China and its Influence Now and in the Future

Posts: 1305
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:45 am
Location: Bangkok
Liked: 117 times
Been liked: 339 times

#1 China and its Influence Now and in the Future

Postby fountainhall » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:56 pm

This is a continuation of the last few posts under the Gulf Coast Hurricane thread that has brought China and its expansion with the islands in the East and South China Seas into the debate. The earlier thread is here -


I agree that the world owes a debt of gratitude to the USA for its action in ending the two World Wars, its rebuilding of Japan and Europe and of its maintaining peace and stability in Europe and the world. Also, though, I remember the tragic and illegal bombing of tiny Laos, the most bombed country per capita in world history - a planeload of bombs dropped every 8 minutes for 9 yearsI I remember, too, the disaster of the Vietnam War and the again illegal bombing of Cambodia, acts which directly led to the rise of the murderous Khmer Rouge. The US cannot escape responsibility or those actions.

As for China, I think those who have read my posts over the years will know that I belong to the pro-China camp. I admire the way the country has pulled itself up from the disasters of the 19th century and the Mao era. It is far from perfect, but I do not know how any country of that size physically and in terms of the utter poverty of its population in general could have done better. Others disagree, and Tiananmen Square has been mentioned. That may seem a simple issue - a country murdering its own youth - but it is a hugely complex topic that really needs a thread all on its own. And let's not forget whilst this happened in a country just starting to pull itself out of extreme poverty and with extreme tensions within its leadership, other highly developed countries also turned their guns on their students. Need one mention Kent State?

But it is the nature of its government and the future that has been raised - expansionist or not, communist or not, repressive or not, risk to freedom or not? All these points were raised by firecat69. And I respectfully disagree with almost every one!

It is not just that I have been visiting China regularly since 1985, when streetlights in Shanghai's French Quarter were still lit by lamplighters and little happened in the city after dark. I was in Beijing in both May and July 1989 meeting with Chinese friends and business colleagues. I know what some think both of their government and the country's amazing economic advances. But I know just a tiny fraction. In this post I will quote rather extensively from one of the foremost experts on China and someone whose views I respect greatly, Kevin Rudd. He is perhaps best known as a former Prime Minster of Australia. Now he is the President of the Asia Society Policy Institute. He is, though, best known as one of the few true experts on China and Chinese thinking having first been posted to Beijing in 1984. As he himself points out –

Here in the Antipodes, what was quaintly described in London and Washington as the “Far East” has, since the fall of Singapore, been regarded as the “Near North”. Comprehending Asia, and the driving forces within it, has never been for us an exotic intellectual luxury. It has long been a matter of national necessity. Nonetheless, one of the great inheritances of the tradition of scholarship we have imbibed from British and, to some extent, American Sinology over the past century was embodied in the London School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas).

After the [2nd World] war, when the Australian National University (ANU) began teaching the disciplines of Asia comprehensively (its languages, its histories, its philosophy, its literature and aesthetics), the ANU adopted the teaching traditions of Soas by conscious design. The core principle was simple: if you are to understand the modern languages, politics and economics of, say, China, the deep historiographies of such ancient, continuing civilisations had to be understood as well. These were not optional “add-ons”. Rather they were an essential element in understanding the modern phenomena called China, Japan, Korea and India, as well as the various high cultures of south and south-east Asia. I was fortunate to have been taught Chinese in this tradition, the beneficiary of generations of scholarship and pedagogy before me. Because, each time I encounter modern China today, I also encounter a China profoundly shaped by its unique historical experience, and a country still searching deeply in its own classical traditions to understand how it might navigate its future in an unfamiliar world.

This is from a long and fascinating article Rudd wrote for the New Statesman in 2012. Headed “The West Isn’t Ready for the Rise of China”, he analyses China and its position in the world in the 21st century. He does so as one who knows many in the Chinese leadership, is a fluent Mandarin speaker and who has studied China for decades. China’s global dominance is, he suggests, imminent and it is high time that the west began to build bridges with the superpower of the future.

Near the start, he says this –

China has become the embodiment of the great east Asian transformation. As a result, it is becoming the embodiment of the great global transformation, as the centre of political, economic and strategic gravity moves from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Europe to Asia, from the US to China. Yet this deep structural shift in the underlying drivers of international relations, a structural shift that is happening before our eyes, is one for which the collective west is woefully unprepared.

He then goes on to quote from a 2011 book by Henry Kissinger, a work he says he much admires. There is no need here to quote more than a short section –
Like the United States, China thought of itself as playing a special role. But it never espoused the American notion of universalism to spread its values around the world. It confined itself to controlling the barbarians immediately at its doorstep . . . China did not export its ideas but let others come to seek them.

He states there is considerable debate within the Chinese government and associated state agencies as to the precise role of China in the future international order. He then discusses the nature of power in China –

If it does take two to tango, we also need to ask: who are we really dealing with on the Chinese side? China, though a one-party state, does not represent a monolithic political culture. Chinese politics is made up of many competing forces. First there are the liberal internationalists who have pioneered, implemented and seen the great harvest that has come from China’s decision in 1979 to bring about market reforms in its domestic economy and to liberalise its economic engagement with the world . . .

another big competing force in the Chinese political debate today is one more critical of the social impact of economic liberalisation, and one that is more conservative in its policy conclusions. This group argues that the reform process has already gone far enough . . . This group is particularly wary of the calls for democratic reforms arising from the burgeoning economic freedoms that already have been created, because it recognises these as significant medium to long-term threats to the continued political monopoly of the Communist Party itself.

One last group that will be central to the question of China’s future place in the world is the military. Even as someone who began studying China 35 years ago, I still find the country’s armed forces one of the most opaque institutions in the world. That is also the conclusion of most China scholars and analysts around the world.

Like most militaries, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is a conservative institution in terms of values, traditions and its intrinsic nationalism. However, under the Chinese system, the military in many respects operates as a structure separate from the Chinese government. Usually the PLA’s policy perspectives on the region and the world are brought together with those of the government only at the most senior echelons of the party itself – through the Central Military Commission and the Standing Committee of the Politburo. The problem with opacity is that it often induces “worst-case scenario” planning on the part of China’s neighbours, and those who share the country’s broader strategic environment. Naturally, the PLA would argue that US and allied contingency planning in relation to China leaves it with little option other than to engage in worst-case scenario planning itself.

And so the self-perpetuating cycle of strategic mistrust and military countermeasures continues. The problem with risk management of this order of magnitude, however, is that it runs an even greater risk of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Planning for the worst tomorrow often shapes the political behaviour of today.

After examining the possibilities for a closer association with China, he outlines four core elements essential to a “collective, intellectual effort, diplomatic co-ordination, sustained political will and, most critically, continued open and candid engagement with the Chinese political elite.”

First, the international community must accept that it is entirely legitimate for China to have a louder voice at the global negotiating table. Not only is China a great civilisation, it has become, once again, a great power. The international system should not be seen to be exclusively the expression of western interests. The history of European colonisation has done much to diminish the moral authority of the colonisers in the eyes of those in the previously colonised world.

Second, we should argue clearly with the Chinese political elite that the current liberal internationalist order, which has preserved the global peace and enhanced prosperity for two-thirds of a century, must be sustained. This will entail enhanced co-operation with China on the world’s security, macroeconomic, macrofinancial, trade, investment, social, environmental and humanitarian challenges, based on the agreed norms of the present global rules-based order.

Third, if, for whatever reason in the future, China steps beyond these agreed norms, the rest of the international community should be prepared not only to say no resolutely, but also to act accordingly. Understandably, the international community will hedge to some extent against this possibility.

Fourth, the crucible for China’s rising role in the world is of course the Asia-Pacific region. This is where the new regional institutions underpinned by shared international values will be needed to craft principles and practices of common security and common property for the future. In the past, Asia has had no such institutions with either the mandate or the membership to discharge this function. But with the expansion of the East Asia Summit last November to include the US (and Russia), we now have all the major powers of this region around a single table at summit level with an open mandate on political, economic and security issues. And this for the first time in Asia’s history. Confidence-building and security-building measures, greater military transparency, common responses to natural disaster management (the greatest scourge for the peoples of the region) as well as common regional commitments to open economies and sustainable development are now possible . . .

And then, I believe crucially, he starts his summing up -

Mine is not a starry-eyed optimism. I have lived in China, travelled in China and studied China in one capacity or another for most of my life. Like all civilisations, it reflects an accumulation of historical experiences, perceptions and achievements. But China’s history does provide us with a reasonable basis for optimism. The China that I have studied over the decades is one that has not been in the business of invading other countries for more than 2,000 years. Nor has China sought to establish colonies around the world, even though its navigational skills and naval capabilities during the Ming Dynasty were considerably more advanced than those of countries in the west . . . China today seeks respect in the eyes of the world for the contributions of its ancient civilisation and modern economy. These are all historical truths that we in the west can work with. ... rise-china

Posts: 784
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2010 7:29 am
Been liked: 35 times

#2 Re: China and its Influence Now and in the Future

Postby firecat69 » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:12 pm

I will not argue this any longer because apparently both our minds are closed . I certainly do not have the experiences of visiting China so many times which I am sure is responsible for FH's opinions. I am sure if I cared to spend the time I could find countering articles to most of the articles posted by FH. Opinions of course are like assholes. Everyone has one.

My final comment will be on China's refusal to reign NKorea in. There is no excuse for them not doing more then next to nothing. The next thing that will happen IMHO is that the US will sanction Major Chinese Banks which will hurt the economies of both China and the US.

Which can afford to suffer more? I think probably the US because the people in power in China have to keep advancing the economy or will be thrown out of power and it likely won't be pretty!

Every country makes mistakes and is not perfect and certainly the US has made mistakes. The only reason Seoul continues to exist is USA power. Otherwise the madman descended from a long line of madmen would attack SKorea and the result would not be pretty. All past historical facts mean nothing. If the US left it would be over for S Korea.

Likewise Putin and his tanks would roll into Poland and many other countries without NATO of which the US contributes more then all the others combined and has a military bigger then all the other Nato Members put together.

Talking in the past is for historians . The now requires that the US protect many countries with their military power. Without it I would shudder to think what would happen to the world.

User avatar
Posts: 1744
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:20 pm
Liked: 118 times
Been liked: 84 times

#3 Re: China and its Influence Now and in the Future

Postby Jun » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:18 am

China invaded & annexed Tibet.
China attempted an invasion of Vietnam in 1979.
They have umpteen border disputes, including a very optimistic definition of their territory running far beyond their coastline.
There has been a massive miscalculation in supporting the unstable North Korean regime.

Other than that, they have not behaved too badly towards the neighbours. I'm not sure how it would develop if the US withdrew from international affairs.

Posts: 1305
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:45 am
Location: Bangkok
Liked: 117 times
Been liked: 339 times

#4 Re: China and its Influence Now and in the Future

Postby fountainhall » Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:54 am

firecat69 wrote:Opinions of course are like assholes. Everyone has one.

I fully agree that you and I are on different trajectories. But my views are not formed only on the basis of visiting China regularly. Indeed, these form only a minute part of my argument. I have had discussions with many diplomats and businessmen with first hand experience in the corridors of power in Beijing, I read extensively and have learned over the years whose views I trust and whose I put aside.

I absolutely do not agree that opinions are like assholes. Unquestionably that depends on who is offering the opinion. Along with many world leaders and opinion makers, I believe the views of someone like Kevin Rudd are vastly more valuable than many other so-called China watchers with axes to grind. I really would like you to find counters to his main points. The problem is I believe that you will be hard-pressed to find many.

firecat69 wrote:My final comment will be on China's refusal to reign NKorea in. There is no excuse for them not doing more then next to nothing.

Many fall into the trap of failing to understand China’s own position, assuming it to be identical to that of the west in general and the USA in particular. It is not. I refer you back to the second paragraph in my first post on page 10 of the Korean thread.


Say what you like about Henry Kissinger, he knows the Chinese and he knows diplomacy. The US is tackling China on North Korea the wrong way, he argues. The west sees everything in short term units – usually election cycles. China looks decades further ahead and then sets its strategic goals. Kissinger's view is the US should enter into totally secret negotiations with China to plan ahead for how a unified peninsula will look. Then to work back from there. I believe Tillerson and Mattis are aware of this. A constantly tweeting Trump hasn’t a clue how to handle China or keep a secret.

firecat69 wrote:The only reason Seoul continues to exist is USA power. Otherwise the madman descended from a long line of madmen would attack SKorea and the result would not be pretty. All past historical facts mean nothing. If the US left it would be over for S Korea.

I agree with your first part. But you fail to consider why the USA is protecting South Korea. The South did not beg the USA for protection. The USA insisted on it. So the USA is there because it made a commitment to be there. The USA cannot leave unless a new Treaty is signed between it and the South.

But in no way can I agree with your point that “historical facts mean nothing”. You surely cannot mean that! What is happening today is unquestionably a direct result of historical forces! Remember the constant refrain in Washington for a few years from 1950 – “Who lost China?” Remember the anti-communist rhetoric and the consequent fear that cloaked all discussions and decisions in Washington as McCarthy spewed his so-called anti-communist patriotism? Remember the now much-discredited “Domino Theory”?

These were key US principles in the Cold War as it affected Asia. If Roosevelt and then Hoover had only paid more attention to the several letters they received from Ho Chi Minh the history of the region would be vey different. Ho was a nationalist first and foremost. He begged the US Presidents to use their influence to ensure the French got out of Vietnam once the World War was over. Although it despised colonial rule, the USA did not do so and the French were left to continue their murdering ways. That led directly to the Vietnam War.

Indo-China wanted freedom, the right to make their own decisions and decide their own destinies. The USA did not see it that way. All it saw was a wave of communism surging down from Russia through China and then on to . . .

After China, the North/South Korea conflict was the second of these dominos. There was zero possibility of policy makers in Washington letting go of the South. History very definitely matters.

Posts: 1305
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:45 am
Location: Bangkok
Liked: 117 times
Been liked: 339 times

#5 Re: China and its Influence Now and in the Future

Postby fountainhall » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:26 am

Jun wrote:China invaded & annexed Tibet.

I agree that China's recent actions in Tibet are utterly deplorable. But once again history matters. Between the 9th and 11th centuries the Tibetan Kingdom fragmented. The country's leaders agreed to the Mongol rulers on their way to conquests in the west annexing the country. The close relationship between these two peoples continued during 350 years of the two Mongol Empires in China, the Yuan and the Manchu.

Historians are divided as to whether those 350 years of Beijing rule in Tibet meant that Tibet is an "inalienable part of China" or merely a Chinese protectorate. Whatever that division, the fact is that the United States, the UK, Russia , the EU, India and many others have formally agreed that Tibet is now an "inalienable part of China".

My own view is that China has established the principle of one-country-two-systems for two other territories on its border – Macao and Hong Kong. However successful in practice, I fail to understand why this can not be adopted in Tibet – and I believe the Dalai Lama has advocated more or less the same position.

Jun wrote:China attempted an invasion of Vietnam in 1979..

Sorry but that's only partly true. The short 1979 Sino-Vietnam War was a very deliberate incursion intended to be very short term and was yet another result of the Cold War. By then China had turned staunchly anti the Soviet Union. The Soviets still backed Vietnam. Vietnam invaded Cambodia (a mission of mercy as is now known) but Cambodia was a Chinese ally. China also regarded the invasion as expansion of Soviet interest. The "pin-prick" war was intended by China as a statement. Almost as soon as the war started, it was over. The Chinese had made their point and withdrew after three weeks. Once the Soviet Union collapsed, the Sino Vietnamese border was finalised.

Posts: 784
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2010 7:29 am
Been liked: 35 times

#6 Re: China and its Influence Now and in the Future

Postby firecat69 » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:24 pm

I feel overwhelmed in this argument because it is apparent to me that you are more well read and travelled on China. My feelings on China come more from my US perspective as to what a mess the World is in and China's part in it.

China and China alone is responsible for N Korea's march to nuclear weapons which will threaten many countries both in the region and around the world.

They can choke N Korea to near death if they choose to. They do not.

China is also largely responsible for Pakistan going Nuclear. Another country that should not have Nuclear weapons.

Certainly they are a constant threat to Taiwan, Tibet and others.

I do not see them as a benevolent Giant . They are the 2nd richest country in the world and usually gives the least when any natural disaster happens in either their sphere of influence or the rest of the world.

If it is such a wonderful place why have millions left to emigrate to the USA. And the numbers have increased every year even with their economic advances? Millions more would leave if they could!

Posts: 1305
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:45 am
Location: Bangkok
Liked: 117 times
Been liked: 339 times

#7 Re: China and its Influence Now and in the Future

Postby fountainhall » Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:24 pm

I appreciate a good discussion and appreciate your points. You'll understand that I don't agree with many.

I believe China was responsible for the North's development in many areas during the Cold War and for some time thereafter. But once China itself started to develop economically, what was the west doing to rein in the Kim regime? Nothing the west did worked! I believe Clinton was getting close, but then George Bush changed the ground rules and started talking about the axis of evil. Obama seemed to do little. You cannot lay all the blame on China. Now the situation has changed. But anyone negotiating with China has to remember what Kissinger said and what I posted earlier. China does not negotiate openly. China looks at the long term. Just as the USA under Kennedy went ballistic when Kruschev was discovered to have based missiles capable of carrying nukes 90 miles off its shore, so China has no intention of permitting US nukes to be based in a unified Korean peninsula - the outcome I expect it believes will eventually occur. Hence Kissinger's view that secret diplomacy between the USA and China is now urgent to map out an agreed strategy acceptable to both sides. Then work back from there.

Agreed re Pakistan. But then India also has nukes!

I cannot agree that China is a "constant" threat to Taiwan. That is Cold War rhetoric. It is certainly not what the friends I have are concerned about. China is Taiwan's largest trade partner. Approx, 30% of Taiwan's exports are to the mainland. Over 2 million Taiwanese actually live in China because Taiwan has huge investments on the mainland employing countless millions of Chinese. Certainly China does not want to see movements towards independence. As long as the status quo is maintained the two countries are likely to continue their inter-dependence.

As for millions moving to the USA from China, you will know more than I. I expect some are extended family members. Others will be students and young tech experts who have much greater opportunities in the USA - for the present! And I agree that more would leave if they had the opportunity. China has a lot of catching up to do in terms of salaries and work conditions. After all, only 45 years ago it was a broken country with its education system and entire economy all but destroyed.

Posts: 784
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2010 7:29 am
Been liked: 35 times

#8 Re: China and its Influence Now and in the Future

Postby firecat69 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:25 am

I don't doubt USA has not always done the right thing in trying to reign in N Korea. Frankly I don't think anything can reign them in except economic devastation.Only China can do that to N Korea Where do you think N Korea gets its nuclear technology and material. Of course it is China as virtually they control everything in and out of N Korea.
China is playing a bad hand because the way it is going Japan will be nuclear armed from the USA and S Korea ( I don't think they currently have nuclear missiles ) What is the difference whether N Korea and S Korea have nuclear weapons or a unified peninsula. They have proved the maniac does not listen to them.

The comparison of India to Pakistan is false. Last time I checked India is a Democracy!

Yes China looks long term . Problem is there may be millions dead while they twiddle their thumbs!

Posts: 1305
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:45 am
Location: Bangkok
Liked: 117 times
Been liked: 339 times

#9 Re: China and its Influence Now and in the Future

Postby fountainhall » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:20 am

firecat69 wrote:Where do you think N Korea gets its nuclear technology and material. Of course it is China as virtually they control everything in and out of N Korea

That really is another canard that needs to be shot down. Kim Il sung twice asked Mao for help in developing nuclear technology but was turned down on each occasion. I do not believe China has given any assistance in developing that programme. Blame the Soviet Union for much of the groundwork. According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative website North Korea sent many scientists and engineers to the Soviet Union for nuclear energy training. The Soviets even helped set up the North's first nuclear reactor as far back as 1964. With the Soviets involved and the Sino-Soviet split by then well under way, there is no possibility that China could have participated. Also according to the NTI, during the 1970s and '80s North Korean spies took advantage of the lack of adequate nuclear information safeguards then in force to acquire sensitive nuclear technologies from Europe.

At one point, North Korean agents went to a conference in Vienna and chatted up some Belgian scientists who had a design for a plutonium separation plant, The Atlantic reported.

“Lo and behold, it wasn’t long before the North Koreans obtained the design information for that installation… and then eventually over a period of 10 to 15 years, they set that technology up, they deployed the plant, they started to experiment with it and use it,” Mark Hibbs, a senior fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The Atlantic. ... r-weapons/

For developing uranium rather than plutonium-based weapons, the world has to "thank" Dr. A. Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb.

Khan orchestrated the clandestine transfer of uranium centrifuges, enrichment machines and technical data to North Korea over a period of several years, according to the book Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks.

According to the book’s author, Mark Fitzpatrick, some of Khan’s deals were likely tied to existing official agreements between the two countries, wherein North Korea provided ballistic missile technologies to Pakistan.

In 2004 Khan admitted he had been running a global nuclear proliferation ring with Iran and Libya as two of his other clients.

I do agree, however, that shell companies in many countries, some in China, some in Malaysia (e.g. Glocom), Greece, Singapore, the Philippines, some even in Thailand ,now help the North with some information and parts they need. Did you know that even some equipment to make bicycle parts can also be used to help make centrifuge equipment or nuclear-weapons parts? But as Melissa Hanham, a researcher who analyses open source data and photos to assess North Korea’s weapons programs, says -

“North Korea has shown that it’s dedicated to acquiring nuclear weapons, and it’s very hard to stop any country that’s completely dedicated.”

Posts: 784
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2010 7:29 am
Been liked: 35 times

#10 Re: China and its Influence Now and in the Future

Postby firecat69 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 5:00 pm

You did not not counter my argument that China is playing a bad hand. If they don't wake up Japan , S Korea and others will be armed with Nuclear weapons. Certainly they don't want that? China's long term strategy will not work in this instance, they need to realize they can choke N Korea to death and it is time to do so.

Mad Man Trump could start a war with N Korea and in that instance N Korea would be turned into Cinders . Unfortunately S Korea would also have heavy losses. But for Trump that is better then Seattle being struck by a Nuclear Strike. I'm not sure he is wrong?

Return to “Everything Else”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests