Tuesday, June 15, 2010

US China Policy: Opposite Poles II

Defense News weighed in one the recent "outburst" of a Chinese general directed at the American delegation in their trip to Beijing. In the key section, Defense News quotes several analysts:
"There is no evidence that the Chinese military takes forward-leaning positions ahead of, much less counter to, the PRC civilian leadership," said Dean Cheng, a China specialist at the Heritage Foundation. "I believe that Gates is being ill-served if he is being advised that there is some kind of factionalism, or that the PLA is operating 'off the reservation.'"

Another China-watcher, Larry Wortzel of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, noted the PLA makes few foreign-policy decisions of its own, but rather, acts within the broader foreign policy guidance of the Central Military Commission and the Politburo Standing Committee.

"Generally, the approach seeks to take advantage of American eagerness to 'engage' and the naïveté of senior U.S. officers and civilians that drinking tea and looking at bases changes approaches fundamental to national interest. For the Chinese, it does not," Wortzel said.

To be certain, senior U.S. officials want to move on from basic functions to substantive discussions about, say, freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

But to the Chinese, even launching discussions about such matters would constitute "yielding or compromising on strongly held general principles, so they don't engage," Wortzel said.

In their drive to kill Taiwan's request for new F-16s, China is ignoring direct dialogue with senior U.S. defense officials, preferring instead to influence Washington through retired U.S. generals, Wortzel said.

"The Chinese side understands that the United States participants are now senior retired officers with deep ties to major corporations and boards that do business with China," Wortzel said.

The ironic thing about noting that the Chinese, in attempting to influence US policy, connect with individuals with deep ties to the corporate universe, is that above the Defense News pieces cites Bonnie Glaser:
"There are certainly different points of view in China on how China should respond to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and other steps by the United States that challenge China's core interests," said Bonnie Glaser, a China specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, who attended both the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED) and the Shangri-La. "Those who are confident about China's power position relative to the United States and are deeply suspicious of U.S. intentions toward China are willing to stand up to the United States and demand concessions."
Note how Glaser describes it as if there a strong divisions and these divisions represent major factions. The reader might be tempted to conclude that Glaser is mainstream, because the piece then cites Larry Wortzel of the US-China Economic and Security Commission, and then Dean Cheng of Heritage, who are clearly "right-wing", and argue that actually the anti-US noises represent PRC policy (aside: consistent with the Chinese practice of letting underlings bitch truth at you while the great men stand benevolently above such needful vulgarities). If you dig around on Google for a moment you'll find that Wortzel has a Heritage background as well. Obviously it is a case of mainstreamers vs right-wingers, right?

Think again. Who does Glaser work for? CSIS. CSIS speaks for the pro-China corporate point of view, which favors "engagement" with China. Speakers for CSIS detest the pro-Taiwan side in Taiwan's politics and have frequently painted it as a troublemaker (example 1, example 2, example 3). CSIS' report on what the US should do in China policy is written by two businessmen in the China trade. In other words, if you want to claim that Heritage is anti-China, you'd have to admit that Glaser's team has a quietly powerful pro-Beijing stance. Excellent work by the Defense News writer in correctly setting these two sides in opposition to one another.

But never mind that. The article's key point is its focus on the use of the generals-turned-corporate officials to influence US discourse and US policy. Brrr....

One other thing. The Taipei Times ran an article on the Afghan mineral riches today. At the end, it said:
China and India have bid for contracts to develop Afghan mines, with the Chinese winning a huge copper contract. An iron-ore contract is due to be awarded later this year.

A new minerals rush could pit US and Chinese interests against each other. Some critics in Washington grumble that China is reaping rewards from the copper mine while US troops are heavily committed against the Taliban.
That's what I've been saying for ages now: US troops are dying to make Afghanistan safe for Chinese expansion. Only Beijing will win the Afghan War.
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Jade said...


I read your response to Mr. Tsang's "upside down description" of relations between Taiwan, China, and the United States with heart felt emotion. You help Taiwanese people to have their voice heard with your deep knowledge of Taiwan history and the strggle of Taiwanese people for democracy. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Michael Turton said...

Thank you Jade. It was a pleasure.

Islander said...

Great blog entry. During the Cold War, corporate interests aligned with the US and the US won. China is now making sure the corporate interests are aligned with China. Money, rather than ideology, is molding world events.

les said...

Maybe the US should hang around long enough to entice the Chinese into buying / digging the mines, and then pull out, leaving the security detail to the PLA. That would both free up the US Army and at the same give Al Queda and the Taliban a new target, since Chinese oppression is likely to be heavy in order to protect it's investments.

In other words, the Americans should learn from the French withdrawal from Indochina and use it on the Chinese. Wouldn't that be poetic justice?

Of course, the outcome would be as awful for the average Afghan as it was for the average Vietnamese...