As the president winds down his China trip, National Review Online asked experts on China and foreign policy: What should we do with and how should we regard China?
No country or issue will shape the course of the 21st century — for good or ill — more than China.
For example, it’s the world’s most populous nation; the largest producer of greenhouse gases; the greatest holder of foreign currency reserves and American debt; the second biggest consumer of energy; the third largest economy; it has the third biggest defense budget; and so on. China is quickly becoming a country of superlatives.
Accordingly, it has the raw potential to shake the international system like other rising powers have in the past, often with less than optimum outcomes. Some believe China intends to amass the national power that will allow it to replace the United States as the preeminent power in the Pacific, and perhaps even in the entire world.
And if we’re not careful, it just might do so.
– Peter Brookes is a Senior Fellow for National Security Affairs and the Chung Ju-Yung Fellow for Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation.
We should be guided by the old diplomatic quip about a different would-be superpower: “Russia is never as strong as she looks; Russia is never as weak as she looks.”
China’s strength is well-advertised. Her rate of economic growth across the past 30 years has been sensational. She is re-tooling her military at an impressive clip. Her foreign policy is ruthlessly self-interested. With Han Chinese at 92 percent, minorities concentrated in remote regions, and zero immigration, China is spared the demographic fissures opening up in Western nations. The Communist party is secure in power, having survived all challenges.
Let us bear in mind that those growth rates are based on an economic model that may already have ceased to be tenable (see Gordon Chang in the November 23 issue of National Review); that Chinese weapons, now as in the past, are intended for use against those inhabitants, or recalcitrant ex-inhabitants, of the Celestial Empire who will not bow to the Son of Heaven; that Chinese diplomats excel mainly at making their nation disliked; that resentments of class and wealth inequality can sunder a nation as surely as can ethnic troubles; and that the median duration of a Chinese dynasty has been 45 years.
– John Derbyshire is an NRO columnist and author, most recently, of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism.
JAMIE M. FLY
President Obama is continuing his predecessors’ unfortunate tradition of viewing China as a “strategic partner” because of China’s growing economic might and its role in financing the American economy. Successive American presidents have gone hat in hand to China, begging for assistance on problems — such as North Korea, Iran, and climate change — on which China has dissimilar goals from Washington.
Meanwhile, China is developing advanced military capabilities while we spend less on defense. This has implications for U.S. allies such as Taiwan, Japan, and others in the region. As China seeks increased ties in Africa and Latin America in its search for natural resources to fuel its booming economy, it is likely that the Chinese navy and military will follow.