Day By Day

Friday, July 22, 2005


Dick Morris thinks that US concerns about China's military buildup and aggressive stance verge on "paranoia." India, he argues, is the real Asian powerhouse. He reasons thusly:
The key to China’s coming failure and India’s growing success is Bejing’s dependence on manufacturing exports for its wealth and New Delhi’s focus on its service sector. China exports more than $500 billion of products to the rest of the world, including more than $125 billion to the United States (we sell China only $25 billion each year — this is not a typo). Because of its low-wage economy and massive manpower, China can undercut the rest of the world in labor costs and produce goods for less than anybody else can.

But this race to the bottom of the global economy will be won not by the lowest-wage economy but by robots. In the coming decade, the growth of robotics will end most manufacturing employment. Manufacturing will go the way of farming — a few percentage points of the global work force will produce all our products, just as it now grows the bulk of our food.

China’s impoverished workers will lose out to American and Japanese robots, and the source of its economic growth with likely wither in the coming decades.
Read it here.
But until that collapse happens, if it ever does, China will be an enormous threat to the US, its allies, and its interests throughout the world. Max Boot explains:

Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu of the Chinese People's Liberation Army caused quite a stir last week when he threatened to nuke "hundreds" of American cities if the U.S. dared to interfere with a Chinese attempt to conquer Taiwan.

This saber-rattling comes while China is building a lot of sabers. Although its defense budget, estimated to be as much as $90 billion, remains a fraction of the United States', it is enough to make China the world's third-biggest weapons buyer (behind Russia) and the biggest in Asia. Moreover, China's spending has been increasing rapidly, and it is investing in the kind of systems — especially missiles and submarines — needed to challenge U.S. naval power in the Pacific.
The Pentagon on Tuesday released a study of Chinese military capabilities. In a preview, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Singapore audience last month that China's arms buildup was an "area of concern." It should be. But we shouldn't get overly fixated on such traditional indices of military power as ships and bombs — not even atomic bombs. Chinese strategists, in the best tradition of Sun Tzu, are working on craftier schemes to topple the American hegemon.

In 1998, an official People's Liberation Army publishing house brought out a treatise called "Unrestricted Warfare," written by two senior army colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui. This book, which is available in English translation, is well known to the U.S. national security establishment but remains practically unheard of among the general public.

"Unrestricted Warfare" recognizes that it is practically impossible to challenge the U.S. on its own terms. No one else can afford to build mega-expensive weapons systems like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which will cost more than $200 billion to develop. "The way to extricate oneself from this predicament," the authors write, "is to develop a different approach."

Their different approaches include financial warfare (subverting banking systems and stock markets), drug warfare (attacking the fabric of society by flooding it with illicit drugs), psychological and media warfare (manipulating perceptions to break down enemy will), international law warfare (blocking enemy actions using multinational organizations), resource warfare (seizing control of vital natural resources), even ecological warfare (creating man-made earthquakes or other natural disasters).
This is a chilling overview of a growing problem -- so chilling in fact that it sounds...., well..., paranoid. But Chinese aggressiveness is real. Read it here.

Morris may well be right in the long run. China's growth may be unsustainable. But in the here and now it is a strong and growing threat that has to be dealt with. And, if China does fail as Morris predicts, that collapse in itself could unleash violence on a scale never seen before. Just how to meet the threat posed by China's emergence will in either case be a dominant concern for the next administration.

Sounds like a job for Papa Bush. Look at the way he managed the Soviet Collapse. That will be a time for hard-headed realism, not neo-con idealism.

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