home life in China are dropping for the young, since there are so few women to go around, and so you have an angry young generation. That aggression will have to be channeled somewhere, and the government must understand the dangers of letting it simmer; it could end in revolution against the ruling regime. The traditional way nations have channeled aggression is to launch foreign adventures. Those who are frightened of China are not shivering at shadows; there are reasons to fear. Oh, and that "superior intelligence" business has a kernal of truth, as many of our children can barely read or write thanks to liberal academic theory and the ascendency of the teacher's unions. The chinese have a powerful incentive; learn or wind up breaking rocks. In America students figure if they don't bother to learn anything they can always become rap artists or politicians or school administrators... Mauzy goes on to explain why the rosy economic data that suggests China will become the dominant economic power are not so rosy, and I cannot disagree. One thing he fails to mention is that a huge amount of China's wealth is tied to U.S. debt, a sure loser for them. If the U.S. fades so does China; they have hitched their wagon to a falling star, and our success or failure is critical for China's prosperity. Mauzy states: "Conflict arises when "economic power" is used synonymously with military power. Greater economic affluence provides a larger base from which government can expropriate resources for military advantage. The United States government has historically enabled economic prosperity, which has enabled the United States government to expropriate a large portion of GDP in absolute terms for the military. The United States government accounts for 43% of the world's military spending -- spending six times as much as China's government. The fear is that China's growing prosperity will provide its government a larger base from which to draw more military power. The irony is that the right's saber-rattling on this fear motives China's government to draw more military power from the economy, thus producing a self-fulfilling prophecy. Doesn't it make more sense to just shut up and let commerce between the two regions flourish?' End excerpt. Here I fear Mr. Mauzy sees things in far too limited a fashion; economic power also means a weaker nation cannot obtain certain things for itself and must bend to the stronger which can supply them. This strengthens the stronger nation in all areas, as businessmen from other countries come to do commerce, students come to learn how to do it, and a general intellectual ferment percolates throughout the superior country while the weaker languishes in mediocrity. Other industries suffer because mediocrity begets mediocrity. If you aren't selling aircraft because another nation is building better and cheaper ones, what does that do to your aircraft industry? With sagging aircraft sales schools aren't as well funded, and those things which support the aircraft industry likewise languish. Everything suffers, not just the aircraft manufacturers. The nation grows weaker in all ways; economic, cultural, political, and militarily. And let's not forget the people themselves. Success breeds a more vibrant, confident population, one with more hope. A nation that believes in itself, that believes in the way it does things, is going to flourish and grow. Success breeds success. Why is Europe so weak now, when only a hundred years ago the Europeans were stronger than America? Because they adopted the social welfare state, certainly, but it is because the peoples of Europe lost their spirit. America overran the west, and the Soviet Union the east, and the colonial empires demanded independence, something the Europeans could not afford financially to deny them. The loss of empires and the coming of the Cold War simply made Europeans give up, many of them. Yes, Europe is still prosperous today. but no longer does anyone take Europe seriously as a potential world power. It has become interested in kitchen table issues only, an overbureacratized system designed to make life easy for it's citizenry rather than challenge them. It was the competition from rival powers - even the friendly rival power of the United States - and Europe's inability to meet that challenge that led them to turn their backs on competition. This is something totally overlooked by many; Marx's view of the material nature of Man has become triumphant. Not that people like Mr. Mauzy are Marxist, but the materialistic vision has seeped into our general consciousness, and we tend to overlook the very real emotional/spiritual aspects of all this. We shouldn't; ask any football coach about the importance of team spirit. Oh, and China is not maintaining a strong military out of fear of the United States. When has America threatened such a country in the past? Yes, we move militarily where we have vital national interests, but China is not such a place, and the leaders of China know it. This is the worst possible argument, one befitting a commentator on MSN. Let us continue: "The fear is a remnant of the Cold War, but communism is dead everywhere, having been supplanted by fascism. China is a one-party state, and that in and of itself isn't bad if that one party is a party of property rights, free markets, and an open society. China's government is none of these; China is run by fascists. They permit some private-property ownership and commerce, but principally to regulate and profit from it. Profits to the government are hardly maximized by agitating your largest, most affluent trading region." End excerpt. SAY WHAT??!!! First, let me state that the Cold War was only considered "won" by our side, and we dismantled the system and went home. It did not die in the new Russian Federation, where Vladimir Putin is trying to revive the old Soviet System under a more brown than red banner. It did not die in Cuba, and it has reared it's ugly head in Venezuela. China never renounced Communism. Just because all the industries in a nation have not been collectivized does not mean a system is not communist. Vladimir Lenin had his New Economic Program which allowed small private holdings and private businesses - later crushed by Stalin. In fact, it was believed by Marxists that nations must go through stages to arrive at pure communism, and capitalism was a necessary stage. Lenin himself argued that Imperialism was the last stage of capitalism before the coming of communism, and the policy being pursued by China may well be considered her imperialistic stage. One must doubt that the Chinese have ever given up on their goal. Let us be clear on definitions; Socialism is the ownership, either real or de-facto, of the means of production. Communists aim to nationalize those means of production, usually putting them directly under the management of a government agent. They are then wholly owned by the government, and are run via government decree. Fascism is also a form of socialism, one that MAY see some industries owned directly by government but more often that keeps the private ownership technically in place while putting the business entirely at the service of the state. While Fascism leaves private managers in place they generally must be supervised by agents of the government, and obey innumerable government directives. The goal is the same under fascism as communism, just the means of getting to the end result differ. Under these definitions the U.S. is a fascist state; some industries (General Motors for example, or the Post Office) are owned by government and the rest are regulated and controlled by the central government. It may be a soft fascism, but fascism it is. So where is the dividing line between fascist and communist? In terms of economics it's a matter of degree. (The principle difference is that communism is international in outlook and purely materialistic while fascism is national in outlook and tries to take the people's emotional and spiritual needs into account.) This Wikipedia page (hardly a rock solid source, I know) gives the names of 197 major corporations owned by the government of the People's Republic of China. Where is the line between fascist and communist? I would call the PRC a communist state with fascist tendencies. At any rate, the author's point is valid; the PRC has none of the more necessary aspects of cultural/political/social development for a long-term, stable economic powerhouse. But she DOES have the necessary ingredients for a spoiler, like so many nations in the past. The Soviet Union was one such, and held much of the world under her heel for decades. History is replete with such nations. And to blythely assume that because China does not have the makings of a long term power does not make her a threat is ludicrous; what makings of a long-term threat did the Mongols have? They pillaged all of Asia and parts of Europe. What of the Ottoman Turks? The Huns? What of the Comanche in Texas? None of these groups could be said to be likely world powers yet all of them were for a time - and the Turks are still in Asia Minor today, after holding a vast empire for centuries. Mauzy concludes with words of wisdom: "Fomenting bogeymen in distant lands is the cheapest political trick. China's, India's, Russia's, Brazil's, or whatever country's citizens gaining economically are not gaining at the expense of United States citizens. They are gaining because their governments are loosening the tethers and permitting them to gain. If United States citizens lag other countries' citizens in creating value and wealth, they have only themselves to blame, because they are allowing more wealth-sapping fascism into the economy and allowing themselves to be fooled into believing the blame for lower economic growth resides elsewhere." End excerpt. I couldn't agree more. Ours is a problem of rising neo-fascism here in America. Ours is a problem of not competing. I don't think, though, that we are fomenting bogeymen; China is a real cause for concern, not just because of economic challenges. There are real differences between our people and hers. What happens if China seizes Taiwan? All the economic arguments go out the window in a war scenario. I agree China is going to prove a paper tiger; the Chinese leadership is unwilling to do what it should to make the country long term stable. I suspect India is going to sneak past China, and the second half of the twenty first century will be the Indian Century, not Chinese. I welcome that, in fact, because India is a nation much more congenial and sane than is Red China. Asia would be safe under Indian leadership - something I can't say is true under Chinese. India is not expansionistic. India is imbued with Western thought and Western values, and the traditional Indian values are much more agreeable than many other non-Europeans. China, I feel, would be a return to the Great Khan. Yes, paranoids have enemies too. We should not be paranoid, but neither should we be blissfully ignorant. China is not our friend in the end, and we would do well to remember that fact.

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