Jewish World Review Nov. 15, 2005 / 13 Mar-Cheshvan
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
Get real about China
This week, President Bush will be visiting the People's Republic of China. As with all such high-level diplomatic missions, he will doubtless be tempted to accentuate the few, putatively positive aspects of the Sino-American relationship, and gloss over the increasing number of negative ones. Should that happen, history may record this as a moment when the failure to speak truth to the Chinese Communists in power in Beijing condemned the two nations to conflict down the road.
That grim prospect might just be avoided if Mr. Bush reads in the course of his visit to the Far East the report on this important bilateral relationship issued last week by the congressionally mandated, blue-ribbon US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Its bipartisan conclusion is that "over the past year, on balance, the trends in the US-China relationship have negative implications for our long-term economic and security interests."
The Commission backs up this finding with nearly 170 pages of analysis based on fourteen hearings. It represents the only "second opinion" on China that is both informed by full access to classified information and available to the American people, as well as their elected representatives. This panel performs a real public service and its conclusions deserve careful scrutiny - by President Bush, as well as the rest of us.
Such a review is made all the more necessary insofar as the US-China Commission notes the United States lacks a "coherent strategic framework…grounded in a clear-eyed understanding of how the Chinese military and political leadership leads the country, how decisions are made and how their economy works….China is an authoritarian regime and a non-market command economy still controlled by the Communist Party. The central goal of its leadership is maintaining its own power, at all costs."
It flows from this basic insight that we must be concerned about such developments as:
- The persistent assertion by the Chinese leadership to their political cadre and military officers that America is the "main enemy" and that war with the United States is "inevitable."
- The Chinese government is working not only to secure energy resources from all over the world to meet its yawning needs (notably for oil, coal and natural gas). It is doing so in a way that seems intent on denying such resources to the United States and other global competitors.
- The PRC's predatory trade practices and intellectual property theft continue in violation of past commitments and World Trade Organization obligations. In part, the result is a bilateral trade deficit that has increased "over 140 percent in only four years." The wealth thus garnered by China is being used - among other things - to fuel the plundering of America's remaining high technology industrial base and the utter liquidation of our manufacturing sector.
- Wealth transfers from the United States are underwriting Beijing's ominous build-up of its armed forces, as well. The Commission puts it this way: "China is engaged in a major military modernization program, the motives of which are opaque and unexplained. It is building a modern navy and air force, upgrading its nuclear-armed ICBM force and beginning to operate in a power-projection mode. It has markedly expanded its information warfare operations to a level that is clearly designed to disrupt American systems."
- The Commission has also helpfully warned about the PRC's increasing practice of bringing economic dinosaurs - its biggest "banks" and other state-owned enterprises - to the U.S. capital markets. By so doing, it is offloading the financing of what are otherwise unsustainable entities onto American investors. As a result, the latter are unwittingly helping to underwrite the unsavory activities of such enterprises - including: China's proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, arms build-up, environmental depradation, technology theft (including the Navy's Aegis fleet air defense system and nuclear warhead designs), espionage and slave-labor manufacturing operations, etc.
- Finally, China is engaged in activities that pose a more immediate danger. Two of its nationals were recently arrested trying to sell Chinese-made QW-2 man-portable surface-to-air missiles in this country. Had they succeeded, the result could have given rise to a potentially grave threat to American airliners. And Chinese micro-satellites are being readied to attack our space assets as another, potentially devastating manifestation of Beijing's pursuit of what the Pentagon calls "asymmetric warfare" capabilities against the United States.
The argument will be made that President Bush should refrain from expressing too much concern about these developments, lest he aggravate relations with the PRC and jeopardize the help they are giving us on denuclearizing North Korea and fighting terror. The truth is that we are getting precious little help from Beijing on either of these fronts.
The Chinese could bring intolerable pressure to bear on Pyongyang if they wanted to, and have not. Their $70 billion energy deal with Iran is hardly supportive of our efforts to counter one of the most dangerous state-sponsors of terror.
In fact, few things would be more dangerous than to continue to give Communist China a pass as it becomes ever more brazen about its strategic goal: to displace this country as the world's leading economic power and to defeat us militarily, if necessary. Mr. Bush must use the occasion of his visit to China to disabuse its leaders of the notion that we are indifferent to that agenda, or unwilling to resist it. The valuable US-China Commission has laid out in its fifty-seven recommendations things we should be doing now. The President should make clear that we are fully prepared to go farther, if need be, by helping the Chinese people liberate themselves from a regime that oppresses them and increasingly threatens us.
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JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Comments by clicking here.
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© 2005, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.