October 18, 2005
Donald Rumsfeld is in China today and the Christian Sciene Monitor has a great article on the visit and China's secretive military. I was going to cut and paste some key parts and found myself with the whole article, it's that good. Go read it and come back.
There are several interesting points in the article. Firstly this: "The US is no longer willing to trade high-tech military briefings ... for a dog and pony show," says one US official. "I think the Chinese now acknowledge that message." This is a sign of growing maturity and even potentially trust between the two sides. But the key remains "transparency", that is a greater understanding to avoid potentially massive problems later:
Many US strategists, including Admiral Fallon, argue that a military clash with China is not inevitable, despite the fact that the two forces are eyeing each other with greater wariness. But "transparency" has grown in importance for US generals and admirals, as well as pilots and submarine commanders, because the margin for mistakes in a "Taiwan scenario" - the hottest flashpoint - is getting smaller. China's main military modernization is designed to fight an offensive battle to capture Taiwan.But trust is a two-way street and the article's (natural) implication is it is time for the Chinese to put in the hard yards in this trust and understanding game. And a game it is, as the concluding paragraphs demonstrate:
A central reason China has not always been willing to be transparent or reciprocal is that many of their capabilities and operations have been crude, analysts say. At one point, an elderly Admiral Rickover, father of the nuclear submarine, visited a Chinese base and made disparaging comments, deeply hurting the feelings of his host.Donald Rumsfeld will be subjected to a Chinese shock and awe program during his visit. The Americans are rightly worried mostly about the potential for a Taiwan invasion and China's deliberate ambiguity in its intentions.
The heartening thing is the two sides are still engaged and talking. On the American side there are many both in and out of the military who do not think a military confrontation is inevitable, and the same is likely true of the Chinese side (although their thinking is obviously not publised or reported). The world has a vested interest in making sure these "moderates" are the sides that win their respective internal "wars" on their views of their potential partner or adversary.
Welcome to China, Donald Rumsfeld.posted by Simon on 10.18.05 at 11:51 AM in the China politics category.
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Rumsfeld And China's Secretive Military
Excerpt: [Simonworld links to an impressive article about China's secretive military and how it affects relations with the US]
Weblog: Live From The FDNF
Tracked: October 19, 2005 09:31 AM
Simon said: "Go read it and come back."
I read it; the article is specious.
Simon said: "This is a sign of growing maturity and even potentially trust between the two sides."
It means nothing or very little.
Simon said: "Donald Rumsfeld will be subjected to a Chinese shock and awe program during his visit."
"Shock," perhaps - who knows what Mr. Rumsfeld will think; he'll be courteous no matter what he thinks (as long as the Chinese don't mistreat their guest)? But "Awe"? I seriously doubt they could really inspire, let alone overwhelm, the American military's 2nd in Command.
Simon said: "The Americans are rightly worried mostly about the potential for a Taiwan invasion and China's deliberate ambiguity in its intentions."
A) There is nothing ambiguous about their intentions.
Simon said: "The heartening thing is the two sides are still engaged and talking."
I call it "going through the motions." Nothing heartening nor disheartening about it. Again, this CSM article is specious.
Simon said: "On the American side there are many both in and out of the military who do not think a military confrontation is inevitable, and the same is likely true of the Chinese side (although their thinking is obviously not publised or reported)." The world has a vested interest in making sure these "moderates" are the sides that win their respective internal "wars" on their views of their potential partner or adversary."
Be advised, the vast majority of American naval officers don't believe it's inevitable either. However (and this is key to the CSM's and your misunderstanding), those who don't believe in a foregone conflict in the Formosa DO NOT take the Chicoms for friends, potential or otherwise. The reason we don't believe it's "inevitable" is because we know, and the Chinese know (and we know that they know), that we'd clean their clock in any "confrontation". The call for "transparency" is simply an effort by the US to gain intel (the type you want your enemy to have) and ensure the Chinese don't miscalculate. If some people want to sensationalize these events as the triumph of "moderates" in the US Military, so be it - though it's obvious that they can't gauge the situation with any accuracy. This is strictly "Business", not "overtures of Friendship". We did the same thing with the Soviet Union (and, yes, the MSM tried to pretend that those Communists were friends too). Most of the officers I talked to are far more worried about China's infernal politics (and their relationship with their OWN military). To the extent that we give them briefings about our military, it's to make sure they can't play dumb, make excuses, or act stupidly in the future.posted by: Rykehaven on 10.19.05 at 10:59 PM [permalink]
So in short, you're saying China wouldn't dare invade Taiwan because they're scared of the American response and know they'll get soundly beaten. These visits aren't exercises in friendship but in showing-off and trying to put the fear of God (or at least America's military) into the Chinese. It's based on the construct that the Chinese are the enemy and are the new Soviets.
The USSR did not own a significant amount of the US Treasury market, nor did they have a massive trade with America. There were not reams of Russian students studying in America or vice versa. The USSR was an industrialised economy with a reasonable standard of living, not a massive developing country with literally hundreds of millions of poor farmers. The two are nothing alike and the chance remains for America and China to find points of common interest and to work on points of contention constructively rather than through animosity.
You call the article and my commentary specious but each of your points fails to demonstrate where I am wrong. There is always an element of going through the motions on official visits - more important is the visit is happening at all. It's taken Rummy 4 years to get to China, despite some very big ups and downs in the relationship in that time.
I agree China won't invade Taiwan in the foreseeable future, barring any moves from Taiwan's independence movement to deliberate provoke such an attack. We just disagree as to why.posted by: Simon on 10.20.05 at 10:10 AM [permalink]
I posted a second response a while ago to your post about "Gnome Unknowns", but your page rejected the response because of "questionable content".
What qualifies as "questionable content"?
The second response was posted at:
http://fdnf.typepad.com/live_from_the_fdnf/2005/10/rumsfeld_and_ch.html#commentsposted by: Rykehaven on 10.21.05 at 01:31 AM [permalink]
That's my spam filter, it's necessarily aggressive.
I'll check your comment over at your site.posted by: Simon on 10.21.05 at 09:40 AM [permalink]