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Friday, June 26, 2009

"China Crosses the Rubicon"

According to this analysis, China's economic interests are having a big impact on its strategic plans. It also makes it sound as thought Russia and China could be be headed for conflict over border regions. I'm not sure if this will generate much discussion or not, but I'm curious what you think about this:

China Crosses the Rubicon, by Wen Liao, Commentary, Project Syndicate: For two decades, Chinese diplomacy has been guided by the concept of the country's "peaceful rise." Today, however, China needs a new strategic doctrine, because the most remarkable aspect of Sri Lanka's recent victory over the Tamil Tigers is ... the fact that China provided ... both the military supplies and diplomatic cover ... needed to prosecute the war. ...

So, not only has China become central to every aspect of the global financial and economic system, it has now demonstrated its strategic effectiveness in a region traditionally outside its orbit. ... What will this change mean in practice in the world's hot spots like North Korea, Pakistan, and Central Asia?

Before the global financial crisis hit, China benefited mightily from the long boom along its eastern and southern rim, with only Burma and North Korea causing instability. China's west and south, however, have become sources of increasing worry.

Given economic insecurity within China in the wake of the financial crisis and global recession, China's government finds insecurity in neighbouring territories more threatening than ever.

Stabilizing its neighbourhood is one reason why China embraces the six-party talks with North Korea, has become a big investor in Pakistan..., signed on to a joint Asia/Europe summit declaration calling for the release ... of Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung Suu Kyi, and intervened to help end Sri Lanka's 26-year civil war.

The calculus behind China's emerging national security strategy is simple. Without peace and prosperity around China's long borders, there can be no peace, prosperity, and unity at home.

China's intervention in Sri Lanka, and its visibly mounting displeasure with the North Korean and Burmese regimes, suggests that this calculus has quietly become central to the government's thinking.

For example, though China said little in public about Russia's invasion and dismemberment of Georgia last summer, Russia is making a strategic mistake if it equates China's public silence with tacit acquiescence in the Kremlin's claim to "privileged" influence in the post-Soviet countries to China's west.

Proof of China's displeasure was first seen at the 2008 summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization... The group's Central Asian members ― Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan ― would not have stood up to the Kremlin without China's support. At this year's just-concluded SCO summit, the pattern continued. ...

From China's standpoint,... the Soviet collapse was the greatest strategic gain imaginable. At a stroke, the empire that had gobbled up Chinese territories for centuries vanished. The Soviet military threat ― once so severe that Chairman Mao invited President Richard Nixon to China to change the Cold War balance of power ― was eliminated.

China's new assertiveness suggests that it will not allow Russia to forge a de facto Soviet Reunion and thus undo the post-Cold War settlement, under which China's economy flourished and security increased. ...

China's strategic imperatives ... are twofold: to ensure that no rival acquires a dangerous "privileged influence" in any of its border regions; and to promote stability so that trade, and the sea lanes through which it passes (hence China's interest in Sri Lanka and in combating Somali pirates), is protected. ...

China's newfound assertiveness, rather than creating fear, should be seen as establishing the necessary conditions for comprehensive negotiations about the very basis of peaceful coexistence and stability in Asia: respect for all sides' vital interests.

In recent years, such an approach ran counter to America's foreign-policy predisposition of favouring universalist doctrines over a careful balancing of national interests. With the Obama administration embracing realism as its diplomatic lodestar, China may have found a willing interlocutor.

    Posted by on Friday, June 26, 2009 at 10:36 AM in China, Economics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (43)


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