China: The Accidental Superpower

Gordon Chang, an American expert on China, has written that three times since the end of World War II, America has saved China's communists.

As surprising as that may sound, Chang has a strong case.

It began with Richard Nixon. In a 1967 landmark Foreign Affairs article, he provided the rationale for engagement and even appeasement, arguing that China should not be isolated where it would "nurture its fantasies, cherish its hates and threaten its neighbors." In the latter stages of Mao's murderous Cultural Revolution, the Chinese Communist Party was hurting. Chang writes: "Years of internal fighting and chaos -- essentially a civil war -- had weaken China's ruling organization, but Nixon's visit that year signaled support of Mao's tottering regime." Mao and his communist party was saved. This may have been a worthwhile bargain, as it help split China from the USSR. but that doesn't diminish the fact that U.S. action aided the communists in China. 

The second rescue came from President George H.W. Bush. This was America's response to the slaughter in Tiananmen Square (1989). "Bush sent emissary Brent Scowcroft on an unannounced trip to the Chinese capital in July to assure paramount leader Deng Xiaoping that Washington would stand with the Party and help it outlast withering criticism from abroad. Bush then made sure that America's Tiananmen sanctions, which he was forced to accept, were ineffective and lifted soon." So much for standing for human rights and democracy. 

But to American interests, the most detrimental rescue of the communist regime in China came courtesy of President Bill Clinton. In 1999, Clinton allowed the Chinese into the World Trade Organization (WTO) and threw open the door to the U.S. market to them. This was premised on a hope that with Western goodwill and generosity, the Chinese communists would evolve and accept postwar liberal values. It is a grand wager that went bad. But even prior to this, Nixon saw the writing on wall. Before his death in 1994, this former president, the man who initiated opening the door to China, said of China: "We may have created a Frankenstein."  

The three examples Chang writes about were deliberate policy crafted by the 'wise men' in our foreign service establishment. There is another case worth noting where the U.S. unintentionally helped China. It is was a fallout from WWII in the Pacific. Prior to the war, China was easy pickings for both Japan and European colonial powers. Japan was defeated and the Pacific was swept clean of all navies save America's. The U.S. navy was then used to enforce a Pax-Americana which kept the former imperialists from preying on China. Without this shield, communist China would never have gotten off the ground.  

So much for history. What about today? Economically speaking, China is a dependent country. It needs exports to provide domestic jobs which are an absolute necessity for social stability. The trade surplus from exports is also what has fueled the astonishing growth of Red China's military. On the other side of the coin, China is dependent on imports to supply its basic needs like energy, food, raw materials, and advanced technology.   

In current trade negotiations, China is asking -- almost begging -- the U.S. to respect its right to develop. That sounds reasonable until it is understood what is meant by it. To develop as it wants, China needs to continue stealing U.S. technology and other intellectual properties as well as to have unfettered access the American market. Without that, not only will China's dreams of regional domination end, but its economy, which is already sagging, could easily stagnate. And stagnation is a great fear for Chairman Xi  Jinping, as it could lead to uncontrollable social unrest which would undermine the unelected communist party that rules China. 

The Chinese Communist Party needs America to bail it out a fourth time with a trade deal. Gordon Chang writes what is said in many Chinese circles these days is, "only Trump can save China." But a trade deal is dubious for long-term U.S. interests for two reason. First, the Chinese have lied and cheated on every trade agreement they've signed with Washington. They won’t and can't live up to a new one. This is not to say that the Chinese are inherently dishonest, but that the Chinese communists are. Are you surprised? 

And secondly, China has every intention to revive their imperial past. This time they not only desire to dominate their region but also -- as absurdly as it may sound -- the entire world. Again Chang:

While Mao frequently talked about communist revolution sweeping the planet in the distant future, Xi nostalgically looks to China's imperial past, where the emperor maintained that he or she -- one woman sat on the throne -- rules tianxia, or "All Under Heaven."

It is not in America's interest to aid and abet this enterprise. So while a trade deal will probably be signed at some point, it will only be a truce. For the long term, America and China are incompatible. A divorce is needed. The U.S. should prepare to disengage from communist China as was done with the USSR. I believe that will come to pass. 

Gordon Chang, an American expert on China, has written that three times since the end of World War II, America has saved China's communists.

As surprising as that may sound, Chang has a strong case.

It began with Richard Nixon. In a 1967 landmark Foreign Affairs article, he provided the rationale for engagement and even appeasement, arguing that China should not be isolated where it would "nurture its fantasies, cherish its hates and threaten its neighbors." In the latter stages of Mao's murderous Cultural Revolution, the Chinese Communist Party was hurting. Chang writes: "Years of internal fighting and chaos -- essentially a civil war -- had weaken China's ruling organization, but Nixon's visit that year signaled support of Mao's tottering regime." Mao and his communist party was saved. This may have been a worthwhile bargain, as it help split China from the USSR. but that doesn't diminish the fact that U.S. action aided the communists in China. 

The second rescue came from President George H.W. Bush. This was America's response to the slaughter in Tiananmen Square (1989). "Bush sent emissary Brent Scowcroft on an unannounced trip to the Chinese capital in July to assure paramount leader Deng Xiaoping that Washington would stand with the Party and help it outlast withering criticism from abroad. Bush then made sure that America's Tiananmen sanctions, which he was forced to accept, were ineffective and lifted soon." So much for standing for human rights and democracy. 

But to American interests, the most detrimental rescue of the communist regime in China came courtesy of President Bill Clinton. In 1999, Clinton allowed the Chinese into the World Trade Organization (WTO) and threw open the door to the U.S. market to them. This was premised on a hope that with Western goodwill and generosity, the Chinese communists would evolve and accept postwar liberal values. It is a grand wager that went bad. But even prior to this, Nixon saw the writing on wall. Before his death in 1994, this former president, the man who initiated opening the door to China, said of China: "We may have created a Frankenstein."  

The three examples Chang writes about were deliberate policy crafted by the 'wise men' in our foreign service establishment. There is another case worth noting where the U.S. unintentionally helped China. It is was a fallout from WWII in the Pacific. Prior to the war, China was easy pickings for both Japan and European colonial powers. Japan was defeated and the Pacific was swept clean of all navies save America's. The U.S. navy was then used to enforce a Pax-Americana which kept the former imperialists from preying on China. Without this shield, communist China would never have gotten off the ground.  

So much for history. What about today? Economically speaking, China is a dependent country. It needs exports to provide domestic jobs which are an absolute necessity for social stability. The trade surplus from exports is also what has fueled the astonishing growth of Red China's military. On the other side of the coin, China is dependent on imports to supply its basic needs like energy, food, raw materials, and advanced technology.   

In current trade negotiations, China is asking -- almost begging -- the U.S. to respect its right to develop. That sounds reasonable until it is understood what is meant by it. To develop as it wants, China needs to continue stealing U.S. technology and other intellectual properties as well as to have unfettered access the American market. Without that, not only will China's dreams of regional domination end, but its economy, which is already sagging, could easily stagnate. And stagnation is a great fear for Chairman Xi  Jinping, as it could lead to uncontrollable social unrest which would undermine the unelected communist party that rules China. 

The Chinese Communist Party needs America to bail it out a fourth time with a trade deal. Gordon Chang writes what is said in many Chinese circles these days is, "only Trump can save China." But a trade deal is dubious for long-term U.S. interests for two reason. First, the Chinese have lied and cheated on every trade agreement they've signed with Washington. They won’t and can't live up to a new one. This is not to say that the Chinese are inherently dishonest, but that the Chinese communists are. Are you surprised? 

And secondly, China has every intention to revive their imperial past. This time they not only desire to dominate their region but also -- as absurdly as it may sound -- the entire world. Again Chang:

While Mao frequently talked about communist revolution sweeping the planet in the distant future, Xi nostalgically looks to China's imperial past, where the emperor maintained that he or she -- one woman sat on the throne -- rules tianxia, or "All Under Heaven."

It is not in America's interest to aid and abet this enterprise. So while a trade deal will probably be signed at some point, it will only be a truce. For the long term, America and China are incompatible. A divorce is needed. The U.S. should prepare to disengage from communist China as was done with the USSR. I believe that will come to pass.