China on Our Minds

Matt Gurney is a columnist and editor at Canada’s National Post. Follow him on Twitter: @mattgurney


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China’s booming economy and increasing leverage over Western governments has enabled it to rapidly modernize its armed forces and expand its reach. China has long fielded a massive conventional military and a small but potent force of nuclear-armed ICBMs capable of hitting North America. In recent years, however, it has begun to produce respectable fighter jets domestically (while still relying on imports of technology from Russia for certain systems), has begun to modernize its navy to include the ability to operate far from Chinese ports (such as sending ships to fight piracy off Somalia), has designed effective cruise missiles and exported them around the world to such states as Iran, and has of late been perfecting missiles and sensor systems that could be used to suddenly strike at military assets in the Western Pacific.

American officials are particularly concerned about China’s development of a so-called carrier-killer, a missile capable of accurately seeking out and destroying an aircraft carrier at a range of, reportedly, over 900 miles. If China put such a weapon into service, the entire U.S. force projection strategy of using carrier-based aircraft to establish air superiority, bomb high-value enemy targets and, if necessary, support a ground invasion, would be obsolete. China would have near total freedom of action in the Western Pacific, and could threaten U.S. allies South Korea, Japan and Australia while America’s primary strike weapon stayed away from danger.

But China can be a threat to U.S. interests even without waging war on it. China has exported missiles and missile technology to Iran, which has in turn dispersed it to its terrorist allies in Hamas and Hezbollah, making life unpleasant for U.S.-ally Israel. It continues to offer diplomatic and political support to the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-il, a regime that has recently shown serious signs of destabilizing, putting the Korean peninsula on the brink of war. No U.S.-South Korean counter-offensive in response to a North Korean attack could afford to ignore the risk of provoking a Chinese reaction, and the North Koreans — knowing this — can afford to behave irresponsibly.

China’s growing power and muscular foreign policy are not necessarily cause for alarm. China has so far shown that it is a serious, pragmatic power, unlikely to act rashly. But there is the issue of whether or not President Hu is truly in firm control of the country. It has been speculated that rather than being a true leader, Hu is more a central figure linking together the various factions of the Chinese government — massive corporations, powerful government ministries, the military, etc. If so, this might explain why agreements entered into by Hu and China’s foreign affairs apparatus are implemented slowly, if at all.

It might also explain why Hu seemed taken aback recently when his own military tested a fifth-generation stealth warplane on the first day of U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ trip to the country — the military might not have told him. If so, that is worrying, especially given that some members of the Chinese military are far more hawkish regarding China’s relationship with America than Hu has been.

Hu is said to be due for retirement next year, perhaps the next leader to emerge — widely expected to be of a younger generation — will be in firmer control of his country. Until then, America should continue to focus on economic recovery, on redeveloping its manufacturing sector and reining in the deficits that China continues to largely finance. While many Americans are understandably alarmed by China’s rapid rise, they should rest assured that China’s ascendancy in military might is only enough to bring it equal to America’s power in the Western Pacific, and that China’s own steps to get rich off America has left it as dependent on the American economy as America is on it. While a United States beholden to any nation is far from ideal, at least the country can move forward knowing that with China needing America as much as the U.S. needs China, the race for 21st century dominance is perhaps starting off on more equal footing.

Matt Gurney is an editor at the National Post, a Canadian national newspaper, and writes and speaks on military and geopolitical issues. He can be reached at matt@mattgurney.ca. Follow him on . Follow him on Twitter: @mattgurney.

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  • aspacia

    China, and other actors, are calling for an end to the dollar as the world currency, If you think prices for commodities is high now, just wait.

    • sky

      theprovocateurnetwork video american dream, type in endfinancialfraud.orgsound money

  • Gamaliel Isaac

    China does not depend on the American economy. What do we produce that they want debt? We can blame China for stealing our patents but we can't blame them for our debt, that we only have ourselves to blame.

    • scum

      Uh, to whom do they sell China crap if the American empire crumbles completely?

      • crackerjack

        India, Russia, Europe, Australia, Brasil, Africa, Canada with still loads of crap left to go for the domestic crap consumption.

    • hijinx60

      I heard a comment today on FOX that made perfect sense. Someone said that if you owe the bank a dollar then the bank owns you until it is repaid, But, if you owe the bank a billion dollars then you own the bank because they are counting on you to repay it and if you don't, they go bankrupt. If this logic is correct, then China needs us much more than we need China.

  • http://netzero.com Steve Chavez

    "Bring our troops home" they scream, and if these comrades get their way like they did to help their Internationalist comrades in Vietnam, Communist China and Communist Russia will fill the void in the Middle East with the help of their friends in Iran!

    I say "Bring our JOBS home!" China is making everything and some of those shoddy goods are poisoning our children, pets, and now homes contain poisonous dry wall. What else is being poisoned ON PURPOSE?

    So the only solution is to bring our factories back to the U.S. and our hemisphere like in Mexico, Central America, and Haiti. If they have jobs there, maybe they won't come here! Also, isn't it cheaper and easier to ship goods across the Rio Grande than it is to ship the goods across the Pacific? TO H*** WITH COMMUNIST CHINA!

    • scum

      Interesting point, Steve, but you're barking up the wrong tree. The vast majority of American CEO's that have shipped your jobs overseas are on your side. Maybe it's time you took a real look at what's going on.

  • Wesley69

    Replacing the revolutionary rhetoric of Mao, Deng Xiaoping and Communist rulers after him, set China on course toward what could be a CHINESE CENTURY.

    China is positioning itself to be the Middle Kingdom surrounded by tributary countries. Using State Capitalism coupled with its Authoritarian government, it has used its abundance of cheap labor to undercut competitors, including the US, while improving the standard of living for many Chinese on the road to the world's industrial powerhouse. With its money, China is modernizing its military, its infrastructure, its industry. Though it lacks things such as oil, China is outbidding the US for valuable mineral rights from Africa to South America.

    And while the Obama Administration sleeps, the Chinese power increases. The US don’t see eye to eye with China over Iran, Sudan. A source of tension is Taiwan, which China has claimed since 1949. As its military grows and with the development of such weapons as the carrier-killing missile, China will seek eventual reunification of the island with China. Short of a nuclear war, there may be nothing the US can do to stop it, except to manage the transition as exemplified by the British leaving Hong Kong.. Such an event would alter the balance of power in Asia. Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, while wary of China, may have to rethink their strategy in view of an inevitable US retreat. It could possibly lead to South Korea with Chinese approval, reuniting with the North under a free, but demilitarized nation.

    Considering our level of debt to the Chinese, our leverage is weak. We can't demand that they revalue their currency, improve their human rights record, pressure the North Koreans or Iran about their nuclear programs. The best thing the US can do it to get its own economic house in order and reevaluate our military strategy. It may involve a strategic retreat in some areas, while establishing a firm alliance with Japan, Australia and

    • Steve Chavez

      What if a crisis, like in North Korea or in Taiwan, takes place and we cut off imports and boycott China and now all that "cheap labor" that raised their "standard of living" revolt? Billions is being spent on moderization and if that comes to a grinding halt, what will happen to the workers who are somewhat Westernized, since they make products that they now buy but all of a sudden, there is no job and no money to buy?

      They're more afraid of that just like they are afraid of a war in North Korea that will certainly bring millions of refugees to China. We'll see then the great humanitarians they really are!

      • http://www.mysapce.com/freddawes1776/ Fred Dawes

        If our government gets out of line the chinses will just puit in a new government and understand one fact the little chinese guy have nothing against mass death of all americans, but also understand within 10 years the chinses will just take south korea and taiwan and will own little japan in 15 years after that it will move its population into the USA And will own this place and many others by using the weapon of population, end game over. last thing, to undestand how a weapon like population is used just look at Canada and its west coast and the USA Or England/united kingdom.

      • Wesley69

        Problem is, many of the things we use to make, the Chinese make it now. A military conflict would be bloody and achieve little. China's government does have to worry about its population, but if it needs to cut down a couple of million, they have no problem doing it. There is a worry that the military is wanting to flex its muscle in China. So the question is, how much control does President Hu have over the military? As for refugees from North Korea over a possible war, the Chinese will seal the border, better than we will. Economically, it is in their interest to keep the trade going. They continue to loan us money and we can't stop borrowing it. Tough times are ahead regardless.

  • BLJ

    I have never trusted the Chinese Communists. Their goal is not just to be the dominant Pacific power, but also the world. Their top military people have stated this goal.

    Obama is the perfect tool for them. He is a marxist and probably admires Mao as well.
    I have zero confidence in his ability or desire to stand up to them.

    The Chinese are also investing heavily in nanotechnolgy to make their military more powerful. They are the greatest threat to the U.S. and the West.

  • MES

    If I remember my history correctly, I believe that Lenin said that the Capitalists would sell the rope to hang themselves with. When the west outsourced all the manufacturing jobs, they started borrowing to buy all these new cheaper goods. Now the west, especially the US is in a bind. This is the result of GREED, people. You have no one to blame but yourselves, when your competitors start squeezing. Until there is a change in mentality and manufacturing starts again in the US and the West, we can expect more of the same from China and our other competitors. Remember they are not our friends but competitors. They will bleed us dry to further their economic and strategic needs.

    • scum

      MES speaks truth. While FPM is continually deflecting blame in all directions, the plutocrats who are sinking the ship here have shipped your jobs overseas. It's about time Glazov or Horowitz or someone else starts to pay attention.

  • USMCSniper

    In 2005, Gen. Chi Haotian of China, its “minister of national defense” since 1993 to 2003, revealed in his speeches that in China’s war on the United States, from one-third to two-thirds of Americans would be poisoned or infected biologically by the Chinese, and their homes and property would be transferred over to Chinese settlers, since the Chinese (and not the Germans, as Chi stipulated in his speech) are the superior race and must have everything best in the world. Anyway, a slave state (China) has this advantage over a free country (the United States): it can reward (enrich!) 100 million or 200 million of its troops and its civilians with what those killed (poisoned and infected) Americans and their ancestors had been acquiring for the past two-and-a-half centuries.

    • USMCSniper

      In addition Whittington states: China continues to pursue confrontational policies dating from the early 1950s, when our troops directly engaged in Korea. China's senior military leaders periodically threaten the use of nuclear weapons, and intentionally downed an American P-3C and incarcerated its air crew off Hainan Island in 2001. More recent tests of anti-satellite and anti-ship missiles present an eerie backdrop to the recent public displays of an advanced air fighter aircraft equivalent to the cancelled F-22 and ongoing aid to North Korea. The U.S. decision to field cheaper and less capable single-engine F-35s while canceling production of highly maneuverable and supremely capable twin-engine F-22s looks increasingly suspect in light of new awareness of China's moves. With F-22 production tooling gone–and probably running into the tens of billions of dollars to restore–and no follow-on new generation air superiority in the works, the U.S. continues to bet on a military aimed at counter-insurgencies and low-level "Wars We Have." Naval modernization is another area in which recent budgets fall short of the evolving mark, which must eventually focus on China and Russia and not on the tunnel-vision tied to Afghanistan nation building.

  • crackerjack

    China seems to be developing a new model. Capitalism serving the national state in contrary to the present Western model, where the national state has come to serve Capitalism. This new approach and its imitation by the 3rd World nations may become a far greater challenge to Western global dominance than the debt issue.

  • http://www.mysapce.com/freddawes1776/ Fred Dawes

    Our boys not the Chinses are making the deal to take us all into a Third World hell, the china boys will do all the work and our boys will make billions, understand one fact our boys in our banking system own the world for now, but soon the China boys will own our system and just look at the real China with 10 percent well to do, and 90 percent living on one dollar a day that is our future and our hell.
    Have fear and understand when you start to see Chinses guys winning elections inside the FORMER USA Run-away.

  • jemc50

    Regardless of how they smile and shake hands, the Chinese government is still Communist. And, the anti-thesis of freedom and liberty. The government of China is like a crocodile. It smiles at you, but you don't really know what it is thinking. It hides sharp teeth behind the smile.

  • okrahead

    Official White House Tapes of Meeting Between Presidents Obama and Hu Jintao
    19 January 2011
    Commence 09:15:09 EST

    POTUS: Mr. President, allow me take this opportunity to extend the warmest possible welcome on behalf of the American people, I hope that this meeting can be productive and mutually……

    POPRC: Lower!

    POTUS: Ummm, excuse me?

    POPRC: If you are going to bow like that, do it right! Bow lower!

    POTUS: Oh, okay, sorry, didn't realize I was doing it wrong. Is this better?

    POPRC: Lower! And why you look at me like that, barbarian?

    POTUS: Ummm, okay, I guess I can get a little lower? But aren't you supposed to make eye contact when you bow? I mean, that's how it was in the first Karate Kid movie and all that….

    POPRC: Shut up! Bow lower! Can't you do anything right? All I want to see is back of your head! Okay, I guess that best you can do, stupid barbarian dog. Now let's get down to business.

    POTUS: Um, okay, sure, yeah. Listen, I think we need to talk about this whole currency business. Some of my folks over at treasury….

    POPRC: Shut up! What for you try to tell me about currency? You think currency is magic American credit card you just spend whatever you want and bill never comes due! Why you think you can talk to me about currency, you greedy capitalist pig-dog! I tell you, you no tell me! You understand that… Read the rest here… http://beautifulletters-bls.blogspot.com/2011/01/

  • Jim

    Accuse China of unfair trade practices in a US court. Find them Guilty. And give them a fine for the amount we owe them. No cash need trade hands and all debts and fines are discharged.

    No one else need worry about America defaulting as they must all practice fair trade don' tyou think.?

  • Arngrímur Stefánsson

    The Chinese will be a major threat in the coming future, of that is no doubt. Yet, as stated above in a comment, Chi Haotian's threat of biological and chemical warfare are probably null and void, since i do belief that the USA and their European allies are capable of producing more, and deadlier poisons than the Chinese. The Chinese strenght are after all, their population and incredibly efficient governing strategy, not their technology. Why waste it on a gamble that could end up in having the Chinese population decimated by biological weapons?

    As wikileaks has revealed, there was a major scare in high places in the US when the Chinese proved that they are capable of destroying satellites with miniscule effort, therefore beeing able to knock out the a big portion of the wests technological advantage.

    Yet, China is facing a crisis nonetheless, as it is home to many nationalities, but controlled by the Han Chinese. Of course, white genocide continues against most of the non-Han chinese by settlements, intermarrying and, in extreme cases, violence. Recent riots and terrorist attacks in North-Western China, former Sinkiang, proves this. There is also the Tibet problem, but buddists are for some reason, far less likely to fight back violently than the Islamic minorities in China.

    It remains to be seen if China can hold it's huge nation together, after all, modern China is barely 50 years old, when it regained the territory that the Qing dynasty held at the end of the 19th Century. The last territory was of course, Tibet. The only remaining, is Taiwan. It's almost been forgotten by many, but the Chinese territorial claims on Taiwan are much much more than empty threats.

    Taiwan is, after all, the only remaining part of the old Nationalist China, the Kuomintang. A bastion of Anti-Communist Chinese and a direct insult at the communist leaders in Beijing. A place where Chiang Kai-Shek retreated(with all the Chinese gold reserves) when the Nationalists lost the war for mainland China. A fact often forgotten, is that the full name of Taiwan is actually The Republic of China, contrary to China which is the ,,Peoples'' Republic of China. Will China try to annex Taiwan in the coming future? Yes. Will it lead to war? That remains to be seen.

    Remarkable that only 110 years earlier, eight nations sent expenditionary forces to quell the Boxers rebellion of China, today, same nations would take that as a gods gift if China fell to an traditionalists/isolationalists rebellion.

    • Wesley69

      Taiwan will be China's next target. The Obama adminstration presents it with a unique opportunity. A weak leader with questionable resolve. Can we pull it off without going to war????

      China claims an incident occurred between it and Taiwan. It quickly ratchets up the war of words and moblizes its forces. If US ships appear, China threatens the US, telling it not to get involved. Secretly, it offers talks to the US. The US accepts. China presents its demand – Taiwan is to be reunited with China, but it will be a special administrative zone similar to Hong Kong with similar freedoms. The US agrees and says to Taiwan, accept it because if you don't we're not lifting a finger to help you. The crisis ends. The balance of power shifts in Asia. Obama is the new Neville Chamberlain. When people research appeasement, Obama's name will be at the top of the list.

  • CharlesWhite

    China's raise was a direct result of Western greed and power hungry political ego maniacs! None of which is new (Greed and lust for Power) or is it cunning to use. The greedy and power hungry maniacs (Repub’s and Demoncrats) sold the entire shop to the Chinese! H_LL G.E. (Major 0bama backer) is selling our finest jet engines to the Chinese right now! Now the J20 is bigger and faster then our own stuff…

    • Wesley69

      I keep coming back to Obama and his relationship with Rev. Wright. Wright wanted to see the US punished for its many sins against blacks, indians, other nationalities. Allowing China to get the best of our technology, refusing to build the next generation fighter, are these moves deliberate on the part of Obama? He sat in Wright's church for 20 years.