Top 10 Reasons To Fear ChinaSuggested by SMS
If I asked my father what would be his greatest reason to fear China, he would probably answer that it might clash with the tablecloth. But such “witty” retorts are the things of a time when China could be treated as a distant and almost irrelevant part of the world.
Today there are far more pressing aspects of China’s place in the modern world. In recent times, she has become the stirring giant, stepping out from behind the cloak of communism to find a place in the political, economic and military global communities.
It is not enough to be simply sinophobic, that is, to fear all things Chinese. It is, however, essential to recognize the strengths, differences and potential of the most populace nation on earth. The following are the top ten reasons to fear China, listed from tenth to most important.
10. Naval Expansion
In the midst of a period of economic growth and modernization, China’s dependence on transport by sea for the importation of resources and the export of goods has presented a new set of problems for the nation. With little in the way of a naval presence, China must rely on the generosity of others to protect their trade routes.
To address this unsettling arrangement, China has begun developing her own military technology. The development of anti-Super Carrier missiles and stealth fighter jets has indicated the desire to be able to deal with events beyond home shores.
Furthermore, the acquisition of an aircraft carrier would suggest that China is eager to take to the high seas on a scale that will make them competitive, if not a threat. But it must be noted that the Shi Lang, a refitted Kuznetsov-class carrier from Ukraine, formerly known as the Varyag, is no match for the might of the United States Navy.
The Shi Lang was designed as a battle cruiser with aircraft capacity and the Chinese are explaining her purpose as that of a training ship. But the intent is clear and, while many complacently expound theories of China’s capabilities being far short of her ambitions, China cannot be discounted as a future combatant in maritime conflicts.
9. Currency Control
As China’s progression to an economic model of state capitalism gains momentum, she maintains a firm grip on the value of the Chinese Yuan. This has a series of purposes and effects, but most significantly it allows China’s exports to compete more successfully than the exports of other countries.
This control is also a semi-veiled attack on the economic system of the United States of America. China regularly questions the place of the U.S. dollar as a central measure for world trade. Ideally, they would see the Yuan as a viable alternative to the currency of their consistent nemesis.
With the rapid expansion of China as a market and the increasing productivity of the nation, the Chinese have developed a healthy economic influence in global trade matters. They would, and actively are, using this influence to create an option for smaller nations in the marketplace to the political and economic structures of the United States.
While the open trading world identifies the control of currency as an unjust interference with the rights of individuals and individual states to make contracts and to deal freely, the Chinese government upholds it right to regulate such dealings.
But more importantly, the Chinese government is also able to use such monetary devices to enable its domestic power; in the words of Mayer Amschel Rothschild, “Give me control over a nation’s currency and I don’t care who makes the laws”.
8. Religious Freedom
“Religion is the opium of the people.” – Karl Marx
The attitude of Chinese communism toward religion bears a very limited tolerance of the populace’s opiate. On principle, China supports the freedom of religion, but in practice it restricts worship to those institutions that hold the approval of the state. These bodies must provide information relating to their finances, employees and general activities regularly and they are audited frequently.
However, as has been shown throughout history, people have a habit of pursuing spirituality in a variety of forms and the state-endorsed version rarely satisfies everyone. Sadly, China isn’t known for her patience toward individual expression and this has led to the instances of frustration, harassment and persecution.
In some cases, the unofficial churches have been forced to celebrate their rituals outdoors and in the plain view of the authorities. Subsequently, members have been arrested, detained and fined for their participation in “unregistered spiritual organizations”.
Falun Gong, a teaching that draws on Taoism, one of the oldest religious traditions of China, and holds Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance as essential tenets, has been declared an “evil cult”. As such, those participating in the religion are open to intimidation and arrest.
The most infamous instance of religious suppression by China is that of Tibet. A region of China that has gained and lost its independence a number of times throughout history, Tibet was taken over by China in 1951. The religious and political leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, went into exile and during the “Great Leap Forward” hundreds of thousands of Tibetans died. Under an anti-separatist campaign, the Chinese Government has taken steps that have raised concerns for human rights organizations and, while heavily restricting religious practice, have announced that they will appoint the next Dalai Lama.
7. Security Council of the United Nations
Among the political forums at China has an influence, one of the most significant is the Security Council of the United Nations. This body was established after World War II and its charter includes, “may investigate any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute” and “to maintain or restore international peace and security”.
It is made up for fifteen member states, five permanent and ten elected non-permanent. Of these, China holds a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. The significance of this role cannot be underestimated as military and economic action sanctioned by the Security Council can include armed conflict as seen in the Korean War.
To extend on the example of the Korean War, the United Nations action that was undertaken in that conflict was the result of U.S.S.R. withdrawing from the Security Council in protest at the inclusion of the Republic of China (Taiwan) as a permanent member ahead of the People’s Republic of China. As abstention isn’t regarded as a veto, the resolution to take military action was passed without the participation of the U.S.S.R., a nation that later supported the South Koreans against United Nations forces.
As a permanent member of the Security Council, China has the right to veto any resolution. While it is true that China, either as the Republic of China or the People’s Republic of China, has only ever vetoed six resolutions, the power to circumvent action that could have a bearing on the peace or economic stability of the world makes China a member with exceptional clout and one to fear.
6. Political Might
Despite the collapse of communism throughout the world, there are still five nations that maintain their title as communist countries. These are Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, North Korea and China. Yet there are many experts that suggest China is communist in name, but that the influence of commercialism in the twenty-first century has put the foundation of Chinese communism on sandy ground.
Regardless, the influence of China is evident in the support that it has provided each of these countries either through military or political means. To this end, the political might of China has been illustrated both overtly through her support of the Vietcong forces and the North Korean forces and covertly through the role China plays on the global political stage.
Whether through the United Nations, through the use of economic influences or through the behavior of a nation of 1.3 billion people, there is no doubting the effectiveness of having China in your corner.
Moreover, it is well worth remembering that the shift in China’s political form was due to an uprising of the people, led by a charismatic and determined man. It follows that such political fervor has created an awareness and commitment to the political status of the country and her role in the world as a whole. With a history of political action, a population that is almost one fifth of the world and a willingness to support her friends, China remains a country of formidable political might.
5. Space Expansion
For many years, even many decades, the experience of space exploration was the realm of the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R.. In fact, if you weren’t known internationally by a series of initials, then you weren’t part of the Space Race.
But China has stepped into the game with an understated, but highly effective approach. They have set their sights on a modest target of a 60 ton space station being in orbit by 2020 and have treaded lightly asking for a cooperative approach from the Americans.
They have successfully launched Tiangong-1, the first of their test stations and the future for the Chinese program is bright. Of course, “bright” is an adjective that works when looking from the Chinese point of view, but there are many with a different perspective.
These have a more suspicious view of China’s drive for a presence in orbit. They believe that the Chinese government has a vision of “space” as a commercial, political and even military prospect rather than simply a scientific one.
Furthermore, the wonders of Wikileaks recently produced evidence of the Chinese carrying out anti-satellite maneuvers. This was recognized as a statement that a military conflict could be fought in space and that China was at the forefront of the technology. Of course, the U.S.A. was obliged to demonstrate that they also had the capability for such a campaign, but, aside from its minimal deterrent, this only served to scare most of the world into fitful remembering’s of the Cold War.
4. Human Rights
“I don’t know that man. I must get to know him better.” – Abraham Lincoln
These words are as profound in dealing with a culture or nation as they are dealing with individuals and, if followed, would resolve racism and conflicts the world over. The very nature of sinophobia, the fear of all things Chinese, would dissolve through understanding and empathy, wouldn’t it?
Perhaps we would have a better understanding of the attitudes and cultural influence that predicate China’s social structures and ideas. But would we gain a perspective that would justify or even excuse the human rights violations that are so often evident in China.
While learning about the history and political motives of the Chinese Government might explain why decisions are taken, it is always going to be hard for a free society to accept the censorship of private communication and access to public information via the internet. Moreover, incidents of the nature of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 can only serve to emphasize the harshness of the Communist regime.
As frustrating as was the restrictions on electronic media during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and as paranoid as is the refusal of China to allow any form of scrutiny of their human rights record, the massacre that killed approximately two thousand and injured another ten thousand unarmed and peaceful protesters is a terrifying reminder of China’s disregard for human life. The violence of this attack on individual freedom was indiscriminate and beyond the comprehension of observers from the west.
Although it may be a matter of “understanding” that the political security of China is held foremost of any concern to the nation and that the Tiananmen Square Massacre was the exercising of the Government’s right to maintain order, it is still a fearful illustration of an authoritarian regime and the lengths to which it is prepared to go to maintain its own stability.
3. Influence on other countries
One only has to look at two of the major conflicts in the Asian region of the second half of the twentieth century to recognize China’s preparedness to engage in military action beyond her own borders. In both the Korea and Vietnam, the might of the United Nations forces would have been overwhelmingly successful without the intervention of China.
In more recent times the rogue-like behavior of North Korea in attempting to launch a missile that was seen as the forerunner of a nuclear capable version, was disapproved of by China. However, even though China backed United Nations Security Council sanctions of North Korea on this matter, they refused to take action directly, claiming that they had no control over the sovereign state of North Korea.
While this degree of respect for the sovereignty of another nation is to be applauded, it does seem contrary to China’s approach to other sovereign states, such as Tibet. It also overlooks the fact that the North Korean Government is largely sustained through the economic support of China.
Conspiracy theories often abound in times of political unrest or when tensions run high between governments, but there may well be some truth in elements of some of these theories around China, North Korea and Japan. There were many questions asked about North Korea’s decision to send their trial missile on a bearing that would place Japan directly in the firing line. One suggested answer to these questions was that China, as a long-standing enemy of Japan, had sponsored North Korea’s missile tests with the intention of creating another avenue of attack on Japan.
Even though the tests failed miserably, the threat was still made clearly and has now drawn Japan into a military pact with South Korea. Whether this pact was always on the cards or was the result of the China-North Korea menace is unclear, but the hand of China in the affairs of her neighbors and the matters of her region is enough to raise fears around the world.
2. Economic Strength
While China’s military might may be limited in some respects, there are those that believe the next battle of superpowers won’t be fought with soldiers and guns, but with economists and currency. At this level China is a real threat to every other nation in the world.
Although the population of China raises a number of negative issues domestically, it creates the largest marketplace in the world. As commercial interests have flooded China, they have created over a billion potential consumers which have, in turn, made the nation an important trade destination for a number of producers.
Furthermore, the same population provides an enormous workforce and one that is currently unencumbered by the union pressure and wage restrictions. Such conditions are conducive to mass production of everything from computer components to automobiles to the silly little plastic toys given away by fast food chains.
The upshot of these and other far more technical factors that can be referred to as influential is that China enjoyed a Balance of Trade surge from 2004 to the end of 2008, reaching a high point of a 40.1 billion dollar surplus in November, 2008. Since then there have been occasional drops, but the trade surplus has often been recorded near 20 billion dollars.
Such a member of the global economic community has the right to feel confident in their status as a major power. With the continuing growth of industry and markets within China, there are many who believe that she will soon become an economic superpower.
At the center of most of the concerns about China is her population. According to the World Bank, China is currently home to 1,338,299,512 people, which is heading towards one fifth of the total population of the earth.
This has huge repercussions for both China and the World as a whole. The resources required to feed, clothe and support such a massive population are similarly massive. But the distortion of the comparison between the resources and the population may be best illustrated by comparing the proportion of the world population, 19%, living in China to the proportion of the world’s land mass supporting it, 6.5%.
There are many reasons for such a disproportionate contrast, but the severity of the problem is evident in China’s own radical steps to take control of her population growth. The One-Child Policy is recognition of the country’s desperation to bring the population to a manageable level. It is cold, harsh and some may say inhuman, but the future in a world drained of resources, food and hope may be just as cold, harsh and inhuman.
The population of China, while one of her greatest strengths, also has the potential to be one of the world’s greatest fears. From beyond her borders, the rest of humanity can view the test case for the future; we can learn from her experiences. We can also ponder other solutions that China could pursue, including increasing her land mass to provide for her population.
In considering the reasons to fear China, there could be a place for the exciting and high energy dragons that are a highpoint of Chinese festivals. They have the ability to terrify and entertain in one action and this is a trait that can allow a danger to sneak up on you. In many regards this is the nature of the reasons to fear China; while many nations argue that China has the plans, but lacks the capability, she may be lulling the world into a false sense of security.