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August 04, 2007

Posted by Moira Whelan

A question in the debate about China. Obama did really well. He stressed that we have to view them as a competitor, but not make them into an enemy. He highlighted a very important point---when he's traveled to Africa, the Chinese presence is as pronounced as the US absence. This is what is happening while we're distracted in Iraq.

Beijing2008_logo I think China is going to be big in the election. We should expect they'll put on a pretty impressive show with the Olympics.

Way to be on top of it, bloggers.


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Unfortunately, since the Pentagon now drives US foreign policy, competitor directly translates to enemy, and the military sees China as the ultimate test of its power. Can Obama rein in the Pentagon? Difficult to do with the huge military budget pumping money and jobs to every congressional district, and what good is the finest (expanding) military in the world if you don't use it?

Attacking Pakistan aside, he's saying a lot of the right things. However Clinton is almost doubling his popularity currently as his inexperience starts to show and his sensibility will become exploited as weakness.

I'm planning to go to China in a couple of months to check it out. Brushing up on my Chinese now. I'll take requests (but no photos).

In the long run my real concern is of future tensions between Russia and China.

"we have to view them as a competitor"

God how I hate the the vulgarizations of nationalist logic.

Hopefully the powers that be in the Pentagon will not steer us towards a position of outright hostility towards the Chinese. However, we ought to apply firm diplomatic pressure where it is needed in order to influence positive change concerning the way the Chinese conduct diplomacy as well as their domestic affairs.

China is in many ways a rather schizophrenic nation, one whose government is deftly guiding rapid economic liberalization and expansion yet still clings on to Draconian notions when dealing with political dissent, etc. Whenever an issue presents itself as a matter of national pride, Beijing takes an extraordinarily inflexible stance. Part of this is derived from the Chinese Communist Party’s increasingly tenuous hold on its political monopoly in China—as state officials become embroiled in scandal and modernization/globalization reduces the Party’s filter on what the populous gets to read and hear.

One example of how traditional authoritarian paranoia effects Chinese diplomacy is the decades old issue of Cross-Strait relations. The People’s Republic continues to demand adherence to its interpretation of Taiwan’s status as a province of mainland China, despite the fact that Taiwan has operated as an independent, sovereign nation for decades. China neither directly governs, taxes, nor defends Taiwan (China actually threatens Taiwan quite often), and the self-governing citizens of the Republic of China enjoy participation in a democracy that has continually strengthened since the end of martial law in Taiwan over a decade ago.

Yet the powers that be in China feel it is anathema to relinquish their unrealistic claim to control Taiwan, namely because such a move might be seen as a loss of national prestige and therefore further weaken the Communist Party’s political monopoly over the mainland. It will take firm outside pressure, perhaps combined with incentives and a plan that would allow China’s government to “save face” in the eyes its citizenry, to get China to back down from what is nowadays a laughable claim to control an absolutely independent country. An ideal first step in this direction would be to pressure China to cease in stonewalling Taiwan’s efforts to join the UN—the world body that was founded to aid disputing nations in resolving issues just like this one. No, China should not be regarded as our enemy, but it still has a lot of changes to make if our countries are ever going to be fast friends.

There is no Chinese paranoia regarding Taiwan, no delusions. Taiwan is an historic part of China, the independence movement on Taiwan notwithstanding, recognized by both governments, Beijing and Taipei.

The term "Republic of China" was used by the Kuomintang since 1949 for their government which they delusionally predicted would re-take the rest of the country. The ROC had its time, but it now being trivialized world-wide, economically and politically, by Beijing.

China would never, ever allow Taiwan to either become independent or join the UN. Decades are nothing to China. They've been around for 5,000 years and they will be patient waiting for Taiwan to return to the fold, which it will eventually do.

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