Winds of Change.NET: Liberty. Discovery. Humanity. Victory.

Formal Affiliations
  • Anti-Idiotarian Manifesto
  • Euston Democratic Progressive Manifesto
  • Real Democracy for Iran!
  • Support Denamrk
  • Million Voices for Darfur
  • milblogs
Syndication
 Subscribe in a reader

China's Stresses, Goals, Military Buildups... and Futures

| 54 Comments | 22 TrackBacks

(originally posted April 19/05; last updated Nov 16/07)

weiCicero had another very fine piece last week called "Wish You Happy." It brings his usual lyrical style to bear on China's reputation as an exploitative low-cost manufacturer, the environmental dimension of the Chinese miracle, unrest among the populace, and the environmentalist gap. The phrase "Kyoto stinks" will never again register with me in quite the same way....

As we've seen over the past 2 weeks, the Chinese government is more than happy to channel some of that simmering angst into nationalism with a hostile edge, even as it seeks to keep control of what it is unleashing. Fortunately, this is a subject Winds has covered before. Which is why I want to return to that coverage and the debates it spawned, throw in a couple of items about the geo-political and military dimensions of China's rise, and tie all that into a look at some potential futures.

jiNote the use of the plural "futures." This post will not be about convincing you of one specific view of China's future. That's partly because I don't have one. Instead, I'd rather introduce you to some new ideas about what that future could look like, and leave you better informed about some of the dynamics by laying out some good thought-pieces and good sources. Then you can get informed, think it over, come to your own conclusions, and hopefully return to discuss it.

The issue is important enough to be worth it.

China: Future Scenarios

Winds has covered China's Growing Nationalist Movement before. That article also offers some in-depth looks at the country's potential futures and the kinds of questions we need to ask as we try to predict what's next.

Now we can beginning adding useful perspectives, questions, and responses to the framework. Area native Simon World responded with some thoughts of his own. See also the foreign policy professionals at The Daily Demarche with their subsequent publication: The China Syndrome - 2015 and Beyond. Together, these resources offer a window into China's various futures, ranging from aggressive neo-fascism (surely American neocons' biggest "I wake up screaming" nightmare) to a Christianization that spreads to the regime's highest levels (surely American liberals' biggest "I wake up screaming" nightmare) and many points in between.

So, how can we take these frameworks and scenarios, and turn them into something useful? By using them to expand our thinking about the big picture, then stepping back to do more detailed analysis.

Doing Analysis: The 3 Interlocking Levels

When looking at future scenarios, it's useful to look at 3 interlocking levels. One level is socio-political; it includes many of the topics Cicero discussed plus a few more. This level helps us identify key drivers, fears, tensions, and limits that stem from within a society.

The next step is usually to look at its geo-political situation, which will be driven by a tripartite combination of national interests, other players' actions, and internal socio-political influences on how it sees itself and its role in the world. Where the socio-political work helps establish intentions and modus operandi, the geo-political scan helps develop context and gives us a sense of realistic options. A nation's past record and policy pronouncements are also useful at this level, as they can help validate the socio-political assessments and offer additional insights.

The third level is the military & intelligence analysis: current capabilities, doctrine, and trends. Whereas the first 2 levels looked at drivers and options, this level looks at capabilities.

Changes at the military level can even drive reassessments and changes at the socio-political and geo-political levels, by changing a country's view of itself. For instance, many analysts believe that Europe's growing passivity and retreat into empty structures and rhetoric - what Cicero terms "aggressive docility" - stems in part from declining military capability and influence. Since that decline is structural given Europe's demographics and finances, argues this analysis, it's easier for them to adopt a different geopolitcal modus operandi and preach at a socio-political level about the virtues of their changed position.

Regardless of whether or not one agrees with this point of view, however, no serious analysis of Europe's role in the world can afford to ignore its current military capabilities, gaps, and trends. The same is true for China.

The methods one ultimately chooses to use are flexible: linear analysis, scenario planning, wargaming exercises, whatever. But the 3 levels are important, because they'll contain many of the key assumptions and data points. As uncertainty about the future increases, key assumptions and data points become even more critical as hypotheses, sources - and even indicators of which way the future may be tipping.

China: Socio-Economics

The good news for China's rulers is that economic growth is high, debt is low, a large domestic market is rising, and foreign investment is pouring in (even though many investors have little to show). Non-enforcement of intellectual property laws also provides Chinese manufacturers with an effective subsidy, as credulous companies invest only to find their technologies appropriated by local Chinese businesses. All this is changing social patterns, and leading to China's economic rise as economic Marxism is gradually abandoned by China's elites.

With money comes power. China's socio-economic base will affect how China sees that power, what kind of power it feels compelled to wield, and when and how it may choose to wield it.

Aside from Cicero's recent piece, and Simon World's ongoing briefings in Winds of Change.NET's China topic section and beyond, my China framework article contains links to a number of socio-economic indicators and trends.

One data point that fixates a lot of people's attention is China's surplus of young males, a statistic that has often been a predictor of war and social instability. This article is an excellent and balanced look at that phenomenon. I especially liked their note that each young Chinese male being responsible for 2 parents and up to 4 grandparents; it's a useful reminder of how cultural & social patterns can change the context of the data we see. "China's Time Bomb" also touches on the less-discussed but equally significant phenomenon of China's rapid aging, as its median age soars from about 32 today to at least 44 in 2040. Hu Angang, an economist at Qinghua University in Beijing, puts it this way: "We will have the social burden of a rich country and the income of a poor country."

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Nicholas Eberstadt adds:

"How will China support its burgeoning elderly population? Not through the country's existing state pension system: That patchwork, covering less than a fifth of the total Chinese workforce, already has unfunded liabilities exceeding China's current GDP."

Social and economic development is a long climb, and there will surely be no shortage of internal stresses on China's polity over the next 30 years. China's mandarins look down, and all they see are a series of quickly spinning treadmills:

  • Can they provide enough jobs to keep up with the rural migration to the cities, and avoid creating a volatile tinderbox of the unemployed and disaffected?
  • Can they weather the inevitable storms as some of their state-owned companies sink, without creating either massive unemployment shocks or endless draining subsidies? The April 18, 2005 Wall St. Journal has a Page A16 article entitled "China's Workers Vent Anger: Protests Grow Common as Privatizations Shatter Job Security". Jim Landers of the Dallas Morning News recently offered a similar report from Fushun.
  • Can they find the energy and resources to keep the economy going? Is that even possible given the eventual scale of the problem and limits of natural resources?
  • How will falling water tables and ravenous industrial demand for water be reconciled with the ongoing necessity of China's agrarian needs?
  • Can the health system handle the new conditions without allowing devastating epidemics or even pandemics?
  • What happens as the "one child" policy begins to produce a large hangover of older people with fewer young people to support them?
  • Can the Party maintain its dictatorship without the moral mandate of communist revolution to animate it - and if so, what does it turn to as a source of legitimacy?
  • Along those lines, how can it continue to control the other major players in Chinese life, especially the Army?
  • And what about the double-edge sword of information technologies - so necessary, but so potentially subversive?
  • Etc., etc.

A ruling class that cannot keep up with all of these issues will lose the Mandate of Heaven - and possibly their heads.

Which brings us back to the recent violent anti-Japanese demonstrations, and the government's role in them. Here's first-hand observer Mark Erikson of the Asia Times, in China's fury doesn't wash, but why the froth?:

"But after seeing what I saw in Shenzhen, I know that the Chinese government and/or Communist Party got this thing going and kept it going. Students might do this sort of thing on their own. They certainly did at Tiananmen in 1989. From the looks of it (the TV pictures), students were involved in the Beijing demonstrations. But in Shenzhen there are no students. It's a special economic zone chock full of contract workers from all over China, working in factories or - per chance - in brothels.... The questions remain: why and why now?

To be systematic about it, there seem to be three possibilities: 1) the government wants to divert attention from pressing domestic problems; 2) Communist Party factional issues are fought out in a strange arena; 3) Beijing wants leverage to stoke up nationalist fervor for international gain. Neither 1) nor 2) can be entirely ruled out."

Expect to see more of all 3 in the coming years - and if this is the game being played by the Communist Party, it's an especially dangerous long-term choice.

As we've seen elsewhere, China's careful cultivation of rage is only a harmless distraction for so long. Eventually, people start demanding that you put your weapons where your mouth is - and in a "face" culture, that could easily force the regime into an uncomfortable corner. Winds' coverage of "China's Growing Nationalist Movement" looks more closely at that angle, asking some questions about inflection points and looking at related trends. See also the analysis of China's pattern of go to war decisions in this article's military section.

(Readers, any additional articles or sources that you've found especially helpful or insightful in the socio-economic-cultural area?)

  • Nov 15/07: AFP publishes a report by Albert Keidel, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former US Treasury official and World Bank economist, who calculates that China's economy will turn out to be 40% smaller than previously stated.
  • Sean LaFreniere's June 15, 2005 post "The Myth of China Rising" has an excellent set of socio-economic issues and links, and his post links to other useful analyses as well.
  • China's biggest problem on the socio-economic front is that its system is not flexible, even as all of these problems demand flexibility and inventiveness. Winds discusses this concept, then adds a second article following up on the potential consequences re: avian flu. China's population, sanitary conditions, lack of flexibility, and inherent incentives toward cover-ups in its governments, means that many experts see China as the most likely place for epidemics and pandemics to start. Add that one to the list of challenges.
  • A very primitive sketch of a scenario exercise can be found at ScenarioThinking.org. "Future of China in 2020" is useful mostly for its view into some of the intermediate processes:

China: Geopolitics

A look at China's geopolitics should start with China's race into the global energy market, noted back in Winds' June 2003 article "12 Under-rated Global Trends."

With oil pushing $50/bbl, you'd think it's safe to say that this trend is no longer under-rated. It probably still is, though, because the geopolitical fallout is just beginning. Observers are beginning to note some of the ways in which this is beginning to affect Middle East geopolitics, for instance - not to mention blocking progress re: Darfur's genocide. There's no longer any question among serious observers that oil and resources will be key drivers of China's foreign policy (though most miss the water/food angle, at least so far).

How does this fit into our framework? Various ways. China is blessed with abundant natural resources of its own, but they will not be enough. Its energy appetite is both a potential trigger for geopolitical trouble, and a large strategic weakness to any enemy who can credibly threaten to choke off Chinese access.

A recent report by Laguna Research Partners called "Crisis on the China Rim: An Economic, Crude Oil, and Military Analysis" talks about sensitive issues including the increasing demand for oil from China & India and the United States� involvement in that region. Its forecast of oil prices at $100/bbl within the next 3 years is beyond my ability to evaluate, but indicative of the kinds of pressures analysts see coming out of that region's growing appetite. I liked its 3 step economic, oil, military analysis of the region, and there are some informative gems in it. I also liked their attempt to create 2 tracking indices: The "Energy Security Index" (ESI) measures total military expenditures per barrel of oil consumed in various countries around the region, while the "String of Pearls Index" (SOPI) measures non-core military spending (i.e. above 1.8% of GDP) per barrel of oil imported.

Note, too, that there are other energy sources beyond the Middle East - oil and resource-rich Siberia to China's north, for instance, and Central Asia to its West. Africa's Gulf of Guinea is becoming an increasingly-important oil source, and the continent as a whole is exceedingly rich in industrial minerals. China has not been idle on any of these fronts, though these moves draw little attention.

If you want to understand Chinese diplomacy, start paying attention to its moves in these regions.

China's big geopolitical weakness is, of course, geography. Though it will be dependent on naval lines of supply for many of its future resources, including food, China is ringed by satellite powers that are well positioned to choke its access. Belmont Club's Big Trouble in Little China drives that point home with solid analysis and interesting facts, including this GlobalSecurity.org shipping map.

Japan is a Great Power by achievement and a naval power by military necessity. South Korea is an industrialized economy that could represent competition for Russian resources, and tie down significant Chinese forces besides unless they're neutralized (China's current strategy for that is a 1-2 of triangulation via North Korea, and Finlandization). Taiwan is a semi-hostile, unsinkable aircraft carrier just off of its coast. Vietnam to the south has a long history of friction with China, which spilled out into open warfare once again in the 1980s. Its port in Cam Ranh Bay, perched right against China's African and Middle Eastern resource lifeline, is still an excellent naval location for any of China's opponents (India? Japan? even the USA again?). Of course, China is currently undertaking intense diplomacy to keep Vietnam away from a US-led security strategy.

Beyond Vietnam lies an Australia that is allied with the USA, and looks at key chokepoints like Indonesia with a hard eye. Australia has no desire for overt confrontation with Beijing, but it is wary of Chinese influence in the region. China must consider it as at least potentially hostile.

Beyond Australia, India continues its rise. India, too, has strong expat communities in Africa, and also has deep roots in the Middle East. Its own economic expansion will make it a competitor for resources, and as an incipient naval power its natural interest will involve secondary pre-eminence in the Indian Ocean from the east coast of Africa to the Straits of Malacca (secondary, of necessity, to the USA). Given that this region defines most of China's resource lifeline, the strategic problem for China is obvious. Underneath the feel-good rhetoric from China about "Chinese manufacturing and Indian brains" lies a deep and abiding sense of rivalry and concern. Hence China's hostile meddling involving every one of India's neighbours. Hence, also, China's eyes-deep support for Pakistan, including a major role in its nuclear program.

India will smile at Chinese overtures, therefore, but she is not likely to forget all this - and preparations to strengthen her position are underway with American and Russian support. See "China's Growing Maritime Morass" for more.

As it looks outward over this set of neighbours and competitors, therefore, China's geo-political imperatives are simple to state but difficult to execute. Especially since pursuing some of these goals gets in the way of others:

  • Become a regionally dominant force that is unquestionably #1 in East Asia, and able to keep any other Great Power out of its sphere of influence.
  • Secure access to key resources. An equally bad scenario for China would be a US/Russia division that keeps China out of Central Asia, and/or any form of coalition or happenstance that prevents China from becoming extremely influential in Siberia as Russia's population continues its collapse.
  • If you can't control it, at least have the leverage to choke it. If you can't control the sea lanes, for instance, at least have the ability to deny those resources to any enemy in case of hostilities. "He who can destroy a thing, controls it," and all that. This will create a counter-lever that can act as a check on naval powers and strengthen China's negotiating position.

Finally, one must consider an unusual asset available to China: the wide-ranging Chinese expatriate community. This global asset may be rivaled only by India's similar expatriate communities, and by the USA's unique "reverse ties" melting pot. It has certainly played a key role in China's successful creation of strong export industries, thanks to strong family ties that connect many of them back to the mainland.

While the overseas Chinese will continue to represent a bridge and an opportunity, as China becomes more of a regional power they could also represent an entanglement. Ethnic Chinese have often been the targets of violence in Asia as an economically-dominant minority group (vid. Amy Chua's work). Until now, China could offer little in the way of help or support - but as its power projection capabilities grow, that will change. As aggressive nationalism becomes more and more of a socio-cultural force, its willingness to use those forces should a crisis befall Chinese kinfolk abroad may also change.

Taiwan may be worried about China's naval buildup right now, but they may not be the only country with cause to wonder.

Which brings us at last to the military dimension of geopolitics (especially energy geopolitics), and China's military capabilities. If China swerves in a very negative direction, how bad could that be? What kinds of scenarios are possible? And what do China's military efforts tell us about their possible intentions?

China: The Military Dimension

If you really want to understand how geopolitical considerations feed into military planning, which then translates back into new geopolitical options and capabilities, Thomas J. Christensen's "Posing Problems Without Catching Up: China's Rise and the Challenge for American Security" [Google HTML | PDF version] is simply outstanding.

Let me repeat - outstanding. Great sourcing, combined with solid understanding of how international relations works, produces clear-eyed logic that lays out options and what ifs. His explanation of why China doesn't have to achieve parity with the USA is especially worth your attention. When you're done reading him you will be a smarter observer of international relations, with a better understanding of the possible strategies states can pursue, an improved grasp the connections between military capabilities and geo-political power, and a better feel for how the U.S. - China situation could spiral into conflict against their mutual wishes.

Daniel Starr adds a blog post about the Chinese regime's methods & motivations in making go-to-war decisions, and how these may differ from traditional American and European analyses and viewpoints. It's a good complement to Christiensen's work.

On the strictly military side of the equation, here are some additional links you may wish to check out:

eDefense Online's outstanding Flashpoint: Taiwan Straits looks at the military forces available to both sides and the major buildup programs each side has under way. Some quick excerpts:

"...the Chinese are currently embarked on a major shipbuilding program for their navy, a massive buildup where they are currently deploying seven new major ship classes at one time, building up to two of these new ships in each class per year. These include two more Project 956 Sovremennyy-class guided-missile destroyers (DDGs), the Type 52B DDG, the Type 52C Aegis-like DDG, the Type 54 guided-missile frigate, the brand new Yuan-class diesel attack sub (to augment the advanced Kilo-class (Project 636) they purchased from the Russians), the Project 093 nuclear attack sub, and the Type 094 nuclear missile sub."

For those who you who aren't into "defenseology," that is an absolutely huge number of major new programs to manage. Three domestic shipbuilding programs would have been a large number; 7 is off the scale. There are wise cautions to heed against overhype and the effects of running too many major projects at once, but one can also see promising success factors in the Chinese effort.

For instance, note that many Chinese programs start from existing blueprints of proven weapons from other countries, or involve foreign buys with technology transfers and limited local manufacturing. This is an intelligent approach, and one that they've taken in other fields as well: Hummers built under license, SU-30 fighters built under license, FC-1/J-17 program with Pakistan for a quasi-F-16, the J-10 fighter program using Israel's Lavi as a starting point and then modifying very heavily, Type 52C "AEGIS-like" destroyers using radar systems from the Ukraine, etc. Contrast this with India's "all domestic" approaches, which have usually ended in delivery of substandard equipment or even outright program failures.

Richard D. Fisher, Jr.'s 2004 testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission remains the best one-stop source I've found re: China's military modernization programs, how its management of those programs has changed, and the role of various foreign suppliers. It's a good way to get context on the roles played to date by the Russians, Europeans, Israelis, and American companies.

China is working on modernizing its defense industry, with some success thanks to expertise it has gained in the electronics sector et. al. Of course, some reported components require a certain depth of both native expertise and industrial base experience to pull off. Even given China's massive industrial espionage operations and buys of Soviet R&D, for instance, I'll believe a Chinese AEGIS-equivalent destroyer when I see some evidence that it can perform as advertised. It takes more than just having a phased array radar.

Even so, the sheer variety of programs underway makes one wonder about the real cost of all this. And the real intent.

To that end, one may read a November 2001 article by Dr. Alexandr V. Nemets & Dr. Thomas J. Tordathat discusses many of China's military programs and doctrinal changes - including some that eDefense Online missed. Or an April 2005 DefenseTech.org article that offers a useful run-through of some recent controversies concerning China's military power, and includes excerpts from Jane's:

"Blasko estimates that around a quarter of all PLA manoeuvre units, which number around 20 divisions or brigades, plus supporting artillery and air-defence units, have participated in training exercises for amphibious operations...

[Meanwhile] The PLA Navy (PLAN) is rapidly transforming itself from a coastal force into a blue water naval power with a force modernisation drive that is unprecedented in the post-Cold War era. "The range and number of warships the Chinese navy is acquiring can be compared to the Soviet Union's race to become an ocean-going navy to rival the US in the 1970s," said a China-based foreign naval attach�."

That's scale. Now take this recent Defense Industry Daily news item, which noted:

"China is likely to announce yet another year of double-digit growth in its defense budget in the next week, with expectations hovering in the 10-12% range. Officially, defense spending grew about 11 percent last year over 2003, hitting CNY 211.7 billion ($25.6 billion). Still, many experts believe that China's real defense expenditures are two to four times higher than official figures, as items like arms procurement and military R&D are often placed in other budgets."

That would certainly fit the familiar pattern some of us recall from the Soviet era, and given the range of expensive programs I'm seeing a 4x estimate of over $100 billion wouldn't surprise me at all. Contrast with India's current military budget of $19 billion, without the same ability to hide expenditures because it is a democracy.

There's also a cost to maintaining their existing military, conscript army or no. As eDefense reports, that force includes:

"The PLA Ground Force has 1.9 million men, 14,000 tanks, 14,500 artillery pieces, and 450 helicopters. The PLA Air Force has 470,000 airmen, 2,550 jet fighters, and 400 ground-attack jets. The PLA Navy has 250,000 sailors, more than 70 submarines of all ages and conditions, including the Han nuclear attack and Xia ballistic missile boats; 20 destroyers; 35 frigates; and numerous other craft. There are also the Second Artillery Force (Strategic Missile Force) and the Peoples Armed Police."

In fairness, some of those totals will shrink as older weapons like the J-7 (essentially a Chinese MiG-21) are retired and replaced by newer equipment. There's also a question of military performance wherein new gear on the plus side is set against a face-based culture with no democratic performance audits, all under a dictatorial regime whose prime concerns are control of the military and maintaining its power in society rather than military effectiveness. In The Myth of Chinese Air Power, for instance, Trent Telenko made some very trenchant observations about the PLAF and the way in which the structure and priorities of Third World Power Regimes affect their military choices and effectiveness. USAF 1LT Nathan Alexander had a fine follow-up with Chinese Airpower Revisited, which took a more Chinese-centric approach. I'd encourage our readers to peruse both articles, because their observations stretch far beyond the air dimension.

Still, the scale of the modernization underway in China must give one pause. An SU-30 fighter is an instrument of power projection in a way that a MiG-21 isn't. Even trying to produce an AEGIS-class ship makes no sense unless they're intended to protect expeditionary forces that are too far away for support from the mainland. Advanced attack submarines carry an obvious message, as does training significant portions of the world's largest army in amphibious exercises. Doing all of these things at once... well, that gestalt sends a message too.

Now put this in context of Chinese military doctrine - the Federation of American Scientists has an excellent compilation of articles on the subject. Pay special attention to the work of PLA colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, whose document "Unrestricted Warfare" [Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4] has stirred intense study across the ocean.

If you want to keep up with individual Chinese defense programs and news, Chinese Defense Today is probably the best web site for reference and ongoing information. The Pentagon also published Chinese Military Power 2004 recently, which may offer the most comprehensive overview but only comes in PDF form.

"Chinese Military Power" also dips its toe into the geopolitics that flow from these efforts. So, too, does Belmont Club's Big Trouble in Little China 2, which links to a Seapower Magazine article by former U.S. Navy Attache to China Capt. Brad Kaplan. In China's Navy Today: Paper Tiger... Or Storm Clouds on the Horizon? he writes of the People's Liberation Army Navy:

"The PLAN's evolving strategy has been described in terms of two distinct phases. The strategy's first phase is for the PLAN to develop a "green water active defense strategy" capability. This "green water" generally is described as being encompassed within an arc swung from Vladivostok to the north, to the Strait of Malacca to the south, and out to the "first island chain" (Aleutians, Kuriles, Ryukyus, Taiwan, Philippines, and Greater Sunda islands) to the east. Analysts have assessed that the PLAN is likely to attain this green water capability early in the 21st century. Open-source writings also suggest that the PLAN intends to develop a capability to operate in the "second island chain" (Bonins, Guam, Marianas, and Palau islands) by the mid-21st century. In the future, the PLAN also may expand its operations to bases in Myanmar, Burma. These bases will provide the PLAN with direct access to the Strait of Malacca and the Bay of Bengal."

As Belmont Club's article notes, in seeking to become a regional powerhouse, methods matter. The more aggressively China pursues this goal, the more it will alarm exactly those "barrier nations" that it seeks to neutralize:

"The devil in the proposition is that as long as China is seen as representing a threat to Japan, any attempts to reach out to "the first island chain" (which includes the Aleutians) and the "second island chain" (which includes the Bonins, which is Japanese territory) will bring a reaction from Nippon. Like the Anglo-German Naval Race of the 1900s, any serious maritime rivalry will be fraught will grave consequences. One interesting thing about these developments is that for the first time in 500 years Europe is absent from the maritime strategic equation."

Indeed.

China: Next?

China is rising on the world stage. There are no two ways about that. Even so, I'm not a fan of the analysts who foolishly project endless compounding growth for China using straight-line trend projections. There are so many socio-economic and geopolitical issues in the way - and governance matters. China will be able to grow for a while from its current base, but as Cicero's articles bring home, there will be some adjustments too. Advanced economies have important requirements, and many of them conflict with China's current system. Getting there won't be easy.

Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace looks at history, and thinks the idea of 'managing' China's rise is a comfortable fiction. What if he's right? Could those stresses and difficulties result in military aggression against external enemies, as part of China's effort to rise geopolitically and diver attention from its socio-economic problems? How could that happen? What could the consequences be? What else should we look for as we search for clues to future intentions and capabilities?

Taiwan is widely considered to be a target, probably between the 2008 Olympic Games and 2010. The danger is that failure would probably lead to the collapse of the Chinese regime. As we've noted earlier, however, new military capabilities often lead to new geopolitical moves. So, if you're looking for clues, look inside, surely - but look outside, too, and think beyond Taiwan.

Why? Because of an old truth. A military force may be effective, or not - but in many cases, one doesn't find out for sure until it's used on the battlefield. As we say in baseball, "the game ain't played on paper".

One way around this problem is to take a prudent approach and starts with small-scale actions (vid. Italy in Ethiopia, Germany & Russia in the Spanish Civil War) that reveal lessons but cannot really fail. The Chinese have always struck me as prudent, and there are ways to get this kind of assurance without creating trouble.

Sending a substantial force to help out in the Congo might do nicely, for instance. Or Sudan, for that matter.

Consider the irony - and also the larger lesson. Though the internal character of the regime strongly influences the way in which it conducts itself abroad, there are forces afoot in China that could change the character of its regime. The same military that could serve as local bully-boys and modern janissaries propping up dictators around the world and making those countries safe for Chinese colonialism, could also play a much more positive role if China's government wanted them to.

IF. The key is to remain clear-eyed about the realities and possibilities before us, rather than letting our wishes do our thinking for us. China's early moves in the mideast, Sudan, et. al. do not suggest positive futures. But that isn't to say a stronger Chinese military is bad under all circumstances, which is why we must pay close attention to that factor without fixating on it.

We have come full circle at last, back to our scenarios.

It's pretty clear to outside observers that major forces are building in China. Demographic forces. Economic forces. Internal tensions. Now add the military forces and capabilities described above on top of this cauldron, and throw in some enablers via Russia's semi-desperate search for deals and the EU's typically unhelpful (and see here) form of aggressive docility.

All of these forces are building as we watch. To what end? That is surely the correct question. But as China's military capabilities grow along with its internal stresses, the number of answers grows, too.

Always in motion, the future is.

22 TrackBacks

Tracked: April 18, 2005 4:54 AM
Meta China post from Simon World
Excerpt: There is so much going on involving China at the moment I've compiled a listing of some key posts: 1. The Huaxi riots. 2. The China/Japan tensions. 3. Wish you happy - China's environment and its consequences. 4. China's stresses, buildups and futures ...
Tracked: April 19, 2005 6:36 PM
China Vs. Japan from Funmurphys: the Blog
Excerpt: The semi-confrontation between China and Japan is interesting (though at root very sad) for a number of reasons. One is the reversal in roles - where once China was an ally and Japan an enemy, now Japan is an ally...
Tracked: April 19, 2005 6:52 PM
Excerpt: We call it "Classiness, All Around Us." Click to explore more WILLisms.com. In no particular order, WILLisms.com presents classiness from the blogosphere: 1. Jay Reding has more on the myth of the Social Security Trust Fund (via RWN): The Social...
Tracked: April 20, 2005 12:31 AM
Excerpt: You will want to take a look at this collection of links to all things China-related. It's put together by Joe Katzman, an exceptionally bright writer, though definitely of the conservative school. Here's part of his preface: This post will...
Tracked: April 20, 2005 5:11 AM
Excerpt: If you're at this blog because you're interested in China, I can tell you a few on-the-scene anecdotes. For a massive collection of essays and articles, see this link to Winds of Change. Don't miss it, if you're interested in more weighty analyses, p...
Tracked: April 20, 2005 8:16 AM
The Asian Cold War from Republican Hippy
Excerpt: After twenty years of near stagnation for Japan and explosive growth for China, the economic gap between the two countries is closing. China has also closed the military spending gap significantly. China has a long way to go, but surely Japan would l...
Tracked: April 20, 2005 9:42 AM
China Under the Microscope from thehorsesmouth.blog-city.com
Excerpt: I found thisone from the Winds Of Change(via TPD). It's a huge collection of China-related links that cover a wide array of discussions ranging from current issues taking place in the Middle Kingdomto well thought out scenarios that may or may
Tracked: April 20, 2005 5:14 PM
Japan Apology from Pete The Elder
Excerpt: There have been many comments in the blogosphere about the anti-Japan protest in China over the past few weeks (see here, here, and here for instance). Most of them have commented on the idea that the protests were really about...
Tracked: April 20, 2005 5:23 PM
Catching my eye: morning A through Z from The Glittering Eye
Excerpt: Here's what's caught my eye this morning: Joe Gandelman, as usual, has a great run-down of blogospheric reaction to the election of Joseph Ratzinger to the papacy. Abu Aardvark compares Benedict XVI with one of his favorite subjects, Qaradawi, and...
Tracked: April 20, 2005 10:27 PM
Katzman Answers Rice from Between Worlds
Excerpt: In a long but impressive piece, Joe Katzman ponies up and produces an outstanding essay on China's future scenarios with much thoughtfulness. Whether it is an answer to or a rejoinder with Bill Rice's compendium on China's military postures. They are...
Tracked: April 22, 2005 12:12 AM
Excerpt: Via Glenn Reynolds, is this excellent roundup on China at Winds of Change. Were I to sum this one up in one phrase, it would be, "Just the facts, ma'am." This is not to say that there is no analysis. However, the analysis presented does not much consid...
Tracked: June 16, 2005 7:43 AM
Excerpt: Let's see... Microsoft is playing police for the Chinese government, barring words like "democracy," "demonstration," et. al. from its MSN portal services in China. It cites compliance with local laws in its defense, but there...
Tracked: June 16, 2005 7:53 AM
Excerpt: Various notes on developents in China, the socio-economic issues they face, and perspectives on offer re: their sustainability into the future.
Tracked: June 17, 2005 5:45 AM
Excerpt: Various notes on developments in China, the socio-economic issues they face, and perspectives on offer re: their sustainability into the future.
Tracked: June 17, 2005 8:25 AM
Excerpt: We've explained The Bush Doctrine before. Now Pundita looks at it from a global development perspective. This idea bring new insights to Barnett's "Pentagon's New Map" core/gap thesis. It clarifies some key issues around global development (or non-deve...
Tracked: June 28, 2005 1:35 PM
China and the Future from A Dusty Life
Excerpt: Seems that everyone is a little anxious about China these days, economically and militarily speaking. So I guess it's time for some forward thinking fun. The focus here will be on thoughts and ideas about the kind of future we...
Tracked: July 15, 2005 2:19 PM
And so it begins from Zacht Ei
Excerpt: The Chinese threaten nuclear war with America if the latter 'attack their territory'. Rather conveniently, the Chinese definition of territory happens to include Chinese ships and planes. So the cards are on the table. The Chinese are apparently willin...
Tracked: October 20, 2005 7:23 AM
Excerpt: There have been two related developments in China's halting steps towards "democracy" in recent times. The first concerns a small village called Taishi. The excellent ESWN blog has a full chronology of events at Taishi....
Tracked: November 1, 2005 1:05 AM
Excerpt: F-16A (click to view full) The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States has requested a possible sale of air-air missiles, continuation of a pilot training program and logistics support for a long-term F-16 training prog...
Tracked: January 11, 2006 8:57 AM
RAND: Chinese Arms Industry Improving from Defense Industry Daily
Excerpt: DID has covered RAND's Project Air Force before, and their lessons learned from the F-22 and F/A-18 Super Hornet programs attracted a lot of reader interest here. Now they shift their focus to China's defense production capabilities, which are...
Tracked: January 14, 2006 2:02 PM
China's R from MountainRunner
Excerpt: From eWeek.com comes this item on US RD opening up in China. Hewlett-Packard Co. opened a research lab, HP Labs China, in November, joining Microsoft Corp. and IBM and other
Tracked: February 22, 2006 6:58 PM
Excerpt: F-16A (click to view full) The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States has requested a possible sale of air-air missiles, continuation of a pilot training program and logistics support for a long-term F-16 training prog...

54 Comments

Japan's military posture will rise in response to the perceived threat from China. Look for Japan to "go nuclear" within a decade, which will drive China bonkers. Shop at Wal-Mart and your descendants will fight a war with China, sad to say.

You say:
"The good news for China's rulers is that economic growth is high, debt is low, a large domestic market is rising, and foreign investment is pouring in (even though many investors have little to show). Non-enforcement of intellectual property laws also provides Chinese manufacturers with an effective subsidy, as credulous companies invest only to find their technologies appropriated by local Chinese businesses. All this is changing social patterns, and leading to China's economic rise as economic Marxism is gradually abandoned by China's elites."

I recently watched a CSpan book review and unfortunately don't remember the names, but it concerned a businessman who had made and entered into business development in China, and found that while western developers' investments (read $) was eagerly sought, their advisory role was only symbolic and that no matter what measures he took, including firing ineffective local managers, nothing changed. Fired personnel continued to manage, and overrule his decisions. Moneys were appropriated despite his reasoned directives, and then against orders, some of it actually being disbursed without accounting.

This happened on more than one occasion, and finally his investment group withdrew with losses and not recommending such investment to future hopefuls. And according to the same author, contracts and power agreements had existed prior to the investments, but enforcement proved impossible because of an absence of legal structure.

Does this strike you as tenuous basis for China's potential healthy development and growth?

The first word that comes to mind is "overdetermined." I get no sense whatsoever that the analyses are done from a "Chinese" perspective --- instead, they all appear to be based on western models and assumptions --- with a strong presumption that the world still revolves around the USA, and will do so indefinitely.

For instance, there is a significant difference between thinking that Europe is being "agressively docile" toward the idea of a Chinese military threat, and being "passive agressive" in its stance toward the US vis a vis China. What we may be looking at is a replay of the lead-up to WWII, with China cast as Germany, and the US as Russia, in European eyes. The Bush regime's arrogance and aggresiveness is seen by the rest of the world as a serious threat that needs to be addressed. (Most Americans think that European policy toward Germany was one of appeasement, when in fact Europe ---and the US--- felt that a much stronger Germany was necessary to stave off communist/soviet expansion. The American right ---Lindbergh, Ford, Prescott Bush et al--- was not so much in favor of Hitler and Nazism as they were opposed to Stalin and communism.)

The recent efforts of the Chinese government to instill a nationalist fervor in the Chinese people may well be a precusor to a greater level of authoritarian control in China that the Chinese government may wish to impose as it makes its moves. The Bush regime has shown how easy it is to create the sense of a serious external threat when there is no real threat to national security and used the resultant sense of nationalist fervor to achieve its goals --- it should come as no surprise to Americans that the Chinese leadership would embrace a similar strategy.

Its entirely possible that the Chinese leadership sees the US's current severe economic and political vulnerabilities as an opportunity to become the world's leading power. At literally any moment, China could decide to start dumping dollars, creating a worldwide panic and ensuing worldwide economic collapse --- and China is far better positioned to pick up the pieces than the US is, as long as it can maintain control over its population.

P.L.,
with a strong presumption that the world still revolves around the USA, and will do so indefinitely
Yeah, you're right. We've carried the white man's burden too long. We should withdraw back into our traditional isolationist shell. The world was much better when Europeans were in charge.
What we may be looking at is a replay of the lead-up to WWII, with China cast as Germany, and the US as Russia, in European eyes... The Bush regime's arrogance and aggresiveness is seen by the rest of the world as a serious threat that needs to be addressed.
The french have always pursued this "balance of power" strategy. It is their blind pursuit of it that's the problem. How they figure that the US is more of a threat to them than China is beyond me. So much for the brotherhood of democracies and all that. This reflexive anti-Americanism is not in their long term interests.
At literally any moment, China could decide to start dumping dollars, creating a worldwide panic and ensuing worldwide economic collapse --- and China is far better positioned to pick up the pieces than the US is, as long as it can maintain control over its population.
If China is really ready to abort it's huge export industry, then let them have at it and throw millions of their peasants out of work. Perhaps the Indians, South Americans, Indonesians, Malaysians, Eastern Europeans, and Pakistanis can take up some of the slakck. In times of great economic turmoil, the more flexbile economies are at an advantage. The US has the most flexible economy in the world. The Chinese oligarchs have more to fear than the US. Let them rock the boat at their peril. And the more they stir up nationalism the more peril there will be. It's a dangerous game they're playing.

The french have always pursued this "balance of power" strategy. It is their blind pursuit of it that's the problem. How they figure that the US is more of a threat to them than China is beyond me. So much for the brotherhood of democracies and all that. This reflexive anti-Americanism is not in their long term interests.

France (and the rest of the world's) current "anti-Americanism" isn't so much reflexive as it is reactive. The Bush regime's agressive and arrogant militarism and its clear contempt for international institutions and norms of behavior created over hundreds and hundreds of years appears to have caused a shift from the kind of "reflexive" resentment of power that is part of human nature.

To reduce it to its most elemental terms, lots of people in high school resent the quarterback of the football team solely because he IS the quarterback. But if the quarterback starts throwing his weight around, and beating up 90 pound weaklings, he is not merely resented, but hated by a large part of the school population, and is really accepted only by the other school bullies.

P.L.,
France (and the rest of the world's) current "anti-Americanism" isn't so much reflexive as it is reactive.
Not true. France has pursued explicit anti-American policies at least since their withdrawal from the military side of NATO. Instead of China, then it was the Soviet Union they were trying to balance us against. The more things change, as they say.
The Bush regime's agressive and arrogant militarism and its clear contempt for international institutions and norms of behavior created over hundreds and hundreds of years appears to have caused a shift from the kind of "reflexive" resentment of power that is part of human nature.
Since when is the UN 100's and 100's of years old? And I'm not even conceding any agreement was violated with respect to it either. Perhaps you can provide specific examples of these violations so that they might be discussed?
To reduce it to its most elemental terms, lots of people in high school resent the quarterback of the football team solely because he IS the quarterback. But if the quarterback starts throwing his weight around, and beating up 90 pound weaklings, he is not merely resented, but hated by a large part of the school population, and is really accepted only by the other school bullies.
Maybe. I hold out hope that sovereign nations, particularly democracies, can see to their interests beyond the level of highschool rivalrys. Perhaps this hope is misguided. Should the US then base it's policies so as not to offend those operating at the intellectual level of adolescents?

The Bush regime's agressive and arrogant militarism and its clear contempt for international institutions and norms of behavior created over hundreds and hundreds of years appears to have caused a shift from the kind of "reflexive" resentment of power that is part of human nature.

You're telling us that the millions who marched against the war in Iraq were actually marching in defence of the treaty of Westphalia?

But if the quarterback starts throwing his weight around, and beating up 90 pound weaklings, he is not merely resented, but hated by a large part of the school population, and is really accepted only by the other school bullies.

Saddam and the Taliban were just geeky kids minding their own business, when they are set upon for no apparent reason? Let me guess, Israel is the other school bully. Reality based community, my ass.

Calling an elected administration a regime does nothing to undermine its legitimacy as a democratically elected government; let's get that one thing clear right off the bat. This isn't Berkeley.

You fail to understand what bin Laden understood instinctively: people respect the "strong horse". The Arabs, for instance, have nothing but contempt and slight regard for the French and the Germans. They see them as spineless, weak, and unwilling to defend themselves. However, after two years of war and occupation, the Arabs maintain their respect for the Americans and the British because we did not lose our nerve in the face of casualties (the amount of which, heavy to us, are laughably small to most Arab nations). There is a reason that the notion of popular sovereignty of the governed is sweeping the middle classes of the Arab world. We are perceived to be strong, ergo, our ideas are perceived to be as valid.

In short, PL, what the Europeans think is relatively unimportant. What the Arabs, Africans, and Asians think is important.

Finally, calling a Saddam a "90 pound weakling" doesn't alter the fact that said 90 pound weakling had the blood of several hundred thousand people on his hands. Some weakling. Saddam was the biggest dog in the region, and we took him down.

It is obvious to me, anyway, that you on the Left will never be happy about that. Oh, you'll talk a good game about human rights, but when time comes to do something about it, you'll let the UN talk the issue to death.

Right? Righty-right.

As to China? One answer: Nihon Kaigun. There is a reason we signed a naval treaty with the Japanese back in February-the rate of Chinese naval shipbuilding. The Chinese are getting ready for a big-ass naval battle someday, and we'll have to use both fleets to take them on.

lukasiak, your rhetoric in this is simply hilarious. One of the things that baffles me about those who share your "views" is why you believe it is convincing to invent these "international institutions and norms of behavior" out of whole cloth.

It takes little more than a cursory glance at history to realize that your rhetoric is simply unrelated to history of our world and its conflicts.

If there will ever be such institutions and norms as you pretend already exist, it will be because they are logical and effective. By arguing that the Bush administration's actions are bad solely because they conflict with these mythical "norms", you avoid - and I doubt it an accident - having to convince anyone of the effectiveness of these inventions.

That isn't how they would be created. That's how they would be discredited.

The Chinese fleet will be less effective than the Soviets for at least 50 years. By the end of that time, China will have undergone a substantial change in governance. The same is true for China's other military and economic threats. The National Education Association poses a bigger threat to the internal security of the United States than does China.

The Soviet Union lasted 75 years. A lifetime. Like the USSR, China has entered its Brezhnev years where no one believes in the party, but the party still has enough power to control. The Chicoms 75 years will be up in 2025. The big, and in my opinion only important, question is how this transition will be managed. It is difficult to imagine how the demoument of the Soviet Union could have been better handled. The important issue for us is what lessons we can learn from that experience and how do they apply to China?

"The Arabs, for instance, have nothing but contempt and slight regard for the French and the Germans. They see them as spineless, weak, and unwilling to defend themselves. However, after two years of war and occupation, the Arabs maintain their respect for the Americans and the British because we did not lose our nerve in the face of casualties (the amount of which, heavy to us, are laughably small to most Arab nations)."

I'd be very interessted in hearing something to back up this statement. But I see no reason to adopt a contempt for the value of lives because it's supposedly 'laughable' to the Arab world.

That the US has overreached itself has resulted in N.Korean belligerence and possibly increased venturing into atomic weaponry, the same with Iran, we have the opposition being attacked in Mexico, Cambodia, Ecuador, with no rebuke from the US. Russia appoints governors contrary to its own mandate for elections, no comment from the US.

There seems to be a rising tide of realization that the US's commitment in Iraq has hamstrung it in the rest of the world. The Chinese civilization is not this old because of their stupidity, and it seems a propitious moment for any US allies to flex its muscles. Possibly not by dumping US bonds, but the results of that would be demonstrably disastrous.

Follow the money. China must have hard currency to buy oil as its own currency is not useable on the world market. This makes it utterly dependent on exports. The United States is not merely the principal market for Chinese exports - it is the MAJORITY market. The rest of the world combined is not capable of absorbing even a fraction of Chinese exports which would be lost if the American market is closed to Chinese exports.

The American market will be closed to Chinese exports if China attacks Taiwan. China will no longer have incoming hard currency to buy oil. It will only have its existing stocks of dollars to somewhat mitigate the impact of this loss in the short term. Thereafter China will not be able to import significant quantities of oil to keep its economy running because it won't be able to pay for the oil.

In addition to the immediate catastrophe its economy will suffer from loss of the majority of its exports. I.e., a Chinese attack on Taiwan means the certain and immediate collapse of China's economy, and the almost certain and immediate loss of power by its formerly communist ruling class. But an independent Taiwan effectively blocks any Chinese blue water naval capability due simply to geography.

Golden shackles come in many forms. It is oil income for the Arabs. It is the American market for China.

Ruth,

The North Korean and Iranian programs date from long before American "belligerence" decided to stop pretending the obvious wan't happening, and will continue regardless of US policy. Both have a long chain of statements and actions to this effect, which should convince anyone not living in a fantasy world where the USA always has to be the bad guy.

I always find it amusing when people feel a need to blame America for decisions taken by totalitarian regimes as a logical extension of their inner nature and ideology.

Repeat after me: the root cause of aggressive, maniacal dictators is the fact that they are agreessive, maniacal dictators.

I would prefer that this discussion return to the subject of China. North Korea can certainly be discussed on that basis, if you wish. China seeks to neutralize S Korea as a potential "barrier power" by making the ROK dependent on Chinese alliance against a N Korean threat. China's ideal is therefore a US withdrawal from Korea that allows China to step in as S Korea's quiet guarantor, while propping up the N Korean regime to ensure that it's still needed in both halves of a divided potential rival. This would effectively neutralize one of their potential "barrier nations" by Finlandizing it. Throw in the right payoffs over time within S Korea's political system, plus a system of rewarding your friends/agents, and it may even be possible to turn S Korea into part of its Greater Asia Co-prosperity sphere over the longer term.

Their challenge, of course, is that their proxy is an aggressive, maniacal dictator who is not wholly in their control - and acts accordingly, thus potentially sparking a round of newly-nuclear "barrier nations" on China's rim (S. Korea, Taiwan, esp. Japan). The other potential downside is that should N Korea fall, the human wave of refugees would strain China's resources.

So that's the game on the Korean front, from China's perspective. Note that I'm omitting the moral dimension of supporting Kim Jong-Il and his death camps... largely because the Chinese could care less, and ditto South Korea's government despite all their rhetoric about Koreans as one people.

For that matter, given the recent huge energy agreement and China's shadowy role behind proliferation through the AQ Khan network, we can also discuss Iran in like manner. But I'll leave that one for our other commenters.

RE: Russia: time to dispel a factual untruth. Unlike the European governments (and the German papers recently drew this contrast, it was so obvious) W. did in fact comment on democracy and human rights - publicly - when meeting Putin. From the Euros? Not a peep. Guess it's not "sophisticated."

RE: Latin America... in case you hadn't noticed over the last 4 years, the USA has other fish to fry. Even a superpower has a limited amount of attention and resources, and until the Global War on Terror shifts to Latin America, is mostly over, or other developments place Latin America on a "red alert crisis" basis for some other reason that directly impacts US security, they're at the bottom of the priority list.

Which they probably should be. There has been some consultation with regional players re: how to deal with Chavez' penchant for interfering in other countries, but Latin America will mostly have to develop on its own for a while. Which may not be the worst thing in the world. 'Bout time, some of us might say.

You'd think that maybe the Euros, with all their colonial ties, might be persuaded to step in and play a constructive role with their "soft diplomacy" and funds-based approach. Doesn't seem to be happening. The Chinese are making real inroads, however, striking up trade relations and generally becoming a presence (incl. in Panama). The potential for mischief-making in the USA's backyard as a future tit-for-tat response, and access/familiarity that might allow for, say, a commando mission to render the Panama Canal non-operational should the need arise, are almost too obvious to repeat. Almost.

But even this activity by China doesn't elevate Latin America as a priority for the USA. It just adds to the potential clean-up list down the road, while more pressing threats are dealt with in the here and now.

JK:

As you will note, I was responding to a commenter who made the statement that the middle eastern world was scornful of us and the British because of our regard for life, (and did bring the discussion back to China) - but was curious for the basis of Section9's comments.

Maybe I missed who it was who blamed the US for the developments in other countries. My contention as you will have noted is that these are coming out into the open because we are occupied elsewhere, specifically Iraq. Belligerence by North Korea probably isn't totally due to our preoccupation elsewhere, but seems definitely to have become a decided tactic since we are. And as you note, the South/Central American realm is just another overextension which we don't have the resources to tackle.

You're right, the president did bring Putin to task for his excesses. I did however find it unfortunate that the specific instances were allowed to slide and Putin to state that Russia was exercising democracy - when it is not.

Joe,

North Korea has not been aggressive, in any way that I am aware of, for about ten years. Its belligerance has been solely rhetorical.

Sir:

China's debt is not low, at least in terms of bad debts at its banks, currently estimated at $420 billion, versus $600 billion in foreign currency reserves. Take a look at this and related posts

Thanks,

Jack Risko

China is not the looming monster it is being made out to be. Militarilly they are nowhere near what the Soviets were, meanwhile we are even more powerful than we were in the Cold War. China cant fight a conflict with us and survive economically.
Politically China is isolated and surrounded by regional powers it cant be sure of, but are not traditionally friendly. China doesnt have a single reliable ally worth speaking of. The greatest power they wield is their UNSC veto, and going to war with the West would end that for good (at least for this regime).
Economically, China is indeed tied to the US. They are by no means a modern economy in practically any area. Curruption is rampant. Resources are growing scarce and expensive. China needs the US for a variety of reasons, our market most of all.

What we need to do is nursemaid China into modernity. That means some sacrifice on our part. A growing Chinese middle class is the death blow to Communism given enough time. Once that is done and China has matured into a more modern economy, the Chinese market will be open to American goods.
That should be our long term strategic goal.

The "North Korean program" dates from the fall of the Soviet Union --- given America's consistent hostility toward NK, and the disappearance of the Soviet nuclear umbrella to protect NK, it was practically inevitable that NK would pursue a nuclear program....

....and Clinton got then to stop in their tracks, by convincing NK that the US was not intent on destroying NK. Apparently, NK purchased some information from Pakistan's nuclear market during this period, but all actual activities involving the actual creation of nukes ceased while the NK-USA agreement was in place.

NK did not restart its nuclear program until after the US called off the talks that were central to the agreement made under clinton, then publicly humiliated Kim Il Jung II (and the leader of SK) by calling Kim a "pygmy" in a joint press opportunity with the SK leader.

The bottom line on NK is that it was being brought into the "family of nations" thanks to Clinton's efforts, and was NOT actively engaged in trying to produce nukes thanks to Clinton. Thanks to Bush, NK is now not merely actively producing nukes (and working on the missile technology to make them a threat to the US mainland), it is doing so openly, knowing that there really isn't a damn thing that Bushco can do about it.

Good Job George!

There has been some consultation with regional players re: how to deal with Chavez' penchant for interfering in other countries,...

Thanks for the laugh Joe. I literally laughed out loud when I read this --- for someone who wants people to take him seriously, talking about Chavez's apparent "penchant" for "interfering" in other countries as if the USA is not constantly doing far worse is absolutely hilarious!

Great post, Joe. For the last several weeks (prompted by Dr. Demarche) I've been running a series on China's time bombs chez nous. I've already posted installments on the environment and the aging problem in China and I'm preparing a post on China's banking system. Without stealing my own thunder, perhaps we should reflect: is China's banking system sufficiently robust to meet the challenges that the near future has in store? Frankly, I doubt it.

And on the demographic front that you mentioned in passing the “One Child Policy” as well as being a tragedy of incredible proportions has created a terrific irony: the workers most wanted by China's factories (young women) are precisely those who've been selected out of the population.

You also brushed by another point that bears emphasizing: only 25% of China's population is covered by any kind of pension plan at all (and there's little work for the elderly). No children (the traditional pension plan), no social insurance, no work. And, BTW, it's fiscally impossible for China to expand its current pension system to cover the number of people who are or will be in need even at its current level of growth.

Finally (stealing my own thunder again), China's economic strategy of being the lowest cost provider of labor won't be effective forever. What's less expensive than their labor? How about no labor at all? (and no transport costs, either) And such a future is foreseeable. Can China bootstrap it's economy into something else before their business plan bites the dust?

My contention as you will have noted is that these are coming out into the open because we are occupied elsewhere, specifically Iraq. Belligerence by North Korea probably isn't totally due to our preoccupation elsewhere, but seems definitely to have become a decided tactic since we are. And as you note, the South/Central American realm is just another overextension which we don't have the resources to tackle.

Are we to infer that we don't do anything in case something comes up? And not act then in case something else happens? And...

lukasiak writes:"The "North Korean program" dates from the fall of the Soviet Union --- given America's consistent hostility toward NK, and the disappearance of the Soviet nuclear umbrella to protect NK, it was practically inevitable that NK would pursue a nuclear program...."

That can't be a serious comment. "America's consistent hostility toward NK" ? It sounds like p.lukasiak is a pseudonym for "Dear Leader" himself with the complete inversion of the historical record.

_Its entirely possible that the Chinese leadership sees the US's current severe economic and political vulnerabilities as an opportunity to become the world's leading power. At literally any moment, China could decide to start dumping dollars, creating a worldwide panic and ensuing worldwide economic collapse --- and China is far better positioned to pick up the pieces than the US is, as long as it can maintain control over its population. _

What will they do then with folks rioting because of a lack of jobs?

What happens if the US slaps on an oil embargo?

What happens if Japan decides to help defend Taiwan?

#13,

I'll believe the USA is serious about Latin America when we do something about drug prohibition.

The #2 antagonism after immigration.

BTW the Government's Cocaine Price Support and Gang Finance Program also is a big source of $$$$ for our Latin American (and elsewhere) enemies. Socialism at work.

China represents a bigger long term threat to American security via its collapse than its rise.

Demographics are destiny and China will be old before China will be rich.

Colt:
Sure, we can do 'something', only with the US stretched as thin as it is, what?

M.Simon:

An 'oil embargo' is what we slapped on Hussein, only we along with everyone else pretty much ignored it.

I'm not a China scholar, but I have studied Chinese history a bit. Although there are a lot of ex-pat Chinese that certainly make the Chinese presense felt world wide, I don't believe there have been the all out colonial overtures in the Chinese past. Even expansion in Tibet could be seen as reclaiming historical territory and securing borders (after the Chinese got rid of Europeans, the Japanese, and finally General "Cash My Check") making sure they controlled their border countries made a lot of sense.

The Chinese prefer to make money not war.

If we're smart, balance their military might with that of Japan/India and our own, the transition from the current Chinese dynasty to the next will be tense...but might not involve an armegeddon.

Ruth

Sure, we can do 'something', only with the US stretched as thin as it is, what?

First, we need to decide what our options are at all.

Only then can we say whether our committments in Iraq are preventing us from a preferred course of action. In a military campaign against North Korea, carriers and bombers would be our most important direct contribution. Are our B-52 crews patrolling the Sunni triangle? Is the Nimitz beached on the Iraqi coast?

The growth of the next industrial economies (India and China) will depend on the availablity of high net energy supplies. Today, that means crude oil, largely from the Persian Gulf.

If the peak oil people are correct (and they have a good track record), we are just seeing the beginning of the tightening of supply vs. demand. The competition for oil will only intensify over the rest of the decade. Cheap oil can't last forever!

Liquified natural gas will be the next new energy source available for import. However, every industrial economy is jumping on that bandwagon so the available resource base could be largely depleted in a decade or two.

China's energy policy is then perhaps the crucial constraint on their economic development. They seem to realize decreasing net return from increasing coal development, especially with reasonable, improved pollution controls. Already they are the #2 carbon dioxide emitter, after the US.

Their annoucement of plans for 30 new nuclear power plants is a good start but that would supposedly increase nuclear's contribution from 2% to 4% of energy consumption.

Frankly, I see China peaking out economically in the next decade, albeit through a hazy crystal ball. By 2020, growth rates will be down to 1 or 2% per annum. The Chinese people and world peace would be better served by their expanded investment in a bigger fleet of nuclear power plants with less spent on military buildup.
Without cheap abundant energy, there is no growth.

#23

Jobs are not that important when nationalism is at stake. They would use it to squell job rioting because of an American bankruption. They can also start big military jobs programs plus support domestic consumtion. Adding more vacation days will also work.

The US isn't an oil exporter. Iran and Venezuela are and are of the "We do the opposite of the US" type. Nor can i see the UN ordering an embargo. The US could interdict shipping but that is a serious act of war and not that effective. Vietnam and North Korea who would re-export oil without doubt and that would be hard to stop without embargo-ing them too. Birma is so corrupt that you would get a truck based oilpipe into China and the same is true of the Stans. And than you are still left with Russia oil. Would that stop?
I just can't see how China could be embargo-ed outside serious military action and interdicting traffic to Taiwan isn't it.

Frankly, I see China peaking out economically in the next decade, albeit through a hazy crystal ball. By 2020, growth rates will be down to 1 or 2% per annum.

I can predict this too. They are playing catch up with the industrialized world but with another decade of this kind of growth they will have catched up after which growth becomes much harder.

"... international institutions and norms of behavior ..."

You mean like selling a "peace movement" to Saddam Hussein for billions of dollars through the oil-for-food program, or Libya serving on the Human Rights Council?

Oh, I know! You're talking about the U.N. Peacekeeper rape gangs in the Congo, aren't you?

Gotta love those international institutions.

That darn cowboy Bush is ruining everything! He's even crashed the UNSC veto market. How's a 35-hour-workweek country like France supposed to get ahead if they can't even pad the treasury with a few sales of the ol' UNSC veto?

Colt:

Well, we're off the subject of china again, but I'm a little puzzled as to what exactly our military options are reacting to ... B52's and carriers against a threat of nuclear attack capability against us? Or did you envision an encroachment over the DMZ? which seems like a more likely option. In which case ground forces would be the necessary response. Ground forces? maybe the coalition ... right. Anyway, this is supposed to be about china.

The World Bank should be reducing loans to China because a) it is NOT a democracy, and b) increasing military expenses, w/o external threat, means they don't need WB money.

While I strongly suspect some crises in the near term in China's economic development, it seems to me that 10% annual growth from a "benign dictatorship" is quite possible, for the market with the largest number of consumers in the world. Right now without the most cash -- China's printing presses might be able to change that.

But the excess military aged males is certain to cause rage. I have a little note: <a href="http://tomgrey.motime.com/1113955754#444529" Abortion may cause Chinese nuclear war</>

Too many horny young guys with little hope for wives, (maybe 30 million excess?) seem like a LOT of fuel for military adventures. Or revolution. Or both.

Joe: Thanks for the excellent roundup. You asked: "Readers, any additional articles or sources that you've found especially helpful or insightful in the socio-economic-cultural area?"

I would have emailed this to you privately but can't find an address, so I hope I don't come across as a shameless self promoter.

CSR Asia covers a lot of news on China in the socio-economic-cultural area. We also put out a weekly newsletter (in pdf - see left hand side bar in link above) in which we cover these sorts of issues in greater detail. I do a roundup every week in the newsletter of stories we've translated from the mainland press that don't make it into the English-speaking world (with an emphasis on labour issues). We cover all of Asia, but back issues provide fairly varied coverage on China. This week's newsletter (Tuesday 19 April - opens as pdf) has a story on China's labour exports and China View (summary of the Chinese press), and previous issues cover coal mines, the migrant labour shortage, wages, etc, etc.

Stephen... better to put resources like this right here in the comments section, so everyone can read them (and not just me)!

Thanks for your contribution.

Stephen Frost:

Better shameless self-promotion than no self-promotion at all. ;-)

Thanks for the great resource! It will take me awhile to digest it but it looks like there's a lot of interesting stuff there. Is it just me or does anyone else have a problem viewing the site with Firefox? (IE seems okay)

That can't be a serious comment. "America's consistent hostility toward NK" ? It sounds like p.lukasiak is a pseudonym for "Dear Leader" himself with the complete inversion of the historical record.

yes, einstein, America's consistent hostility towrard North Korea, starting immediately after WWII (when the US prevented Korea-wide elections because the Korean communists were the overwhelming choice of the Korean people, thanks to the fact that the communists lead the resistance to the Japanese occupation) right up until Clinton decided to "engage" NK.

If you actually think that the US has not been totally hostile to NK for decades, you really don't have the first clue about the historic foundations of the current NK crisis.

The North Korean and Iranian programs date from long before American "belligerence" decided to stop pretending the obvious wan't happening, and will continue regardless of US policy.

that is a pile of crap. The NK program dates from the period before Clinton, when the US was openly hostile toward NK. The Iranian program dates did not begin until the fall of the Shah, and since that time the US has been consistently hostile toward Iran.

Its one thing to justify US hostility toward NK and Iran, its another thing entirely to pretend that it didn't exist. It should not come as a surprise that "pariah" nations like NK and Iran would pursue nuclear programs for their own defense given the circumstances.

And regardless of whether or not you think that the dozens of examples of egregious US interference in the affairs of other nations --- the support/sponsorship of coups, economic sabotague, terrorism, and revolutions, and the not infrequent use of the US military or proxy armies to overthrow governments it doesn't like --- that history exists, and the rest of the world judges American actions within that context.

You also brushed by another point that bears emphasizing: only 25% of China's population is covered by any kind of pension plan at all (and there's little work for the elderly). No children (the traditional pension plan), no social insurance, no work. And, BTW, it's fiscally impossible for China to expand its current pension system to cover the number of people who are or will be in need even at its current level of growth.

is it any wonder that the right-wing so consistently gets things wrong, when it tries to impose post-industrial American middle-class perspectives on a nation like China? Hell, it is any wonder they get things so wrong when they use a figure like "25%", when the majority of Chinese people are under 30 years of age, and still quite capable of producing children (i.e. the "traditional pension plan.")

Here is a clue. China is an ancient culture with a long history of authoritarian rule and a culture that emphasizes the collective good over individual achievement --- and very little in the way of "democratic traditions." Trying to define the "problems" facing China by superimposing American values and traditions on Chinese culture is, in a word, idiotic.

What's so traditional about a Chinese society that only allows parents a single child? What's so traditional about a Chinese culture that is engaging the world? Big changes are afoot in China. Tradition is a factor, but as a catalyst for anger not stability.

As others have mentioned, there's going to be a huge surplus of males that can't find mates. Those that do find them, will not have the help of siblings to take care or their parents. All the while Chinese tradition will be telling them they are failures. Something gotta give in China, that's for sure.

The surplus of men isn't that high in China if you count the girls that officially don't exist. A pension plan is also not usefull in a society which expirience rapid growth. The pension will be peanuts by the time the people stop working

lukasiak,

What is your opinion on the fact that the North Korean regime violated this magnanimity displayed by the Clinton administration?

Oh, that's right. That doesn't count, unless you can blame it on Bush.

What you are asking us to believe is that totalitarian regimes would never have dreamed of having nuclear weapons had it not been for "hostile US policy" against them. I notice also that you provide utterly no evidence of this supposedly "hostile" policy which caused the advent of said nuclear weapons program other than Kim Jong Il's talking points.

Its amazing to me that you can still believe that there is any intelligence left in the Democratic Party. But by all means, don't let me disabuse you of your idle "America Uber Alles" fantasies. Keep wondering why your party can't get elected.

They would have collapsed long ago. You need a enemy for totalitarianisme

Nonsense.

If it hadn't been "us", they would simply have found another convenient scapegoat to draw attention from their failed policies: Russia, South Korea, Japan. And not only that, no matter what we do, the DPRK will classify anything we do or don't do as a threat or a slight. Hostility or aggression is defined in the socialist playbook as "Anytime somebody doesn't do what we want them to"

They thrive on the American apologists for them.

Michael Ledeen seems to agree with Jim Dunnigan of Strategy Page on China having regime stability problems. It may be that our next major national security issue will be bringing Chinese regime change to a soft landing as we did for the XUSSR.

http://www.nationalreview.com/ledeen/ledeen200504200822.asp

You can project the enemy role on anybody but you need a real enemy to let it stick for half a century.

Regime change has little to do with being the enemy. It has more to do with situation than the ideology of the regime.
The reason why Russia is not the enemy anymore is because they simply can't afford to be the enemy. China on the other hand can pay for it so they would be the enemy even after a regime change.
You can compare it with Iraq. Different regime, different ideology but still your enemy.

A, what you are arguing has little or no relevance to what we are discussing here. The simple fact is that for totalitarian systems to thrive there does need to be an enemy, but all the regime need do is convince itself or its people that the enemy is external. It can be real, or it can be imagined, as it is with us. KJI imputes on us to draw the poeple he is starving to death's attention away from his failed policies. Unsubstantiated fantasies, like the DP.(lukasiak)RK news service apologists do. Hitler consolidated power in the 30's by creating imagined enemies in Austria and Czechoslovakia and Poland. They were no threat to him, just as we are no threat to NK.

Is the reason NK is starving to death and its citizen are in gulags because of the US? No.

Are you seriously argueing that the US "we want a regime change" is not an enemy of North Korea.
I somehow doubt that the Germans really saw Czechoslovakia and Poland as enemies who posed any treat. They just needed an excuse to invade. But to keep up an enemy image for fifty years needs more than an excuse. Besides the eleite knows when it is an excuse and would behave differently.

Is the reason NK is starving to death and its citizen are in gulags because of the US? No.

You are right

China has a large set of trends that will affect its future, many of which are cross-affecting:
Uptrends:
Military expansion, modernization, industrialization
Economic expansion, modernization, industrialization
Technological acquisition & societal penetration
Communications+internet societal penetration
Educational development and penetration
Political modernization (democraticization and anti-corruption)
Infrastructural development and distribution
Downtrends, from various POView:
ALL THE ABOVE
Mil development means manpower cutbacks, foreign entanglements, re-balancing society with more power to the PLA, which has its own ideas and goals
Econ expansion leads to prosperity, which leads to increased education which leads to increased knowledge about how the rest of the world works which leads to riots over corruption and non-self-determination which leads to democraticization which leads to the deposing or death of CCP people.
Tech acquisition leads to better military hardware and more ways to monitor the population, but also leads to cellphones and pagers, faxes and internet access, email and great-firewall-of-china bypass-proxy-servers ... all of which means the govt will never be able to keep up with and block enough subversion.
Communications+internet also leads to Tianamin Square, the little-statue-of-liberty, uncontrolled thought, philosophical insurgency, etc. To clamp down on communications will involve exponentially harder and more intrusive censorship, attacking their most educated and thoughtful people, and essentially scientific and technological isolation that would impede their economic and technological growth.
Educational development invariably leads to a more analytic society that will demand consistency in rule-of-law, reason and logic in govt action, an end to corruption, responsive govt agencies (that don't hide epidemics), solutions to problems, and true liberalism (as in freedom, not socialism).
Political modernization follows from education and technology and will demand in higher educated groups that the govt start acting more reasonable and rational. To clamp down on their educated classes is counterproductive to economic and military development.
Infrastructural development allows for all of the above, but requires increasing expenditure to maintain and creates expectations among the have-nots that they will be have-soons, and cannot safely be ignored. Also this leads to exponentially increasing energy consumption with no conservation in sight.
FURTHER DOWNTRENDS:
Demographics will cause future chaos as China will see a rapidly greying population unsupportable by pensions, unsupportable by their lack of working-age-grandchildren, and un-self-supportable as many chinese jobs are labor-based. Also with the urban-one-child-policy, that only relates to one-child-per-female, which has been lopsidedly selected as male, leading to even fewer females, etc. China's population will shrink, but it has shrunnk so far by deselecting for females.
Environmental damage, desertification, dehydration, farm+food problems, air pollution, water pollution, deforestation, damming, etc are not slowing down and are starting to induce non-trivial consequences like oversize floods, crop-failures, sandstorms in cities, etc and are also forcing China to look overseas for food, especially as its farming is a hybridization of middle-ages-with-modern, and not necessarily for the better.
Energy production vs consumption imbalances lead to China's foreign problems:
Offshore-island problems (Spratley Islands, etc) where massive amounts of oil are to be found;
Supporting Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Venezuela, etc all because they have oil China wants.
Japan, SK, Vietnam, India, and Taiwan all can choke off China's oil supply by tanker, leading to the ever-present must-invade-Taiwan problem.
Russia is both China's military technologist and supplier and a depopulating-treasure-trove (Siberia) with vast untapped oil reserves, mineral wealth, timber, etc and a RAPIDLY declining population of Russians and an increasing population of Chinese migrants across an increasingly porous border.
China's neighbors are co-operating more than China would like, where China's paranoia over being potentially blockaded by its surrounding island/peninsula countries may lead to a conflict in which China is actually blockaded.

Other problems China faces are out of its control:
China's economy is massively dependant on foreign trade for cash for oil+food. Essentially, China is dependant on the USA for >50% of its foreign trade, especially of cheap but labor-intensive consumer goods, predominantly small-plastic-things and now textiles.
a) In the event of a Taiwan conflict, this is probably cut off, and with it, China's cash flow for oil+food, without which the CCP-govt will probably fall.
b) If china retaliates by dumping US bands that is holds in vast bulk, China may lose its long-distance-shipping capability altogether since a blockade of China does not have to be even vaugely near China.
c) deparate from conflicts, China has a really BIG problem coming up: home desktop-3D-printing AKA rapid-prototyping-machines AKA 21st-century-replicators. Printers exist now that can produce working cellphones, with battery, touchpad and display. Producing plastic items is trivial from these units, and a self-replicating-printer is being developed even now. These 3D printers take in raw plastics and low-melting-point-metals and output whatever you tell your computer to output, i.e. a currently made-in-China kids toy or kitchen spatula. withing X years, certainly under 20, maybe under 10, these units will be cheap ($25k now, nearly free when they can reproduce themselves) and will devastate many economic sectors, including essentially everything China relies on. Even worse, manufacturing will become a matter of giant-scale intricate replicators, and when high-melting-point-metals are available, anything is producable, even vehicles, meaning anything manpower-intensive will be automated and mechanized or moved into replication instead of manufacture or construction. China's economy depends on leveraging its population to dominate manpower-intensive industries with its low wages (or no-wages for prisons) ... but robots and replicators are "unpaid" ... with startup and maintainance costs, but no lunchbreaks, no strikes, riots, illness, ... and no human-error.
While industrial-scale replication may take years, home-replication "I need another spatula" is immediately ahead. Textiles are clearly in that category, especially since ink-jet-printing has produced a working mouse-kidney and a working cellphone, imagine the ultimate closet accessory: "Computer: black-dress, backless, knee-length, V-neck, tie-top, sleeveless, with myparrot27.jpg as a decoration." "20 minutes, madam" ... unstated that it will be stain+wrinkle-proof and in her size. Cost: 1 lump of plastic, plus the dyes used and the electricity. Given filesharing now, you can assume that infinite clothing options and models are going to be available for downloads for your home-replicating-closet.

China has a governing structure that cares about its own survival first and power second. The history of revolutions tends towards executing the previous governing elites.
If China does not engage Taiwan, the government looks weak and may fall for numerous reasons. (regional separatism, viral democracy, etc).
If China does engage Taiwan and loses, either due to inherent defence or foreign intervention, China's government is in critical danger of falling.
If China does engage Taiwan and wins, China faces a non-trivial chance of US/regional embargo or worse blockade, and bluntly, its oil+food supply routes are too long and undefendable and its oil+food needs are only getting larger. With any level of oil/food/export embargo, China's people are likely to riot, worsening economic problems and tactical control of its internal geography. And this assumes NO military damage to China's infrastructure or internals (bad assumption). The loss of just one dam could be devastating. Losing several dams would be catastrophic. Damage to Chinese port facilities and civilian shipping is essentially certain.

Remember that China is a "face-culture" (I hate that wording) ... problems frequently compound themselves out of unhelpful fears of being scorned by others. In this case, China considers the existence of an uncontrolled Taiwan to be a mortal insult to be remedied ASAP. The Taiwanese need to be disciplined and the USA is interfering, and worse, with the Japanese assisting. If China acts now, they are not yet ready with their amphibious assault and naval capability and jeapordize the 2008 Olympics. If they wait, it is that much more time for their adversaries to modernize post-wold-war and certain key technologies may neutralize Chinese advantages (MTHEL lasers shotting down missiles messes up their entire strategy, as does F35 100kw air-defence-laser tech being developeed now), plus Chinese military tech is largely limited to finishing what the USSR was working on in 1991 plus what FR/DE/EU/IS will sell them or what they acquire via expat-based-espionage. For GW1, the US revealed the F117 ... but we have not revealed much recently and they are not foolish enough to assume we have nothing in development or ready-to-use.

So ... taking Taiwan now, later or never are all bad ideas for the continued breathing of the Chinese leadership ... they have no/few useful options. Incidentally, given how bad things are likely to be internationally anyway, my suspicion is that they will not stop with Taiwan but try for all the disputed islands all at once.

Politically, the Chinese are essentially certain not to act now (GWB in office guarantees action they will dislike, plus the Chinese are not ready to go up against the US Navy/USAF, plus they won't endanger the 2008 Olympics), so my belief is tht they will wait until the next Democrat is elected to the US Presidency (HRC-08?) wrongly thinking that Dems will play-nice/bend-over for something as serious as invasion. (BC didn't, Kerry might have, HRC wouldn't, Condi is their worst-case-scenario ... Kerry, Carter, Dukakis, TedKennedy, BClinton make Dems seem like wimps, but BC did put the carriers in the Taiwan strait ... then gave our ICBM guidance + MIRV secrets to the Chinese through Loral ... so it's messy.) If (when? Nyet? Da!) Condi is elected in 08, the Chinese are in serious trouble (as is the Dem party overall if Condi beats HRC), especially as the pro-China Republicans went out with GHWB in 1992 and BC's housecleaning and the Realist Republicans went out with Powell (or are seriously weakened, esp by the mideast democracy movement making those crazy neocons seem prescient.)

China's best-case scenario to take Taiwan is also a worst-case ... their best hope is to tie-up and weaken the US by covert support for the NK/Iranian/Syrian looneys, hoping their support does not end up publicly hurting them (leading to an embargo / blockade and then govt collapse) ... but a strong NK/Iran/Syria trends to a likely Republican win in 08, greater US military build-up, closer SEATO ties, closer mideast ties, and possible loss of Iran and Syria as allies and oil-sources. Worse, Condi would be seriously engaged with Russia (like BC/HRC should have been in the 1992-2000 vacation-from-history) and may draw Russia away from China, leading to really extreme isolation (and a possible (losing?) invasion of Siberia ... c.f. Tom Clancy).

China's next 10 years are critical geostrategically as China's education/internet trends will kill communism there de-facto if not de-jure ... a police state does not survive total communication and total cultural invasion, and similarly a command-economy just plain does not survive. China and the Chinese leadership have their true best scenario in trying to engineer a soft-landing economically, demographically, and democraticizationally ... all of which is like trying to thread a stationary needle while moving at warp speed. Their known unknowns are bad enough, but their unknown unknowns are worse since their known trends are fatal to continuing communism leadership.

@ the top 10% of the Chinese economy consists of exports to the US, but this constitutes more than half of all Chinese exports. And there are no effective substitutes for the US market.

So China's ability to pay for oil imports would be cut by more than half from loss of the US market. Which means the ability to produce exportable goods to the non-US market will go down too from loss of the oil necessary to produce them, which means still less hard currency income to pay for imported oil, etc.

This is known as a cascading event failure.

China will lose access to the US market if it invades Taiwan, if only from a voluntary consumer boycott of Chinese goods (China shut up about the P-3 incident immediately after a warning from Wal-Mart's management that the fuss was threatening a consumer boycott). But a formal embargo by the US government would happen first if China invades Taiwan, just to placate US public opinion.

The Chinese "Communist" Party will lose power in China if the Chinese economy is wrecked as thoroughly as it will be from loss of the US market.

So an invasion of Taiwan will mean the end of Communist rule in China. Without the US govt. having to blockade China by force. A seemingly unavoidable embargo would do it.

This is sometimes called globalization. Only it was planned by some very wise Americans, and a few Englishmen, in 1943-44, and has been American grand strategy ever since.

Santificarnos linked to a presentation on the water crisis given by John T. McAlister for the Deutsche Bank. Fairly wide scope -- it discusses the inherent problems, policies and conduct that exacerbate it, risks and consequences, and, finally, it ties in for investors both potential liabilities for those that don't account (due diligence) for water problems in capital raising for projects and the potential market for developing technologies and systems for mitigating the problem.

Twenty page pdf of presentation is: Water Crisis in North China

p.lukasiak I just want you to know that you are right and the world has eyes to see for themselves. History has a way of clarifying everything. I wouldn't worry too much about the comments of those red-neck bushites who has no knowledge of history and what really happened in the past. Just alot of rambling about their latest popular opinion thats all. It is obvious that they have never studied actual history. They just need someone to be the enemy so they can justify their need to lash out.

China, as it is, has been seemingly rather bold in it's self-forcasts and it's countries predicted progression in the years to come. The proof of their stepping up with the big boys will be in the perverbial pudding but until then, they will be another up and comer. Nonetheless, you cannot overlook their forward movements and thinking as of late, building or not.
Cheers,
B.

Leave a comment

Here are some quick tips for adding simple Textile formatting to your comments, though you can also use proper HTML tags:

*This* puts text in bold.

_This_ puts text in italics.

bq. This "bq." at the beginning of a paragraph, flush with the left hand side and with a space after it, is the code to indent one paragraph of text as a block quote.

To add a live URL, "Text to display":http://windsofchange.net/ (no spaces between) will show up as Text to display. Always use this for links - otherwise you will screw up the columns on our main blog page.




Recent Comments
  • TM Lutas: Jobs' formula was simple enough. Passionately care about your users, read more
  • sabinesgreenp.myopenid.com: Just seeing the green community in action makes me confident read more
  • Glen Wishard: Jobs was on the losing end of competition many times, read more
  • Chris M: Thanks for the great post, Joe ... linked it on read more
  • Joe Katzman: Collect them all! Though the French would be upset about read more
  • Glen Wishard: Now all the Saudis need is a division's worth of read more
  • mark buehner: Its one thing to accept the Iranians as an ally read more
  • J Aguilar: Saudis were around here (Spain) a year ago trying the read more
  • Fred: Good point, brutality didn't work terribly well for the Russians read more
  • mark buehner: Certainly plausible but there are plenty of examples of that read more
  • Fred: They have no need to project power but have the read more
  • mark buehner: Good stuff here. The only caveat is that a nuclear read more
  • Ian C.: OK... Here's the problem. Perceived relevance. When it was 'Weapons read more
  • Marcus Vitruvius: Chris, If there were some way to do all these read more
  • Chris M: Marcus Vitruvius, I'm surprised by your comments. You're quite right, read more
The Winds Crew
Town Founder: Left-Hand Man: Other Winds Marshals
  • 'AMac', aka. Marshal Festus (AMac@...)
  • Robin "Straight Shooter" Burk
  • 'Cicero', aka. The Quiet Man (cicero@...)
  • David Blue (david.blue@...)
  • 'Lewy14', aka. Marshal Leroy (lewy14@...)
  • 'Nortius Maximus', aka. Big Tuna (nortius.maximus@...)
Other Regulars Semi-Active: Posting Affiliates Emeritus:
Winds Blogroll
Author Archives
Categories
Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en