Wednesday, January 19, 2011

China and the U.S.relations, as seen through a narrow lens

I thought I would step up the conversation about the two countries and how we view each other. I was listening to the various news reports today, regarding the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao. One announcer was citing China's significant spending on their Defense Budget and how it has been steadily increasing. They asked the Chinese Defense Minister why China was building an Aircraft Carrier. He replied, "We don't have any. The real question is why you have so many?" I realized that many people in the US view China with fear and apprehension and that therefore they must have ambitions beyond their sphere of influence now and want to expand it across the world. I don't know if this is true and neither does anyone else really. This did force me to look at our relationship with China not our viewpoint, but from their viewpoint.

First, let me state that I am totally aware of China's expansion into Tibet, Macau, Hong Kong and their claims on Taiwan. I especially didn't and don't like what they did to the gentle people of Tibet and their right to practice their religious beliefs and preserve their culture and traditions. And every time the Dali Lama is acknowledged and/or received by our President, there is an outcry from the Chinese government.

But if my history of China is at all representative and accurate, let's take a look at the comparisons of our two countries:
- The Chinese have never started a war. They are not a warlike people. Their military strategy is based upon the book, The Art of War by Sun Tzu. In this book the following principles are at the heart of the approach of the Chinese military thinking:
The importance of intelligence.
The importance of manoeuvring so your enemy is hit in his weakened spot.s
The importance of morale.
How to conduct diplomacy so that you gain more allies and the enemy lose allies.
Having the moral advantage.
The importance of national unity.
All warfare is based on deception.
The importance of logistics.
The proper relationship between the ruler and the general. Sun Tzu holds the ruler should not interfere in military affairs.
Difference between Strategic and Tactical strategy.
No country has benefited from a prolonged war.
Subduing an enemy without using force is best.

This explains much of how the Chinese have behaved these past 50 years. Now let's look at he contrast.

- We seem to have a predisposition of starting wars and invading others, although we don't like to stay in those countries as an occupying force and run them. i.e. Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan
- We even are a warlike and belligerent people as measured by the fact that people here have more guns than any other country in the world by far.
- We seem to exist and view the world from a place of fear, rather than from a place of something to embrace and appreciate others differences. Just listen to all the fear language about our government. Many say things like, "We need to take back our government!". We seem to see the "bogey man" everywhere. Some even see fear from our President. Some may not be able to accept the idea of a Black man as president and hope he is thrown out of office and legitimized. That's partly what's at play with the Republican controlled Congress now wanting to investigate everything this Administration has done.

I could go on but you get the picture. America is full of fear and as a result is causing fear from a country like China. They don't understand us while still admiring what we have accomplished in a short 20 plus years. I do understand their fears and why they are doing some of the things they are doing. It is protectionism and a cautionary reaction to us. We are the ones who have ships over in Asia patrolling the waters off China and the rest of Asia. We are the ones who told many we will protect them, like Japan, Taiwan and others. We think we are protecting them from China. But China is looking at us as interfering in their general area of influence. How do we report news that China is building a relationship with Venezuela, Cuba and other southern hemisphere countries? Think about it. This is similar to how we offended Russia when we were going to put a missile defense system into Eastern Europe. Wisely, President Obama saw the Russians concerns and decided not to embark on that course and he said he would not deploy the system.

Since that decision, we have approved the Start treaty with Russia and Russia has been helping us with Iran and North Korea. If we just weren't so afraid, defensive and belligerent, maybe we would find more friends in the world. I'm willing to try a little honey to warm relations vs a slap in the face. If the Congress passes any legislation calling out China for currency issues, it will be a slap in the face. They move slower than we do and maybe that's a good thing. Maybe we should continue the approach of making peace with China and seeing them as a partner.

Facts about the 2 countries:

Size: U.S. 9,826,675 sq km, China 9,596,961 sq km (roughly the same size)
Population: U.S. 310 Million, China 1,330 Million (10 times more people for China)
GDP: U.S. $14.7 Trillion, China $9.8 Trillion (40% more for U.S.)
Per Capita GDP: U.S. $47,500, China $7,400 (almost 7 times more for US)

What do you think? What is the best way to think about them and us, with paranoia or courage?

Here's a video supplied by my friend Kirk of NBC's Saturday Night Live which was timely and appropriate as a way to see our mindset about our partner, China.


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