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Time For A Change – China Policy

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has china really changed that much?

Sometimes it takes an aging rock band to make a great point. Take Guns n’ Roses new album, its first for seventeen years. The band’s insightful leader created a fabulous oxymoron, bringing together the words “Chinese” and “Democracy” for it’s title. Now that’s comedy.

The Chinese authorities did what they always do in these situations and censored everything about the album they could get away with at the same time as lashing out at the band for its insulting stance on the People’s Republic. How dare some old rock stars attack China’s non-democracy?

But does the vast plastic toy police state protesteth just a little too much? The irony seems completely lost on most of the world’s leaders, who are busy toadying to the Chinese to keep them buying the mountain of freshly issued Western debt. The British have backtracked on their decades-long fudge about Chinese control of Tibet to appease Beijing, and America, which has been pushing democracy like Avon pushes makeup is simply too scared to issue any kind of statement about censorship or human rights abuses in China. We allowed them into the World Trade Organization even though they brazenly broke its rules before and after they joined. Slowly but surely, we seem to be handing China superpower status on a plate. Another word for it is appeasement. And just like back in Munich in 1938, it strikes me as a very bad idea.

The West has to end this sorry, unspoken policy of appeasement to China. China is not our friend. It is our adversary. It does not have our interests at heart. It is a wilful, nationalistic, unscrupulous behemoth that believes solely in preserving and expanding its power. It will soon be a greenhouse gas disaster and the world will suffer as a result. Our debt to China has serious national security implications, and it has mercilessly exploited it. China does not play on a level playing field with the rest of their global trading partners, on currency or import/export terms. Oh, yeah, and they are very undemocratic.

When you introduce economic freedom, political progress is sure to follow. Up until Deng Xiaoping opened up China in the late eighties that was the golden rule. But to suggest that China’s profoundly bucking the mantra is only half true. Firstly, China is a very big place where historical change happens slowly, and it hasn’t been that long from a historical standpoint since the Communists went into the cheap crap business. And secondly, the world needs China right now in a variety of unpleasant ways. But there’s going to come a time, in the not too distant future, when the Communist Party’s ability to prevent social unrest will be compromised. Another Tiananmen, another over-reaction by the Party and the unreast could take hold. And the Chinese Communist party fear internal unrest more than anything else. That’s why they always overreact to those minor slights – from aging rock stars among others.

All over backwoods China, outside the seething economic speical districts unrest is already brewing. And large scale social upheaval in China is very, very possible. The threat of it is the West’s unseen trump card in its dealings with Beijing. In the next twenty years, increasingly scarce energy resources are going to cause massive inflation within China and reduce the labor and manufacturing cost differential with the West. We’re already seeing a move towards manufacturing in Cambodia and Vietnam because of this. To feed its economic beast and prevent economic distress China might start doing what Japan did in World War Two and try to control energy supplies.

Flashpoints of civil disobedience will be crushed with standard Chinese heavyhandedness. And the more the Party crushes dissent, the more pops up. That’s the “whack-a-mole” golden rule. The more you whack, the more you get. And as for censorship, it doesn’t really work. When you give people the internet, they find a way to use it. Rabid Chinese nationalism which is seen as a stabilizing force could also backfire. The Chinese love of Country could easily turn into a weapon against the corrupt and self-serving Communist Party. Just think of the recent melamine crisis.

China does not as yet present a serious military threat, but if it sees the need for militarism to create a diversion from shattered domestic expectations, this might change. Already the Chinese are investing in at least one aircraft carrier, and it’s probably not for show. The US needs to focus on preventing the expansion of Chinese influence throughout the world. In Africa, China is embarking on a virtual recolonization of weak, resource-rich African countries, and we just sit and watch. Bad mistake.

The irony is that Russia is much more of a thorn in the West’s side because of the size of its nuclear arsenal, proximity to the Middle East and its petro-authoritarian ways. And yet China seems to be the nation we fear most, despite the fact that it isn’t yet a major military threat. Sure they’re too big to fight with guns and ammunition, but guns and ammunition are outmoded.

We are entering the age of Economic warfare and the best way to combat China is economically. They need to keep growing to feed domestic demand, and the only way we get leverage over them is to find a way to hit them in the wallet. My guess is that the dollar is the most important strut of their plan to prevent social unrest. In short they need us to protect the Party from being weakened or even toppled.

We pull the plug on them, and they might begin to realize they need us. Economic warfare might sound like a very tall order, but a good dose of, shall we say, targeted protectionism could help. For example, we could re-import jobs to the US to build our economy merely by saying that we demand fairness in our dealings with China or we’ll institute import controls of our own. Sure, US business might scream, but the American public will love the idea that we could develop a manufacturing sector again.

And we might see real concessions from China.

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