Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login
Posted: 1/21/2006 10:42:29 AM EDT
from:www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=15&art_id=10020&sid=6259605&con_type=1


Dragon tilts at US might

Prior to joining the administration of George WBush in 2000, Condoleezza Rice wrote in Foreign Affairs: "China resents the role of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region. This means that China is not a `status quo' power but one that would like to alter Asia's balance of power in its own favor. That alone makes it a strategic competitor, not the `strategic partner' the Clinton administration once called it."


Liu Kin-ming

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Prior to joining the administration of George WBush in 2000, Condoleezza Rice wrote in Foreign Affairs: "China resents the role of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region. This means that China is not a `status quo' power but one that would like to alter Asia's balance of power in its own favor. That alone makes it a strategic competitor, not the `strategic partner' the Clinton administration once called it."

I don't know whether Rice still believes what she wrote or not. But I think she was right. Peaceful or not, China is rising. And its neighbors have been feeling the impact on the front line.

China's trade surplus with the rest of the world tripled from US$32 billion (HK$249.6 billion) in 2004 to US$102 billion in 2005. Its exports rose 28 percent from 2004 to US$762 billion. Total foreign trade in 2005 topped US$1.4 trillion. A decade ago, the value of China's foreign trade was only US$289 billion. China's foreign currency reserve, close to US$800 billion, is second only to Japan's US$828 billion.

And don't forget, Beijing last month announced that its GDP was underreported by US$280 billion. If the numbers are correct it catapults China's economy past Britain's to make China's economy nearly as large as Germany's as the world's third largest, trailing only the United States and Japan.

China's growing economic clout, never mind its expanding military capabilities, is staggering enough to make others pause, listen to and often comply with its wishes.

We all know Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew is no pussycat. In an interview with Time magazine, even this so-called friend of China recounted a chilling episode of feeling the dragon's wrath.

When Lee Hsien-loong followed in his father's footsteps and paid a private visit to Taiwan in July 2004 before becoming the prime minister of the Lion City, China's reaction was swift and hard. The senior Lee said that when Singapore did not make sufficient amends for having visited Taiwan, China froze all official economic ties: "We are a very small part of their economy, but they are a significant part of ours and they are fully aware of this."

Soon afterwards, Lee Hsien-loong had to appease China by stating publicly that if a war breaks out across the Taiwan Strait and "if the conflict is provoked by Taiwan, then Singapore cannot support Taiwan."

Calling the phrase "peaceful rise" of China a contradiction in terms as any rise is something that is startling, Lee Kuan Yew said: "The discomfort [with China] is primarily that it is becoming a very powerful country and that it's not averse to making its power felt."

Beijing never formally protested when the senior Lee, while still in office, visited Taiwan several times. So why was China so harsh on the junior Lee? "Times have changed, and China now believes it no longer needs to put up with actions taken by its Southeast Asian neighbors that it disapproves of," says the Heritage Foundation's Dana Dillon and John Tkacik.

Singapore's existing military-cooperation with Taiwan would be the next signpost on whether China would exert more influence successfully in the region. Dillon and Tkacik say that Singapore has refused, so far, to end sending its military forces to Taiwan for training which began in 1975.

If a friendly country like Singapore is subjected to such heavy-handed treatment, imagine what other countries in the region would think about doing something China may not like? They would, of course, think twice. The Chinese, after all, are not well-known for "killing the chicken to scare the monkey" by accident.

If peaceful rise is indeed China's approach, I'm sure Japan would find itself a notable exception to this strategy. Lee Kuan Yew, while believing China's position, sees it with one caveat. He told Time that China is inculcating enormous pride and patriotism in the young, "so much so that when they started demonstrating against the Japanese, they became violent."

In a briefing on China and Asia's new dynamics at the Brookings Institution on January 12, Mike Mochizuki, associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, said the United States would be a beneficiary in the Sino-Japan row. "If Japan and China don't get along, Japan will move closer to the United States."

When Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi received George W Bush in Kyoto last November, he told the US president that the closer the US- Japan relationship, the easier it was for Japan to behave and establish better relations with China, South Korea and other Asian nations.

Bush agreed with his host, saying that from China's perspective, because a good relationship exists between Japan and the United States, China too must cultivate good relations with both Japan and the US.

Robert Kagan, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, recently argued that the United States is here to stay.

"The problem for any nation attempting to balance American power, even in that power's own region, is that long before it becomes strong enough to balance the United States, it may frighten its neighbors into balancing against it," Kagan said.

China faces this problem as it attempts to exert greater influence in Asia.

Link Posted: 1/21/2006 11:34:36 AM EDT
Bump.
Top Top