Jewish World Review June 9, 2005/ 2 Sivan,
The gathering storm over China
We've been lulled into thinking the Chinese brand of "free
markets" will move that country toward democracy. Maybe someday, eventually,
it will. But free markets must be accompanied by personal freedoms and
representative government, and that isn't happening. In fact, there are
disturbing signs of a military build-up and deception about it at the
highest levels of the Chinese government today.
Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld has returned from Singapore
where he delivered the keynote address to a conference of defense ministers
and military analysts in Asia, and noted that China's military budget ranks
behind only that of the United States and Russia. "Since no nation threatens
China, one must wonder," he said. "Why these continuing large and expanding
This was new from an administration that until now criticized,
mildly, China's human rights violations while urging China to prod North
Korea back to the six-party talks about what to do about its nuclear weapons
program. But it's the Chinese armory that concerns the defense secretary. "I
just look at the significant rollout of ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan,
and I have to ask the question: 'If everyone agrees the question of Taiwan
is going to be settled in a peaceful way, why this increase in ballistic
missiles opposite Taiwan?'" Newly purchased submarines, fighter jets,
assault ships and missiles not only pose a threat to Taiwan, but to the
United States if we honor our treaty commitments to go to the aid of our old
The Rumsfeld speech reflects the buzz of the China watchers in Washington, where the publication of a new book expands the latest thinking. "China: The Gathering Threat," by Constantine Menges, takes its title from Churchill's famous warning about the lessons of World War II: "There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action . . . but no one would listen. We surely must not let that happen again."
The discussion by China watchers was chilling, taking its theme
from the Constantine concern that we're naively allowing businessmen to
dictate a China policy of "unconditional commercial relations." A pure
business model is concerned only with how to make a buck, which is a
legitimate concern, but political leaders who govern from a business plan
are fools. Economic engagement is not a substitute for political engagement.
He left the prescription to do more to promote democracy inside China, work
with political reform groups (such as Solidarity, which we supported in
Poland) and offer greater support to pro-democracy Chinese exiles in this
William Hawkins, who studies national security issues at the
U.S. Business and Industry Council, argues that China has learned from
Russia's mistakes, dumping Marxism, but merely moved from "communism to
fascism," using the energy of capitalism to animate the ambitions of a
The panelists at the Hudson Institute forum last week noted that
China controls more than $200 billion of the U.S. national debt. Al Santoli,
president of the Asia America Initiative, suggested that the Chinese have a
master plan for the United States to become "a vassal state, as China buys
up our debt."
Don Rumsfeld wants to visit China next year. If he does, he should take two books with him, Constantine Menges' "China: The Gathering Threat," and Chairman Mao's Little Red Book. Mao warned his followers not to wait "until problems pile up and cause a lot of trouble before trying to solve them." He didn't always follow his own advice, but we should if we know what's good for us.
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