Are We Headed for a Cold War With China?

China Is Reacting to Our Weak Economy. To maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and secure American interests, United States must sustain its leadership and bolster regional confidence in its staying power. The key to those goals is reinvigorating US economy. Historically, the Chinese have taken advantage of perceived American weakness and shifts in global balance of power. In 1974 China seized the Paracel Islands from Saigon just after the United States and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam signed the Paris Peace Treaty, which signaled the U.S. withdrawal from the region. When Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met one of Deng Xiaoping’s “three obstacles” requirements for better ties and withdrew from Can Ranh Bay, Vietnam, in 1988, China snatched seven of Spratly Islands from Hanoi. Two decades later, as the United States-Philippines base agreement was terminated, China grabbed Mischief Reef from Manila. The Chinese assertive behaviors against its neighbors in recent years in the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Yellow Sea were in part a consequence of China’s assessment that the global financial crisis signaled the beginning of U.S. decline and a shift in the balance of power in China’s favor. The Obama administration’s “rebalancing” or “pivot” to Asia will help prevent Chinese miscalculation and increase the confidence of U.S. partners in U.S. reliability as the ballast for peace and stability in the region. But failure to follow through with actions and resources would spark uncertainty and lead smaller countries to accommodate Chinese interests in the region. Most important, the United States must revive its economy. China will inevitably overtake the United States as the largest economy in the world in the coming decade or two. The United States must not let Beijing conclude that a relative decline in U.S. power means a weakened United States unable to guarantee regional peace and stability. The Chinese see United States as mired in financial disorder, with an alarming budget deficit, high unemployment, slow economic growth, which, they predict, will lead to America’s demise as the sole global superpower. To avoid Chinese miscalculation and greater United States-China strategic competition, United States needs to restore financial solvency and growth through bipartisan action.

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Consultor Internacional

4 Responses to Are We Headed for a Cold War With China?

  1. (GOLD NYT PICK) Professor Uziel Nogueira says: China is NOT reacting to a weak US economy. China is taking ADVANTAGE of a perceived DECLINE of the US brought about by unfavorable social, political and economic developments. Structural weaknesses of the economic model –over consumption, huge debt overhang and income inequality– play a major role. The political system appears impotent to give an effective answer to the economic and social problems. The unsustainable public debt is exacerbated by a huge military budget due to an over extended military presence in the world. If the Chinese strategists share a similar view described above, US CONTAINMENT is the strategy to be followed by Beijing from now on. Two variables – economic and military – play a major role. First and paramount, maintain China’s edge of economic growth vis a vis the US, whatever it takes. In the current global context, China’s economic gains are US losses from a strategic and military standpoint. Second, avoid a military confrontation in Asia with the US or a proxy during the next two decades. In conclusion, the most EFFECTIVE answer to the strategic challenge presented by the rise of China is not military, is economics. The sooner the US regains the lead of the economic game, the better its position to respond to any global challenge. If the economic question is not solved effectively, the military/strategic question is already lost.

  2. Don Reid: There seems to be much assumption about the role of the US in the future of Asia and the ME. Up to the point of protecting US interests where a cost-benefit tradeoff can be established, we will no doubt be involved, but why does the rest of the world expect more? If China began to overrun Iran, why should we come to Iran’s aid? … or Iraq? … or Pakistan? … or even Japan who feels so put upon by the US presence in Okinawa? Nations in the ME and Asia have become like France: We will publicly scorn you in the comfortable knowledge that should anyone attack us, the US will come to our aid. I believe those days are coming to an end. And incidentally, this includes Central and South America too. The world is changing, and to assume that the economic posture of countries can change manifestly, but they can rely on old alliances for defense is irrational. The US currently spends ~$800B per year on its military. I suspect that will drop by half in the next 4-8 years. A significant portion of that will be in personnel, and without the people, there will be no “boots on the ground” around the world. The idea that the world should bolster the US economy so that it may continue to spend lives and treasure on their defense is an idea whose time has passed if it was ever worthy. I have said before that countries like Iran and Pakistan develop nuclear weapons not for offense, but to let countries like China and other would-be aggressors know that force will be met with force. We may not have peace until every country has a nuke. The idea of nobody having them hasn’t gotten very far.

  3. Don Reid: Very good, Uzi. Well thought out and well spoken. I am uncertain of China’s continued economic success. They have a country of ~1.2B of which ~300M have taken part in the ‘economic miracle’. The party controls the major cities, but party bosses control smaller places which are rife with corruption. These places are not much different than fiefdoms. The other problem is more subtle. State capitalism is great for building infrastructure, but lousy at fostering entrepreneurship and ingenuity. China has picked the low hanging fruit. To sustain their gains, they must increase personal freedom – an anethma to them. If they don’t, the arteries of industry will calcify with bureaucracy and eventually they will lose their competitive edge. I don’t think China will solve these problems because nobody has. I have ideas as to why, but that is another discussion.

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