What You Shouldn’t Forget About China

China, the Peoples Republic, is on the move. We all know that. We also know that due to Biden relatives’ dealings with President-for-life Xi, our new Administration, helmed by Joe Biden, is severely compromised and flatfooted with respect to prudent interaction with the populous monolith. Morally. Financially. Even categorically. 

But is that all we need be concerned with? There are other, undiscussed but highly relevant, variables impacting on our delicate- balance dealings with the PRC. 

We are correctly concerned with the official threat presented by a newly assertive Communist China, especially under the lifetime stewardship/despotic regime of Xi JinPing, in for life. 

The Chinese Navy, in a population of better than 1.4 billion people, give or take, is now acknowledged as formidable by military leaders such as our State Department and such former military as four-star General Jack M. Keane, former Vice Chief of Staff of the US Army.  A no-nonsense former paratrooper and formidable company commander, Keane knows whereof he speaks when he addresses threats in the Pacific theatre.

Those paying attention to the juggernaut of the Peoples Republic, especially under the auspices of Xi and the significant feebleness of the new White House under a severely compromised chief executive, should be mindful of the dangerous imbalance.

Increasing evidences of cognitive frailty and perhaps advancing dementia has not escaped notice by Xi and those around him in the power tier of the fully armed nation west of the rising sun, east of an increasingly self-absorbed EU.  Adding to our exposure is the significantly anemic appetite shown by this current White House and its behind-the-strings ‘handlers’ for a renewed arms race.  

Indeed, the current slew of Obama retreads seem more than satisfied to concern themselves more with linguistic niceties and pronoun embargoes than with foreign entanglements, national defense or refurbishment in the presence of blatant adversary.

Actions taken by the prior administration, that of Donald J. Trump, to re-arm and update our tattered military after President Barack Obama were laudable but have been met with near-reversals almost heedlessly self-destructive by Trump’s successor, Joe Biden.  The reversals effected by almost stunning executive orders of frenetic delusional suddenness and ill-advisedness have been noted by our enemies. One humiliating result is the recent Alaskan Summit where our diplomats were treated to a lengthy 16-minute tongue-lashing unprecedented in modern times. 

One cannot forget that the Chinese are a long-time humiliation-based society. Losing face is no mere temporary coloring of the cheek, quickly forgotten. Under President Trump, the same officials who were peremptory and lacerating with our assigns Messrs. Blinken and Sullivan, were deferential and propitiatory. That mode has decidedly muted.

And the new, weaker face of the U.S. has serious implications for our future interactions with China and even of course with North Korea and Iran. 

Weakness is toxic in dealing with the Chinese, as I observed when I first arrived to work as a Vice President and professor in one of the 67 universities in Wuhan, Zhejiang Province.   When I arrived in Beijing, then transferred to Wuhan, I was confronted on Day Three of my new position with a fiat I took great exception to. I was told, with a briny impassivity, that two newcomers, just graduated from Columbia and there to be instructors, 22 and 23 years old, wanted the apartment I had been given. Enraged at the attempt to manhandle me so blatantly, for people with zero teaching or managerial experience of any kind compared with my resume of both managerial and extensive teaching at college levels, I stood my ground.

“If you expect me to give up my apartment to those two [green] arrivals, I will leave, tonight, back to the United States.”

The university had invested thousands of dollars in me, set up a better than average office for me, and had arranged an entire 6 day-a-week schedule for me at various of the technical lecture halls on the spacious campus. They weren’t in a hurry to let go of a committed, experienced veteran without anyone to replace her, which would take weeks at the earliest, if even that. 

I was dead serious. That was evident to those present. They withdrew their peremptory request and did not repeat it; although they did not stop trying to take advantage, which didn’t go unnoticed. They tried during the course of months to extract new and ever-more discourteous concessions for which they had not contracted. Or offered to pay. I refused those, too, as presumptuous and galling.  

The point being: My stony resolve not to accommodate to their brassy requests stood me in very good stead.  Those who do bend and kowtow get shafted, it became evident as time passed. 

It is no secret: The vaunted naval superiority of the United States has been superseded by the newly emboldened burgeoning naval services of the Peoples Republic.   But just as important is the paucity of females attendant on the Chinese preference for males and the long interregnum of the one-child policy, when millions of girls were sacrificed, aborted or adopted by Western couples.  So, there are generations of missing females. No brides for Chinese males. In some cases, China has gone to other countries to snatch females: Tibet. Malaysia. Korea. Even Japan.

Furthermore, this absence of females means the  testosterone and aggression levels are fairly high, without outlet. The natural outlet for such “backup” is investment in other pursuits. A major alternative, for China, is the military, and their manpower is massive and mighty.  Thus, China fight and conquers with unusual ferocity and dedication,not having the normal avenues of release most nations enjoy.

 That alone should give the West more than adequate reason to pause and take stock of their presumptions of superiority.

Chinese propragand poster via James Vaughn CC BY-NC- SA 2.0 license