sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How will a Romney Presidency Deal with China?


We've seen how the Obama Administration has dealt with China. If he's the president for the next four years, we can anticipate a continuation of those policies.

China has been actively supporting President Obama (financially and politically) because it doesn't like what it sees in a potential Romney Presidency. So it is to that Romney Presidency that we should look in our examination of national direction.

Henry Kissinger, who endorsed Mitt Romney for President in 2012 said, “Each generation of Chinese leader . . . reflected the mission and the conditions of his period.” Mao Zedong was a revolutionary. Mao’s successor, Deng Xiaoping, was a reformer with a vision that became Modern China. Jiang Zemin, the leader after the Tiananmen Square massacre spent most of his 12 years restoring China to the international system. Hu Jintao, was the first leader that actually had to operate China as part of a globalized system.

The next president, Xi Jinping, will have to focus on daunting internal issues that China faces. He will attempt to move 400 million people (peasants) from the countryside into the cities. Over the next decade, this will likely mean an end to the Communist Party in China as we know it today. I think the Chinese leadership, who are well educated and pragmatic will find a uniquely Chinese solution to the problem. I don't think that even know what that will be today.

China is a country that is returning to what it believes it has always been, namely the center of Asian affairs. It is investing huge resources to create a military that will be able to challenge the United States both in the sea approaches to China, in space, on the Internet and in an air defense zone extending out from China several hundred miles. The People's Liberation Army's Navy (PLAN) purchased an aircraft carrier from India that is now operational. They will continue to develop aircraft carriers in their perceived (and actual) leader of Asia. They are developing and fielding a very capable blue water navy.

A Romney Administration will find itself confronting a China that is in a state of internal flux, which is why China is unlikely to engage in confrontations with the United States either in space, on land or sea, and in the Internet. That being said, the Romney Plan to rebuild the US Navy, which has been in severe decline during the Obama Years centers around ships designed specifically to counter the anti-aircraft carrier weapons that China has developed and is in the process of deploying.

Americans will make demands, but we need to be aware of Chinese sensibilities and that China will respond (as always) in a Chinese fashion.

A Chinese General that I know told me that to him, the mysterious East was in Washington DC. Chinese leaders remind Americans who associate with them that China has managed to make it through the past 3,800 years without American help. 
Now, it is not good for the Christian’s health to hustle the Aryan brown,
For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles, and he weareth the Christian down;
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white, with the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear: ‘A fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.’ - Kipling
America gains more from working with China than it does by working against China, and despite what future-President Romney says on the campaign trail, he will have to face this absolute fact that every other American President has had to face.


How do the Chinese feel about Mitt Romney's attacks, calling China a 'currency cheater'?
China-bashing, many Chinese news outlets argue, has simply become par for the course in U.S. elections. Romney may be trying to "curry favor with hard right-wing elements in the Republican Party" with his proposals on China, a recent op-ed in the state-run China Daily noted, but the Chinese people, "have become inured to such campaign talk from American politicians. Since the end of the Cold War, both Democratic and Republican politicians have cited former US policies toward China in attempts to rake up unsavory parts of each other's pasts." The campaign rhetoric is "just meant to win votes and would prove disastrous if pursued," the writer adds. (China Daily - link above)
So to sum it up, the Chinese understand that it's good politics in America to bash China, but that they expect that pragmatic actions will result from even the most strident rhetoric. I think that they're right. 
--I've spent time in China, I was an adjunct professor at the People's Public Security University, lecturing to senior police officials throughout the People's Republic of China and am a principal manager in a policy oriented think tank on the subject of Asia based in Maryland.

12 comments:

  1. The currency manipulation has been going on for at least 10 years. I happen to think it was bad policy, but I understand why it happened. I did not personally gain from it to the extent that others have, for example by occupying an overleveraged property or working for company which does. I don't want to see military action with China but I wouldn't doubt that it will come to that.

    Years ago, when I worked for a Bay area start-up with the late Henry Taube ("The Conversions with Henry" guy I blog about, we hired a young Chinese guy who worked for us for about a year. He was a hard worker but contributed no patents or publications (intellectual property), and left, returning to China. He ended up (according to my former boss) appropriating a decent chunk of alkane activation technology back to China.

    Zhu-lin (I recall his name) spent what little time he socialized talking about how the map of the real China resembled a giant chicken, with Korea being the Korean peninsula as the wattle and Vietnam being the feet and legs. You can see this rightward facing chicken if you look at a map and use a little imagination. He said (ca. 1998) that it was only a matter of time before the chicken was whole again.

    China has ancient enemies in Asia which I'm sure you know. They have historically been weaker and may not wish to remain so always, though that may be inevitable.

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    1. I have spoken extensively on issues involving the "Chinese mindset" and don't usually throw that sort of thing out on this blog. However Chinese people and the Chinese Government tend to "think ahead" (plan, if you will) for eventualities fifty or one hundred years in the future. Thus the chicken becoming whole again might be a one or even two hundred year process that they envision. And if you engage the "man on the street" in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing or even some distant back water like Guilin or a hamlet in Yunan, they're going to echo that process of thinking.

      Western Societies think in terms of a four year election cycle (at best). And while we've done remarkably well to date, the Chinese are behaving like "the Borg" (pardon the Star Trek reference) by buying up every scrap of rare earth material and every bit of strategic metal that they can get their hands on because the supply is limited and they'll need it to meet an envisioned goal in fifty years.

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  2. Much agreed. This and future generations of Chinese, with access to travel, the internet, and American Universities (subsidized), will drink their Coke, eat their McDonalds, tweet on their iPhones, and jump on to the fast part of the technological and pop culture learning curve and speed along in our tracks...and they will not say, "Hey, what we need is some more Communism." America's leaders need to let the Chinese people (many of whom, have family ties to the land of the free and the home of the brave) that the success stories around the globe, throughout current history, are democracies, and free market based policies, and that they are becoming a world power because successful, peace loving, Americans buy their stuff. We can't stop them from building up their military (...if we were them, we would do the same), but the dialogue from our "leaders" needs to communicate to them that the success of Japan, Germany, and South Korea can be achieved without losing a war to us first...AND that the other choice is the poverty and global animosity of North Korea, Cuba, and more so every day, Venezuela.

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    1. Well put.

      China doesn't want a war with America, which they call the Golden Mountain. I don't think that they ever did. However as Chickelit points out (above) quite correctly, China wants respect and they want to unite Asia under the 'celestial banner'. They understand that respect requires that they build the capability to shoot down our geosync. satellites and lob ballistic missiles at our aircraft carriers.

      Interesting Research - The Floating Population I never realized that there were more genuinely homeless people in China than there were people in the United States until I spent time in China, worked with both their Public Security, State Security and People's Armed Police (since renamed) which is an arm of the People's Liberation Army. Some of their biggest law enforcement challenges comes from this vast sea of homeless.

      I also understand China's one-child policy. I didn't before spending time in China. Mao (a peasant) encouraged everyone to have as many children as they could and it resulted in a famine that killed between 50 and 60 million who STARVED TO DEATH during the Cultural Revolution. They can populate themselves to the point where they face mass starvation. It's simple reality for China and we have the luxury to stand at a distance and criticize.

      If China lost twice the population of the USA in a war, it would actually improve their ability to feed themselves and to function as a society. We need to consider these facts carefully. China has the same land mass size as the USA.

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  3. Kipling is well worth reading. The chap he wrote of, and MANY just like him, have some faint hope about of knowing about China. Nope.

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    1. For those of you who read this blog, WoFat is a genuine expert on China and Asia, having devoted much of his life to this discipline.

      Kipling is a MUST READ for any would be student of Asia.

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  4. Late Breaking News that I'm sure you'd want to hear!

    Mitt Romney leading President Obama by six in Gallup poll

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    1. I think that the lead will widen. but this is what the polls don't show. There will be independent voters who are never polled (not high propensity voters) who will turn out for Romney because they are looking for a way out of the pit that we're in. There are millions more part-time and 'permanent part-time' workers in America who are counted as working but have been screwed by the "summer(s) of recovery" and I think that they'll turn out for Romney in a way that will surprise pollsters.

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  5. Chinese want the education here, to take home and undercut us world wide. AND they are making a push (literally) to regain their sphere of influence out to the second island chain. THIS administration is not pushing back. Romney will, I believe, release the military to do it's job and push back...

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    1. There is no question but what they are pushing to the second island chain. And I think that they'll succeed in establishing that sphere of influence. Because of the naval balance that Obama allowed to erode, we are unable to be strong there and in the Persian Gulf/Med area at the same time (and rotate ships through deployment cycles).

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  6. Good analysis on Romney's off-the-cuff (i.e., highly rehearsed) remarks about China. There is some value in maintaining at least a verbal position of strength when dealing with China, but you're correct, it's silly to think that the US can maintain any kind of advantage against China in big stick diplomacy or in dollar diplomacy.

    At the least, Romney's correct in the idea that the US has to stop leaking dollars in borrowed money. China can dominate the East, so we must stop feeding it the West as well. I am, however, a pessimist on this point and think the US has already dropped into a decline that we'll not recover from.

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    1. I'm with you, my friend. We're on the same page.

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