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Crafty_Dog
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« on: January 15, 2007, 01:01:37 PM »

 





Sunday January 7, 2007

 

New China. New crisis

In the last decade China has emerged as a powerful, resurgent economic force with the muscle to challenge America as the global superpower. But, in his controversial new book, Will Hutton argues that China's explosive economic reforms will create seismic tensions within the one-party authoritarian state and asks: can the centre hold?

For more than 2,000 years, China's conceit was that it was the celestial kingdom, the country whose standing was endowed by heaven itself and whose emperors tried to reproduce heavenly harmony on Earth. All China basked in the reflected glow; foreigners were barbarians beyond the gilded pale who should not be allowed even to learn the art of speaking and writing Chinese.

 

When I first visited China in the autumn of 2003, such articles of Confucian faith seemed very far away, submerged by the lost wars and the 26 humiliating treaties of the 19th century, subsequent communist revolution and now the economic growth to which Beijing's motorway rings and Shanghai's skyline are tribute. This was a new China that had plainly left behind obeisance to the canons of Confucianism and the later cruelties of Mao. More than three years and a book later, I am less convinced.

 

All societies are linked to their past by umbilical cords - some apparent, some hidden. China is no different. Imperial Confucian China and communist China alike depended - and depend - upon the notion of a vastly powerful, infallible centre: either because it was interpreting the will of heaven or, now, of the proletariat. In neither system have human rights, constitutional checks and balances or even forms of democracy figured very much. As a result, China has poor foundations on which to build the subtle network of institutions of accountability necessary to manage the complexities of a modern economy and society. Sooner or later, it is a failing that will have to be addressed.

 

China is both very confident about its recent success and very insecure about its past, a potent mix that breeds a deep-seated xenophobia and shallow arrogance. China's economy in 2007 will be nearly nine times larger than it was in 1978 when Deng Xiaoping won the power struggle with the Maoists and began his extraordinarily sinuous, gradualist but successful programme of market-based economic reforms, groping for stones to cross the river, as he called it. China is now the fourth largest economy in the world - after the United States, Japan, and Germany - and is set to become the second largest within a decade. More than 150 million workers have moved to China's booming cities and 400 million people have been removed from poverty. It is a head-spinning achievement.

 

China is the new factor in global politics and economics, and its rulers and people know it. It now has more than $1 trillion of foreign exchange reserves, the world's largest. It is the single most important financier of the United States' enormous trade deficit. It is the world's second largest importer of oil. Before 2010, it will be the world's largest exporter of goods. It is, comfortably, the world's second largest military power. Last year, the Pentagon's four-yearly defence review stated that China is the power most likely to 'field disruptive military technologies that could over time offset traditional US military advantages'. A new great power is in the making, but one whose pursuit of its self-interest takes the amorality of power to a new plane. It is not just the Chinese who should be concerned about its institutional and moral failings; all of us should be.

 

In China, you can almost smell the new self-confidence: it is in the skyscrapers built in months; it is in the brash and unashamed willingness to rip off and copy Western brands; it is in the well-groomed and inscrutable demeanour of the rich entrepreneurs, self-confident officials and assured academics.

 

I sat in a Beijing bar just over a year ago with a typical member of China's new class of rich businessmen who double up as members of the party, a combination of commercial and political power that China knew well as the old Confucian mandarinate, now strangely reproducing itself in a new guise after Mao tried to eliminate it forever in the Cultural Revolution.

 

In surprisingly fluent English and with his Mercedes waiting outside, he praised China's communist regime and its curious mix of capitalism and communism with all the enthusiasm of a Tory businessmen praising Thatcher. Chinese corruption? Think of Enron and party-funding scandals in London, he declaimed. Double standards between communist rhetoric and practice? What about the US and Britain's invasion of Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay? What I failed to realise, he insisted, betraying both assurance and insecurity, is that China will not surrender again the natural rank that it should never have lost. Western values, institutions and attitudes were being revealed for being straw men, blown away by resurgent China and the pragmatism of its communist leaders.

 

Yet Western values and institutions are not being blown away. The country has made progress to the extent that communism has given up ground and moved towards Western practices, but there are limits to how far the reformers can go without giving up the basis for the party's political control. Conservatives insist that much further and the capacity to control the country will become irretrievably damaged; that the limit, for example, is being reached in giving both trade unions more autonomy and shareholders more rights. It is the most urgent political debate in China.

 

The tension between reform and conservatism is all around. For example, the party's commitment now is no longer to building a planned communist economy but a 'socialist market' economy. The 26,000 communes in rural China, which were once the vanguard of communism, were swept away by the peasants themselves in just three years between 1979 and 1982, the largest bottom-up act of decollectivisation the world has ever witnessed. Hundreds of millions of peasants are, via long leases, again farming plots held by their ancestors for millenniums. China's state-owned enterprises no longer provide life-long employment and welfare for their workers as centrepieces of a new communist order; they are autonomous companies largely free to set prices as they choose in an open economy and progressively shedding their social obligations.

 

Equally amazing, China's communists have declared that the class war is over. The party now claims to represent not just the worker and peasant masses but entrepreneurs and business leaders, whom it welcomes into its ranks. The party refers to this metamorphosis as the 'three represents': meaning that the party today represents 'advanced productive forces' (capitalists); 'the overwhelming majority' of the Chinese (not just workers and peasants); and 'the orientation ... of China's advanced culture' (religious, political and philosophical traditions other than communism).

 

Party representatives say that the country is no longer pledged to fight capitalism to the death internationally, but, instead, wants to rise peacefully. China has joined the World Trade Organisation and is a judicious member of the United Nations Security Council, using its veto largely in matters that immediately concern it, such as Taiwan.

 

But for all that, it remains communist. The maxims of Marxist-Leninst-Maoist thought have to stand, however much the party tries to stretch the boundaries, because they are the basis for one-party rule. Yet the system so spawned is reaching its limits. For example, China's state-owned and directed banks cannot carry on channelling hundreds of billions of pounds of peasant savings into the financing of a frenzy of infrastructure and heavy industrial investment. The borrowers habitually pay interest only fitfully, and rarely repay the debt, even as the debt mountain explodes. The financial system is vulnerable to any economic setback.

 

Equally, China is reaching the limits of the capacity to increase its exports, which, in 2007, will surpass $1 trillion, by 25 per cent a year. At this rate of growth, they will reach $5 trillion by 2020 or sooner, representing more than half of today's world trade. Is that likely? Are there ships and ports on sufficient scale to move such volumes - and will Western markets stay uncomplainingly open? Every year, it is also acquiring $200bn of foreign exchange reserves as it rigs its currency to keep its exports competitive. Can even China insulate its domestic financial system from such fantastic growth in its reserves and stop inflation rising? Already, there are ominous signs that inflationary pressures are increasing.

 

These ills have communist roots. It is the lack of independent scrutiny and accountability that lie behind the massive waste of investment and China's destruction of its environment alike. The pace of desertification has doubled over 20 years, in a country where 25 per cent of the land area is already desert. Air pollution kills 400,000 people a year prematurely. A hacking cough in the Beijing smog or the stench when the wind comes from the north in Shanghai are reminders of just how far China still has to go.

 

Energy is wasted on an epic scale. But the worst problem is water. One-fifth of China's 660 cities face extreme water shortages and as many as 90 per cent have problems of water pollution; 500 million rural Chinese still do not have access to safe drinking water. Illegal and rampant polluting, a severe shortage of sewage treatment facilities, and chemical pollutants together continue to degrade China's waterways. In autumn 2005, two major cities - Harbin and Guangzhou - had their water supplies cut off for days because their river sources had suffered acute chemical spills from state-owned factories.

 

Enterprises are accountable to no one but the Communist party for their actions; there is no network of civil society, plural public institutions and independent media to create pressure for enterprises to become more environmentally efficient. Watchdogs, whistleblowers, independent judges and accountable government are not just good in themselves as custodians of justice; they also keep capitalism honest and efficient and would curb environmental costs that reach an amazing 12 per cent of GDP. As importantly, they are part of the institutional network that constitutes an independent public realm that includes free intellectual inquiry, free trade unions and independent audit. It is this 'enlightenment infrastructure' that I regard in both the West and East as the essential underpinning of a healthy society. The individual detained for years without a fair trial is part of the same malign system that prevents a company from expecting to be able to correct a commercial wrong in a court, or have a judgment in its favour implemented, if it were against the party interest.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2007, 01:02:21 PM »

The impact is pernicious. The reason why so few Britons can name a great Chinese brand or company, despite China's export success, is that there aren't any. China needs to build them, but doing that in a one-party authoritarian state, where the party second-guesses business strategy for ideological and political ends, is impossible. In any case, nearly three-fifths of its exports and nearly all its hi-tech exports are made by non-Chinese, foreign firms, another expression of China's weakness. The state still owns the lion's share of China's business and what it does not own, it reserves the right to direct politically.

 

Mark Kitto, a former Welsh Guardsman, has found at first-hand how difficult it is to sustain private ownership in China. He built up three Time Out equivalents in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou but, after seven years of successful magazine publishing, learnt last year that he was about to become a partner of the state. The only terms on which his licence to publish could be retained was if he were to accept a de facto takeover from China Intercontinental Press, controlled by China's State Information Council, the propaganda mouthpiece of the Communist party. It did not matter that he owned the shares, wanted to retain his independence and had been careful to stay within the party's publishing guidelines. The party now wanted control of his magazines and simply took it. It is an example repeated many times over.

 

China must become a more normal economy, but the party stands in the way. Chinese consumers need to save less and spend more, but consumers with no property rights or welfare system are highly cautious. To give them more confidence means taxing to fund a welfare system and conceding property rights. That will mean creating an empowered middle class who will ask how their tax renminbi are spent. Companies need to be subject to independent accountability if they are to become more efficient, but that means creating independent centres of power. The political implications are obvious.

 

China's future is shrouded in uncertainty. My belief is that what is unsustainable is not sustained. Change came in the Soviet Union with the fifth generation of leaders after the revolution; the fifth generation of China's leaders succeed today's President Hu Jintao in 2012. No political change will happen until after then, but my guess is that sometime in the mid to late 2010s, the growing Chinese middle class will want to hold Chinese officials and politicians to account for how they spend their taxes and for their political choices. What nobody can predict is whether that will produce another Tiananmen, repression and maybe war if China's communists pick a fight to sustain legitimacy at home or an Eastern European velvet revolution and political freedoms. Either way, China's route to becoming a world economic power is not going to proceed as a simple extrapolation of current trends.

 

This book has been something of a personal intellectual odyssey. My hypothesis when I began was that China was so different that it could carry on adapting its model, living without democracy or European enlightenment values. I have changed my mind and now see more clearly than ever the kinds of connection I identified in The State We're In between economic performance and so-called 'soft' institutions - how people are educated, how trust relations are established and how accountability is exercised (just to name a few) - are central. They are equally important to a good society and the chance for individual empowerment and self-betterment.

 

Early in my research, I tried out the still-emergent thesis at a small dinner in Lan Na Thai, one of the restaurants in Shanghai's Ruijin guest house, a complex of refurbished old mansions and traditional pavilions in the French quarter where communist leaders reputedly once ate and slept.

 

Over stir-fried curried chicken and crispy fried flying sea bass, the Chinese guests repeated politely and persuasively that China was making up new economic and political rules. Afterwards, I chanced to have a few words alone with one of the local rising government stars as we walked out of the complex. He kept his eyes on the ground. 'Don't allow yourself to be dissuaded, despite what you have heard. You are right that China is not different. I want my children to see a China with human rights and democratic institutions. And I am not alone.' He jumped into a taxi and was gone.

 

I have often thought about that chance exchange. Britain and the West take our enlightenment inheritance too easily for granted, and do not see how central it is to everything we are, whether technological advance, trust or well-being. We neither cherish it sufficiently nor live by its exacting standards. We share too quickly the criticism of non-Western societies that we are hypocrites. What China has taught me, paradoxically, is the value of the West, and how crucial it is that we practise what we preach. If we don't, the writing is on the wall - for us and China.

 

China's quest for oil

 

China's foreign policy is increasingly driven by the need to feed its growing appetite for oil. General Xiong Guangkai, deputy chief of the Chinese general staff, has said that China's energy problem needs to be taken 'seriously and dealt with strategically'.

 

That means less reliance on the Middle East; less transportation of oil via sea-lanes policed by the US navy; more capacity for the Chinese navy to protect Chinese tankers; and more oil brought overland by pipeline from central Asia.

 

Over the past two years, China has pulled off a string of strategic oil deals. In April 2005, Petro China and Canadian company Enbridge signed a memorandum to build a $2bn 'gateway' pipeline to move oil from Alberta to the Pacific Coast. In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez is to build a Chinese-financed pipeline to the Pacific coast through Colombia, having given China oil and gas exploration rights in 2005. Saudi Arabia surrendered to Chinese courtship in 2004 and accorded exploration rights.

 

In Sudan, a major source of oil, China's blind eye to human rights and mass murder if it hinders its interests is demonstrated by Zhou Wenzhong's comment when Deputy Foreign Minister about the situation in Darfur where more than 250,000 have died.'Business is business,' he said. 'We try to separate politics from business and, in any case, the internal position of Sudan is an internal affair, and we are not in a position to influence them.'

 

Wrong: China has substantial influence on Sudan if it chose to exercise it. It does not, a commentary on China's approach to foreign policy and an awesome warning of the future if an unreconstructed China became yet more powerful.

 

Tiananmen: the legacy

 

The image of a single student halting a tank in Tiananmen Square is one of the most arresting in modern history. But the protests spread well beyond Beijing for six weeks in spring 1989 to encompass demonstrations in 181 cities.

 

The party and army were divided over how to respond; 150 officers openly declared that they would not fire on demonstrators after martial law was declared, and at least a third of the central committee wanted to reach a compromise with the protesters. The party's then general secretary, Zhao Ziyang, proposed a partial meeting of demands for reform. Nobody should be killed.

 

That was not the view of Deng and the party elders - the eight 'immortals', veterans of the Revolution. A 'counter-revolutionary' riot had to be suppressed. But before Deng could act, he had to leave Beijing to ensure that army groups 28 and 29, personally loyal to him, would provide the core of the force rather than the uncertain army groups based around the capital. Once in place, Zhao was then brutally deposed, remaining under house arrest until his death in 2005. Martial law was imposed on 19 May and a fortnight later the tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square. Official estimates were that 5,000 soldiers and police officers were wounded and 223 killed. Civilian losses - 2,000 wounded and 220 killed - were lower. Many still languish in prison.

 

Tiananmen is the event that cannot be discussed in China; websites mentioning it are blocked. It was no 'counter-revolutionary riot' but a demand for freedoms that infected all China and very nearly succeeded.

 

Current leader Hu Jintao and his successors know they are not Deng and cannot command the loyalty of key elements of the army in the same way. Their best strategy is to deliver growth and jobs while trying to keep the lid on China's growing but still disconnected social protests. Whether the policy will carry on working is the open question asked daily in Beijing's inner circles.

 

· An edited extract from The Writing on the Wall: China and the West in the 21st Century to be published by Little, Brown on 15 January, £20.

©Will Hutton 2007
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2007, 08:03:02 PM »

GEOPOLITICAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT
stratfor.com
01.23.2007

Space and Sea-Lane Control in Chinese Strategy
By George Friedman
 

Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine, citing U.S. intelligence sources, has reported that China has successfully tested an anti-satellite (ASAT) system. According to the report, which U.S. officials later confirmed, a satellite was launched, intercepted and destroyed a Feng Yun 1C weather satellite, also belonging to China, on Jan. 11. The weather satellite was launched into polar orbit in 1999. The precise means of destruction is not clear, but it appears to have been a kinetic strike (meaning physical intercept, not laser) that broke the satellite into many pieces. The U.S. government wants to reveal as much information as possible about this event in order to show its concern -- and to show the Chinese how closely the Americans are monitoring their actions.

The Jan. 17 magazine report was not the first U.S. intelligence leak about Chinese ASAT capabilities. In August 2006, the usual sources reported China had directed lasers against U.S. satellites. It has become clear that China is in the process of acquiring the technology needed to destroy or blind satellites in at least low-Earth orbit, which is where intelligence-gathering satellites tend to operate.

Two things about this are noteworthy. The first is that China is moving toward a space warfare capability. The second is that it is not the Chinese who are announcing these moves (they maintained official silence until Jan. 23, when they confirmed the ASAT test), but Washington that is aggressively publicizing Chinese actions. These leaks are not accidental: The Bush administration wants it known that China is doing these things, and the Chinese are quite content with that. China is not hiding its efforts, and U.S. officials are using them to create a sense of urgency within the United States about Chinese military capabilities (something that, in budgetary debates in Washington, ultimately benefits the U.S. Air Force).

China has multiple space projects under way, but the one it is currently showcasing -- and on which the United States is focusing -- involves space-denial capabilities. That makes sense, given China's geopolitical position. It does not face a significant land threat: With natural barriers like the Himalayas or the Siberian wastes on its borders, foreign aggression into Chinese territory is unlikely. However, China's ability to project force is equally limited by these barriers. The Chinese have interests in Central Asia, where they might find power projection an enticing consideration, but this inevitably would bring them into conflict with the Russians. China and Russia have an interest in containing the only superpower, the United States, and fighting among themselves would play directly into American hands. Therefore, China will project its power subtly in Central Asia; it will not project overt military force there. Its army is better utilized in guaranteeing China's internal cohesiveness and security than in engaging in warfare.

Geopolitics and Naval Power

Its major geopolitical problem is, instead, maritime power. China -- which published a defense white paper shortly before the ASAT test -- has become a great trading nation, with the bulk of its trade moving by sea. And not only does it export an enormous quantity of goods, but it also increasingly imports raw materials. The sea-lanes on which it depends are all controlled by the U.S. Navy, right up to China's brown water. Additionally, Beijing retains an interest in Taiwan, which it claims as a part of China. But whatever threats China makes against Taiwan ring hollow: The Chinese navy is incapable of forcing its way across the Taiwan Strait, incapable of landing a multidivisional force on Taiwan and, even if it were capable of that, it could not sustain that force over time. That is because the U.S. Navy -- using airpower, missiles, submarines and surface vessels -- could readily cut the lines of supply and communication between China and Taiwan.

The threat to China is the U.S. Navy. If the United States wanted to break China, its means of doing so would be naval interdiction. This would not have to be a close-in interdiction. The Chinese import oil from around the world and ship their goods around the world. U.S. forces could choose to stand off, far out of the range of Chinese missiles -- or reconnaissance platforms that would locate U.S. ships -- and interdict the flow of supplies there, at a chokepoint such as the Strait of Malacca. This strategy would have far-reaching implications, of course: the Malacca Strait is essential not only to China, but also to the United States and the rest of the world. But the point is that the U.S. Navy could interdict China's movement of goods far more readily than China could interdict American movement of goods.

For China, freedom of the seas has become a fundamental national interest. Right now, China's access to the sea-lanes depends on U.S. acquiescence. The United States has shown no interest whatsoever in cutting off that access -- quite the contrary. But China, like any great power, does not want its national security held hostage to the goodwill of another power -- particularly not one it regards as unpredictable and as having interests quite different from its own. To put it simply, the United States currently dominates the world's oceans. This is a source of enormous power, and the United States will not give up that domination voluntarily. China, for its part, cannot live with that state of affairs indefinitely. China may not be able to control the sea itself, but it cannot live forever with U.S. control. Therefore, it requires a sea-lane-denial strategy.

Quite naturally, China has placed increased emphasis on naval development. But the construction of a traditional navy -- consisting of aircraft carriers, nuclear attack submarines and blue-water surface systems, which are capable of operating over great distances -- is not only enormously expensive, but also will take decades to construct. It is not just a matter of shipbuilding. It is also a matter of training and maturing a generation of naval officers, developing viable naval tactics and doctrine, and leapfrogging generations of technology -- all while trying to surpass a United States that already has done all of these things. Pursuing a conventional naval strategy will not provide a strategic solution for China within a reasonable timeframe. The United States behaves in unexpected ways, from the Chinese point of view, and the Chinese will need a solution within five years -- or certainly within a decade.

They cannot launch a competitive, traditional navy in that period of time. However, the U.S. Navy has a general dependency on -- and, therefore, a vulnerability related to -- space-based systems. Within the U.S. military, this is not unique to the Navy, but given that the Navy operates at vast distances and has sea-lane-control missions -- as well as the mission of launching aircraft and missiles against land-based targets -- it has a particular dependency on space. The service relies on space-based systems for intelligence-gathering, communications, navigation and tactical reconnaissance. This is true not only for naval platforms, but also for everything from cruise missile guidance to general situational awareness.

Take out the space-based systems and the efficiency of the Navy plummets dramatically. Imagine an American carrier strike group moving into interdiction position in the Taiwan Strait without satellite reconnaissance, targeting information for anti-ship missiles, satellite communications for coordination and so on. Certainly, ship-board systems could substitute, but not without creating substantial vulnerabilities -- particularly if Chinese engineers could develop effective jamming systems against them.

If the Chinese were able to combine kinetic ASAT systems for low-Earth orbit, high-energy systems for communications and other systems in geostationary orbit and tools for effectively denying the electromagnetic spectrum to the United States, they would have moved a long way toward challenging U.S. dominance of space and limiting the Navy's ability to deny sea-lanes to Chinese ships. From the Chinese point of view, the denial of space to the United States would undermine American denial of the seas to China.

Conjecture and Core Interests

There has been some discussion -- fueled by Chinese leaks -- that the real purpose of the Chinese ASAT launch was to prompt the Americans to think about an anti-ASAT treaty. This is not a persuasive argument because such a treaty would freeze in place the current status quo, and that status quo is not in the Chinese national interest.

For one thing, a treaty banning ASAT systems would leave the Chinese without an effective means of limiting American naval power. It would mean China would have to spend a fortune on a traditional navy and wait at least a generation to have it in place. It would mean ceding the oceans to the United States for a very long time, if not permanently. Second, the United States and Russia already have ASAT systems, and the Chinese undoubtedly assume the Americans have moved aggressively, if secretly, to improve those systems. Treaty or no, the United States and Russia already have the technology for taking out Chinese satellites. China is not going to assume either will actually dismantle systems -- or forget how to build them fast -- merely because of a treaty. The only losers in the event of an anti-ASAT treaty would be the countries that do not have them, particularly China.

The idea that what China really wants is an anti-ASAT treaty is certainly one the Chinese should cultivate. This would buy them time while Americans argue over Chinese intentions, it would make the Chinese look benign and, with some luck, it could undermine U.S. political will in the area of the military utilization of space. Cultivating perceptions that an anti-ASAT treaty is the goal is the perfect diplomatic counterpart to Chinese technological development. But the notion itself does not stand up to scrutiny.

The issue for the United States is not so much denying space to China as ensuring the survivability of its own systems. The United States likely has the ability to neutralize the space-based systems of other countries. The strategic issue, however, is whether it has sufficient robustness and redundancy to survive an attack in space. In other words, do U.S. systems have the ability to maneuver to evade attacks, to shield themselves against lasers, to continue their missions while under attack? Moreover, since satellites will be damaged and lost, does the United States have sufficient reserve satellites to replace those destroyed and launchers to put them in place quickly?

For Washington, the idea of an ASAT treaty is not the issue; the United States would love anything that blocks space capabilities for other nations. Rather, it is about building its own space strategy around the recognition that China and others are working toward denying space to the United States.

All of this is, of course, fiendishly expensive, but it is still a lot cheaper than building new naval fleets. The real problem, however, is not just money, but current military dogma. The U.S. military is now enthralled by the doctrine of asymmetric warfare, in which nonstate actors are more important than states. Forever faithful to the assumption that all wars in the future will look like the one currently being fought, the strategic urgency and intellectual bandwidth needed to prepare for space warfare does not currently exist within the U.S. military. Indeed, an independent U.S. Space Command no longer exists -- having been merged into Strategic Command, which itself is seen as an anachronism.

For the United States, one of the greatest prices of the Iraq war is not simply the ongoing conflict, but also the fact that it makes it impossible for the U.S. military to allocate resources for emerging threats. That always happens in war, but it is particularly troubling in this case because of the intractable nature of the Iraq conflict and the palpable challenge being posed by China in space. This is not a challenge that many -- certainly not those at the highest levels of military leadership -- have time to think about while concerned about the future of a few city blocks in Baghdad; but U.S. leaders might, in 10 years, look back on 2007 and wonder what their predecessors were thinking about.

© Copyright 2006 Strategic Forecasting Inc. All rights reserved.
------------

A friend comments:

Interesting piece; thanks for sharing.

I think the geo-political analysis of China and the US is very well done, although I disagree with the author’s conclusion: That the Iraq war has made it impossible for the US to address this crucial issue. I believe that the Pentagon is all over this (in spite of Iraq). One interesting book in this regard is:  http://www.amazon.com/Showdown-China-Wants-United-States/dp/1596980052. Another good one is http://www.amazon.com/War-Footing-Steps-America-Prevail/dp/1591143012. Both these guys are very plugged-in to the Pentagon, and both talk extensively about this threat. Clearly (not just with China) our ability to protect our satellites is a crucial defense issue. That is, I think it to be NOT falling through Iraq's cracks.

 
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ccp
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2007, 11:13:12 AM »

The American public is underestimating the Chinese threat. As usual there are those who think if we just make nice everyone will love us. (a la Clinton)

http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/WTARC/2007/ea_china_06_15.asp

The US military is well aware of what is going on.  Gertz is keeping us up on this real challenge:

http://www.washtimes.com/national/20070526-120203-2128r.htm
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buzwardo
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« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2007, 06:12:44 PM »

Analysis: Military imbalance in the Taiwan Strait
HONG KONG, Aug. 31
ANDREI CHANG
Column: Military Might
During the past seven to 10 years China's rapid buildup of military power has tipped the balance in the Taiwan Strait strongly in its favor.

    Since 1999, when former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui announced his "two states" theory -- daring to say that the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China are two different states, precipitating the PRC's aggressive stance against the island's independence -- there have been drastic changes in the balance of military power on the two sides. This includes the navies, air forces, and strategic campaign missiles, or ballistic missiles.

    The Taiwanese air force has not added a single new combat aircraft since 1999. It still has 148 F-16 Block 15 MTU, 58 Mirage2000-5 and 130 IDF fighters in service. The total number of its third generation fighters has remained around 336 over the past seven years. On the sea, the navy has added only four Kidd-class DDGs, the largest arms procurement since the Democratic Progressive Party came to power in 2000.

    In terms of the buildup of ballistic missiles (surface-to-surface missiles, or SSMs), China has achieved a great leap forward both in the number of SSMs in its arsenal and in their overall quality. In addition to its DF-15 and DF-11 SSMs, which have been upgraded continuously over the years, television footage released by the official Chinese media shows there are at least one or two new types of short-range ballistic missiles now in operational service.

    As far as the quality of the Chinese SSM is concerned, the export version of its B611M ballistic missile is now equipped with a GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning system, giving it a strike accuracy of around 50 meters (164 feet).

    China's improved position in the air is evidenced by the changes in the quantity and quality of its third generation combat aircraft from 1999 to 2007. In 1999 it had only 48 Su-27SK, two J-11 A/B, a few Su-27 UBK and five J-10A aircraft. In 2007 the figures are 48 Su-27SK, 95 J-11 A/B, 28 additional Su-27 UBK, 100 Su-30 MKK/MK2, 64 J-10A, at least 24 JH-7A, 4 KJ-2000 and at least two KJ-200.

    Based on these figures, the number of third generation combat aircraft in the fleet of the People's Liberation Army Air Force was only a modest 55 in 1999, while in 2007 the number has jumped to 369. In 2008 it will further surpass Taiwan's fleet.

    With the import of Su-30 MKK fighters, China's inventory of H-59ME and H-29TE TV-guided air-to-surface missiles, or ASMs; 1,500-pound Russian TV-guided bombs; H-31A anti-ship missiles; and H-31P anti-radiation missiles has also increased steadily over the last seven years. China has imported more than 1,000 RVV-AE active radar-guided air-to-air missiles, or AAMs, from Russia, while the number of AMR AAMs in the Taiwanese air force is no more than 120 now.

    In addition, China continues to import a substantial number of RVV-AE AAMs every year. The critical change here is that in 1999, the PLAAF did not even have the capability to use such advanced AAMs as the PL-12RVV-AE AAM and the precision guidance land-attack weapons that they have now.

    Given another two to three years, all the pilots of the PLAAF's 369 third generation fighters will have accumulated flight time of more than 1,000 hours. Around 2009 or 2010, the overall quality of the military personnel ready to take to the air over the Taiwan Strait will be fundamentally reversed, in favor of the PLA Air Force.

    In 1999, the PLAAF did not have the capability to engage in aerial early warning operations. In 2007, there are already four plus two AWACS/AEW&C aircraft in operational service. Although these AWACS aircrafts have encountered such problems as electromagnetic disturbances and their training activities are less frequent than before, the PLA at least has the airborne warning and control system. The number of AWACS platforms currently operational in the PLAAF is equivalent to the number in Taiwan.

    The PLAAF also has two refitted Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft, and other supporting electronic reconnaissance and countermeasure aircraft are under development. By contrast, the Taiwanese air force has had only one refitted C130 EW aircraft for years.

    Since 1999, the PLA Navy has prioritized and sped up the building of surface battleships over 4,000 tons, nuclear-powered submarines and conventional diesel submarines. In 1999 the navy had one 7,000-ton class 956E/EM DDG, one 6,000-ton class 051B DDG, four Kilo 887/636 SS and one 039A SS. The 2007 numbers are at least one 094 SSBN, at least two   093 SSNs, four 7,000-ton class 956E/EM DDGs, one 6,000-ton class 051B DDG, two 7,000-ton class 051C DDGs, two 052B DDGs, two 053C DDGs, four 054/A FFGs, 12 Kilo 887/636 SS, and at least 10 039A SS.   

    The most remarkable change is that the PLAN had only one type 051B and one type 956E missile destroyers (DDG), in 1999 that had a full-load displacement of more than 6,000 tons, whereas in 2007 it has 11 large surface battleships with a displacement of more than 6,000 tons, and two type 054A missile frigates (FFG) with a respective full-load displacement of more than 4,000 tons. By contrast, the only surface battleships in the Taiwanese navy with full-load displacement of more than 7,000 tons are the four Kidd-class DDGs.

    In terms of its range of anti-ship missiles, the PLAN is also edging ahead of the Taiwanese navy. The PLAN's stockpile of anti-ship missiles with a range of over 200 kilometers (125 miles) has increased steadily, including the YJ6-2 and 3M-54E anti-ship missiles with respective ranges of 280 kilometers (175 miles) and 220 kilometers (around 135 miles). Those missiles give the PLAN the capability to launch long-range attacks on the sea and underwater as well. Besides, the PLAN has widely deployed the 180-kilometer-range YJ8-3 SSM on its surface battleships.

    The PLAN's RIF-M, HQ-9 long range and HQ-16, Shtil-1 middle range ship-to-air missiles are also already in service. This means the overall range of ship-to-air missiles of the Taiwanese navy can no longer match that of the PLAN.

    Unlike the PLA Air Force's aircraft, however, most of the new battleships of the PLA Navy have only recently gone into operation, and may encounter difficulties in combat applications. For instance, the delivery of 8 Kilo 636 submarines started only in 2005, and the type 052C "Chinese Aegis" DDGs have remained anchored at the Sanya military port for most of this year. This indicates that these new battleships may have encountered problems.

    Particularly, the PLAN has not established an integrated combat system at sea. As for its Type 054A FFGs, they are still under construction, and two Type 054 FFGs were newly delivered in 2005.

    It will take time for China to resolve the problems with its new defense equipment. Nonetheless, the military power balance in terms of quantity and quality of weapons between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait continues to tilt markedly toward the side of the PRC.

    --

    (Andrei Chang is editor-in-chief of Kanwa Defense Review, published in Hong Kong.)

http://www.upiasiaonline.com/security/2007/08/31/analysis_military_imbalance_in_the_taiwan_strait/
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« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2007, 11:32:25 AM »

This piece from the WSJ goes where others fear to tread:

===========

China's One-Child Mistake
By NICHOLAS EBERSTADT
September 17, 2007; Page A17

If China could take a single decision today to enhance the nation's long-term economic outlook, it would be to recognize that coercive population control has been a tragic and historic mistake -- and to abandon it, immediately.

Such a call might surprise the casual observer, for on its own terms, China's population program has been a superficial success. In the early 1970s, China's then-current childbearing patterns implied nearly five births per woman. At the start of the "one child policy" in 1979, China's total fertility rate was nearly three births per woman. Today, China's fertility rate is far below the "net reproduction rate" -- by many estimates, just 1.7 births per woman nationwide. In some major population centers -- Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin among them -- the average number of births per woman today has fallen below one baby per lifetime.

This "success," however, comes with immense inadvertent costs and unintended consequences. Thanks to a decade and a half of sub-replacement fertility, China's working-age population is poised to peak in size, and then start to decline, more or less indefinitely, within less than a decade. A generation from now, China's potential labor force (ages 15-64) will be no larger than it is today, perhaps smaller. This presages a radical change in China's growth environment from the generation just completed, during which time (1980-2005) the country's working-age population expanded by over 55%.

"Composition effects" only make the picture worse. Until now, young people have been the life force raising the overall level of education and technical attainment in China's work force. But between 2005 and 2030, China's 15-24 age group is slated to slump in absolute size, with a projected decline of over 20% in store. In fact, the only part of the working-age population that stands to increase in size between now and 2030 is the over-50 cohort. Will they bring the dynamism we have come to expect from China in recent decades?

On current trajectories, China's total population will start to decline around 2030. Even so, China must expect a "population explosion" between then and now -- one entirely comprised of senior citizens. Between 2005 and 2030, China's 65-plus age cohort will likely more than double in size, to 235 million or more, from about 100 million now. And because of the fall-off in young people, China's age profile will "gray" in the decades ahead at a pace almost never before witnessed in human history. China is still a fairly youthful society today -- but by 2030, by such metrics as median population age, the country will be "grayer" than the United States -- "grayer," that is, than the U.S. of 2030, not the U.S. of today.

How will China's future senior citizens support themselves? China still has no official national pension system. Up to now, China's de facto national pension system has been the family -- but that social safety net is unraveling, and rapidly. Until very recently, thanks to relatively large Chinese families, almost every Chinese woman had given birth to at least one son -- under Confucian tradition, their first line of support. But just two decades from now, thanks to the "success" of the one-child policy, roughly a third of women entering their 60s will have no living son.

In such numbers, one can see the making of a slow-motion humanitarian tragedy. But the withering away of the Chinese family under population control has even more far-reaching implications.

In Beijing, Shanghai and other parts of China, extreme sub-replacement fertility has already been in effect for over a generation. If this continues for another generation, we will see the emergence of a new norm: a "4-2-1 family" composed of four grandparents, but only two children, and just one grandchild. The children in these new family structures will have no brothers or sisters, no uncles or aunts, and no cousins. Their only blood relatives will be their ancestors.

It is no secret that China is already a "low trust society": Personal and business transactions still rely heavily upon guanxi, the network of personal relations largely demarcated by family ties. What exactly will provide the "social capital" to undergird commercial and economic development in a future China where "families" are, increasingly, little more than atomized households and isolated individuals?

One final consequence of China's population-control program requires comment: the eerie, unnatural and increasingly extreme imbalance between baby boys and baby girls. Under normal circumstances, about 103 to 105 baby boys are born for every 100 baby girls. Shortly after the advent of the one-child policy, however, China began reporting biologically impossible disparities between boys and girls -- and the imbalance has only continued to rise. Today China reports 123 baby boys for every 100 girls.

Over the coming generation, those same little boys and girls will grow up to be prospective brides and grooms. One need not be a demographer to see from these numbers the massive imbalance in the "marriage market" in a generation, or less. How will China cope with the sudden and very rapid emergence of tens of millions of essentially unmarriageable young men?

All of these problems just described are directly associated with involuntary population control. Scrapping this restrictive birth-control policy would surely ease China's incipient aging crisis, its looming family-structure problems and its worrisome gender imbalances. Some in China's leadership may worry that the end of the one-child policy might mean the return to the five-child family -- but in reality, modern China is most unlikely to return to pre-industrial fertility norms.

In the final analysis, the wealth of nations in the modern world is not found in the ground, or the forests, or in other natural resources. The true wealth of modern countries resides in their people -- in human resources. China's people are not a curse -- they are a blessing. The Chinese people, like people elsewhere, are rational, calculating actors who seek to improve their own circumstances -- not heedless beasts who procreate without thought of the future.

Trusting China's people to act in their own self-interest -- not least of all, trusting their choices and preferences with respect to their own family size -- may very well prove to be the key to whether China ultimately succeeds in abolishing poverty and attaining mass affluence in the decades and generations ahead.

Mr. Eberstadt is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. This essay is excerpted from remarks delivered at the World Economic Forum's conference in Dalian, China earlier this month.
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« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2007, 11:59:36 AM »

Second post of the day. 

Let Taiwan Join the U.N.
By BOB DOLE
September 17, 2007; Page A16

Tomorrow the United Nations will consider Taiwan's application for membership. It has formally sought admission every year since 1993, but this year's application is different.

First, the country is applying under its own name ("Taiwan") rather than its official appellation ("Republic of China"). Second, it is applying to the U.N. General Assembly, the organization's comprehensive body of member nations -- despite the rejection of its application this summer by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his legal office. Third, the application may be followed by a national referendum on whether Taiwan should apply for U.N. membership under its own name -- a plan that has elicited a sharp rebuke by the Bush administration.

The U.N.'s lawyers argued that, having transferred China's seat from Taipei to Beijing in 1971, the U.N. should reject Taiwan's latest application because Taiwan "for all intents and purposes" is "an integral part of the People's Republic of China." Taiwan presents a more compelling legal case: It meets all of the requirements of statehood under law.

It is already a full and productive member of international organizations such as the World Trade Organization and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. It has never been a province or part of the local government of the People's Republic of China. Taiwan's recent transformation into a modern democratic state supersedes any decades-old determination that gives the PRC a United Nations seat -- even as the U.N. failed to determine that Taiwan is part of the PRC or bestow upon it the right to represent Taiwan.

Taiwan's political case for U.N. membership is equally strong. It is the 48th most populous country in the world. Its economy is the world's 16th largest. Its gross national product totals $366 billion, or $16,098 per capita. With $267 billion in foreign exchange reserves, it is one of the world's three largest creditor states. Taiwan is therefore poised to be a significant contributor to the U.N.'s operations and play a constructive role in the organization.

Unfortunately, the United States and the other major powers discourage Taiwan in its quest for de jure international recognition of its de facto sovereignty. This is because they do not want to raise the ire of the PRC, which, as a member of the U.N. Security Council, can block any significant U.N. action, and, as a global power, can interfere on a host of issues important to the U.S. and Europe.

Thanks to exponentially increased trade with the U.S. and Europe, Beijing feels less compelled than ever to seek political accommodation with Taiwan, or to decrease its military threat against the island nation. Expanding economic relationships may be good in and of itself, but predictions that this would produce political cracks in China's authoritarian regime have proved wrong.

Today, Beijing is using its newfound economic might to isolate Taiwan still further in international organizations and attempt to persuade the two dozen countries that recognize Taiwan diplomatically to switch their ties to China. Meanwhile, the people of the PRC enjoy fewer political rights and civil liberties than in all but a few of the world's countries.

A few short years ago, the U.S. seemed determined to change this. During his 2000 election campaign and the first months of his administration, President Bush and his team vowed to fashion a new foreign policy in which U.S. national interests, particularly in Asia, were advanced less exclusively through the prism of Beijing. In other words, the U.S. wanted to be less beholden to the communist regime.

One of the casualties of 9/11, and the subsequent war in Iraq, was that this policy agenda became less of a priority. Our cooperation with Pakistan in the effort to topple the Taliban, find Osama bin Laden and eradicate terrorism in the region meant that we focused less on developing a higher-tier relationship with India. We also concentrated less on drawing out Japan, by encouraging it to play a more active political and military role on the global stage. Equally important, we were unable to increase our promotion of democracy in the region by fostering closer ties with countries such as Taiwan and South Korea and escalating pressure on Beijing to reform.

The current U.S. administration still has time to correct this omission. Having been an advocate for Taiwan during my time in the Senate, and today as part of a law firm that represents Taiwan's interests in the U.S., I believe that President Bush should support Taiwan's application for U.N. membership. This should be quickly followed by active or tacit support for Taiwan's plans for a popular vote on this issue in March 2008. Our close Asian friend and ally needs and deserves this recognition and support, which would at the same time advance America's regional and global interest in promoting democratization.

Mr. Dole, a former Senate majority leader and the Republican candidate for president in 1996, is special counsel to Alston & Bird.

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« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2007, 12:04:56 PM »

IMHO, we'll see China move against Taiwan sometime in late 2008-2009. Most likely this will happen while the US is facing issues elsewhere, like major terror attacks CONUS and/or a open shooting war with Iran.
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« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2007, 12:49:31 PM »

Which could explain why some factions within the Pentagon are pushing strongly for more/faster troop withdrawals from Irag , , ,
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« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2007, 06:37:01 AM »

The long march to be a superpower

Aug 2nd 2007 | BEIJING AND TIANJIN
From The Economist print edition

The People's Liberation Army is investing heavily to give China the military muscle to match its economic power. But can it begin to rival America?

THE sight is as odd as its surroundings are bleak. Where a flat expanse of mud flats, salt pans and fish farms reaches the Bohai Gulf, a vast ship looms through the polluted haze. It is an aircraft-carrier, the Kiev, once the proud possession of the Soviet Union. Now it is a tourist attraction. Chinese visitors sit on the flight deck under Pepsi umbrellas, reflecting perhaps on a great power that was and another, theirs, that is fast in the making.

Inside the Kiev, the hangar bay is divided into two. On one side, bored-looking visitors watch an assortment of dance routines featuring performers in ethnic-minority costumes. On the other side is a full-size model of China's new J-10, a plane unveiled with great fanfare in January as the most advanced fighter built by the Chinese themselves (except for the Ukrainian or Russian turbofan engines—but officials prefer not to advertise this). A version of this, some military analysts believe, could one day be deployed on a Chinese ship.

The Pentagon is watching China's aircraft-carrier ambitions with bemused interest. Since the 1980s, China has bought four of them (three from the former Soviet Union and an Australian one whose construction began in Britain during the second world war). Like the Kiev, the Minsk (berthed near Hong Kong) has been turned into a tourist attraction having first been studied closely by Chinese naval engineers. Australia's carrier, the Melbourne, has been scrapped. The biggest and most modern one, the Varyag, is in the northern port city of Dalian, where it is being refurbished. Its destiny is uncertain. The Pentagon says it might be put into service, used for training carrier crews, or become yet another floating theme-park.

American global supremacy is not about to be challenged by China's tinkering with aircraft-carriers. Even if China were to commission one—which analysts think unlikely before at least 2015—it would be useless in the most probable area of potential conflict between China and America, the Taiwan Strait. China could far more easily launch its jets from shore. But it would be widely seen as a potent symbol of China's rise as a military power. Some Chinese officers want to fly the flag ever farther afield as a demonstration of China's rise. As China emerges as a trading giant (one increasingly dependent on imported oil), a few of its military analysts talk about the need to protect distant sea lanes in the Malacca Strait and beyond.

This week China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), as the armed forces are known, is celebrating the 80th year since it was born as a group of ragtag rebels against China's then rulers. Today it is vying to become one of the world's most capable forces: one that could, if necessary, keep even the Americans at bay. The PLA has little urge to confront America head-on, but plenty to deter it from protecting Taiwan.

The pace of China's military upgrading is causing concern in the Pentagon. Eric McVadon, a retired rear admiral, told a congressional commission in 2005 that China had achieved a “remarkable leap” in the modernisation of forces needed to overwhelm Taiwan and deter or confront any American intervention. And the pace of this, he said, was “urgently continuing”. By Pentagon standards, Admiral McVadon is doveish.

In its annual report to Congress on China's military strength, published in May, the Pentagon said China's “expanding military capabilities” were a “major factor” in altering military balances in East Asia. It said China's ability to project power over long distances remained limited. But it repeated its observation, made in 2006, that among “major and emerging powers” China had the “greatest potential to compete militarily” with America.

Since the mid-1990s China has become increasingly worried that Taiwan might cut its notional ties with the mainland. To instil fear into any Taiwanese leader so inclined, it has been deploying short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) on the coast facing the island as fast as it can produce them—about 100 a year. The Pentagon says there are now about 900 of these DF-11s (CSS-7) and DF-15s (CSS-6). They are getting more accurate. Salvoes of them might devastate Taiwan's military infrastructure so quickly that any war would be over before America could respond.

Much has changed since 1995 and 1996, when China's weakness in the face of American power was put on stunning display. In a fit of anger over America's decision in 1995 to allow Lee Teng-hui, then Taiwan's president, to make a high-profile trip to his alma mater, Cornell University, China fired ten unarmed DF-15s into waters off Taiwan. The Americans, confident that China would quickly back off, sent two aircraft-carrier battle groups to the region as a warning. The tactic worked. Today America would have to think twice. Douglas Paal, America's unofficial ambassador to Taiwan from 2002 to 2006, says the “cost of conflict has certainly gone up.”

The Chinese are now trying to make sure that American aircraft-carriers cannot get anywhere near. Admiral McVadon worries about their development of DF-21 (CSS-5) medium-range ballistic missiles. With their far higher re-entry velocities than the SRBMs, they would be much harder for Taiwan's missile defences to cope with. They could even be launched far beyond Taiwan into the Pacific to hit aircraft-carriers. This would be a big technical challenge. But Admiral McVadon says America “might have to worry” about such a possibility within a couple of years.

Once the missiles have done their job, China's armed forces could (so they hope) follow up with a panoply of advanced Russian weaponry—mostly amassed in the past decade. Last year the Pentagon said China had imported around $11 billion of weapons between 2000 and 2005, mainly from Russia.

China knows it has a lot of catching up to do. Many Americans may be unenthusiastic about America's military excursions in recent years, particularly about the war in Iraq. But Chinese military authors, in numerous books and articles, see much to be inspired by.

On paper at least, China's gains have been impressive. Even into the 1990s China had little more than a conscript army of ill-educated peasants using equipment based largely on obsolete Soviet designs of the 1950s and outdated cold-war (or even guerrilla-war) doctrine. Now the emphasis has shifted from ground troops to the navy and air force, which would spearhead any attack on Taiwan. China has bought 12 Russian Kilo-class diesel attack submarines. The newest of these are equipped with supersonic Sizzler cruise missiles that America's carriers, many analysts believe, would find hard to stop.

There are supersonic cruise missiles too aboard China's four new Sovremenny-class destroyers, made to order by the Russians and designed to attack aircraft-carriers and their escorts. And China's own shipbuilders have not been idle. In an exhibition marking the 80th anniversary, Beijing's Military Museum displays what Chinese official websites say is a model of a new nuclear-powered attack submarine, the Shang. These submarines would allow the navy to push deep into the Pacific, well beyond Taiwan, and, China hopes, help defeat American carriers long before they get close. Last year, much to America's embarrassment, a newly developed Chinese diesel submarine for shorter-range missions surfaced close to the American carrier Kitty Hawk near Okinawa without being detected beforehand.

American air superiority in the region is now challenged by more than 200 advanced Russian Su-27and Su-30 fighters China has acquired since the 1990s. Some of these have been made under licence in China itself. The Pentagon thinks China is also interested in buying Su-33s, which would be useful for deployment on an aircraft-carrier, if China decides to build one.

During the Taiwan Strait crisis of 1995-96, America could be reasonably sure that, even if war did break out (few seriously thought it would), it could cope with any threat from China's nuclear arsenal. China's handful of strategic missiles capable of hitting mainland America were based in silos, whose positions the Americans most probably knew. Launch preparations would take so long that the Americans would have plenty of time to knock them out. China has been working hard to remedy this. It is deploying six road-mobile, solid-fuelled (which means quick to launch) intercontinental DF-31s and is believed to be developing DF-31As with a longer range that could hit anywhere in America (see map below), as well as submarine-launched (so more concealable) JL-2s that could threaten much of America too.

All dressed up and ready to fight?

But how much use is all this hardware? Not a great deal is known about the PLA's fighting capability. It is by far the most secretive of the world's big armies. One of the few tidbits it has been truly open about in the build-up to the celebrations is the introduction of new uniforms to mark the occasion: more body-hugging and, to howls of criticism from some users of popular Chinese internet sites, more American-looking.

As Chinese military analysts are well aware, America's military strength is not just about technology. It also involves training, co-ordination between different branches of the military (“jointness”, in the jargon), gathering and processing intelligence, experience, and morale. China is struggling to catch up in these areas too. But it has had next to no combat experience since a brief and undistinguished foray into Vietnam in 1979 and a huge deployment to crush pro-democracy unrest ten years later.

China is even coyer about its war-fighting capabilities than it is about its weaponry. It has not rehearsed deep-sea drills against aircraft-carriers. It does not want to create alarm in the region, nor to rile America. There is also a problem of making all this Russian equipment work. Some analysts say the Chinese have not been entirely pleased with their Su-27 and Su-30 fighters. Keeping them maintained and supplied with spare parts (from Russia) has not been easy. A Western diplomat says China is also struggling to keep its Russian destroyers and submarines in good working order. “We have to be cautious about saying ‘wow’,” he suggests of the new equipment.

China is making some progress in its efforts to wean itself off dependence on the Russians. After decades of effort, some analysts believe, China is finally beginning to use its own turbofan engines, an essential technology for advanced fighters. But self-sufficiency is still a long way off. The Russians are sometimes still reluctant to hand over their most sophisticated technologies. “The only trustworthy thing [the Chinese] have is missiles,” says Andrew Yang of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies in Taiwan.

The Pentagon, for all its fretting, is trying to keep channels open to the Chinese. Military exchanges have been slowly reviving since their nadir of April 2001, when a Chinese fighter jet hit an American spy plane close to China. Last year, for the first time, the two sides conducted joint exercises—search-and-rescue missions off the coasts of America and China. But these were simple manoeuvres and the Americans learned little from them. The Chinese remain reluctant to engage in anything more complex, perhaps for fear of revealing their weaknesses.

The Russians have gained deeper insights. Two years ago the PLA staged large-scale exercises with them, the first with a foreign army. Although not advertised as such, these were partly aimed at scaring the Taiwanese. The two countries practised blockades, capturing airfields and amphibious landings. The Russians showed off some of the weaponry they hope to sell to the big-spending Chinese.

Another large joint exercise is due to be held on August 9th-17th in the Urals (a few troops from other members of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, a six-nation group including Central Asian states, will also take part). But David Shambaugh of George Washington University says the Russians have not been very impressed by China's skills. After the joint exercise of 2005, Russians muttered about the PLA's lack of “jointness”, its poor communications, and the slowness of its tanks.

China has won much praise in the West for its increasing involvement in United Nations peacekeeping operations. But this engagement has revealed little of China's combat capability. Almost all of the 1,600 Chinese peacekeepers deployed (including in Lebanon, Congo, and Liberia) are engineers, transport troops, or medical staff.

A series of “white papers” published by the Chinese government since 1998 on its military developments have shed little light either, particularly on how much the PLA is spending and on what. By China's opaque calculations, the PLA enjoyed an average annual budget increase of more than 15% between 1990 and 2005 (nearly 10% in real terms). This year the budget was increased by nearly 18%. But this appears not to include arms imports, spending on strategic missile forces and research and development. The International Institute for Strategic Studies in London says the real level of spending in 2004 could have been about 1.7 times higher than the officially declared budget of 220 billion yuan ($26.5 billion at then exchange rates).

This estimate would make China's spending roughly the same as that of France in 2004. But the different purchasing power of the dollar in the two countries—as well as China's double-digit spending increases since then—push the Chinese total far higher. China is struggling hard to make its army more professional—keeping servicemen for longer and attracting better-educated recruits. This is tough at a time when the civilian economy is booming and wages are climbing. The PLA is having to spend much more on pay and conditions for its 2.3m people.

Keeping the army happy is a preoccupation of China's leaders, mindful of how the PLA saved the party from probable destruction during the unrest of 1989. In the 1990s they encouraged military units to run businesses to make more money for themselves. At the end of the decade, seeing that this was fuelling corruption, they ordered the PLA to hand over its business to civilian control. Bigger budgets are now helping the PLA to make up for some of those lost earnings.

The party still sees the army as a bulwark against the kind of upheaval that has toppled communist regimes elsewhere. Chinese leaders lash out at suggestions (believed to be supported by some officers) that the PLA should be put under the state's control instead of the party's. The PLA is riddled with party spies who monitor officers' loyalty. But the party also gives the army considerable leeway to manage its own affairs. It worries about military corruption but seldom moves against it, at least openly (in a rare exception to this, a deputy chief of the navy was dismissed last year for taking bribes and “loose morals”). The PLA's culture of secrecy allowed the unmonitored spread of SARS, an often fatal respiratory ailment, in the army's medical system in 2003.

Carrier trade

The PLA knows its weaknesses. It has few illusions that China can compete head-on with the Americans militarily. The Soviet Union's determination to do so is widely seen in China as the cause of its collapse. Instead China emphasizes weaponry and doctrine that could be used to defeat a far more powerful enemy using “asymmetric capabilities”.

The idea is to exploit America's perceived weak points such as its dependence on satellites and information networks. China's successful (if messy and diplomatically damaging) destruction in January of one of its own ageing satellites with a rocket was clearly intended as a demonstration of such power. Some analysts believe Chinese people with state backing have been trying to hack into Pentagon computers. Richard Lawless, a Pentagon official, recently said China had developed a “very sophisticated” ability to attack American computer and internet systems.

The Pentagon's fear is that military leaders enamored of new technology may underestimate the diplomatic consequences of trying it out. Some Chinese see a problem here too. The anti-satellite test has revived academic discussion in China of the need for setting up an American-style national security council that would help military planners co-ordinate more effectively with foreign-policy makers.

But the Americans find it difficult to tell China bluntly to stop doing what others are doing too (including India, which has aircraft-carriers and Russian fighter planes). In May Admiral Timothy Keating, the chief of America's Pacific Command, said China's interest in aircraft-carriers was “understandable”. He even said that if China chose to develop them, America would “help them to the degree that they seek and the degree that we're capable.” But, he noted, “it ain't as easy as it looks.”

A senior Pentagon official later suggested Admiral Keating had been misunderstood. Building a carrier for the Chinese armed forces would be going a bit far. But the two sides are now talking about setting up a military hotline. The Americans want to stay cautiously friendly as the dragon grows stronger.
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« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2007, 07:19:33 AM »

Second post of the morning:

WSJ

THE WEEKEND INTERVIEW

21st-Century Monk
Tibet's spiritual leader thanks America for its support.

BY MARY KISSEL
Saturday, September 22, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

DHARAMSALA, India--"So, Rupert Murdoch is buying your newspaper?"

It's unclear whether the Dalai Lama's private secretary is making small talk about News Corp.'s impending takeover of Dow Jones, or if he's obliquely reminding me of Mr. Murdoch's oft-quoted reference to his boss as "a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes." I'm momentarily flummoxed--how does one reply when surrounded by monks?--but I recover as we make our way through clouds to the Dalai Lama's residence here in the Himalayan foothills.

For more than 40 years, the man better known as "His Holiness"--or, if you're in China, the "splittist," "separatist" or--the ultimate slight--"politician"--has been waging a peaceful campaign for a free Tibet, which was invaded by Communist China in 1949 and has been brutally suppressed ever since. His "middle way" diplomacy, a talk-and-talk-some-more approach, has produced distinctly middling results. In the lead-up to next summer's Beijing Olympics, the atrocities in Tibet have barely been mentioned--overshadowed by China's weapons sales in Darfur, a world away.

Over the border, China is tightening its vise. The State Administration for Religious Affairs declared last month that all Buddhist reincarnations must get government approval, a move that sets the stage for Beijing to name its own Dalai Lama once this one passes. The Party's "Go West" campaign is flooding Tibet with Han Chinese, marginalizing the native Tibetans. And a wave of recent political crackdowns has been left largely unnoticed in the Western press.

But the Dalai Lama seems unperturbed, even buoyant. He emerges from the mist, shuffling down a footpath to minister to a waiting line of devotees. He chats with a group of former Tibetan special forces personnel who helped whisk him over the border in 1959 ("let's take a photograph"); then he tends to the sick ("visit a doctor"), and blesses visiting Buddhist pilgrims.

In the line also stand two teenage Tibetan schoolgirls whose father was imprisoned last month for standing up at Tibet's annual Lithang horseracing festival and denouncing the local monks for cooperating with the communists--sparking sympathetic protests and subsequent crackdowns all over the province. "Your father is a brave man," the he tells the ponytailed girls, who look simultaneously awed and sad. (The secretary is translating for me in a jarringly perfect American accent; he spent time in New Jersey as a youth.)

The girls had trekked over the Himalayas to Nepal and, later, to India and freedom. Like many of the approximately 3,000 refugees who come here every year, they may never see their family again. The Dalai Lama, the private secretary whispers in my ear, grants each of them an audience upon his arrival in Dharamsala. Moving into a sitting room, we leave the misty courtyard behind.

There is room for cautious optimism for Tibetans that things will improve in their homeland, but perhaps not in the Dalai Lama's lifetime. As China gets richer and citizens search for spiritual fulfillment, underground religious movements are budding across the country. Last year, more than 500 mainland Chinese trekked to southern India to hear the Dalai Lama preach, according to the Tibetan government-in-exile. Others now come to Dharamsala to learn Buddhism and then return to China. When Zhao Ziyang, China's former premier, passed away, his family asked the Dalai Lama for a blessing.

"Chinese society is now ruled by autocrats," the Dalai Lama says with a laugh, as we start our formal interview. "But the society is still Chinese society." (The New Jersey-infused private secretary sits nearby, helping with translations when necessary.) "Chinese society built many, many Buddhist temples. . . . Now with a little liberalization, or lenient policy, their religious faith is now, khare-zego-re [Tibetan for 'what is the word?'], returning, reviving, including the Buddhist faith." I must have looked surprised at his cheerful optimism. "Mmm," he murmurs, shifting slightly in his chair.

Authoritarian, closed societies are "unpredictable," but the Dalai Lama insists that he's taking the right approach. "We are not seeking independence," he says. "We want a solution according to the Chinese Constitution." The Constitution, as his negotiators often remind Beijing, says "all nationalities in the People's Republic of China are equal," and adds "the state protects the lawful rights and interests of the minority nationalities and upholds and develops the relationship of equality, unity and mutual assistance among all of China's nationalities."





Beijing, of course, insists that this the "splittist" wants "independence," not autonomy. That was true--30 years ago. Through the upheaval of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, there wasn't much dialogue to be had with Beijing. In the early 1970s, as the Cultural Revolution was peaking, the Dalai Lama decided to shift to a call for autonomy, not independence, as a sign of good faith. At the time, he described it as a "middle approach."
Since then, the monk who's never been far from politics has tried to separate himself from the process to give it real legitimacy. The Tibetan government-in-exile founded a parliament in 1960. But in 1991, a new constitution, the Charter of Tibetans in Exile, transferred the power to select its members to the Tibetan people. In 2001, the charter was amended to allow the direct election of the prime minister--Samdhong Rinpoche, a reincarnate lama himself. "I have no longer any political status," the Dalai Lama emphasizes. "I remain just a simple Buddhist monk," he says, "quiet!"

Beijing hasn't responded in kind to these gestures. If anything, the relationship has deteriorated over six rounds of talks. Last year President Hu Jintao's administration launched an intensive round of attacks against the Dalai Lama, calling him "unworthy" of being a religious leader. China's rhetorical venom has created a growing sense of fury in the Tibetan exile community. Many Tibetans worry that the Communist Party is playing a waiting game, stringing along the Tibetan negotiators until the Dalai Lama passes--a fear that the Buddhist leader acknowledges.

"There's certainly more and more signs of frustrations, not only on our side, but inside," the Dalai Lama admits. A Tibetan youth tried to immolate himself when Mr. Hu visited Mumbai last year; another tried last month. In Tibet, violent tendencies have been crushed by the communists, but that doesn't mean they won't surface. "The suicides, the bombings, these things . . . it's possible," the Dalai Lama acknowledges, sighing slightly, with his hands now open. "But then, we always ask people to keep, keep peace."





One way of doing that is to institutionalize the Tibetan cause in the younger generation. Through private donations, the Tibetan government funds the Tibetan Children's Village, a network of schools for refugee children. Others are educated at Indian government-funded institutions. All teach Tibetan language, culture and a version of Chinese history that would never see the light of day on the mainland.
"In the past, Tibetans, particularly the nomads and also the farmers, they simply carried their centuries-old way of life . . . completely ignorant about the current world," the Dalai Lama says. "We Buddhists must be Buddhists of the 21st century." (Maybe that's why the secretary is following Mr. Murdoch's purchases so closely.)

Another way to perpetuate the movement--especially inside China--is to debunk the Communist Party's characterization of religion as a destabilizing force. The Dalai Lama preaches what he dubs "secular ethics"--the idea that there are common experiences that all people, regardless of religious faith, share. In his view, all spiritual traditions talk about basic concepts of love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment, self-discipline. While these ideas may come packaged in different philosophies, the message is the same.

"The main thing is some kind of usefulness to others." He pauses. "That's the meaning of life," he says, leaning forward and pointing his finger at me gently.

Despite his optimism, there's little chance that the "middle way" will spark a breakthrough anytime soon. From Beijing's perspective, the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet would galvanize Tibetans to rally behind their leader and push for independence--an example that China, which has suppressed other ethnic groups, such as the Uighurs, could not tolerate.





For the Communist Party, Tibet remains the third rail of politics--a topic so sensitive that it turns mild-mannered Chinese bureaucrats red in the face at a mere mention. The party toyed briefly with liberalization of the region in the 1980s, only to find Tibetans gleefully displaying the Dalai Lama's image and calling for independence. In 1989, a crackdown ensued, overseen by now-President Hu, then the party secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Since taking office, Mr. Hu has installed a loyal hard-liner to oversee the area.
China's economy is increasingly providing political cover for its suppression of Tibet; it's too big and important to let a little bright light shine on human-rights abuses in a faraway land. The Dalai Lama's cause is especially lonely in Asia, given China's economic rise and its rapidly accruing military clout. "Very few" democracies in the region publicly support Tibet, with the notable exception of India--which comes under pressure frequently from Beijing. The silence is deafening, given that many Asian democracies, including those in Japan and South Korea, are home to large populations of Buddhists.

Even Western democratic nations come under intense pressure from Beijing. Belgium cancelled an official visit with the Dalai Lama before an EU-China meeting in May this year. Australian Prime Minister John Howard hesitated to meet the Buddhist leader in June, but, after intense lobbying from Washington, acquiesced. Germany's Angela Merkel is proving braver--she's hosting the Dalai Lama's first-ever visit to the German chancellery on Sunday.

"When we look at Tibet issue locally, then almost hopeless," the Dalai Lama concedes. But from a "wider perspective," the Tibet cause is "always hopeful." Recalling how the Soviet Union changed, he muses for a moment on how China is developing. "China is communist without communist ideology--only power," he declares. "So logically, no future!" The "only future" for China is "democracy, rule of law, free press, religious freedom, free information. China's future depends on these factors." That's something, he adds, that President Hu must know. "I really feel sympathy" for him.





The U.S. has always proved a strong supporter of the Tibetan cause--a close relationship that makes the Dalai Lama feel "proud." America, he says is a "champion of democracy, freedom and liberty. So their full support means they recognize our struggle as a just cause and a moral issue." Next month's Congressional Gold Medal award ceremony has sent the Chinese Embassy into high defensive gear. But that hasn't stopped President Bush from scheduling a private audience with the Dalai Lama.
"Of course, sometimes I have disagreement with . . . President Bush, but as a person, I always made clear, personally, I like him. He's very straightforward," the Dalai Lama recalls, "down to earth." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a "close friend of me personally and, I should say, a close friend of Tibet."

As we end, the Dalai Lama drapes a traditional white katag scarf around my neck and presents me with a pin depicting Potala Palace in Lhasa, his ancestral home. Then, like a child might, he throws his arms around me, and whispers into my ear: "We are passing through a difficult period," he says. "One ancient nation, with a unique heritage in a way, dying. So support from the free world is very much appreciated."

But will the free world follow through?

Ms. Kissel is The Wall Street Journal Asia's editorial page editor.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2007, 10:40:24 AM »

stratfor
China, Taiwan: Shifting Thinking, Eroding Advantage
October 04, 2007 22 40  GMT



Summary

A potential shift in China's thinking about contingency war planning for conflict with Taiwan could herald some significant alterations in the military dynamic between the island and the mainland. Such a shift would come at a time of eroding technological advantage for Taipei.

Analysis

A new aspect of Chinese contingency war planning for dealing with Taiwan in the event that the island declares independence is emerging from Chinese researchers and semigovernmental think tanks. These sources suggest that if Beijing feels such action against Taiwan is necessary, it will sacrifice even the 2008 Olympic Games, which are of paramount importance for the Communist Party of China. Though an outright declaration of Taiwanese independence is unlikely in the near future, there is still plenty Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian can do to get creative.

China's potential strategy centers on a punishing bombardment of Taiwan rather than a full-scale amphibious invasion. The combined tonnage of ballistic and cruise missiles, airstrikes and naval gunfire would focus specifically on the Taiwanese military's command-and-control infrastructure, with the objective of obliterating Taipei's ability to meaningfully coordinate a defense of the island. It appears China hopes to accomplish this in less than a week, and possibly as quickly as 24 hours, with the objective of forcing the direct capitulation of the government or compelling the population in general, the Kuomintang opposition in particular or the military itself to force the government into that capitulation. The ultimate goal of such a strategy would be a return to the status quo, rather than reunification.

While there are a number of problems with this strategy, the shift in thinking -- away from occupying the island and bringing it back into the mainland fold and toward bombardment and restoring the status quo -- is significant. And while it is ever-important for Beijing to appear politically firm on all things Taiwan, talk of sacrificing the Olympics is not idle banter in China.

The long-standing objective of an amphibious assault to retake the island has massive operational problems. Chinese ships laden with troops, tanks and supplies would be unlikely to survive the push across the 100-nautical-mile Taiwan Strait -- especially against an enemy that has spent decades preparing for just that. The island's coast bristles with anti-ship missiles.





Meanwhile, Taiwan already has begun to acquire the latest U.S. Patriot air defense system, the PAC-3, which offers a terminal-phase ballistic missile defense capability, in addition to its anti-aircraft heritage. There also is the matter of the island's Republic of China Air Force, which promises to make any assault from the mainland a costly one.

While there are infinite complexities to this dynamic, with the open sea as a buffer, Taiwan is in a good geographic position for its self-defense. But it cannot endure an endless onslaught from the mainland. Taiwan boasts less than a fifth of the combat-capable aircraft of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), though frontline pilots on both sides of the strait reportedly get a very respectable 180 hours of flying per year.

Meanwhile, the mainland's modernization of the PLAAF -- both in terms of air defenses and aircraft -- has evoked strong concerns even from U.S. Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, commander of U.S. Forces Japan and the U.S. 5th Air Force. Wright said during the week of Sept. 23 that he considered China's air defenses "nearly impenetrable" to all but the most modern U.S. aircraft -- a strong statement from the U.S. Air Force.

The trajectory of this modernization outpaces Taiwan's, in terms of both technology and sheer numbers. The island's F-16s are the Block 20 variant and are a significant asset. But its F-5E Tiger IIs and French Mirage 2000Ei-5s are dated. Its Ching Kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter (a sort of hybrid of the U.S. F-16 and F/A-18 Hornet designs), while an eminently respectable design and production achievement, already is slated for replacement by the newer Block 50 F-16s Taipei hopes to import soon.




The PLAAF already has imported more than 70 of the latest Su-30MKK Flanker fighters from Russia. Using these aircraft, the Indian air force occasionally has outperformed U.S. pilots in fourth-generation aircraft in exercises. Meanwhile, the indigenous production of the J-11, a licensed copy of the earlier Su-27 Flanker design, already has yielded more than 100 airframes. Production of the domestically designed J-10 fighter also is well under way.




Thus, while not true in all regards, Taipei's technological advantage in the realm of fighter aircraft is slowly being eroded. How both the Ching Kuo and J-10 would perform in combat remains an open question, as is the effectiveness of the PLAAF's nascent airborne early warning (AEW) and control aircraft, which might not even be available for operational deployment. Taiwan's E-2 Hawkeye AEW fleet -- which dates back to 1989 -- is far better established and would be of great significance, however.

Advantage in quality is an essential counter to disadvantage in quantity, but Taiwan simply is not in the position it was a decade ago. Meanwhile, the new evidence that China is contemplating more realistic military options for dealing with Taiwan (bombardment not invasion, restoring the status quo rather than reabsorbing the island) means Beijing's focus might no longer be a doomed amphibious assault, which would have represented a massive black hole for People's Liberation Army efforts -- to Taipei's benefit.

However things plays out, the avenues for escalation quickly expand. China and Taiwan could quickly find themselves engaged in the largest two-way air battle since World War II. This would be only one aspect of a complicated dynamic. And of course, U.S. or even Japanese intervention on behalf of Taiwan could radically alter the picture.

Such intervention is nearly guaranteed in the event of a Chinese military incursion into Taiwan, given Washington's legal obligation to come to Taiwan's aid. The USS Kitty Hawk, homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, is never far. Ultimately, the prospect of a short, furious bombardment of the island that does not involve a prolonged Chinese military commitment on the ground might be enticing for Beijing and has significant implications for foreign intervention.
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« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2008, 05:23:51 PM »

China Flexes Its Muscles
By GORDON G. CHANG
January 2, 2008; Page A11

The U.S. Navy said it was "befuddled" by Beijing's last-minute November denial of a long-arranged port call for the Kitty Hawk carrier group in Hong Kong. This turndown was on top of China's refusal to provide shelter for two U.S. minesweepers seeking refuge from a storm, and its rejection of a routine visit for a frigate, the Reuben James. The Air Force also received a "no" for a regular C-17 flight to resupply the American consulate in Hong Kong.

 
The immediate causes of these rebuffs may be American arms sales to Taiwan, which China regards as sovereign territory, and the award of a congressional medal to the Dalai Lama, with whom Beijing has had a multi-decade spat. But so many turndowns suggest the decisions were made at the highest levels of the Chinese central government -- and at a time when senior leaders are reorienting the country's foreign policy. Washington's relations with Beijing, in short, appear headed for increasing disagreement and tension.

Deng Xiaoping, who turned China away from Maoist revolution, believed that the country should "bide time" and keep a low profile in international affairs. Deng wanted Beijing to "seek cooperation and avoid confrontation," especially with the U.S. China, after a series of disastrous episodes like the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen massacre, needed a peaceful environment and the help of outsiders to rebuild its shattered economy.

Deng's successor, Jiang Zemin, followed this general approach even though he wanted Beijing to pursue his "big country" ambitions. Mr. Jiang desired recognition for China's growing status, but he saw his nation working cooperatively with the U.S. and its allies as partners.

Current President Hu Jintao has shifted China in a new direction. Like Mr. Jiang, he believes that the country should assert itself. But unlike his predecessor, he seems to think that China should actively work to restructure the international system to be more to Beijing's liking. In short, the current leader appears to see his country mostly working against the U.S.

The shape of China's grand strategy became apparent after a series of meetings in Beijing in the second half of 2006. In August, the Communist Party convened its Central Work Conference on Foreign Affairs. The meeting, the culmination of a half-year, top-to-bottom review of the country's external policies, brought together for the first time all members of the Politburo, provincial governors and Party secretaries, the State Council and central government ministers, about 60 ambassadors and 30 other diplomats, and key military officers with foreign affairs responsibilities.

Significantly, the public summary of the meeting did not include references to the invariably cited "bide time" strategy of Deng Xiaoping -- an indication of a fundamental change in thinking. Adopting the new tone, that same month Beijing's top U.N. diplomat in Geneva, Sha Zukang, told the U.S. to "shut up" about China's military buildup.

Later in the year, senior leaders met one or more times to confirm the new foreign policy direction. As veteran China watcher Willy Lam has noted, Mr. Hu and the leadership decided "to make a clean break with Deng's cautious axioms and instead, embark on a path of high-profile force projection."

Mr. Hu's reorientation of foreign policy is a consequence of his increasing reliance on the People's Liberation Army as a political base inside the Party. Since the middle of 2004, he stepped up efforts to court senior generals for support of his efforts to assert supremacy over Jiang Zemin, who has been clinging to power and blocking some of his initiatives. The military, for example, appears to have been behind Mr. Hu's partially successful effort, in the run-up to last year's 17th Party Congress, to pick his own successor.

It seems that at the massive conclave, held once every five years, Mr. Hu obtained the assistance of the more hawkish officers of the PLA in return for accelerating increases in military spending, promoting some of them to senior positions -- especially Gen. Chen Bingde to be the chief of general staff -- and steering the country toward a more assertive posture toward other nations in general, and Taiwan in particular.

There are several other incidents consistent with China's new assertive posture. In October 2006, a Chinese submarine for the first time surfaced in the middle of an American carrier group. This episode, occurring in the Philippine Sea southeast of Okinawa, was an obvious warning to the U.S. Navy to stay away. And in January of last year, the PLA, in an unmistakable display of military power, destroyed one of China's old weather satellites with a ground-based missile.

Beijing's military has also started to boast about its new weapons and war-fighting capabilities. Peace Mission 2007, cooperative military exercises in Central Asia in August, was China's first large-scale foreign military deployment, and recent military maneuvers, apparently rehearsals to take Taiwan and disputed islands in the South China Sea, were remarkable in scope and sophistication.

China's new ambitions have been confirmed by Hong Yuan, a military strategist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who noted a significant departure from Beijing's prior posture. China, he said in October, intended to project force in areas "way beyond the Taiwan Strait."

China's military assertiveness has been matched by tougher diplomacy. Last year, a series of high-level meetings showed that Beijing has moved closer to Moscow to cement their "friendship for generations" and confirm their opposition to American initiatives, especially to stop the Iranian nuclear program.

China's sustained campaign against German Chancellor Angela Merkel for meeting the Dalai Lama in September is also notably intense. China even threatened military and political responses over economic disputes -- such as those relating to market barriers and intellectual property piracy -- at last month's session of the "Strategic Economic Dialogue," the high-level talks between the U.S. and China.

The Kitty Hawk port call fits into this pattern. In the past, this snub would have merely been the product of petulance. Today, it is another indication of a change in China's approach to the world.

Last month, Washington and Beijing agreed to put the Kitty Hawk and similar incidents behind them. Now, the challenge for the U. S. is to recognize that Chinese attitudes have turned a corner, and to craft new policies in response.

Mr. Chang is the author of "The Coming Collapse of China" (Random House, 2001).
WSJ
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2008, 08:39:15 PM »

CCP had an interesting comment under Miliary Science: "...the US military sees China as our number one enemy"

It's true, but it's different from threats or enemies of the past, a very complex relationship.  China is clearly the number one potential threat because of size, military strength, economic strength and contention over certain geopolitical issues, particularly Taiwan. OTOH we don't want to control any inch of their land and they don't want ours. 

We had a couple of close calls that could have escalated but didn't. In May 1999 the US bombed the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia by mistake. Also the crisis of April 2001 when a Chines bomber plane collided into an American reconnaissance plane that had to make an emergency landing on a Chinese runway.  The Chinese held 24 American crew members for 11 days, then released them, and they held our plane for over 2 months. http://usgovinfo.about.com/blchina0412.htm

In the case of having their embassy bombed the Chinese showed restraint.  In the case of having our Navy flight crew detained, the US showed restraint.  The reason was the fear of war as deterrence but also the complexly intertwined economies IMO.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2008, 01:34:15 AM »

I like that Doug begins a discussion about the complexity of our relationship with China.

In addition to the well known platitudes, I offer to the mix:

1)  China as a unique demographic profile due to the one child policy.  What are the implications thereof?

2) China is a toxic dump, an ecological disaster;

3)  China's banking industry's books make Enron a paradigm of financial rectitude.  Is there a disaster in the making?  Or will it lead to an even worse version of what happened to former econ juggernaut Japan?

Marc

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« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2008, 02:00:52 AM »

Responding to three points Crafty made regarding China:

"1)  China as a unique demographic profile due to the one child policy.  What are the implications thereof?"

There is an enormous field of study and thought regarding the effect of birth order on personality and I am no expert on that, but I am raising an only child - now 13.  One observation would be that only child gets the extensive to undivided attention of sometimes 6 adults, counting grandparents, where many of us probably grew up in the opposite situation where children outnumbered adults and competed for or shared attention and received  less.  IMO there are pluses and minuses so I don't draw any big conclusions from that. I  would go a couple of different directions with this.  The one-child policy including the horrific abortion situation and loss of freedom solved the population explosion on this piece of the planet.  One theory that was posted by Karsk says that the limits of physical resources places limits our potential for economic growth. (I owe him a reply that is half-written and partially disagrees on that.) Under that theory the population controls helps the sustainability of China's economic growth. Under other theories of demographics, they will be in big trouble when too few workers in the newer generations need to support too many retirees that likely will live longer and longer with rising costs.  I don't know how these things will resolve themselves.

"2) China is a toxic dump, an ecological disaster"

I don't know why bloody totalitarian regimes don't have more environmental protesters (sarcasm). We saw the toxic mess when communist east Europe was freed.  There is a correlation between prosperity, consensual government and cleaning up our environment.  Right now China is moving toward prosperity without moving toward consensual government.  Uncharted territory as far as I can see.  They have the regulatory authority, they just need the desire from the rulers since there is no electorate.

3)  China's banking industry's books make Enron a paradigm of financial rectitude.  Is there a disaster in the making?  Or will it lead to an even worse version of what happened to former econ juggernaut Japan?

I agree with the premise.  Japan had prolonged stagnation.  China will someday have a real downturn.  My credibility is lousy here.  I predicted since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 that their house of cards economy would suffer setbacks and the ruling regime would not survive that.  So far, I'm wrong.

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« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2008, 10:27:14 AM »

I like that Doug begins a discussion about the complexity of our relationship with China.

In addition to the well known platitudes, I offer to the mix:

1)  China as a unique demographic profile due to the one child policy.  What are the implications thereof?

War. China has a growing wave of males with no chance of ever finding a mate. These tend to be from rural stock, as urbanites, especially China's upwardly mobile tend towards valuing a daughter as much as a son while the peasants are still overwhelmingly "son-centric" and willing to commit infanticide and/or gender selection abortion. The PRC will ensurte the wave of poor, rootless males doesn't threaten it's existance.

2) China is a toxic dump, an ecological disaster;

A story out the other day labled China the most polluted place on the planet. I remember how horrified I was seeing the pollution firsthand. The air in China's cities makes LA look like a ecological paradise. My wife traveled to places in China where plating factories dumped chem waste directly into the rivers that were the water supply for villages downstream.

3)  China's banking industry's books make Enron a paradigm of financial rectitude.  Is there a disaster in the making?  Or will it lead to an even worse version of what happened to former econ juggernaut Japan?

China is running as fast as it can to stay in one place. Sooner or later, this won't be enough.

Marc


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« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2008, 05:15:46 PM »

11/04/08 - World news section

Why China is the REAL master of the universe
By ANTHONY BROWNE

Cecil Rhodes, the businessman-imperialist of Africa, the creator of Rhodesia, suffered no flicker of doubt about who were the masters.

"To be born an Englishman," he mused, "Is to win first prize in the lottery of life."

It wasn't idle boasting. In the jingoistic triumphalism of the late 19th century, when waving the Union Jack was a simple pleasure, people sang: "Rule Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves" without any irony. It was a statement of fact.

A quarter of mankind lived under the British flag in the largest empire the world had ever known.

And many of those parts that weren't under Britain's rule - such as the U.S. - had been created by Britain.

British missionaries had opened up the Dark Continent almost unchallenged.

Scroll down for more ...

The British Army found it easier to invade troublesome nations - or most of them - than it does nowadays.

Britain was the workshop of the world, dominating science, manufacturing and trade.

To many Victorians, unquestioning of the ideology that underpinned much imperialism, British supremacy was a simple matter of racial supremacy - Europeans, and the English in particular, were fated to be the masters.

The truth is that we are masters of the world no more.

The global power shift from the West to the East is no longer just a matter of debate confined to learned journals and newspaper columns - it is a reality that is beginning to have a huge impact on our daily lives.

What would those Victorian masters of old have made of the fact that Chinese security men were on the streets of London this week, ordering our own police about and fighting running battles with British protesters while bewildered athletes carried the Olympic torch on its relay through the capital?

It was a brazen display of how confident China has become of its new place in the world, just as the British Government's failure to take a firm stand on Chinese abuses of human rights shows how craven we have become.

The dire warnings from the International Monetary Fund this week that the West now faces the largest financial shock since the Great Depression, while the Asian economies are still powering ahead, simply underlines our vulnerability in this new world order.

The desperately weakened American dollar appears to be on the verge of losing its global dominance, in the same way as sterling lost it a lifetime ago.

The credit crunch has brought home to all of us in Britain how over-reliant our country has become on financial services. Meanwhile, the loss of our manufacturing industries to Asia continues unabated.

Last month, an Indian company, Tata, bought up what was once the cream of British manufacturing - Jaguar and Land Rover.

A couple of years ago, Nanjing Automotive, a Chinese company, snapped up MG Rover.

Just as the 19th century was the British century, and the 20th century was the American century, the 21st century is the Asian century.

But the handover of global power from the UK to the U.S. was trivial compared to what is happening now.

The U.S. was Britain's offspring, based on the same values and the same language.

Scroll down for more ...

It, too, was an Anglo-Saxon country, and passing the baton across the Atlantic ensured the continuation of the Anglo-Saxon world order, based on democracy, free trade and a belief in human rights, upheld through international institutions that both powers supported.

But the world order we have grown used to - and comfortable with - over the last century is coming to an end.

Napoleon III compared China to a sleeping giant and warned: "When China awakes, she will shake the world."

After a long hibernation, China, and her 1.3 billion people - twice the population of the U.S. and EU combined - is awaking almost overnight.

And not just China. The world's second most populous country, India, is industrialising at a historically unprecedented pace.

Their economies are growing on a long-term basis about four times the speed of the UK's and that of the United States. Goldman Sachs, the bank, recently predicted that by 2050, China and India would have overtaken the U.S. to be the world's first and second biggest economies.

We have long heard about the benefits this brings, in terms of plentiful cheap goods from toys to TVs, and huge opportunities for Western companies to sell their wares in these booming markets.

But there are also downsides, which are becoming more apparent. Unskilled workers in the West have become unsettled by the threat to their jobs as production moves East.

The most vulnerable Western workers have found their wages stagnate as they struggle to compete in an increasingly global market place.

And competition for raw materials is pitting East against West.

The economic explosion of China, and to a lesser extent India, has given them an almost overpowering hunger for raw materials with which to build their factories, homes and cars.

Wherever you turn, the rise of Asia is making its impact felt on our existence.

Every time you complain about the price of petrol being over £1 a litre, it is to the Far East you have to look to find the culprits.

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There are even reports that manholes in Britain have been disappearing to feed the monstrous appetite for scrap steel in the other side of the world.

China is spending 35 times as much on crude oil as it did eight years ago, and 23 times as much on copper.

As it builds gleaming skyscrapers on its fields, China alone consumes half the world's cement and a third of its steel.

What is happening is so extraordinary that economists have had to invent a new word for it - this is not an economic cycle, but a supercycle, a shift in the world economy of historic proportions.

When demand increases and supply stands still, prices shoot up. Iron, wheat and oil are all at record prices, despite slackening demand in the faltering Western economies.

The cost of living in Britain is now rising faster than wages, making the British on average poorer year on year.

Asia's expansion means that its influence is starting to be felt more directly around the world.

Asian countries are not just buying up foreign raw materials, but as their companies try to become global leaders, they are buying up Western companies.

It is not just Land Rover, Jaguar and MG Rover. The Malaysian company Proton owns Lotus. Indian company Tata owns Corus, once British Steel, as well as Tetley Tea.

The hunger for raw materials is also making China lose its shyness and venture out into the world. Like Germany and Russia, China has traditionally been a land empire, focusing its expansionist energies on countries it had borders with, and it eschewed the world-conquering exploits of Europe's sea-faring maritime nations.

Europeans have, for half a millennium, been unchallenged as the global colonisers, but last month the respected Economist magazine dubbed the Chinese "The New Colonists".

While the Congo in central Africa was once over-run by Belgians, it is now the Chinese that can be found wondering around its mining belts.

In Lubumbashi, the capital of the Congo's copper-rich region Katanga, the Economist reported "a sudden Chinese invasion".

Troubled Angola recently shunned Western financial aid because of the amount of Chinese money pouring into it, in return for commodities.

From Kazakhstan to Indonesia to Latin America, Chinese firms are gobbling up oil, gas, coal and metals.

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Canadian authorities were recently alarmed to find the Chinese interested in exploring the Arctic Ocean, in a bid to get a share of the minerals beneath the thawing icecap.

In eastern Siberia, Russians worry that China is by default taking over their empty land.

The West has long seen Africa as its backyard, but Western diplomats now worry that not just Africa, but South America, too, is being lost to China.

And Western governments are concerned that the rules of the game are changing. Most worryingly, as China's brutal suppression of the once independent Tibet shows, this is not a superpower that respects Western standards on human rights.

From Darfur to Myanmar, China is cuddling up to murderous dictators.

At home, it holds mass executions of criminals with bullets in the back of the head while transplant surgeons stand by to harvest their still pulsating organs.

Yet Western governments have been in such awe of China's looming power that their response has not been to challenge its abuses, but to try to silence their own protesters at home.

From the UN to the IMF to the World Bank, the international institutions that attempt to govern the planet were made in the image of the victors of World War II. Now power is shifting from West to East, the whole liberal democratic world order will face its first serious challenge in decades.

Many fear that things could get ugly.

There is only one thing worse than an unchallenged superpower - it is a superpower with a victim mentality, which feels the world owes it a favour.

And the bitter truth is that, after centuries of humiliation in foreign affairs, there is a nationalist mood in China that the country's time has come again, that it can again claim its rightful place as the world's most powerful country.

Its comparative weakness over the last few centuries is, in fact, but a blip in the last 2,000 years, during which China was the world's most economically and culturally advanced nation.

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It is an accident of history that Europeans took advantage of their window of opportunity in the last half of the second millennium to take over the world.

The cause was a combination of factors such as the development of maritime technology in Europe, the competition between European countries that drove them to look outwards and find new ways to increase prosperity, and the fact China remained firmly locked in its agrarian, introspective past.

Now things have changed, and already the shift in the world economy is starting to have dramatic effects on migration patterns.

The emigration of poor people from China and India to the West is slowing down, as their citizens see more hope in their own rapidly advancing nations.

Instead, their expanding middle classes are paying large fees for their children to enjoy a Western university education, before returning home.

There are now 60,000 Chinese students in Britain, more than from any other country.

Westerners have become accustomed to being the only tourists in the world's tourist hotspots, but the Chinese and Indians want to enjoy the fruits of their labour by expanding their horizons, too.

Chinese tourists are likely to replace American tourists as popular irritants in Britain, and replace the Germans as competitors for the ski lifts.

As the opportunities flow from West to East, so too do the people.

India is luring the global Indian diaspora back, with laws that would be judged racist in Britain, offering visas to anyone living in the West with Indian blood in their veins.

Even some non-Indian Westerners are heading East for opportunities greater than they find at home.

The West's cultural supremacy is likely to be as challenged as its economic supremacy.

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As their economic confidence grows, Asians are discovering pride in their own cultures and are less inclined to mimic Western ones.

There is an infectious confidence in Bollywood, and the price of Chinese antiques is rocketing as the newly rich Chinese decide they want a slice of their history. Western culture, like the dollar, will soon find its heyday behind it.

But Western attitudes will change as well, with a likely shift to the political Right. White liberal guilt, the driving force behind political correctness, will subside as Westerners feel threatened by the global order changing, and their supremacy slipping away.

Anti-Americanism will disappear as Europeans realise how much better it was to have a world super power that was a democracy (however flawed) not a dictatorship.

There is even speculation that the intense economic pressure on countries such as Britain will cause them to trim down their bloated welfare state, simply because it will no longer be affordable at present levels.

Western attitudes of superiority to China and the rest of the East will also subside, as Westerners realise they are no longer the masters of the world.

The U.S. company Orient Express complained when Tata tried to buy it, that any association with the Indian company would damage the Orient Express's premium brand.

Responding, R K Krishna Kumar, a senior Tata executive, thundered that "Indian companies ... will take their rightful place in the international arena.

"Enterprises and individuals must recognise and adapt to these fundamental economic changes. We believe that those with a fossilised frame of mind risk being marginalised."

In a world in which we are no longer masters, it is a warning that we ignore at our peril.


Find this story at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=559133&in_page_id=1811
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« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2008, 01:02:57 AM »

Of course there are several good points in this piece GM, but IMHO there is a fair amount of hyperventilating too.

China's population is contracting due to the one child policy.  The consequences of this unusual demographic remain to be seen, but are likely to be potent.  How will the few young support the many old?

China is a toxic dump.  The costs are staggering and have yet to be considered.

China's banking system is a giant ponzi scheme-- its bookkeeping is said by sources that seem responsible to me to be an utter fraud.

Freedom is seditious to a system like China and as Chinese mingle in the world, maintaining the old order is going to be a very good trick.

The dollar and the US were in worse shape in the Carter years than now.

The Japanese were feared to be taking over the world in the 80s, yet now they are fcuked-- in part due to demographics of few young supporting many old-- and China will have a worse hand in this regard than the Japanese.

Just some additional points to consider IMHO
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« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2008, 08:36:51 AM »

Crafty,

Every point you raise is true, still China and India will be shaping the next century.
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« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2008, 02:32:41 PM »

http://biglizards.net/blog/archives/2008/04/forget_it_its_c.html

"Unrestricted Warfare"?
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« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2008, 01:59:21 AM »

Busted!!!

The plot thickens , , ,  Anyway, here's this:

   
Geopolitical Diary: Taiwan's Straitjacket
April 14, 2008
Taiwanese Vice President-elect Vincent Siew met Chinese President Hu Jintao Saturday on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2008. It was the first time Taiwan’s incoming government held a formal meeting with the Beijing regime. Siew gave a positive evaluation of his meeting with Hu — quite a contrast to outgoing President Chen Shui-bian’s typically provocative stance against Beijing. However, the meeting itself has not changed, nor will it change, the fundamental bilateral relationship. Not by one iota.

In fact, it is not really a bilateral relationship but a trilateral one. Taiwan remains sandwiched between the two largest geopolitical players of the Asia-Pacific region: China and the United States. Taipei has little if any room for maneuver within this trilateral framework. Despite Chen’s pro-independence posturing and rhetoric, Taipei has never been a free actor in this space between China and the United States. It is consigned to play the role of a pawn in the wider geopolitical interaction between its patron of choice, Washington, and its other aspiring patron, Beijing.

China will not tolerate Taiwan getting too close to the United States. Keeping alive the “one China” myth is important to the Chinese regime — Beijing’s legitimacy is predicated on its ability to hold together a far-flung and geographically diverse country with a strong central authority. Like Tibet, Taiwan is considered a linchpin in the carefully balanced social and political structure of mainland China. In truth, China stands next to no chance of successfully invading and forcibly reabsorbing Taiwan, given that its current naval capabilities are a generation or two behind those of the United States. However, Beijing does need to buffer itself against Washington’s growing influence in Asia — if not in military reality, then in domestic perception at least.

Likewise, the United States will not put up with a Taipei that pursues too close a relationship with China. While defending Taiwan’s democratic integrity plays well with the voters back home, a more fundamental reason behind Washington’s fierce protection of the island revolves around the security of maritime trade routes into and out of the Asia Pacific region. A key source of U.S. geopolitical power is its dominance over the world’s oceans, a supremacy that Washington will not give up voluntarily. That is why American airpower, missiles, submarines and surface vessels have never left Taiwan since the U.S. Navy’s seventh fleet first swept to the island’s rescue in 1950.

So long as China does not invade or physically reclaim Taiwan and Taipei does not formally declare independence, an uneasy half-truth is perpetuated, and both sides go about their business.

Politically and superficially, Siew’s visit to China marks a change from the previous Taiwanese regime. But geopolitically, just as Chen could talk but not walk Taiwan towards independence, neither will Siew or President-elect Ma Ying-jeou be able to change the dynamic. There might be some movement along the spectrum of possibilities between independence and reunification, but the geopolitical reality of the Taiwan Straits is that that movement will be narrow and constrained. Taiwan has nowhere to go.

 
« Last Edit: April 14, 2008, 08:53:50 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2008, 03:26:24 PM »

Rise and Collide
By MARY KISSEL
May 9, 2008; Page A15

Rivals
By Bill Emmott
(Harcourt, 342 pages, $26)

The rise of China is easy to exaggerate and even easier to fear. China is a vast country of 1.3 billion people, governed by menacing authoritarians who are plowing money into its military complex and managing a stunning economic transformation; before long it will dominate Asia, and someday it will threaten America's place in the world. Or at least that is the argument of certain worried pundits these days.

For a striking counterargument – and some much-needed nuance – look no further than Bill Emmott's "Rivals." Mr. Emmott, a former editor of The Economist and a longtime Asia-watcher, acknowledges that China will continue its remarkable rise for years to come. But he thinks that a modernizing India and a resurgent Japan could end up jostling for Far East supremacy, too, pitting "Asians against Asians." A balance-of-power politics could evolve resembling Europe's in the 19th century.

How this transformation will unfold, and whether it will be entirely peaceful, is anyone's guess. But one thing is certain: All three of Asia's emerging giants are being forced to open up at speeds that none is quite comfortable with. China's Communist Party has freed a wide cross-section of its economy, bringing a new prosperity to much of the population. India is shedding its socialist shackles at whatever pace its vibrant, contentious democracy will allow. Japan's dominant political party, notoriously resistant to change, is still struggling to pull the country out of a decade-long economic nosedive; but the push for reform is becoming ever more urgent as Japan's population ages.

In "Rivals," Mr. Emmott mines the past for clues to the future. Start with China: Most analysts conclude that the 21st century will belong to China because the country's economy is now roaring ahead. But its growth rates aren't unprecedented. Like China today, Japan by the 1970s had reached a high investment-to-GDP ratio (roughly 40%) and enjoyed double-digit, export-led industrial growth. South Korea followed a similar path. By those measure, Mr. Emmott says, China's growth is "excellent, but not exceptional."

China also faces some bumps in the road, not least of which is rising inflation – a problem that Japan once also faced. Capital inflows are pushing up wages and expanding the monetary base, which is in turn inflating asset bubbles in stocks and property. Something has got to give. "The longer a change in economic policy and direction is delayed," Mr. Emmott writes, "the bigger the risk that mere adjustment turns into something more dramatic."

India's trajectory, meanwhile, most closely follows China's – at least at the moment. With the liberalizing of India's economy, its investment and savings have grown along with its standard of living. In 2006, India's exports of goods and services, as a percentage of GDP, had risen to a point that they were "roughly the same as China's in 1996," Mr. Emmott notes. The common view of India – as a land dominated by extremes of wealth and poverty – is simply out of date; in fact, India's income inequality is about the same as Britain's. The question now is whether the government will speed up India's growth by upgrading its shoddy infrastructure and liberalizing its energy industries so that domestic producers can make adequate returns and afford to increase output.

Japan's future is harder to forecast. The crash of the 1990s was bad, though hardly of Depression-like dimensions. That it was not worse, Mr. Emmott says, has a lot to do with Japan's free flow of trade and capital and its fiscal surplus. Oddly (for a writer long affiliated with the laissez-faire Economist magazine), Mr. Emmott praises the Japanese government for its Keynesian interventions in the 1990s. Huge spending programs, he claims, "helped prevent an economic drama from becoming a disaster." Perhaps. But they also prevented Japan from embracing low taxes and liberalizing its markets – surely a speedier means to growth and widespread prosperity.

Mr. Emmott notes that Japan, for all the exporting it does, isn't really a "globalized country." Its trade with the outside world, measured by imports plus exports as a percentage of GDP, is dwarfed by China's. And its level of English proficiency – now essential for global players – is low. If anything, Mr. Emmott says, "Japan needs to emulate America in the 1990s, when the 'new economy' " – that is, the Internet revolution – "brought a sharp and unexpected jump in U.S. productivity." Without doing something "dramatic" to kickstart growth, he argues, Japan's leaders will simply be "managing the country's relative decline," eclipsed by India and China.

Of course, the future of Asia's economies depends in part on the future of its regional politics. India has rocky relationships with its neighbors – and some of them, including Nepal, Pakistan and Burma, are led by unstable regimes. China, meanwhile, has border disputes with Bhutan and India, not to mention disputes over sovereignty with Tibet and Taiwan. Japan has only recently moved to mend ties with South Korea's new leadership. But a nuclear-armed North Korea remains the biggest menace. Mr. Emmott believes that, if "regime change" comes about in North Korea, it will be of the homegrown variety and not imposed from the outside. The result may be "a risky moment," as China, South Korea and factions within North Korea vie for power.

In economics and business, Mr. Emmott notes, competition generally has "overwhelmingly positive results." But "in politics, we cannot be so sure." To separate the two spheres so sharply, though, seems forced, at best. China's economic prosperity increasingly relies on its integration with its rivals and with the rest of the world – a trend that may someday change the way the country is governed, for the better. That is a future to welcome, not to fear.

Ms. Kissel is editor of The Wall Street Journal Asia's editorial page.
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« Reply #23 on: May 13, 2008, 09:20:51 AM »

I have mixed feelings about this piece, but post it as representing one POV:
============

The Challenge From China
By MARK HELPRIN
May 13, 2008; Page A17

Even as our hearts go out to the Chinese who have perished in the earthquake, we cannot lose sight of the fact that every day China is growing stronger. The rate and nature of its economic expansion, the character and patriotism of its youth, and its military and technical development present the United States with two essential challenges that we have failed to meet, even though they play to our traditional advantages.

The first of these challenges is economic, the second military. They are inextricably bound together, and if we do not attend to both we may eventually discover in a place above us a nation recently so impotent we cannot now convince ourselves to look at the blow it may strike. We may think we have troubles now, but imagine what they will be like were we to face an equal.

 
AP 
Beijing: Delegates from China's military attend the annual session of the National People's Congress.
China has a vast internal market newly unified by modern transport and communications; a rapidly flowering technology; an irritable but highly capable workforce that as long as its standard of living improves is unlikely to push the country into paralyzing unrest; and a wider world, now freely accessible, that will buy anything it can make. China is threatened neither by Japan, Russia, India, nor the Western powers, as it was not that long ago. It has an immense talent for the utilization of capital, and in the free market is as agile as a cat.

Unlike the U.S., which governs itself almost unconsciously, reactively and primarily for the short term, China has plotted a long course, in which with great deliberation it joins economic growth to military power. Thirty years ago, in what may be called the "gift of the Meiji," Deng Xiaoping transformed the Japanese slogan fukoku kyohei (rich country, strong arms) into China's 16-Character Policy: "Combine the military and the civil; combine peace and war; give priority to military products; let the civil support the military."

Japan was able to vault with preternatural speed into the first ranks of the great powers because it understood the relation of growth to military potential. A country with restrained population increases and a high rate of economic expansion can over time dramatically improve its material lot while simultaneously elevating military spending almost beyond belief. The crux is to raise per-capita income significantly enough that diversions for defense will go virtually unnoticed. China's average annual growth of roughly 9% over the past 20 years has led to an absolute tenfold increase in per-capita GNP and 21-fold increase in purchasing-power-parity military expenditure. Though it could do more, it prudently limits defense spending, with an eye to both social stability – the compass of the Chinese leadership – and assimilable military modernization.

As we content ourselves with the fallacy that never again shall we have to fight large, technological opponents, China is transforming its forces into a full-spectrum military capable of major operations and remote power projection. Eventually the twain shall meet. By the same token, our sharp nuclear reductions and China's acquisitions of ballistic-missile submarines and multiple-warhead mobile missiles will eventually come level. The China that has threatened to turn Los Angeles to cinder is arguably more cavalier about nuclear weapons than are we, and may find parity a stimulus to brinkmanship. Who will blink first, a Barack Obama (who even now blinks like Betty Boop) or a Hu Jintao?

Our reductions are not solely nuclear. Consider the F-22, the world's most capable air dominance aircraft, for which the original call for 648 has been whittled to 183, leaving, after maintenance, training, and test, approximately 125 to cover the entire world. The same story is evident without relief throughout our diminished air echelons, shrinking fleets, damaged and depleted stocks, and ground forces turned from preparation for heavy battle to the work of a gendarmerie.

As the military is frustrated and worn down by a little war against a small enemy made terrible by the potential of weapons of mass destruction, the shift in the Pacific goes unaddressed as if it is unaddressable. But it is eminently addressable. We can, in fact, compete with China economically, deter it from a range of military options, protect our allies, and maintain a balance of power favorable to us.

In the past we have been able to outwit both more advanced industrial economies and those floating upon seas of cheap labor – by innovating and automating. Until China's labor costs equal ours, the only way to compete with its manufactures is intensely to mechanize our own. Restriction of trade or waiting for equalization will only impoverish us as we fail to compete in world markets. The problem is cheap labor. The solution, therefore, is automation. Who speaks about this in the presidential campaign? The candidates prefer, rather, to whine and console.

We must revive our understanding of deterrence, the balance of power, and the military balance. In comparison with its recent history, American military potential is restrained. Were we to allot the average of 5.7% of GNP that we devoted annually to defense in peacetime from 1940-2000, we would have as a matter of course $800 billion each year with which to develop and sustain armies and fleets. During World War II we devoted up to 40% of GNP to this, and yet the economy expanded in real terms and Americans did not live like paupers.

The oceans have been our battlefields since the beginning; we invented powered flight; and our automobiles still await us on the surface of the moon – our métiers are the sea, air and space. Thus, we have been blessed by geography, for with the exception of South Korea our allies in the Pacific are islands. With Japan, Australasia, our own island territories, and Admiral Nimitz's ocean, we can match and exceed indefinitely any development of Chinese strategic power – which, by definition, must take to the sea and air.

* * *

And there we will be, if we are wise, not with 280 ships but a thousand; not eleven carriers, or nine, but 40, not 183 F-22s, but a thousand; and so on. That is, the levels of military potential that traditional peacetime expenditures of GNP have provided, without strain, throughout most of our lives. As opposed either to ignominious defeat without war, or war with a rising power emboldened by our weakness and retirement, this would be infinitely cheaper.

And yet what candidate is alert to this? Who asserts that our sinews are still intact? That we can meet any challenge, especially when it can be answered with our historical strengths? That beneath a roiled surface is a power limitless yet fair, supple yet restrained? Who will speak of these things in time, and who will dare to awaken them?

Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among other works, "Winter's Tale" (Harcourt) and "A Soldier of the Great War" (Harcourt). This piece was adapted from a speech given at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
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« Reply #24 on: June 29, 2008, 03:55:10 PM »

Christianity is flourishing in China

José M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune
Zhang Ming-Xuan speaks at a church in Shandong province that sued the government for shutting it down. The ruling Communist Party is officially atheist.
The religion, long repressed and often outlawed in the communist nation, appeals to citizens seeking a moral framework amid the chaotic rise of capitalism.
From the Chicago Tribune
June 28, 2008

BEIJING -- The Rev. Jin Mingri peered out from the pulpit and delivered an unusual appeal: "Please leave," the 39-year-old pastor urged his followers, who were packed, standing-room-only on a Sunday afternoon, into a converted office space in China's capital. "We don't have enough seats for the others who want to come, so please, only stay for one service a day."

A choir in hot-pink robes stood to his left, beside a guitarist and a drum set bristling with cymbals. Children in a modern playroom beside the sanctuary punctuated the service with squeals and tantrums. It was a busy day at a church that, on paper, does not exist.

Christianity -- repressed, marginalized and, in many cases, illegal in China for more than half a century -- is sweeping the country, swamping churches and posing a sensitive challenge to the officially atheist ruling Communist Party.

By some estimates, Christian churches in China, most of them underground, have roughly 70 million members, about as many as the party itself. A growing number of those Christians are in fact party members.

Christianity is thriving in part because it offers a moral framework to citizens adrift in an age of Wild West capitalism that has not only exacted a heavy toll in corruption and pollution but also harmed the global image of products labeled "Made in China."

Some Chinese Christians say their faith is actually a boon for the party, because it shores up the economic foundation that is central to sustaining communist rule.

"With economic development, morality and ethics in China are degenerating quickly," prayer leader Zhang Wei told the crowd at Jin's church as worshipers bowed their heads. "Holy Father, please save the Chinese people's soul."

At the same time, Christianity is driving citizens to be more politically assertive, emboldening them to push for more freedoms and testing the party's willingness to adapt. For decades, most of China's Christians worshiped in secret churches, known as "house churches," that shunned attention for fear of arrest on charges such as "disturbing public order."

But in a sign of Christianity's growing prominence, in scores of interviews for a joint project of the Tribune and PBS' "Frontline/World," clerical leaders and worshipers from coastal boomtowns to inland villages publicly detailed their religious lives for the first time.

They voiced the belief that the time has come to proclaim their place in Chinese society as the world focuses on China and its hosting of the 2008 Olympics in August.

"We have nothing to hide," said Jin, a former Communist Party member who broke away from the state church last year to found his Zion Church.

Jin embodies a historic change: After centuries of foreign efforts to implant Christianity in China, the growing popularity of the religion is being led not by missionaries but by evangelical citizens at home. Where Christianity once was confined largely to poor villages, it's now spreading into urban centers, often with tacit approval from the regime.

It reaches into the most influential corners of Chinese life: Intellectuals disillusioned by the 1989 crackdown on dissidents at Tiananmen Square are placing their loyalty in faith, not politics; tycoons fed up with corruption are seeking an ethical code; and party members are daring to argue that their religion does not put them at odds with the government.

The boundaries of what is legal and what is not are constantly shifting. A new church or Sunday school, for instance, might be permissible one day and taboo the next, because local officials have broad latitude to interpret laws on religious gatherings.

Overall, though, the government is allowing churches to be more open and active than ever, signaling a new tolerance of faith in public life. President Hu Jintao even held an unprecedented Politburo "study session" on religion last year, in which he told China's 25 most powerful leaders that "the knowledge and strength of religious people must be mustered to build a prosperous society."

This rise, driven by evangelical Protestants, reflects a wider spiritual awakening in China. As communism fades into today's free-market reality, many Chinese describe a "crisis of faith" and seek solace from mystical Taoist sects, Bahai temples and Christian megachurches.

Today, the government counts 21 million Catholics and Protestants -- a 50% increase in less than 10 years -- though the underground population is far larger. The World Christian Database's estimate of 70 million Christians amounts to 5% of the population, second only to Buddhists.

At a time when Christianity in Western Europe is dwindling, China's believers are redrawing the world's religious map with a growing community that already exceeds all the Christians in Italy.

And increasing Christian clout in China has the potential to alter relations with the United States and other nations.

But much about the future of faith in China is uncertain, shaped most vividly in bold new evangelical churches such as Zion, where a soft-spoken preacher and his fervent flock do not yet know just how far the Communist Party is prepared to let them grow.

"We think that Christianity is good for Beijing, good for China," Jin said. "But it may take some time before our intention is understood, trusted, even respected by the authorities. We even have to consider the price we may have to pay."

Researcher Xu Wan contributed to this report.

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« Reply #25 on: July 17, 2008, 06:47:31 PM »

Arming Taiwan
By ED ROSS
FROM TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL ASIA
July 18, 2008

Among the many challenges facing the United States in an election year is the issue of arms sales to Taiwan. Before he leaves office, President Bush must decide whether or not to approve various major sales to the island, including 60 additional F-16s, Patriot PAC III missiles and Apache and Blackhawk helicopters. At present, the Department of State and the National Security Council are holding up these sales. This is an issue which deserves President Bush's immediate attention.

A little history helps illuminate what's going on. In 2001, shortly after President Bush took office, he approved in principle several billion dollars in new arms sales to Taiwan. This decision reflected the President's concern for China's military build-up and a continuing U.S. commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act, which obligates the U.S. to provide the island with weapons to defend itself.

 
AP 
During the eight-year tenure of former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian, political infighting between the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the opposition Kuomintang stalled the funding for these weapons purchases. At the same time, Mr. Chen's independence-leaning policies angered China's leaders. Washington was displeased by Mr. Chen's inability to push through the arms purchases, and because his actions and outspokenness interfered with improving U.S.-China relations.

The damage those eight years did to U.S.-Taiwan relations was considerable. Taiwan's relative air, missile defense and antisubmarine warfare capabilities fell further behind as important Taiwan military acquisitions were postponed. China, however, purchased advanced weapons from the Soviet Union and increased funding for its own military research and development programs.

Equally important, mutual confidence between Taipei and Washington may have been permanently weakened. U.S. leaders lost confidence in Taiwan's leaders at a time when the U.S. was becoming increasingly dependent on improved U.S.-China relations. In Taiwan, more than ever, domestic political considerations took precedence over national security issues. And although last year the Kuomintang-dominated legislature in Taipei finally passed a defense budget funding many new arms purchases, the damage to U.S.-Taiwan relations already had been done. The U.S. had become increasingly reluctant to take the heat from China over weapons sales it was not confident Taiwan would follow through on.

When Taiwan's current president, Ma Ying-jeou, assumed office in May, he ushered in a policy of Taiwan-China détente and subsequently has expressed his desire for resumed purchases of U.S. arms. Still, the lingering fallout from the previous eight years and President Bush's personal reluctance to anger Beijing continue to hold up various pending arms sales.

Whether or not President Bush approves some or all arms sales after the Beijing Olympics in August -- he will attend the opening ceremony -- remains an open question. High-ranking officials at State and the White House fear major U.S. arms sales, even then, would undermine Taiwan-China détente and do major damage to U.S.-China relations. They also ask why Taiwan needs more weapons packages now. Why not let the next U.S. President address this issue, while the sale of other, less provocative systems, training and spare parts continue?

Herein lies the crux of the problem. How much risk can the U.S. take with Taiwan's security? If it was certain that Taiwan-China détente would go forward without sacrificing Taiwan's young and still fragile democracy, none of this would be of concern.

Beijing has proven all too often, however, that it will demand much and give little and that it sees the use and threat of force as an instrument of diplomacy. Has it demonstrated otherwise? Taiwan democratically elected a president who ran on a platform of détente with China. What has changed on the China side of the equation?

Until Beijing removes short- and medium-range ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan and reduces the number of combat aircraft and troops on its side of the Taiwan Strait, why should the U.S. delay in responding to Taiwan's requests for arms purchases? It will take months for the next administration to sort out its China/Taiwan policies, only delaying important decisions further. In the meantime, China's pressure on the U.S. will only increase as it continues to finance U.S. debt and leaves Washington worried that it won't cooperate with it in the international arena if the U.S. proceeds with major arms sales.

As Taiwan enters this challenging period of détente with China, it needs strong U.S. moral and material support more than ever. By taking action on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan before he leaves office, President Bush would bolster a democratic Taiwan and make it much easier for his successor to withstand pressure from Beijing as arms sales contracts are concluded and weapons systems are delivered. At the same time, President Ma must assure Washington that he is committed to Taiwan's defense and that if Washington approves the sale of F-16s and other major weapons, Taiwan will follow through with signed contracts and adequate funding.

It is time to demonstrate clearly that, while the U.S. supports Taiwan-China détente, it stands firmly behind Taiwan's democracy.

Mr. Ross, a defense consultant, is the former principal director for operations in the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. He writes a weekly Internet column at www.EWRoss.com.
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« Reply #26 on: July 19, 2008, 06:32:54 PM »

Bush Should Keep His Word on Taiwan
By DAN BLUMENTHAL, AARON FRIEDBERG, RANDALL SCHRIVER and ASHLEY J. TELLIS
July 19, 2008; Page A9

In 2001, President Bush made a bold and principled decision to offer Taiwan a range of military equipment for its security. In 2008, as he prepares to leave office, the president seems to have reneged on that commitment.

On Wednesday, Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, confirmed that the administration has frozen arms sales to the island nation, acknowledging Beijing's displeasure by way of explanation. "The Chinese have made clear to me their concern over any arms sales to Taiwan," he said at a Heritage Foundation forum in Washington. However, the decision to freeze arms sales is mistaken and dangerous.

The People's Republic of China has been expanding its military capabilities at a rapid pace. Included in this impressive buildup are weapons directly intended for use against Taiwan: hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles, scores of new fighter bombers and several types of attack submarines. In accordance with the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the Bush administration originally proposed an arms package designed to improve Taiwan's capacity for self-defense. Included were Patriot 3 missile-defense systems, P3C antisubmarine warfare aircraft, Apache helicopters, Kidd-class destroyers, diesel submarines and a modern command, control and communications system.

While defense experts in Taipei and Washington debated the utility of some of these systems for Taiwan's defense, as a package they constituted a powerful signal of America's long-standing commitment to Taiwan's defense and contained important elements of a stronger Taiwanese deterrent against potential Chinese aggression. The offer made good on Mr. Bush's promise that the U.S. would "do whatever it takes" to defend Taiwan.

In addition to the arms package, Mr. Bush also altered policy to normalize security relations with Taiwan, permitting it to request additional weapons systems as its military identified new requirements. Taiwan subsequently asked for 66 F-16 aircraft to replace its aging fighter fleet.

Unfortunately, Taiwan's domestic politics prevented speedy action on elements of the original U.S. offer. While it purchased the Kidd-class destroyers, the P3C aircraft, some elements of a missile defense system and a new command and control system, much of the American package became hostage to partisan bickering in Taipei. After significant delay, last year Taiwan's legislature finally acted, appropriating the money required to purchase most of the rest of the items offered by the U.S. in 2001.

The Bush administration now appears unwilling to follow through on its side of the bargain.

Why the volte-face? Following its initial offer of assistance, the Bush administration came to regard former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian as a reckless provocateur, determined to push his self-governing island toward formal independence from Beijing despite the risk of war. Fearful that selling Mr. Chen arms would only embolden him, some administration officials were quietly thankful for the continuing turmoil and indecision in Taipei.

Whatever the validity of these concerns, they no longer apply. In May 2008, the Taiwanese people elected opposition leader Ma Ying-jeou to the presidency. Mr. Ma is dedicated to improving cross-straits ties and eschews Mr. Chen's inflammatory rhetoric. But, like his predecessor, he is committed to strengthening Taiwan's self-defense capabilities.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration has been anxious to avoid antagonizing Beijing and eager to win its support on a variety of issues, especially its continuing efforts to denuclearize North Korea. Though the extent to which China has actually been helpful is debatable, the administration has increasingly subordinated many aspects of its Asia policy to the overarching aim of not offending Beijing.

The policy of not offending China, no matter what the costs, does not serve U.S. interests in the Taiwan Straits. First, it undermines Mr. Ma's ability to deal with Beijing from a position of strength, and to that extent it undermines the common objective of peaceful reunification, should the Taiwanese desire it.

Denying Taiwan the minimal capabilities required to cope with China's massive military buildup also increases the burdens on U.S. forces if they should ever intervene in a future cross-straits confrontation.

Moreover, the administration overstates the damage arms sales to Taiwan will do to cross-strait relations and to the overall relationship between the U.S. and China, important as that is. Beijing presumes Washington would move forward with arms it promised to sell to Taiwan some seven years ago. And, after adding several hundred advanced fighters to its own fleet, Beijing has no military reason to complain about the sale of 66 F-16s to Taiwan. None of the elements in the U.S. arms package in any case seriously increases Taiwan's offensive capabilities -- which are inconsequential to begin with.

Meanwhile, time is running out. The funds Taipei has appropriated to buy arms from the U.S. will lapse by the end of the 2008 and become unavailable. The process of Congressional notification necessary to conclude the sale too is lengthy and requires immediate administration action.

The administration should therefore move urgently to supply Taiwan with the capabilities promised in defense against China's growing ballistic missile, air and naval threats. Leaving office without approving these sales would be a strategic failure with far-reaching implications.

At stake is not only the defense of a democratic friend, but the credibility of the Ma government. Also at stake are America's commitment to protect its long-term interests throughout the Asia-Pacific, and Mr. Bush's determination to defend freedom. Failure to act would also set a dangerous precedent. For the first time since its opening to China, the U.S. government would have sidestepped its obligation to assist Taiwan in hopes of appeasing Beijing. Now is the time to change policy and move forward: both principle and pragmatism demand it.

Mr. Blumenthal is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Friedberg is professor of politics at Princeton. Mr. Tellis is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Schriver is a partner at Armitage International. All served in Asia policy positions under George W. Bush.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

And add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.

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« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2008, 10:47:51 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: The Escalating Internal Crisis of a Changing China
July 23, 2008
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura, speaking at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, noted a recent rise in “incidents” in China as the “dissatisfaction of people in China” turned against authorities. Machimura added that he hoped such incidents would not “become obstacles to a smooth holding of the Beijing Olympics,” and expressed some understanding as Japan faced similar “social turmoil” during its period of rapid economic expansion.

While Machimura may have been using his comments to make a subtle jab at his neighbor’s insecurities regarding image and the Olympics, his comments hit directly at the major crisis facing the government in Beijing: managing the social and security consequences of a changing China.

Beijing is well aware of the “contradictions,” as the Chinese Communist Party would call them, littering China’s economic, social and political landscape. Highlighting this point, the Politburo is holding a special session this week to discuss the state of the Chinese economy, particularly in the coastal growth engines, and security and stability during the upcoming Olympics. For Beijing, the Olympics have been both a blessing and a curse, bringing about impetus for economic and social developments, media openings and a sense of national pride spreading far beyond the mainland, yet also stirring up new and old security issues, providing opportunity for critics of the government at home and abroad, and ultimately exacerbating policy differences among the top leadership.

This year alone, Beijing has been faced with numerous crises. Some of these were natural disasters (though perhaps compounded by human factors), such as heavy snow and floods early in the year hitting the southern croplands followed by the Sichuan earthquake in May; others were security related, such as the attempted downing of a Chinese airliner by suspected Xinjiang Islamist militants, the Tibetan uprising, and bus bombings in Shanghai and Kunming; some were diplomatic, including criticism of support for Sudan, a deferred arms shipment to Zimbabwe, and territorial spats with Vietnam and Japan; and still others, such as numerous public demonstrations, riots, and attacks on government buildings and security forces over economic issues, reflected rising social tensions. Perhaps all of these have been exacerbated by the more open media environment inside China in recent years related both to the pre-Olympic “opening” and to changes in Beijing’s image and information management.

There have been similar occurrences in China in any given year over the past several decades. Natural disasters of one form or another aren’t exactly infrequent and security concerns with Tibet, Xinjiang, or other ethnic, religious, political or social movements spring up fairly often. Balancing its international image is a constant challenge and China admits each year to thousands of security incidents and social instabilities. But in recent years, such things have appeared more intense, more concentrated and more frequent. Whether this is a reflection of an actual intensification, as Machimura noted, or of increased media openness in China is unclear, but that these issues are troubling to Beijing is obvious.

But while these sorts of troubles rise and fall in China, Beijing faces added pressure this year, first from the Olympics (pressure it has brought on itself) and second — and perhaps more significant in the long run — from the rapid rise in global commodity prices and the simultaneous slowing of global economies. With the former, China tried to use the Olympics to highlight its self-proclaimed role as one of the “big” powers, opening up various restrictions at home to divert criticism from abroad while at the same time tightening the screws in other areas to prevent “embarrassing” situations from arising in full sight of the increased international scrutiny.

This is a very difficult balance in the best of times, but when the second factor — the commodity crisis — struck, it became nearly unmanageable as economic strains destabilized some of the carefully balanced contradictions Beijing had set in place. (China’s yuan policy and its simultaneous attempts to drive businesses to the interior and keep the money flowing in from the coast are just two obvious examples.) When social stresses exceeded the expected Olympic patriotism, the newfound openness let information about the troubles inside China spread rapidly, with or without Beijing’s consent, limiting the management options for the leadership. The system has been stressed by this short-term event, but it comes at a critical time in the longer-term view of Chinese national control and management.

Throughout history, China has run through cycles of strong centralized leadership, a devolution of power to a large bureaucracy designed to maintain control over the sheer size of the Chinese nation and population, and the eventual loss of central control over the regional and local leaders and economic elite — which in turn triggers an attempt at re-centralization of power frequently accompanied by social and political upheaval before the re-establishment of a strong center. When Deng Xiaoping talked about black cats and white cats both catching mice and opened up the coasts and ultimately the rest of China to economic growth and its attendant social changes, he was in a sense devolving power out to the local bureaucracies. While this led to the meteoric rise of China economically (though not without its social consequences throughout, including Tiananmen Square, a resurgent Uighur uprising in the mid 1990s, the Falun Gong stand-off and the recent Tibetan rising), it also weakened the central leadership’s ability to change course if necessary.

Like the rest of Asia, China’s economic miracle was not so much a reflection of some profound but long overlooked new way of doing business; rather it was the tried and true Asian method of economic growth — one with much less concern for profits, sustainability or efficiency than for… well… growth. In 1992, when the rest of the world was scrambling to learn Japanese and seeing the United States as a waning economic power in the face of Japan’s rising, Tokyo suddenly realized the consequences of the Asian growth model. It was followed half a decade later by the other Asian tigers, as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea all stumbled in the Asian economic crisis. China avoided both, but like its neighbors, China’s time is coming, and while they may not want to admit it publicly, it seems China’s leaders have recognized this as well.

The government has been working for several years, slowly at first but now with more vigor, to reclaim centralized control over the economy, to stave off a major economic crisis, or at least reclaim central control to manage the consequences. President Hu Jintao has repeatedly called for a shift from a raw economic growth focus to the creation of a “harmonious society;” a pleasant way of saying the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. Add to that the raft of new security regulations and policies put in place in the lead up to the Olympics, which may well serve to secure the venues for a few weeks in August and to batten down the hatches as a social storm swells. We may well be entering the crunch time in China’s historical cycle, and the confluence of the openness of the Olympics and the crisis of commodities at this critical moment of re-centralization may well be more than Beijing can manage.

If August passes, and September and October, and the new security, social and economic regulations put in place in the past few months don’t revert to their pre-Olympic status, it will be clear that Beijing sees a crisis coming. But seeing the hurricane bearing down on you doesn’t necessarily mean you can avoid it or weather it. China is reaching a critical moment, and as Machimura noted in classic understatement, “I suppose that overcoming such incidents will be a major theme for Chinese society in the future.”
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« Reply #28 on: July 29, 2008, 12:49:38 PM »

Look, Ma, No Arms   
By Matthew Continetti
The Weekly Standard | Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Early in 2001, President Bush approved the export of arms to democratic Taiwan. At the time, Bush said the United States would do "whatever it takes" to defend its tiny, besieged Pacific ally. That was yesterday. Today, it's looking more like Bush was just kidding.

How else to explain the administration's recent decision to freeze $16 billion worth of the arms deals? Bush approved the sale of Patriot missiles, Apache helicopters, and submarines to Taiwan more than seven years ago. Since then Taiwan has also requested 66 F-16 fighter jets to replace its aging planes. The Taiwanese legislature has appropriated the money with which to buy the weapons. In some cases it has already even put down payments. In return, America has given Taiwan a whole lot of nothing.

On July 16, the head of Pacific Command, Admiral Timothy Keating, told an audience at the Heritage Foundation that the administration has concluded "there is no pressing, compelling need for, at this moment, arms sales to Taiwan of the systems that we're talking about." This must have been news to the Taiwanese government, which says the weapons are needed to defend Taiwan. And it certainly must have been a surprise to the authors of the Pentagon's annual report on Chinese military power, who have for the past several years noted the dangerous shift in the military balance of power between Taiwan and China.

Taiwan president Ma Ying-Jeou took office last May, pledging to improve relations between Taiwan and China while protecting his democracy's sovereignty. To that end, in recent months the two countries have resumed cross-strait talks, allowed direct flights between the mainland and Taipei, and pursued further economic integration.

Yet Ma also understands that he must negotiate from a position of strength. For the United States to renege on its commitments would weaken Ma's hand at a critical time. After all, his government is only a few months old and Beijing is no doubt searching for weaknesses. American self-doubt and lack of follow through--in effect, a lack of American resolve and confidence in Ma's government--may lead Chinese policymakers to think that they can act provocatively.

Beijing has already gotten away with a lot. China is a rising autocratic power that has suffered no consequences for its gross human rights violations and support for rogue regimes. The military buildup on the Chinese side of the Taiwan Strait continues uninterrupted. There are now more than a thousand Chinese missiles pointed at Taiwan. In the last decade the Chinese have deployed more than 300 advanced aircraft across the Strait. China has five ongoing submarine programs. A massive, underground nuclear submarine base was recently detected on Hainan Island.

China has reasons for its buildup. It is meant, among other things, to deter unilateral declarations of Taiwanese independence. The authors of the Defense Department's 2008 report on Chinese military power wrote, the "ongoing deployment of short-range ballistic missiles, enhanced amphibious warfare capabilities, and modern, long-range anti-air systems opposite Taiwan are reminders of Beijing's unwillingness to renounce the use of force." The greater the military imbalance between China and Taiwan, the more likely China is to use military force in a cross-strait dispute. This is another reason the deal is necessary. Taiwan requires arms to serve as a deterrent against the mainland.

Why the delay? The administration has provided only a series of excuses. First the deal was held up because Washington was displeased with Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian's pro-independence rhetoric. Now Chen is gone, replaced by Ma's quietist diplomacy. The new excuse is that fulfilling our end of the bargain would upset China on the verge of next week's Beijing Olympics. Even if this were the case, and it probably is not, the administration has to shoulder much of the blame. Its foot-dragging in years past helped produce this impasse (though Taiwan's then-opposition Kuomintang party was also a problem). And once the Olympics are over, and the weapons still have not been exported, expect the administration to say that it cannot fulfill its commitments to Taiwan because to do so may jeopardize China's participation in the North Korean denuclearization talks.
All of these excuses point to the actual reason for the delay: America's current Taiwan policy is motivated by fear. We are afraid of upsetting China and afraid, in turn, of what an upset China might do in response. And the consequence of this fear is a weakened position for the United States and its East Asian allies.

On a visit to Taipei last week, former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told reporters that he expected the arms sales will be approved. We hope he is right. Let's not forget, however, that the Taiwan Relations Act also gives Congress a say in the defense assistance provided to Taiwan. Should the White House continue to drag its feet, it will fall to Congress to speak out in support of a democratically. And the message Congress might deliver is simple: Who is served when America neglects her friends in a misguided effort not to offend her rivals?
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« Reply #29 on: July 29, 2008, 04:26:48 PM »

Woof GM:

I share the aritcles sentiments, but it would have been nicer if they mentioned that we were ready to perform a couple of years ago and the Taiwanese were not , , ,

Anyway, here's this from Stratfor.  I am curious what you make of your theories after reading it.

M.
================

China, the Olympics and the Visa Mystery
July 29, 2008




By Rodger Baker

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2008 Olympics: Beijing’s Hopes and Hurdles
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Something extraordinary is happening in China, and we are not talking about the Olympics. Rather, Chinese officials have been clamping down on visa applications and implementing bureaucratic impediments to new and renewed visa applications under the guise of pre-Olympic security.

In some ways, Beijing’s plan for a safe and secure Olympics appears based on the premise that if no one shows up, there can be no trouble. But placing restrictions on the movement of managers and employees of foreign businesses operating in China, even if for a limited time as Chinese officials have been at pains to reassure, makes little sense from the standpoint of gaining political and economic benefits from hosting the Olympics. Something just isn’t right.

The Post-’70s Economic Framework
Since China’s economic reform and opening in the late 1970s, China’s economic policy — and thus the basis for the overall development of the nation — has been based on a simple two-part framework. First, draw in as much foreign investment as possible and use the money and technology to strengthen China while using the subsequent economic leverage to secure China. And second, encourage growth for growth’s sake to ensure an ever-increasing flow of money through the system to provide employment and social services to a massive and urbanizing population.

Key to this policy has been creating a very open environment for foreign businesses, which bring money, technology and expertise and use their influence with their own governments to keep stable international relations with China — hence reducing international and economic frictions and increasing the efficiency of the supply chain. For more than two decades, Chinese national strategy has thus revolved around the principle of encouraging investment, joint ventures and wholly-owned foreign enterprises in China. There have been two foundations for this strategy: the evolution of financial facilities for transferring and controlling foreign money with a level of transparency nearing international standards, and the ease of movement of personnel in and out of China.

It is this latter point that recently has been hit the hardest. Over the past several months as the Beijing Olympics drew nearer, the Chinese government has effectively frozen up most financial reform plans. It also has issued a raft of new security measures not entirely unlike other host cities in the post 9/11 security environment. But China has gone several steps further than its predecessor hosts, placing official and bureaucratic impediments on visa applications. This not only has targeted potential “troublemaking” rights advocates, it has also impacted foreign businesses ranging from invited guests to the Olympic games to managers and employees of foreign companies in China.

Business and the New Visa Hassles
The visa restrictions in particular have been a source of angst for foreign businesses and business associations. Many smaller operations may circumvent Chinese regulations and travel on tourist visas (provided they can still obtain them). And there are ways around the tighter regulations or bureaucratic hurdles if one has the right connections or the willingness to apply several times or from different locations. But multinational corporations are less willing to jeopardize their operations by skirting the laws. Instead, they are making their concerns known to Beijing and hoping that restrictions are eased in September, as Beijing has rumored and hinted will occur.

In general, these visa restrictions have been brushed aside by foreign observers as simply paranoia on China’s part regarding protests or terrorist attacks during the Olympics. In many ways, however, this makes little sense. First and most obvious, the Olympics were supposed to highlight the opening of China — not restrict the very people who have made China a key part of the global economy. Second, imposing tight restrictions in Shanghai, the center of the Chinese foreign-domestic economic nexus, makes little sense on grounds of Olympic security since Shanghai is playing only a minor role in the games compared to Beijing and Qingdao. (Think shutting down visas to New York during the Atlanta games in the name of security, though Shanghai admittedly is hosting some soccer matches.)

Shutting down business visas to keep terrorists out makes little sense anyway — it is hard to imagine Uighur militants traveling on business visas as representatives of foreign multinationals. Furthermore, by restricting business visas — even if not across the board in a coherent fashion — China is putting a massive strain not only on the ability of businesses to trust Chinese regulations and business relations with the government, but also on the fluidity of the global supply chain. Shutting down or impeding visas affects much more than delaying the movement of a single individual into China; it impacts the ability of multinational corporations to move, replace or supplement managers and dealmakers in China. A delayed visa applications of just three months still represents an entire quarter that multinational corporations cannot reliably manage their businesses operations in China, and that doesn’t take into account the visa backlog when restrictions are loosened or lifted.

Disrupting an integral part of the global economy for a full quarter because of an international exposition makes little sense. The Germans in 1936 didn’t do it, the Russians in 1980 didn’t — no one has. One doesn’t simply shut down international business transactions for three months or more to stop a terrorist — and particularly not China, which depends on foreign direct investment. This is not simply an inconvenience for some people: It is the imposition of friction on a part of the system that is supposed to be frictionless. And it is not merely individuals who are affected, but the relations between mammoth companies.

A Period of Erratic Policies
China’s behavior has been erratic for several months now, if not for the past few years, with the implementation of new and often contradictory security and economic policies. These have all been brushed aside as somehow related to preparation for the Olympics. But they are in fact anomalous. China’s behavior is not that of a country trying to show its best side for the international community, nor that of a nation simply concerned about potential terrorist or public relations threats to the Olympic games. In another two months, after the Olympics and Paralympics have ended, it will become clearer whether this was a spate of excessive paranoia or a reflection of a much more significant crisis facing the Chinese leadership — and the evidence increasingly points toward the latter.

As mentioned, China’s economic policies in the reform and opening era have been based on the idea of growth. This in many ways simply reflects the Asian economic model of maintaining cheap lending policies at home, subsidizing exports, flowing money through the system and focusing on revenue rather than profits. In essence, it is growth for the sake of growth. This was the policy of Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. And it led each of those countries to a final crisis point, striking Japan first in the early 1990s and the rest of the Asian tigers a few years later. But China managed to avoid each of the previous Asian economic crises points, as it was on the lagging end of growth and investment curves.

Following the Asian economic crisis, China fully recovered from the international stigma of Tiananmen Square and became the global economic darling. By the time the 21st century rolled around, China was already taking on the mantle of the Japanese and other Asians. It began to be labeled both an economic miracle and a rising power; a future challenge to U.S. economic dominance with all the political ramifications that brought. Were it not for 9/11, Washington would have squared off with Beijing to prevent the so-called China rise. The reprieve of international pressure that came when U.S. attention turned squarely toward Afghanistan and then Iraq freed China’s leaders from an external stress that could have brought about a very different set of economic and political decisions.

With the United States preoccupied, and no other major power really challenging China, Beijing shifted its attention to domestic issues, and its review quickly revealed the stresses to the system. These did not primarily come from “splittist” forces like the Tibetans or the Falun Gong, but rather from the economic policies that had brought China from the Third World to the center of the global economic system. Beijing is well-aware that should it continue with its current economic policies, it will face the same risk of crisis as Japan, South Korea and the rest of Asia. It is also aware that growing internal challenges — from the spread and invasiveness of corruption to geographic economic imbalances, from rising social unrest to massive dislocation of populations — are causing immediate problems.

Economics from Mao to Hu
Mao Zedong built a China designed to be self-sufficient and massively redundant. Every province, every city, every factory was supposed to be a self-contained unit, making the country capable of weathering nearly any military attack. Deng Xiaoping didn’t get rid of these redundancies when he opened the economy to foreign investment. Instead, he and his successors encouraged local officials to work to attract foreign investment and technology so as to raise China’s economic standard more rapidly. By the time Jiang Zemin was in power it had become clear that the regionally and locally driven economic policies threatened to throw China back into its old cycle of decentralization — and, ultimately, competing centers of power. Attempts by Jiang to correct this through the Go West program, for example, came to naught after meeting massive resistance in the wealthy coastal provinces. The central government accordingly backed off, shifting its attention to reclaiming centralized authority over the military.

Hu Jintao has sought once again to try to address the problem of the concentration of economic power in China’s coastal provinces and cities through his Harmonious Society initiative. The idea is to redistribute wealth and economic power, regain central authority over the economy, and at the same time reduce redundancies and inefficiencies in the Chinese economy. With minimal external interference, Hu was able to test policies that by their very nature were going to sacrifice short-term social stability in the name of long-term economic stability. Growth was replaced by sustainability as the target; longer-term redistribution of economic growth engines would replace short-term employment and social stability.

This was a risky proposition, and one that met strong resistance in China. But the alternative was to sit back and wait for the inevitable economic crisis and the social repercussions thereto. In some ways, Hu was suggesting that China risk stability in the short term to preserve stability in the long run. But Hu didn’t anticipate the massive surge in global commodity prices, particularly of food and oil. This was compounded by increased international scrutiny over China’s human rights record ahead of the Olympics, natural disasters hitting at the availability and distribution of goods, a rise in domestic social unrest triggered by local government policies and economic corruption, several attempted and successful attacks against China’s transportation infrastructure, and the uprising in Tibet. Thus, the already-risky policies the central government was pursuing suddenly looked more destructive than constructive from the point of view of continued rule by the Communist Party of China (CPC).

The global economic slowdown was the external impetus China feared — something that could undermine the flow of capital and leave Beijing unable to control the outcome of a reduction in the inflow of capital. At the same time, the internal social tensions triggered both by Hu’s attempts to reshape the Chinese economy and by the slow pace of those changes created a crisis for the Chinese leadership. It was hard enough internally to control a measured economic slowdown to reshape the economic structure of China, but quite another thing altogether to have such a slowdown imposed on China from outside at the very moment social stability was in a critical state at home.

A Government in Crisis
China’s rapid and contradictory economic and security policies, rising social tensions, and seemingly counterproductive visa regulations appear to be signs of a government in crisis. They are the reactionary policies of a central leadership trying to preserve its authority, stabilize social stability and postpone an economic crisis. At the same time, we see signs that the local governments, and even organs of the central government, are putting up steady resistance to the announcements coming from Beijing. Slapping restrictions on foreign businessmen may make little sense from a broader business continuity sense, but if the point is to begin breaking the backs of the local governments — whose strength lies in their relations with foreign businesses — then the moves may make more sense.

If the central government has reached the point that it is willing to risk its international business role to rein in wayward local officials, however, then the Chinese leadership sees a major crisis looming or already under way. It is one thing to toss out a few local leaders and replace them, quite another to undermine the structure of the Chinese economy for the sake of regaining control over local officials. But if Chinese history since 1949 (and really quite a ways before) is any guide, the core of the CPC leadership is willing to sacrifice social and economic stability to preserve power. One need only look at the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution or the crackdown at Tiananmen Square for evidence of this. Revolution is not, after all, a dinner party, and maintaining CPC control is paramount to the government.

After each major revolution or crisis, China eventually has recovered. The Cultural Revolution was followed by diplomatic relations with the United States, Tiananmen Square was put aside as China joined the World Trade Organization and surged ahead in gross domestic product (GDP). Certainly, there was change among the leadership and in the way the party dealt with policies at home and abroad. But if there is the likelihood of loss of control due to an impending economic crisis, better to have some role in shaping the crisis to preserve the chance of maintaining a role in the future political structure than to sit by and try to clean up as things fall apart. The Party in fact has a long history of taking a self-generated crisis/revolution over an externally or domestically initiated one.

It may be that the contradictory policies Beijing is tossing around these days will simply fade away after September and things will get back to “normal.” But already, Chinese officials are downplaying the previously hyped political and economic benefits of the Olympic games. They are now warning that economic conditions may not be so strong in the future, and at least internally discussing the distinct possibility that at least certain regions of China are facing the same economic crises faced by their mentors Japan, South Korea and the Asian tigers.

Internal Crises vs. the Economy
A recent article in the Global Times, a paper that addresses myriad topics of domestic and international significance and is read among China’s leaders, discussed how economics is not the best measure of strength. It referred to the overall comparative GDP and the size of China’s military in the late 1800s. Then, China was considered at its weakest, but from an economic or military perspective it could have been considered comparable to the global powers of the day. This hints at the deeper internal debate in Beijing, where true national strength and the role of the economy is under discussion. Assumptions that China is only focused on continued good economic ties with the world shouldn’t be taken as gospel — China has a track record of shutting down external connections when internal crises brew.

Numerous polices are being thrown around in firefighting fashion, including blocking or at least hindering foreign business movement in and out of the country and tightening the flow of foreign capital in both directions. They are coming in reaction to flare-ups in economic, environmental, public relations and social arenas. Energy policies are making less sense, imbalances in supply and demand are growing and seemingly contradictory policies are being issued. Social unrest, or at least local media coverage of such unrest, seems to be increasing; either is a sign of weakening control. Local officials are still failing to fall in line with central government edicts. Strategic state enterprises like China National Petroleum Corp., China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and the China Development Bank are all defying state-council orders — and the State Council itself is apparently going head-to-head with major policy bodies long given control over economic policies.

Something extraordinary is happening in China. And while not everyone may want that to be the case, and so have sought to use the Olympics to explain things away, the easy explanation simply doesn’t make enough sense
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G M
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« Reply #30 on: July 29, 2008, 08:03:29 PM »

Well, it appears that Stratfor and I agree that something has the Chinese power structure is acting like there is a major crisis looming. Their analysis is more sophisticated and nuanced than mine. If their actions start to affect international investment in China, they could be inducing a major crisis and normally Beijing isn't that stupid.

Something is going on behind the curtain, this much is true.
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« Reply #31 on: July 29, 2008, 08:59:55 PM »

**My reaction to the article below is "old news".**

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/feedarticle/7686896

China spying on Olympics hotel guests-US senator

Reuters
, Tuesday July 29 2008
By Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON, July 29 (Reuters) - China has installed Internet-spying equipment in all the major hotel chains serving the 2008 Summer Olympics, a U.S. senator charged on Tuesday.
"The Chinese government has put in place a system to spy on and gather information about every guest at hotels where Olympic visitors are staying," said Sen. Sam Brownback.
The conservative Republican from Kansas, citing hotel documents he received, added that journalists, athletes' families and others attending the Olympics next month "will be subjected to invasive intelligence-gathering" by China's Public Security Bureau. He said the agency will be monitoring Internet communications at the hotels.
The U.S. senator made a similar charge a few months ago but said that since then, hotels have come forward with detailed information on the monitoring systems that have been required by Beijing.
Brownback refused to identify the hotels, but said "several international hotel chains have confirmed the existence of this order."
Spokesmen at the Chinese Embassy in Washington were not available for comment.
Brownback, who staged an unsuccessful campaign for president this year, released documents that he said were notices to the hotels on Internet security. The authenticity of the documents could not be checked and portions were redacted.
One document said: "In order to ensure the smooth opening of Olympic in Beijing and the Expo in Shanghai in 2010, safeguard the security of Internet network and the information thereon in the hotels ... it is required that your company install and run the Security Management System."
Brownback said the hotels "have invested millions of dollars in their Chinese properties" and "could face severe retaliation from the Chinese government" if they refused to comply.
The senator called on China to reverse its policy, but said the hotels are advising guests that "your communications and Web site activity are not private" and that e-mails and Web sites being visited are accessible to local law enforcement.
More than two years ago, a U.S. House of Representatives committee held a hearing to probe U.S. firms' compliance with China's Internet censorship demands.
Brownback has been a critic of China on human rights issues and has been among U.S. lawmakers calling on President George W. Bush to boycott the Olympics opening ceremonies, largely to highlight allegations of Beijing's supply of arms to Sudan in return for oil. Those weapons have been used to carry out genocide in Darfur, according to China critics.
China has called human rights allegations nothing more than "noise pollution" and is hoping the Olympic Games will boost its international image. (Editing by Doina Chiacu)
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« Reply #32 on: August 10, 2008, 06:03:50 PM »

I thought this is a fascinating thought piece:

Liberal democracy vs. autocratic democracy:

***Patrick J. Buchanan
Democracy -- A Flickering Star?
08/08/2008

In his 1937 "Great Contemporaries," Winston Churchill wrote, "Whatever else may be thought about (Hitler's) exploits, they are among the most remarkable in the whole history of the world."

Churchill was referring not only to Hitler's political triumphs -- the return of the Saar and reoccupation of the Rhineland -- but his economic achievements. By his fourth year in power, Hitler had pulled Germany out of the Depression, cut unemployment from 6 million to 1 million, grown the GNP 37 percent and increased auto production from 45,000 vehicles a year to 250,000. City and provincial deficits had vanished.

In material terms, Nazi Germany was a startling success.
Continued
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And not only Churchill and Lloyd George but others in Europe and America were marveling at the exploits of the Third Reich, its fascist ally Italy and Joseph Stalin's rapidly industrializing Soviet state. "I have seen the future, and it works," Lincoln Steffins had burbled. Many Western men, seeing the democracies mired in Depression and moral malaise, were also seeing the future in Berlin, Moscow, Rome.

In Germany, Hitler was winning plebiscites with more than 90 percent of the vote in what outside observers said were free elections.

What calls to mind the popularity of the Third Reich and the awe it inspired abroad -- even after the bloody Roehm purge and the Nazi murder of Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss in 1934, and the anti-Semitic Nuremberg laws -- is a poll buried in The New York Times.

In a survey of 24 countries by Pew Research Center, the nation that emerged as far and away first on earth in the satisfaction of its people was China. No other nation even came close.

"Eighty-six percent of Chinese people surveyed said they were content with the country's direction, up from 48 percent in 2002. ... And 82 percent of Chinese were satisfied with their national economy, up from 52 percent," said the Times.

Yet, China has a regime that punishes dissent, severely restricts freedom, persecutes Christians and all faiths that call for worship of a God higher than the state, brutally represses Tibetans and Uighurs, swamps their native lands with Han Chinese to bury their cultures and threatens Taiwan.

China is also a country where Maoist ideology has been replaced by a racial chauvinism and raw nationalism reminiscent of Italy and Germany in the 1930s. Yet, again, over 80 percent of all Chinese are content or even happy with the direction of the country. Two-thirds say the government is doing a good job in dealing with the issues of greatest concern to them.

And what nation is it whose people rank as third most satisfied?

Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Moscow is today more nationalistic, less democratic and more confrontational toward the West than it has been since before the fall of communism. Power is being consolidated, former Soviet republics are hearing dictatorial growls from Moscow and a chill reminiscent of the Cold War is in the air.

Yet, wrote the Times, "Russians were the third most satisfied people with their country's direction, at 54 percent, despite Western concerns about authoritarian trends."

Of the largest nations on earth, the two that today most satisfy the desires of their peoples are the most authoritarian.

High among the reasons, of course, are the annual 10 percent to 12 percent growth China has experienced over the last decade, and the wealth pouring into Russia for the oil and natural gas in which that immense country abounds. Still, is this not disturbing? In China and Russia, the greatest of world powers after the United States, people seem to value freedom of speech, religion or the press far less than they do a rising prosperity and national pride and power. And they seem to have little moral concern about crushing national minorities.

Contrast, if you will, the contentment of Chinese and Russians with the dissatisfaction of Americans, only 23 percent of whom told the Pew poll they approved of the nation's direction. Only one in five Americans said they were satisfied with the U.S. economy.

Other polls have found 82 percent of Americans saying the country is headed in the wrong direction, only 28 percent approving of President Bush's performance and only half that saying they approve of the Congress. In Britain, France and Germany, only three in 10 expressed satisfaction with the direction of the nation.

Liberal democracy is in a bear market. Is it a systemic crisis, as well?

In his 1992 "The End of History," Francis Fukuyama wrote of the ultimate world triumph of democratic capitalism. All other systems had fallen, or would fall by the wayside. The future belonged to us.

Democratic capitalism, it would appear, now has a great new rival -- autocratic capitalism. In Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, nations are beginning to imitate the autocrats of China and Russia, even as some in the 1930s sought to ape fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

The game is not over yet. We are going into extra innings.****

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G M
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« Reply #33 on: August 16, 2008, 08:47:51 AM »

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/episodes/china-prep/aaron-brown-interview-vanessa-fong/2656/


Worth watching.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #34 on: August 16, 2008, 09:38:28 AM »

Fleshing out GM's rather laconic description, his post is of an interview about the Chinese educational system and contrasts it to the US one.
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« Reply #35 on: August 17, 2008, 06:16:03 AM »

Sorry, I should have added more.

I think that it's important to examine how various nations/cultures educate and socialize their children as this will be a good starting point in attempting to extrapolate the long term trajectories of those cultures/nations.

I'm not sure I agree with all the points made by the professor, but it's an interesting perspective.
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« Reply #36 on: August 20, 2008, 11:05:31 AM »

August 21, 2008
Two Women Sentenced to ‘Re-education’ in China

By ANDREW JACOBS
BEIJING — Two elderly Chinese women have been sentenced to a year of “re-education through labor” after they repeatedly sought a permit to demonstrate in one of the official Olympic protest areas, according to family members and human rights advocates.

The women, Wu Dianyuan, 79, and Wang Xiuying, 77, had made five visits to the police this month in an effort to get permission to protest what they contended was inadequate compensation for the demolition of their homes in Beijing.

During their final visit on Monday, public security officials informed them that they had been given administrative sentences for “disturbing the public order,” according to Li Xuehui, Ms. Wu’s son.

Mr. Li said his mother and Ms. Wang, who used to be neighbors before their homes were demolished to make way for a redevelopment project, were allowed to return home but were told they could be sent to a detention center at any moment. “Can you imagine two old ladies in their 70s being re-educated through labor?” he asked. He said Ms. Wang was nearly blind.

A man who answered the phone at the Public Security Bureau declined to give out information about the case.

At least a half dozen people have been detained by the authorities after they responded to a government announcement late last month designating venues in three city parks as “protest zones” during the Olympics. So far, no demonstrations have taken place.

According to Xinhua, the state news agency, 77 people submitted protest applications, none of which were approved. Xinhua, quoting a public security spokesperson, said that apart from those detained all but three applicants had dropped their requests after their complaints were “properly addressed by relevant authorities or departments through consultations.” The remaining three applications were rejected for incomplete information or for violating Chinese law.

The authorities, however, have refused to explain what happened to applicants who disappeared after they submitted their paperwork. Among these, Gao Chuancai, a farmer from northeast China who was hoping to publicize government corruption, was forcibly escorted back to his hometown last week and remains in custody.

Relatives of another person who was detained, Zhang Wei, a Beijing resident who was also seeking to protest the demolition of her home, were told she would be kept at a detention center for a month. Two rights advocates from southern China have not been heard from since they were seized last week at the Public Security Bureau’s protest application office in Beijing.

Ms. Wu and Ms. Wang were well known to the authorities for their persistent campaign for greater compensation for the demolition of their homes. Mr. Li said his family had given up their home in 2001 with the expectation that they would get a new one in the development that replaced it. Instead, he said, the family has been forced to live in a ramshackle apartment on the capital’s outskirts.

“I feel very sad and angry because we’re only asking for the basic right of living and it’s been six years, but nobody will do anything to help them,” Mr. Li said.

He said that he and Ms. Wang’s daughter tried to apply for their own protest permit on Tuesday but that the police would not even give them the necessary forms.

The two elderly women were given administrative sentences to re-education through labor, known as laojiao, which seeks to reform political and religious dissenters and those charged with minor crimes like prostitution and petty theft. Government officials say that 290,000 people are detained in re-education centers for terms ranging from one to three years, although detentions can be extended for those whose rehabilitation is deemed inadequate.

Human rights advocates have long criticized the system because punishment is handed down by officials without trials or means of appeal. Last year, the government briefly grappled with revamping the system but backed off in the face of opposition from public security officials.

Although it is unlikely that women as old as Ms. Wu and Ms. Wang would be forced into hard labor, many of those sentenced to laojiao often toil in agricultural or factory work and are forced to confess their transgressions.

Tang Xuemei contributed research.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/21/sports/olympics/21protest.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
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« Reply #37 on: August 20, 2008, 02:57:44 PM »

iTunes Store embroiled in Olympic protest over Tibet
By Charles Jade | Published: August 20, 2008 - 02:19PM CT

As if Apple didn't have enough problems right now with iPhone woes and a MobileMe meltdown, The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that the iTunes Store has become part of an international incident. The story began shortly before the start of the Olympics when a pro-Tibet organization, The Art of Peace Foundation, cobbled together an album from some 20 artists, Songs for Tibet - The Art of Peace. From superstars and plastic surgery addicts like Madonna to the totally hot Regina Spektor—what pipes hath she!—the music, while not new, really isn't too bad. There's also 15 minutes of video from some guy wearing sheets for those who buy the album. Unless you are in China, that is.

It seems that foreigners living in China have begun to have problems with accessing the iTunes store. The Herald reports what is allegedly the response of Apple customer support to a blogger named JeninShanghai.

"iTunes is not being blocked in China from our end, but access to the iTunes Store IS restricted in some areas in China. This would also explain why it's happening to your friends there as well," the response reads.

"I would advise that you contact your ISP [internet service provider] about this matter. Please also note though that accessing the US iTunes Store outside of the geographic region of the United States is not supported, and that attempting to access it while in China is at your own risk."

The catalyst for this apparent interruption of service may have been a stealth protest instigated by The Art of Peace foundation. Its album was to be given away free to athletes, and "over 40 Olympic athletes in North America, Europe and even Beijing" downloaded it. And for those thinking this is simply a reactionary response from an authoritarian regime, one need only visit the iTunes Store and peruse the reviews. Besides one-star ratings and plenty of hanz, there is no shortage of hilarious broken-English comments.

Tibet is China forever! Taiwan is! We are all Chinese Nation! Chinese people to roar! Chinese is the roar! This genuine peace cheers! Love China!

Dalai Lama = LIAR. Tibet separatists are mainly funded by the CIA. Dalai Lama was biggest slave holder in human history.

Apple Inc is really, really so stupid of putting an album like this on the very position of iTunes Store.
Setting aside whether the Dalai Lama is like Hitler—how do you say Godwin's Law in Mandarin?—the nationalist sentiment is not really surprising, but that last comment is something to think about. Apple just opened its first store in Beijing and is actively pursuing negotiations over bringing the iPhone to China. An issue like this certainly doesn't help. Of course, it's not like Apple will pull the album, but it's an open question whether politically-sensitive albums like a second Songs for Tibet, let alone something like Songs for Palestine, will be debuting at the iTunes Store any time soon.

http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2008/08/20/itunes-store-embroiled-in-olympic-protest-over-tibet
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« Reply #38 on: August 22, 2008, 02:40:40 PM »

China Looks Across the Strait   
By Dan Blumenthal and Christopher Griffin
The Weekly Standard | Friday, August 22, 2008

For Beijing, Russia's invasion of Georgia has been a mixed blessing. Vladimir Putin stole China's limelight during the Olympics' opening ceremonies with a fireworks display of his own in the Caucasus and embarrassed his Chinese hosts. On the other hand, Putin's Olympics offensive has a long-term upside for Beijing: that the West dithered during the invasion of an upstart democracy must have provided comfort to those in China who want to settle the Taiwan issue by force.
The U.S. response to the invasion of Georgia was embarrassing. President Bush chose not to interrupt his Beijing itinerary of watching basketball and beach volleyball, and his administration's lackadaisical actions sent a clear message to his Chinese hosts about waning American will to stand by its allies. The initial call by both presidential candidate Barack Obama and President Bush that both aggressor and victim stand down must have been music to China's ears.
For years China has been selling the argument that Taiwan is a provocateur. Beijing argued throughout the administration of independence-leaning Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian that "separatists" in Taipei had hijacked Chinese "compatriots" on the island who really want unification with the Chinese motherland. Remove the separatists, China's rhetoric went, and Taiwan will return to the motherland--allow them to govern, and China will one day have to attack.
The election of the more accommodationist President Ma Ying-jeou has somewhat stalled China's belligerence, but Taiwan is a democracy and the "separatists" will be voted back in one day. The Taiwanese public, moreover, is itself becoming more separatist--only a tiny and diminishing minority wants to unify with China. This fact may explain why, even after Ma's election, China has not halted its military build-up across the Strait: Over 1,000 ballistic missiles, 300 advanced fighters, dozens of submarines and destroyers are poised to wreak havoc on the small, isolated island. As China grows stronger it is no longer fanciful to imagine it pulling a Putin, trumping up any number of Taiwanese "provocations" as a pretext to attack.
The underlying tensions in the Taiwan Strait bear important similarities to those in the Caucasus. Just as authoritarian Russia objects to a democratic, pro-American Georgia, so too authoritarian China sees a democratic, pro-American Taiwan as a gaping wound on its periphery. The main cause of tensions is domestic politics. An authoritarian China, like authoritarian Russia, needs fervent nationalism to retain its shaky legitimacy. The "sacred goal" of reunifying the motherland serves that purpose well.
America's tepid response to Russia's invasion of Georgia has harmed its ability to act as a global deterrent. If Washington was slow in response to Georgia, a country that it sponsored for NATO membership, whose president it feted at the White House in 2006 and that hosted President Bush in 2005 with great fanfare, Beijing must wonder if the United States would do anything for isolated Taiwan. Unlike Georgia, Taiwan is a pariah in the international community.
Washington's complicity in Taiwan's isolation only tempts Chinese aggression. While Russia's actions have sent a harmful signal to all would-be aggressors, a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is far from inevitable. The United States can recapitalize its maritime and air forces in the Pacific, and make it clear that it will defend Taiwan from attack. America is a $15 trillion economy that can afford the weapons it needs to keep the peace in the Pacific. While Beijing's military threat to Taiwan should be taken seriously, China is a $3 trillion economy with a host of domestic problems.
In the end, though, the true path to peace in the Strait is a reformed and liberalized China focused on its manifold domestic problems rather than on a bellicose nationalism.

Dan Blumenthal is a resident fellow and Christopher Griffin a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
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« Reply #39 on: August 26, 2008, 08:19:19 AM »

We Can Help China Embrace the Future
By TONY BLAIR
August 26, 2008; Page A21

The Beijing Olympic Games were a powerful spectacle, stunning in sight and sound. But the moment that made the biggest impression on me came during an informal visit just before the Games to one of the new Chinese Internet companies, and in conversation with some of the younger Chinese entrepreneurs.

These people, men and women, were smart, sharp, forthright, unafraid to express their views about China and its future. Above all, there was a confidence, an optimism, a lack of the cynical, and a presence of the spirit of get up and go, that reminded me greatly of the U.S. at its best and any country on its way forward.

These people weren't living in fear, but looking forward in hope. And for all the millions still in poverty in China, for all the sweep of issues -- political, social and economic -- still to be addressed, that was the spirit of China during this festival of sport, and that is the spirit that will define its future.

During my 10 years as British leader, I could see the accelerating pace of China's continued emergence as a major power. I gave speeches about China, I understood it analytically. But I did not feel it emotionally and therefore did not fully understand it politically.

Since leaving office I have visited four times and will shortly return again. People ask what is the legacy of these Olympics for China? It is that they mark a new epoch -- an opening up of China that can never be reversed. It also means that ignorance and fear of China will steadily decline as the reality of modern China becomes more apparent.

Power and influence is shifting to the East. In time will come India, too. Some see all this as a threat. I see it as an enormous opportunity. But we have to exercise a lot of imagination and eliminate any vestiges of historic arrogance.

The volunteer force that staged the Games was interested, friendly and helpful. The whole feel of the city was a world away from the China I remember on my first visit 20 years ago. And the people are proud, really and honestly proud, of their country and its progress.

No sensible Chinese person -- including the country's leadership -- doubts there remain issues of human rights and political and religious freedom to be resolved. But neither do the sensible people -- including the most Western-orientated Chinese -- doubt the huge change, for the better, there has been. China is on a journey. It is moving forward quickly. But it knows perfectly well the journey is not complete. Observers should illuminate the distance to go, by all means, but recognize the distance traveled.

The Chinese leadership is understandably preoccupied with internal development. Beijing and Shanghai no more paint for you the complete picture of China than New York and Washington do of the U.S. Understanding the internal challenge is fundamental to understanding China, its politics and its psyche. We in Europe have roughly 5% of our population employed in agriculture. China has almost 60%. Over the coming years it will seek to move hundreds of millions of its people from a rural to an urban economy. Of course India will seek to do the same, and the scale of this transformation will create huge challenges and opportunities in the economy, the environment and politically.

For China, this economic and social transformation has to come with political stability. It is in all our interests that it does. The policy of One China is not a piece of indulgent nationalism. It is an existential issue if China is to hold together in a peaceful and stable manner as it modernizes. This is why Tibet is not simply a religious issue for China but a profoundly political one -- Tibet being roughly a quarter of China's land mass albeit with a small population.

So we should continue to engage in a dialogue over the issues that rightly concern people, but we should conduct it with at least some sensitivity to the way China sees them.

This means that the West needs a strong partnership with China, one that goes deep, not just economically but politically and culturally. The truth is that nothing in the 21st century will work well without China's full engagement. The challenges we face today are global. China is now a major global player. So whether the issue is climate change, Africa, world trade or the myriad of security questions, we need China to be constructive; we need it to be using its power in partnership with us. None of this means we shouldn't continue to raise the issues of human rights, religious freedoms and democratic reforms as European and American leaders have done in recent weeks.

It is possible to hyperbolize about the rise of China. For example, Europe's economies are still major and combined outreach those of China and India combined. But, as the Olympics and its medal tables show, it is not going to stay that way. This is a historic moment of change. Fast forward 10 years and everyone will know it.

For centuries, the power has resided in the West, with various European powers including the British Empire and then, in the 20th century, the U.S. Now we will have to come to terms with a world in which the power is shared with the Far East. I wonder if we quite understand what that means, we whose culture (not just our politics and economies) has dominated for so long. It will be a rather strange, possibly unnerving experience. Personally, I think it will be incredibly enriching. New experiences; new ways of thinking liberate creative energy. But in any event, it will be a fact we have to come to terms with. For the next U.S. president, this will be or should be at the very top of the agenda, and as a result of the strength of the Sino-U.S. relationship under President Bush, there is a sound platform to build upon.

The Olympics is now the biggest sporting event in the world, and because of the popularity of sport it is therefore one of the events that makes a genuine impact on real people. These Games have given people a glimpse of modern China in a way that no amount of political speeches could do.

London 2012 gives Britain a tremendous chance to explore some of these changes and explain to the East what the modern West is about. One thing is for certain: Hosting the Olympics is now a fantastic opportunity for any nation. My thoughts after the Beijing Games are that we shouldn't try to emulate the wonder of the opening ceremony. It was the spectacular to end all spectaculars and probably can never be bettered. We should instead do something different, drawing maybe on the ideals and spirit of the Olympic movement. We should do it our way, like they did it theirs. And we should learn from and respect each other. That is the way of the 21st century.

Mr. Blair, former prime minister of Great Britain, is teaching a course on faith and globalization at the Yale Schools of Management and Divinity.
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« Reply #40 on: September 05, 2008, 07:58:46 AM »

China sees India as a strategic opponent; appears they've decided to give India something to think about, and have been doing so for a while.

China tested nukes for Pakistan, gave design
5 Sep 2008, 1046 hrs IST, CHIDANAND RAJGHATTA,TNN


WASHINGTON: While an assortment of non-proliferation hardliners and hi-tech suppliers treat India with immense suspicion in the matter of nuclear trade predicated on tests, it turns out that the United States and the west were fully aware of Chinese nuclear weapons proliferation to Pakistan, including conducting a proxy test for it, as far back as 1990.

In some of the most startling revelations to emerge on the subject, a high-ranking former US official who was also a nuclear weapons designer has disclosed that ''in 1982 China's premier Deng Xiaoping began the transfer of nuclear weapons technology to Pakistan.''

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-3447395,prtpage-1.cms

The whistleblower isn't a think-tank academic or an unnamed official speaking on background. Thomas Reed, described as a former U.S ''nuclear weaponeer'' and a Secretary of the Air Force (1976-77) writes in the latest issue of Physics Today that China’s transfers to Pakistan included blueprints for the ultrasimple CHIC-4 design using highly enriched uranium, first tested by China in 1966. A Pakistani derivative of CHIC-4 apparently was tested in China on 26 May 1990, he adds.

Reed makes an even more stunning disclosure, saying Deng not only authorized proliferation to Pakistan, but also, "in time, to other third world countries.'' The countries are not named. He also says that during the 1990s, China conducted underground hydronuclear experiments—though not full-scale device tests—for France at Lop Nur.

Reed’s disclosures are based on his knowledge of and insights into the visits to China by Dan Stillman, a top US nuclear expert who went there several times in the late 1980s at Beijing invitation, in part because the Chinese wanted to both show-off and convey to the US the progress they had made in nuclear weaponisation.

One of Stillman's visit to the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear Research (SINR), writes Reed, ''also produced his first insight into the extensive hospitality extended to Pakistani nuclear scientists during that same late-1980s time period,'' which would eventually lead to the joint China-Pak nuclear test.

Chinese nuclear proliferation to Pakistan, including the supply of hi-tech items like ring magnets in the early 1990s, has always been known to the non-proliferation community (which largely slept on the reports). But this is the first time it has been confirmed by such a senior official.

In the late 1980s, both the Reagan and the George Bush Sr administration repeatedly fudged the issue to certify that Pakistan had not gone nuclear despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

In his assessment of the Chinese nuclear program based on Stillman’s visits, Reed writes admiringly about Beijing’s successes, saying ''Over a period of 15 years, an intellectually talented China achieved parity with the West and pre-eminence over its Asian peers in the design of nuclear weapons and in understanding underground nuclear testing.''

"China now stands in the first rank of nuclear powers," he concludes.

In trenchant observation, Reed writes, ''Any nuclear nation should consider its nuclear tests to be giant physics experiments. The Chinese weaponeers understood that well; other proliferators do not. Many states have considered their early nuclear shots to be political demonstrations or simple proof tests. In China, however, extremely sophisticated instrumentation was used on even the first nuclear test.''

Chronicling the progress of China’s nuclear weapons program, Reed writes: Atop a tower on 16 October 1964, China's first nuclear device, 596, was successfully fired. US intelligence analysts were astonished by the lack of plutonium in the fallout debris and by the speed with which China had broken into the nuclear club, but that was only the beginning.

Eighteen months later, in the spring of 1966, China entered the thermonuclear world with the detonation of a boosted-fission, airdropped device that used lithium-6, a primary source of tritium when bombarded with neutrons. That test, their third, achieved a yield of 200–300 kilotons. By the end of the year, they made the leap to multistage technology with a large two-stage experiment that yielded only 122 kilotons, but it again displayed 6Li in the bomb debris.

The Chinese then closed the circle on 17 June 1967, unambiguously marching into the H-bomb club with a 3.3-megaton burst from an aircraft-delivered weapon. On 27 December 1968, the Chinese bid the Johnson administration farewell with an improved, airdropped 3-megaton thermonuclear device that for the first time used plutonium in the primary.

It is clear from the reactor-to-bomb progression times that by 1968 China had unequivocally entered the European nuclear cartel on a par with the U, says Reed. Furthermore, China had become a thermonuclear power. It had achieved the leap from the initial A-bomb test to a 3.3-megaton thermonuclear blast in a record-breaking 32 months. It had taken the US more than seven years to accomplish that feat.

« Last Edit: September 05, 2008, 08:03:27 AM by Body-by-Guinness » Logged
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« Reply #41 on: September 05, 2008, 08:02:27 AM »

2nd post. In view of recent reports of US incursions, this is interesting.

   China to provide Pakistan four AWACS aircrafts
    Updated at: 1510 PST, Friday, September 05, 2008
 
    ISLAMABAD: Air Chief Marshall Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed on Friday said China would provide four AWACS aircrafts to Pakistan for the purpose of aerial surveillance, adding an agreement in this regard has been signed by the two countires.

Talking to Geo News, he said talks were also underway to purchase FC-20 aircrafts from China and added 30 to 40 planes would be provided to Pakistan under the agreement signed by China and Pakistan.

Air chief Marshall further said four such aircrafts were being also acquired from Sweden for aerial surveillance.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=54260
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #42 on: September 12, 2008, 07:09:20 PM »

http://www.tothepointnews.com/content/view/3332/82/

China vs. the environment/the planet
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tankerdriver
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« Reply #43 on: September 18, 2008, 11:07:45 PM »

China right now is an experiment. Only time will tell if they are right. They have all this structure from the government, but you can't take human nature out of the equation.
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tankerdriver
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« Reply #44 on: September 27, 2008, 10:27:54 AM »

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/3092001/China-space-walk-Astronauts-small-step-hailed-as-giant-leap-for-the-country.html

China has first Space Walk!
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« Reply #45 on: September 28, 2008, 11:55:40 AM »

PETER HITCHENS: How China has created a new slave empire in Africa

By PETER HITCHENS
Last updated at 12:00 PM on 28th September 2008


Narrow escape: Peter Hitchens
I think I am probably going to die any minute now. An inflamed, deceived mob of about 50 desperate men are crowding round the car, some trying to turn it over, others beating at it with large rocks, all yelling insults and curses.

They have just started to smash the windows. Next, they will pull us out and, well, let's not think about that ...

I am trying not to meet their eyes, but they are staring at me and my companions with rage and hatred such as I haven't seen in a human face before. Those companions, Barbara Jones and Richard van Ryneveld, are - like me - quite helpless in the back seats.

If we get out, we will certainly be beaten to death. If we stay where we are, we will probably be beaten to death.

Our two African companions have - crazily in our view - got out of the car to try to reason with the crowd. It is clear to us that you might as well preach non-violence to a tornado.

At last, after what must have been about 40 seconds but that felt like half an hour, one of the pair saw sense, leapt back into the car and reversed wildly down the rocky, dusty path - leaving his friend behind.

By the grace of God we did not slither into the ditch, roll over or burst a tyre. Through the dust we churned up as we fled, we could see our would-be killers running with appalling speed to catch up. There was just time to make a crazy two-point turn which allowed us to go forwards and so out-distance them.

We had pretty much abandoned our other guide to whatever his fate might be (this was surprisingly easy to justify to myself at the time) when we saw that he had broken free and was running with Olympic swiftness, just ahead of pursuers half hidden by the dust.

We flung open a rear door so he could scramble in and, engine grinding, we veered off, bouncing painfully over the ruts and rocks.

We feared there would be another barricade to stop our escape, and it would all begin again. But there wasn't, and we eventually realised we had got away, even the man whose idiocy nearly got us killed.

He told us it was us they wanted, not him, or he would never have escaped. We ought to be dead. We are not. It is an interesting feeling, not wholly unpleasant.

Why did they want to kill us? What was the reason for their fury? They thought that if I reported on their way of life they might lose their livings.

Livings? Dyings, more likely.


Peking power: A Chinese supervisor cajoles local workers as they dig a trench in Kabwe, Zambia
These poor, hopeless, angry people exist by grubbing for scraps of cobalt and copper ore in the filth and dust of abandoned copper mines in Congo, sinking perilous 80ft shafts by hand, washing their finds in cholera-infected streams full of human filth, then pushing enormous two-hundredweight loads uphill on ancient bicycles to the nearby town of Likasi where middlemen buy them to sell on, mainly to Chinese businessmen hungry for these vital metals.

To see them, as they plod miserably past, is to be reminded of pictures of unemployed miners in Thirties Britain, stumbling home in the drizzle with sacks of coal scraps gleaned from spoil heaps.

Except that here the unsparing heat makes the labour five times as hard, and the conditions of work and life are worse by far than any known in England since the 18th Century.

Many perish as their primitive mines collapse on them, or are horribly injured without hope of medical treatment. Many are little more than children. On a good day they may earn $3, which just supports a meagre existence in diseased, malarial slums.

We had been earlier to this awful pit, which looked like a penal colony in an ancient slave empire.

Defeated, bowed figures toiled endlessly in dozens of hand-dug pits. Their faces, when visible, were blank and without hope.

We had been turned away by a fat, corrupt policeman who pretended our papers weren't in order, but who was really taking instructions from a dead-eyed, one-eared gangmaster who sat next to him.

By the time we returned with more official permits, the gangmasters had readied the ambush.

The diggers feared - and their evil, sinister bosses had worked hard on that fear - that if people like me publicised their filthy way of life, then the mine might be closed and the $3 a day might be taken away.

I can give you no better explanation in miniature of the wicked thing that I believe is now happening in Africa.

Out of desperation, much of the continent is selling itself into a new era of corruption and virtual slavery as China seeks to buy up all the metals, minerals and oil she can lay her hands on: copper for electric and telephone cables, cobalt for mobile phones and jet engines - the basic raw materials of modern life.

It is crude rapacity, but to Africans and many of their leaders it is better than the alternative, which is slow starvation.


The Congolese risk their lives digging through mountains of mining waste looking for scraps of metal ore
It is my view - and not just because I was so nearly killed - that China's cynical new version of imperialism in Africa is a wicked enterprise.

China offers both rulers and the ruled in Africa the simple, squalid advantages of shameless exploitation.

For the governments, there are gargantuan loans, promises of new roads, railways, hospitals and schools - in return for giving Peking a free and tax-free run at Africa's rich resources of oil, minerals and metals.

For the people, there are these wretched leavings, which, miserable as they are, must be better than the near-starvation they otherwise face.

Persuasive academics advised me before I set off on this journey that China's scramble for Africa had much to be said for it. They pointed out China needs African markets for its goods, and has an interest in real economic advance in that broken continent.

For once, they argued, a foreign intervention in Africa might work precisely because it is so cynical and self-interested. They said Western aid, with all its conditions, did little to create real advances in Africa, laughing as they declared: 'The only country that ever got rich through donations is the Vatican.'

Why get so het up about African corruption anyway? Is it really so much worse than corruption in Russia or India?

Is it really our business to try to act as missionaries of purity? Isn't what we call 'corruption' another name for what Africans view as looking after their families?

And what about China herself? Despite the country's convulsive growth and new wealth, it still suffers gravely from poverty and backwardness, as I have seen for myself in its dingy sweatshops, the primitive electricity-free villages of Canton, the dark and squalid mining city of Datong and the cave-dwelling settlements that still rely on wells for their water.

After the murderous disaster of Mao, and the long chaos that went before, China longs above all for stable prosperity. And, as one genial and open-minded Chinese businessman said to me in Congo as we sat over a beer in the decayed colonial majesty of Lubumbashi's Belgian-built Park Hotel: 'Africa is China's last hope.'

I find this argument quite appealing, in theory. Britain's own adventures in Africa were not specially benevolent, although many decent men did what they could to enforce fairness and justice amid the bigotry and exploitation.


Taking over: Chinese building workers in Zambia
It is noticeable that in much former British territory we have left behind plenty of good things and habits that are absent in the lands once ruled by rival empires.

Even so, with Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Uganda on our conscience, who are we to lecture others?

I chose to look at China's intervention in two countries, Zambia and the 'Democratic Republic of the Congo', because they lie side by side; because one was once British and the other Belgian.

Also, in Zambia's imperfect but functioning democracy, there is actual opposition to the Chinese presence, while in the despotic Congo, opposition to President Joseph Kabila is unwise, to put it mildly.

Congo is barely a state at all, and still hosts plenty of fighting not all that far from here.

Statues and images of Joseph's murdered father Laurent are everywhere in an obvious attempt to create a cult of personality on which stability may one day be based. Portraits of Joseph himself scowl from every wall.

I have decided not to name most of the people who spoke to me, even though some of them gave me permission to do so, because I am not sure they know just how much of a risk they may be running by criticising the Chinese in Africa.

I know from personal experience with Chinese authority that Peking regards anything short of deep respect as insulting, and it does not forget a slight.

I also know that this over-sensitive vigilance is present in Africa.

The Mail on Sunday team was reported to the authorities in Zambia's Copper Belt by Chinese managers who had seen us taking photographs of a graveyard at Chambishi where 54 victims of a disaster in a Chinese-run explosives factory are buried. Within an hour, local 'security' officials were buzzing round us trying to find out what we were up to.

This is why I have some time for the Zambian opposition politician Michael Sata, known as 'King Cobra' because of his fearless combative nature (but also, say his opponents, because he is so slippery).

Sata has challenged China's plans to invest in Zambia, and is publicly suspicious of them. At elections two years ago, the Chinese were widely believed to have privately threatened to pull out of the country if he won, and to have helped the government parties win.

Peking regards Zambia as a great prize, alongside its other favoured nations of Sudan (oil), Angola (oil) and Congo (metals).


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« Reply #46 on: September 28, 2008, 11:56:10 AM »

Fighting back: Peter Hitchens with Michael Sata, the opposition politician nicknamed 'King Cobra'
It has cancelled Zambia's debts, eased Zambian exports to China, established a 'special economic zone' in the Copper Belt, offered to build a sports stadium, schools, a hospital and an anti-malaria centre as well as providing scholarships and dispatching experts to help with agriculture. Zambia-China trade is growing rapidly, mainly in the form of copper.

All this has aroused the suspicions of Mr Sata, a populist politician famous for his blunt, combative manner and his harsh, biting attacks on opponents, and who was once a porter who swept the platforms at Victoria Station in London.

Now the leader of the Patriotic Front, with a respectable chance of winning a presidential election set for the end of October, Sata says: 'The Chinese are not here as investors, they are here as invaders.

'They bring Chinese to come and push wheelbarrows, they bring Chinese bricklayers, they bring Chinese carpenters, Chinese plumbers. We have plenty of those in Zambia.'

This is true. In Lusaka and in the Copper Belt, poor and lowly Chinese workers, in broad-brimmed straw hats from another era, are a common sight at mines and on building sites, as are better-dressed Chinese supervisors and technicians.

There are Chinese restaurants and Chinese clinics and Chinese housing compounds - and a growing number of Chinese flags flapping over factories and smelters.

'We don't need to import labourers from China,' Sata says. 'We need to import people with skills we don't have in Zambia. The Chinese are not going to train our people in how to push wheelbarrows.'

He meets me in the garden of his not specially grand house in the old-established and verdant Rhodes Park section of Lusaka. It is guarded by uniformed security men, its walls protected by barbed wire and broken glass.

'Wherever our Chinese "brothers" are they don't care about the local workers,' he complains, alleging that Chinese companies have lax safety procedures and treat their African workers like dirt.

In language which seems exaggerated, but which will later turn out to be at least partly true, he claims: 'They employ people in slave conditions.'

He also accuses Chinese overseers of frequently beating up Zambians. His claim is given force by a story in that morning's Lusaka newspapers about how a Zambian building worker in Ndola, in the Copper Belt, was allegedly beaten unconscious by four Chinese co-workers angry that he had gone to sleep on the job.

I later checked this account with the victim's relatives in an Ndola shanty town and found it to be true.


Evidence of China is never very far away
Recently, a government minister, Alice Simago, was shown weeping on TV after she saw at first hand the working conditions at a Chinese-owned coal mine in the Southern Province.

When I contacted her, she declined to speak to me about this - possibly because criticism of the Chinese is not welcome among most of the Zambian elite.

Denis Lukwesa, deputy general secretary of the Zambian Mineworkers' Union, also backed up Sata's view, saying: 'They just don't understand about safety. They are more interested in profit.'

As for their general treatment of African workers, Lukwesa says he knows of cases where Chinese supervisors have kicked Zambians. He summed up their attitude like this: 'They are harsh to Zambians, and they don't get on well with them.'

Sata warns against the enormous loans and offers of help with transport, schools and health care with which Peking now sweetens its attempts to buy up Africa's mineral reserves.

'China's deal with the Democratic Republic of the Congo is, in my opinion, corruption,' he says, comparing this with Western loans which require strong measures against corruption.

Everyone in Africa knows China's Congo deal - worth almost £5billion in loans, roads, railways, hospitals and schools - was offered after Western experts demanded tougher anti-corruption measures in return for more aid.

Sata knows the Chinese are unpopular in his country. Zambians use a mocking word - 'choncholi' - to describe the way the Chinese speak. Zambian businessmen gossip about the way the Chinese live in separate compounds, where - they claim - dogs are kept for food.

There are persistent rumours, which cropped up in almost every conversation I had in Zambia, that many of the imported Chinese workforce are convicted criminals whom China wants to offload in Africa. I was unable to confirm this but, given China's enormous gulag and the harshness of life for many migrant workers, it is certainly not impossible.

Sata warns that 'sticks and stones' may one day fly if China does not treat Zambians better. He now promises a completely new approach: 'I used to sweep up at your Victoria Station, and I never got any complaints about my work. I want to sweep my country even cleaner than I swept your stations.'

Some Africa experts tend to portray Sata as a troublemaker. His detractors whisper that he is a mouthpiece for Taiwan, which used to be recognised by many African states but which faces almost total isolation thanks to Peking's new Africa policy.

But his claims were confirmed by a senior worker in Chambishi, scene of the 2005 explosion. This man, whom I will call Thomas, is serious, experienced and responsible. His verdict on the Chinese is devastating.

He recalls the aftermath of the blast, when he had the ghastly task of collecting together what remained of the men who died: 'Zambia, a country of 11million people, went into official mourning for this disaster.

'A Chinese supervisor said to me in broken English, "In China, 5,000 people die, and there is nothing. In Zambia, 50 people die and everyone is weeping." To them, 50 people are nothing.'

This sort of thing creates resentment. Earlier this year African workers at the new Chinese smelter at Chambishi rioted over low wages and what they thought were unsafe working conditions.

When Chinese President Hu Jintao came to Zambia in 2006, he had to cancel a visit to the Copper Belt for fear of hostile demonstrations. Thomas says: 'The people who advised Hu Jintao not to come were right.'

He suspects Chinese arrogance and brutality towards Africans is not racial bigotry, but a fear of being seen to be weak. 'They are trying to prove they are not inferior to the West. They are trying too hard.

'If they ask you to do something and you don't do it, they think you're not doing it because they aren't white. People put up with the kicks and blows because they need work to survive.'

Many in Africa also accuse the Chinese of unconcealed corruption. This is specially obvious in the 'Democratic Republic of the Congo', currently listed as the most corrupt nation on Earth.

A North-American businessman who runs a copper smelting business in Katanga Province told me how his firm tried to obey safety laws.

They are constantly targeted by official safety inspectors because they refuse to bribe them. Meanwhile, Chinese enterprises nearby get away with huge breaches of the law - because they paid bribes.

'We never pay,' he said, 'because once you pay you become their bitch; you will pay for ever and ever.'

Another businessman shrugged over the way he is forced to wait weeks to get his products out of the country, while the Chinese have no such problems.

'I'm not sure the Chinese even know there are customs regulations,' he said. 'They don't fill in the forms, they just pay. I try to be philosophical about it, but it is not easy.'

Unlike orderly Zambia, Congo is a place of chaos, obvious privation, tyranny dressed up as democracy for public-relations purposes, and fear.

This is Katanga, the mineral-rich slice of land fought over furiously in the early Sixties in post-colonial Africa's first civil war. Brooding over its capital, Lubumbashi, is a 400ft black hill: the accumulated slag and waste of 80 years of copper mining and smelting.

Now, thanks to a crazy rise in the price of copper and cobalt, the looming, sinister mound is being quarried - by Western business, by the Chinese and by bands of Congolese who grub and scramble around it searching for scraps of copper or traces of cobalt, smashing lumps of slag with great hammers as they hunt for any way of paying for that night's supper.

As dusk falls and the shadows lengthen, the scene looks like the blasted land of Mordor in Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings: a pre-medieval prospect of hopeless, condemned toil in pits surrounded by stony desolation.

Behind them tower the leaning ruins of colossal abandoned factories: monuments to the wars and chaos that have repeatedly passed this way.

There is something strange and unsettling about industrial scenes in Africa, pithead winding gear and gaunt chimneys rising out of tawny grasslands dotted with anthills and banana palms. It looks as if someone has made a grave mistake.

And there is a lesson for colonial pride and ambition in the streets of Lubumbashi - 80 years ago an orderly Art Deco city full of French influence and supervised by crisply starched gendarmes, now a genial but volatile chaos of scruffy, bribe-hunting traffic cops where it is not wise to venture out at night.

The once-graceful Belgian buildings, gradually crumbling under thick layers of paint, long ago lost their original purpose.

Outsiders come and go in Africa, some greedy, some idealistic, some halfway between. Time after time, they fail or are defeated, leaving behind scars, slag-heaps, ruins and graveyards, disillusion and disappointment.

We have come a long way from Cecil Rhodes to Bob Geldof, but we still have not brought much happiness with us, and even Nelson Mandela's vaunted 'Rainbow Nation' in South Africa is careering rapidly towards banana republic status.

Now a new great power, China, is scrambling for wealth, power and influence in this sad continent, without a single illusion or pretence.

Perhaps, after two centuries of humbug, this method will work where all other interventions have failed.

But after seeing the bitter, violent desperation unleashed in the mines of Likasi, I find it hard to believe any good will come of it.


Find this story at www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1063198/PETER-HITCHENS-How-China-created-new-slave-empire-Africa.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #47 on: November 05, 2008, 08:44:05 AM »

At a time when global financial risks seem larger by the day, there's one risk that's receding: tension across the Taiwan Strait.

Yesterday China and Taiwan agreed to open new air, sea and postal links. This establishes the hitherto elusive "three links" -- direct trade, transport and mail -- that the two governments have been talking about for years. They also agreed to cooperate on food safety regulation as well as to hold further talks every six months, alternating between Beijing and Taipei.


This is a détente worth celebrating. The direct sea links alone will cut shipping costs by around $36 million a year, according to estimates from Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council. This is no small change: More than 40% of Taiwanese exports went to China in 2007, and two-way trade was $130.2 billion -- yet the trade and the traders had to travel through a third country, usually Hong Kong. The number of direct charter flights will increase to 108 per week from 36, and new air routes will cut hours off flying times.

But the greatest benefit is the political truce yesterday's deal signals. Although the People's Republic has never ruled the island, China has claimed Taiwan as an integral part of its territory since 1949 and fears doing anything that might tacitly acknowledge Taiwan's independence. As recently as 1996, China fired live missiles into Taiwan's waters, and today China has more than 1,000 missiles aimed at the island.

Credit goes to Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou for smoothing the waters. Elected in March on a platform of better relations with the mainland, Mr. Ma made it clear he wanted to negotiate on cross-Strait economic, transportation and cultural links on the basis of the "1992 Consensus," under which the two sides agreed to disagree about what constitutes "China." The Chinese delegation's very presence in Taipei this week suggests negotiations on an equal footing. That's a big change.

In Opinion Journal Today
REVIEW & OUTLOOK

President-Elect ObamaRead Their LipsThe Latest Charity ShakedownChinese Strait Talk

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Business World – Yes, Detroit Can Be FixedThe Tilting Yard – Conservatism Isn't Finished

COMMENTARY

I Vote No Confidence in Congress
-- Harvey GolubWe Need Sustainable Capitalism
-- Al Gore and David BloodThe Treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace
-- Jeffrey Scott ShapiroMr. Ma also had to overcome significant domestic hurdles to get to this point. The new agreements are not themselves controversial. But about one-third of Taiwan citizens advocate eventual independence for the island, and many of these believe that agreements with China, a country that still considers Taiwan a "renegade province," violate the spirit of Taiwan's independence. Last month, half a million protesters gathered in Taipei to voice their discontent.

It is easier for Beijing to come to the negotiating table, particularly since Mr. Ma has kept a much lower international profile than his predecessor. Beijing's policy makers are eager to promote these talks to the Chinese public as proof for their claim that Taiwan is part of China.

The next step forward may be on banking deregulation. The presidents of Chinese state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Bank of China are part of the official delegation in Taiwan this week. Next year China and Taiwan are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding that would allow Taiwanese banks to open branches in China. Taiwan's minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, Lai Shin-yuan, told us by telephone that more decisions will be made through channels outside the high-level talks -- for example, adding new travel destinations or more flights.

For decades, the Taiwan Strait has been a flashpoint with the potential to destabilize East Asia. Taiwan needs to maintain its defense capability in case politics changes on the mainland, but today's cooperative trend is welcome.
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« Reply #48 on: November 14, 2008, 09:43:27 AM »

Hmm, mayhaps the engines of commerce are loosening things up in China?

November 14, 2008
China Eases a Licensing Rule for Media

By DAVID BARBOZA
SHANGHAI — China agreed on Thursday to loosen restrictions on foreign news and information providers inside the country, settling a trade dispute with the United States, the European Union and Canada.

The agreement, which was signed in Geneva, allows international news and information agencies, like Bloomberg, Dow Jones & Company and Thomson Reuters, to more freely compete and sell their services inside China, where government controls were tightened in 2006.

The United States and European Union had filed a case against China at the World Trade Organization in March arguing that China unfairly required foreign news and financial information providers to be licensed by the Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese state-controlled entity that serves as the official outlet for the Communist Party and also a competitor of the foreign news companies. Canada later filed its own complaint against China.

According to the settlement, China agreed to remove the requirement that financial news providers be licensed by Xinhua and instead will set up an independent regulatory agency to oversee all financial news and information providers.

Foreign news and financial services companies are eager to sell their services into China’s booming financial services market, where a growing number of Chinese companies and government agencies are seeking valuable and timely news and financial information.

The United States trade representative, Susan C. Schwab, called the settlement a major step toward making financial information more widely available.

She said: “I am very pleased we have been able to sign an agreement with China today to allow financial information suppliers like Bloomberg, Dow Jones, Thomson Reuters to operate in China free of unfair restrictions that threatened to place them at a serious advantage.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/14/business/media/14media.html?_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rss&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #49 on: December 03, 2008, 05:43:43 AM »

By SHAI OSTER
SHUANGFU VILLAGE, China -- Fan Junchao has spent most of the past five years living hundreds of miles from his small family farm here. Encouraged by the local government, he leased out his meager plot and worked on construction crews in big cities, making several times what he could have earned on crops.

Laid off migrant workers across China are returning home to villages like Shuangfu, above.

Now his construction project has been halted, and Mr. Fan has returned home. "Right now, I don't have a plan," he says. "I'm just taking it one step at a time."

Mr. Fan is among hundreds of thousands of China's 130 million migrant workers -- known as the "floating population" -- being cast out of urban jobs in factories and at construction sites.

China's roaring industrial economy has been abruptly quieted by the effects of the global financial crisis. Rural provinces that supplied much of China's factory manpower are watching the beginnings of a wave of reverse migration that has the potential to shake the stability of the world's most populous nation.

Fast-rising unemployment has led to an unusual series of strikes and protests. Normally cautious government officials have offered quick concessions and talk openly of their worries about social unrest. Laid-off factory workers in Dongguan overturned patrol cars and clashed with police last Tuesday, and hundreds of taxis parked in front of a government office in nearby Chaozhou over the weekend, one of a series of driver protests.

On Wednesday, workers let go from a liquor factory in northern China mounted a protest in Beijing, at the parent company's headquarters. In the latest sign of economic stress, China's currency fell Monday by its single largest margin on record against the dollar, on expectations the central bank might devalue it to prop up sagging growth.

As the government tries to calm tensions in the cities, it also fears that newly unemployed migrants returning home could upend the already-strained social system in the countryside.

At a train station 30 miles from Mr. Fan's village, officials are keeping 24-hour tabs on arrivals to monitor how many of the surrounding area's two million migrants will return from industrial centers. Around 60,000 have already done so, they say -- and many more are expected, despite Beijing's efforts to persuade workers to stay in cities and train for potential new jobs.

Mr. Fan, a 55-year-old grandfather, helps support his grandchildren as well as himself and his wife -- and one of his two sons, now working as an apprentice after his factory wages were cut. Mr. Fan worries his other son, also a migrant worker, will next be out of a job. He offers guests cups of hot water instead of tea because he is trying to scrimp.

Many of the returning workers, like Mr. Fan, have too little income from the land to support their families. Beijing has been encouraging many to lease out their farms to more profitable cooperatives -- which don't share their increased earnings from the crops with the landholders -- at the same time it encouraged their moves into the cities, by loosening rules for doing both in the past few years. Those rules were formalized earlier this year.

 Chinese Migrant Workers Return Home
2:50
China's work force returns home to rural areas because of the slowing economy, but the land they used to subsist on is now being farmed by larger companies. (Dec. 1)
Others have no farms to come back to, having seen their land gobbled up by decades of previous Chinese urbanization drives, in which unscrupulous developers and corrupt officials often illegally seized peasants' land.

For workers accustomed to a decade of double-digit growth, China's sudden downturn has come as a shock to the system. Migrant workers -- estimated to make up a tenth of the country's population -- have powered China's economic success in the three decades since free-market reforms began.

They supply the low-cost labor for the country's rapidly growing infrastructure and dominant low-priced exports. The wages they send home have helped spread prosperity from the booming cities into the relatively poor countryside. But the global slump threatens a precarious balance if unemployment continues to grow. Already it has caused China's construction industry to seize up and prompted many factories that once churned out toys, electronics and clothing to cut work forces or close up shop.

Meng Jianzhu, China's minister of public security, told a conference of regional government officials late last month that there are "lots of social problems affecting stability under the current circumstances," the official Xinhua news agency reported. Among the major problems to address, Mr. Meng said: "Work should be improved on serving and managing the floating population." Beijing has been warning local officials to take extra efforts to ensure stability, focusing their efforts on re-employment programs.

National statistics on how many migrant workers have been laid off and returned home aren't available, but regional numbers are significant. Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, estimated at a news conference this month that about 300,000 of the 6.8 million migrant workers from one province, Jiangxi, to the south of Mr. Fan's Anhui province, have returned home.

The situation "is continuing to develop, the number of rural migrant workers returning home is gradually increasing, and we are closely following this," he said. Other provinces have reported similar numbers.

Officials in the central province of Hubei estimate that they've also had 300,000 laid off workers come home just in the past two months. In Hubei's capital, Wuhan, officials estimate that the number will eventually total 600,000 in their city alone.

In Fuyang, the city nearest to Shuangfu, officials tracking returnees note that it's not easy for industrial workers to return to country life or work. "These aren't the same peasants like the peasants of yesterday," says an official from the city's Human Resource and Labor Bureau, stamping his foot one recent cold morning during a 12-hour shift outside the train station. "They don't raise crops, they have skills." He and other officials work to interview at least 200 migrants a day to find out their plans, where they're coming from and which they are returning to. The government also has had the chief local party official of each village conduct a regular head count of returnees.

Minutes after stepping off the train in Fuyang, 18-year-old Liang Wenzheng, just laid off from his job of three years on an electronics assembly line in Dongguan, shoulders his bags and surveys the future. "If I can't find a job, I'll have to farm at home. I don't want to do that -- I'm just 18," he said.

Migrant workers left their villages over the years because there was too little land for them to earn a decent living. China has roughly the same amount of farmable land as the U.S., where only 2% of workers are employed in agriculture. But China has some 730 million rural residents -- more than twice the entire American population.

Between 80 million and 100 million rural residents are either completely landless or don't have access to enough land for subsistence, estimates Joshua Muldavin, professor of geography and Asian studies at Sarah Lawrence College. "The increases right now with the large-scale return of peasants could add tens of millions to that," he says. "Its importance can't be exaggerated in China and internationally."

Despite China's recent prosperity, steamroller-flat Anhui province remains poor. The dirt road leading from the simple brick courtyard home Mr. Fan built heads past piles of charred old cloth shoes -- used as a cheap coal substitute for boiling tofu.

The newest change has come as farmers like Mr. Fan have rented their land to new agribusiness in a government-supported bid to boost rural incomes by combining farms into more efficient, modern operations. Mr. Fan two years ago transferred farming rights to three-fifths of his land -- which totals less than an acre -- to a new company established by a local government official to sell expensive, organically grown vegetables in greenhouses to supermarkets and hotels.

Mr. Fan, like others, got a standard price based on harvesting wheat, a staple but also an extremely cheap crop, while the cooperative has gone on to grow exotic vegetables that fetch higher prices from the new urban middle class.

Mr. Fan's rent from the farming company is about one-seventh what he was making in construction. His wife still supervises farming of the other portion. The combined income makes his family better off than some, but couldn't support his two sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.

Mr. Fan, a high-school graduate, was slow to leave his village even as others did. He learned how to be a bricklayer between harvests of wheat, soybeans and corn on his land, which was allocated to his and other families after China's farm communes were disbanded in the last 1970s.

In the mid-1990s, the government redistributed more land to farmers. It continued to keep ownership of the land public, but gave farmers long-term leases. Mr. Fan received one mu, a sixth of an acre, for each of the five people in his household -- himself, his wife, two sons and a grandparent. His family has doubled in size since then.

 After watching his neighbors return prosperous from city jobs for years, Mr. Fan in 2003 ventured hundreds of miles to work as a bricklayer in Heilongjiang province, on China's northern border with Russia. He gradually raised his bricklaying income from 30 yuan a day ($4.30) to 70 yuan.

In 2006, a medicine merchant in Shuangfu, Gao Dongfang, had an idea to raise more valuable vegetables on the village's land using techniques that the villagers didn't know about or couldn't afford. "We wanted to change the way things are done here," said his older brother, Gao Haifei. "It's always been wheat and beans, beans and wheat." The younger Mr. Gao obtained a post as village party secretary, and eventually consolidated 200 acres from farmers in neighboring villages. He brought in an expert from another agribusiness, who introduced vegetables like Israeli green peppers and Taiwanese eggplants.

The business, called Orient Modern Vegetable Cooperative, has earned up to 10 or more times the value from a given piece of land than villagers reaped using their traditional techniques and crops. Mr. Fan's wife signed a 10-year contract with the firm in 2006 while he was away working. The lease brings in 3,500 yuan per year, equal to $513.

This fall, Mr. Fan went to a new construction site, this time in Wuxi, a booming lakeside city near Shanghai. Days after he arrived to work on a 15-story, high-end apartment building, he started hearing rumors that the developer was having trouble selling apartments and wouldn't be able to pay his contractors. Two weeks later, the foreman of Mr. Fan's 40-man work team told them to collect their last paychecks and go home.

Mr. Fan now thinks a lot about his two sons, and what will happen if they also lose their current jobs. "I'm really worried," he says. He thought they would never have to farm again. They have worked as migrant laborers all their adult lives.

His younger son continues to work in a furniture factory. Older son Fan Yaxian, 29, is apprenticing as a truck driver after his factory wages were cut. "I don't know how to farm," Fan Yaxian says. He hopes to start his own small business.

Mr. Fan has no such aspirations. "I don't have a head for business," he says. "I can only go down the path of a migrant worker. If I can't be a migrant worker, I don't have any other ideas."

—Ellen Zhu in Shanghai and Andrew Batson in Beijing contributed to this article.
Write to Shai Oster at shai.oster@wsj.com

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