November 22, 2005

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A Chinese View of 'Congagement'

A Chinese fellow at the China Reform Forum wrote an interesting PRC perspective on why the US should stop their dual-track policy of containment and engagement of China. His argument is that China poses no obvious threat to the US, and does not have the wherewithal to pose such a threat in the forseeable future. Because I have heard his point of view repeated by others, I'd like to discuss it in this forum.

I find his arguments fail to take seriously the fact that many Americans do regard China as a threat, despite evidence that it is far from the biggest contributor to the ballooning American trade deficit. Why the irrational fear? It is not just fear of an abstract growing trade gap - it is for their jobs, for their security in the Pacific, and most of all, for their way of life. How can they not when the author concludes thusly:

Sooner or later, the decline of US primacy is inevitable; history has taught us so. My advice is: Uncle Sam, watch the rapid development of globalization and multi-polarization. They will gradually bring to the world a new democratic international system which would welcome no primacy at all. Hence the United States might be the last primacy in human history and it really need not worry about the emergence of any potential challenger.
Chinese foreign policy, and perhaps Chinese in general, are viewed as being incredibly pragmatic in both foreign and domestic relations. Yet that last statement, which sounds very utopian, is becoming part of the Chinese message to the world as it brandishes its peaceful credentials.

In any case, Americans are far less likely than Europeans to agree with such statements. The American concept of self-reliance has always extended to its foreign policy, and the prospect of a happy multipolar world sits about as well with Americans as losing their sovereignty altogether. Naturally, China I am sure feels the same way when America lectures it on how to run itself. Certainly the North Koreans resented it on China's behalf, calling them 'relevations of fascist hysteria.'

For how long, I wonder, can China and America talk at cross purposes past one another? And for how long can people like us not be forced to take sides?

posted by HK Dave on 11.22.05 at 12:49 AM in the China politics category.


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How can a country that threatens to destroy one of its own provinces (Taiwan) with missiles and has missiles big enough to reach the United States, along with a store of hydrogen bombs, and has even threatened to use those bombs on America, not be considered a threat? The fact that China is also building a blue-water navy capable of sending fighting ships around the world and is using them to confront Japan and other countries in Asia not be a threat? Saber rattling is a method of dipolmacy for the Chinese. Now they are building sabers big enough to actually do harm on a global scale. If people can't see the threat in this, they are just keeping their eyes wide shut.

posted by: Grant on 11.22.05 at 01:04 AM [permalink]

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