Wednesday, June 11, 2003
China rising II
re-reading my previous post, I realized that my actual support for SDB's modest proposal was not clearly evident :) Steven's commentary on my response raised a few issues that I want to clarify.
I'm definitely impressed by the idea of letting China occupy NK and I find it both original and agreeable. I just think the possibility of it happening is zero, given the current Administration. I agree that NK is no prize, but given Bush's own rhetoric about the importance of defending SK from the north, withdrawing our forces from the DMZ would indeed amount to a backtracking. And letting China in would infuriate the conservative ideolouges in the administration beyond words. It would amount to a political loss - and given how Bush still sticks to the WMD script rather than any attempt at explaining the neocon-domino motives behind Iraq, I don't see him as willing or able to make the far more subtle case about why letting China be a neighbor to SK would be a Good Thing (Bush doesn't have the luxury of thousand word essays like you or I do).
I guess I characterize it as "letting China win" precisely because it is also the least bad of a group of bad scenarios. China's rise to superpower eminence is a gradual and steady one and will be marked by piecemeal and incremental victories such as occupying NK would be. A strong China is, in the near future (50+ years) a positive development for American interests because of the opened and heathy market, assistance on a regional scale in dealing with terrorists and rogue nations, joint interests on medical issues like SARS, etc. etc.
And while exposure to Western economic development is of course a good thing for the average Chinese, it's also a mistake to think that it will loosen the communist hold on power. The Chinese variant of Communism is much more adaptable, pragmatic, and innovative than the Soviet kind. As China grows stronger, so does the Party. After 50 years of rule they are stronger than ever - compare their hold on power to the tenous one of the Iranian clerics and you quickly realize that the oligarchy is in no danger from the proles whatsoever.
China is rising. We cant really stop it and we dont really want to. But in the next century, we will have a true clashj of civilizations - not between brothers (as is the case with all Judeo-Christian-Islamic conflict), but true Others. I've always maintained that China is the Ultimate Other.
And the turning point will be when China enters space.