The Intertwining of Sino-American Competition and Cooperation

The following is a guest post by Kaiser Kuo! Enjoy! – Ed.

Here’s a translation of a brief essay on U.S-China relations by Chen Xiangyang (陈向阳), an associate researcher at the World Politics Institute at the China Academy of Contemporary International Relations. The original appeared in Xinhua’s 瞭望新闻周刊 (Liaowang Xinwen Zhoukan, Outlook Weekly). I found this to be a fairly representative perspective from the Chinese foreign policy community, and thought ChinaGeeks readers would enjoy it. Hat-tip to Bill Bishop for linking to the piece on Twitter a couple of days ago. The author’s liberal use of quotes around certain phrases is reproduced in the translation; I’ve added none of my own. Any errors in translation are, of course, mine; corrections and comments welcome!

Translation

In looking at Sino-American relations one should be holistic, dialectical and calm; only through continuous advancement of strategic mutual trust, mutually beneficial cooperation, and appropriate response to and effective management of all manner of crises can we spread the benefits of Sino-American relations to the people of the two countries and to the world.

by Chen Xiangyang

Entering the year 2010, Sino-American relations stand at a “new historical starting point.” This has highlighted the new shift in the relative power of the two countries against the backdrop of the financial crisis, and reflected the “new epoch” that has become increasingly evident in global challenges, and the growth in mutual competitive and interdependent interaction of the great powers.

In looking at Sino-American relations one should be holistic, dialectical, and calm. There remain a number of real problems and long-term challenges between China and the U.S.. Promoting “sustainable development” in Sino-American relations requires continuous advancement of strategic mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation, as well as appropriate response to, and effective management of, all manner of crises.

In looking at the new epoch in Sino-American relations, one mus be wary of “three misunderstandings.”

Misunderstanding 1: Overestimation of the global importance and impact of Sino-American relations, particularly exemplified by the notions of so-called “Chimerica” or “the G2.” In the present multipolar international order, besides America the “sole superpower” and China among the “stronger” states, there is also the European Union, Japan, Russia, India, Brazil and others among the “heavyweight contenders.” Sino-American cooperation alone is not enough; the participation and cooperation of the other “power centers” is required. The G2 theory only sees areas of Sino-American common interest and cooperation, and ignores the profound differences between the countries, “structural contradictions,” “differences in political systems,” and radically divergent external strategic orientations. Sino-American strategic mutual trust remains fragile, and cooperation remains limited. The U.S. is still pursuing global and regional “hegemony” and a “leading position,” while what China is pursuing is multi-polarity and maintenance of independence. The American approach to China’s rise remains a “two-handed” one: On the one hand, the U.S. sings its praises, using “great power responsibility” to harness, “regulate,” and “lead” China, while on the other hand, it guards against China and seeks to keep China down, fearing being overtaken by China.

Misunderstanding 2: Overestimation of the pattern of increase in the influence of China in the bilateral relationship. For a relatively long time, America will still have very long lead in terms of overall strength. The capacity for social adjustment and “self-repair” must not be underestimated. The possibility of the Obama Administration getting clear of its diplomatic difficulties through “clever leveraging of strength” and a “multi-partner plan” cannot be ruled out. If China wants to overcome its weak position and catch up with the U.S. it will require a long-term, concerted effort. Therefore we cannot exaggerate the extent to which “they’ve contracted while we’ve grown” in terms of relative strength in the Sino-American relationship. When dealing with Sino-American relations we should proceed with sober analysis and a clear estimation of our own strength.

Misunderstanding 3: Seeing the intricately complex and developing Sino-American relationship as “single-faceted,” “absolute,” or “static.” Either emphasizing only the cooperative or the competitive facet of the relationship, or mechanically bifurcating cooperation and competition and believing that Sino-American relations will always be, as they have been, bifurcated, will make it difficult to achieve substantive breakthrough.

At present, the various issues and contradictions between China and the United States are still there; moreover, they will continue to develop. The “major developments” in Sino-American relations are all contained in the objective economic interdependency and the subjective mechanized management. Through the efforts of both sides, most of the problems and contradictions can be kept under control, and cannot go so far as to attack overall bilateral relations. In addition to this, Sino-American cooperation and competition are increasingly intertwined: There is cooperation within competition, and competition within cooperation. There is no absolute cooperation or competition. Therefore we should not completely reject competition, and we should strengthen cooperation, manage competition well, and strive for benign competition. Additionally, the “relative weight” of cooperation and competition in Sino-American relations will change at different stages, and though it’s the “coexistence of cooperation and competition, at particular stages it may be “mainly cooperation,” and it may also be “competition stands out.”

At the same time, we must respond appropriately to seven great challenges:

The first is that Sino-American “strategic trust” is still insufficient. Chiefly because deep down the United States looks upon China as a “challenger for hegemony” and a “political anomaly,” the defensiveness, discrimination and prejudice in the American mindset toward China will be as deeply important as ever.

Second are Sino-American “structural contradictions” — in other words, the serious divergence of the two sides’ takes on the international situation and the international order will grow more conspicuous. Although American “unipolar” ambitions have been seriously stymied by the financial crisis, America still does not recognize multi-polarity, and will do all that it can to prolong its global hegemony, anything at all to maintain its primacy. As China continues to accelerate in its rise and attains commensurate great power status, the ranking of the United States and China in the “chart toppers” list of national power will, sooner or later, undergo change. A “ranking” struggle between the two is, I fear, unavoidable.

Third is the contest between “developmental models.” The international financial crisis exposed the shortcomings of the “American model,” and the U.S. has reacted to this by intensifying its “containment” and derision of the “Chinese model.” The divergence in political systems and values between China and the U.S. have perhaps been “magnified.”

Fourth, the contest or chess game for regional spheres of influence will grow more complex and intense, especially in the Asia-Pacific and the region of China’s own “great periphery.” The two sides’ policies in dealing with regional “hot spots” like “the North Korean nuclear issue, the “Iranian nuclear issue,” the Afghanistan and Pakistan issue, the Myanmar issue and so on are not identical. China places emphasis on maintaining “regional stability” and respecting the “legitimate rights of nations,” and America for its part is too self-interested, intending to take advantage of these issues to expand its political influence and even attenuate China’s influence.

The fifth encompasses the competition for so-called “global public space” and “strategic new frontiers” — mainly the development of outer space and network security. America is attempting to maintain its hegemony over outer space and networks, and continues to push for global and regional “anti-missile” systems, to research, produce and deploy “space-based” weapons, to establish a “network command center,” harping on the “China threat theory” in the two great “frontline fields” of space and cyberspace and doing its upmost to preserve in perpetuity the advantage of its “great leadership.”

Sixth are constraints imposed by domestic factors in each of the two countries, to include struggles between the American political parties, between the extreme conservative faction and the extreme liberal faction, and the media and military interest groups, but also including, in China, the flood of public opinion that has accompanied the breakneck process of informatization of Chinese society and the conspicuous strengthening of national power.

Seventh are the international constraints of third-party factors, including the concerns of the European Union, Japan, Russia, India and other “major powers” over the development of Sino-American relations. It also includes the resort, by certain countries bordering China, to the strategy of “great power balancing,” in an attempt to use the United States as a “check and balance” on China, providing a suitable vehicle for the U.S. to “intervene” and to play “balancer” in the “balance of power” game.

(The author is an associate researcher at the World Politics Institute of the China Academy of Contemporary International Relations)

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0 thoughts on “The Intertwining of Sino-American Competition and Cooperation”

  1. Why is it sophomoric? It seems to be a thoughtful article to me. Let’s face it, the US are run by lobbyists and they do not see any benefits of going to war with China. The US is in conflict with itself because US and China are in the same page more or less economically but is in conflict with China politically. The Cost/benefit ratio US being a global hegemony seems to do US worse than good, while China’s laise faire policy policy toward other countries seems to work out pretty well for them.

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  2. “The US is in conflict with itself because US and China are in the same page more or less economically but is in conflict with China politically.”

    This is what’s called an outright lie. Nice try, Shaun Rein.

    Personally, the quotes made it really difficult for me to read this through and fully concentrate it on it. But, nevertheless, a couple points:

    1) Misunderstanding 3: Seeing the intricately complex and developing Sino-American relationship as “single-faceted,” “absolute,” or “static.” Either emphasizing only the cooperative or the competitive facet of the relationship, or mechanically bifurcating cooperation and competition and believing that Sino-American relations will always be, as they have been, bifurcated, will make it difficult to achieve substantive breakthrough.

    I fully expect chaji to be demanding his crucifixion.

    2) Third is the contest between “developmental models.” The international financial crisis exposed the shortcomings of the “American model,” and the U.S. has reacted to this by intensifying its “containment” and derision of the “Chinese model.”

    Pretty manipulative. The American model? The international financial crisis would be better described as being the result of the “Wall Street model.” Derivative markets and corporate corruption on the part of investment banking and mortgage banked securities is hardly representative of the American model. A better example of the American model is Keynesian spending tactics employed by all presidents in recent memory except for Clinton.

    3) China places emphasis on maintaining “regional stability” and respecting the “legitimate rights of nations,” and America for its part is too self-interested, intending to take advantage of these issues to expand its political influence and even attenuate China’s influence.

    I’m sure they had regional stability at heart when they propped up genocidal African regimes.

    4) The rest is pretty simplistic: The US is bad, they want their hegemony, they hate China, they want to rule the world.

    But here’s an even easier way to see how sophomoric this is. He doesn’t cite a single statistic throughout the whole thing and expects us to believe him because he said so.

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  3. U.S. hegemony is, and has been, vastly overstated imho.
    In tne context of the essay it serves as a justification for a (somewhat)
    belligerant tone. Financial structures are,and have been, global, and multi-national. “unipolar ambitions” ? Perhaps the British empire had such “ambitions” in the 1800s. The soviets had those ambitions in the 20th century, but reality, thankfully, intervened. I believe the essay was framed for internal consumption,
    another us vs them brick in the wall.

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  4. A thought (and I’m tossing this out there because I haven’t had time to digest it fully and want to see what comes back: vis-a-vis models, China, in some ways, looks a bit like the US in the 1800s, no? Obviously there’s no slavery, but it’s an export-based economy run by an isolationist (more or less) government, a rapidly-growing but not yet dominant power in science and engineering, etc…some interesting parallels, although obviously there are also lots of differences.

    Anyway, it’s an interesting article. The third misunderstanding is particularly important and also particularly rampant on both sides, I think (just look at the recent selling-arms-to-Taiwan fiasco).

    @ Greybeard: I agree that American hegemony has been overstated, and is a bit overstated here. I’m also not sure Chen’s grasp of American leaders motivations is accurate. I’ll leave it at that for now, back to work…

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  5. Custer,

    I forgot where, I think it was James Fallows, or maybe Newsweek, but one of them did a piece on that very comparison about a year or so ago. I’d find it, but… I’m going to sleep.

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  6. I am a little bit troubled;If, as Kaiser says in the intro this is fairly representative of the PRC foriegn policy community. Is it? anyone?

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  7. C Custer, Greybeard,

    Whether you like it or not US is a hegemony because they are exerting influence onto other countries, whether it is political, cultural, economic, or ideological, including China. Whether it is women’s rights, ‘internet freedom’, eating dogs, democracy, movies, technology, and etc….

    In any case, relations between the US and China are complicated and I think this article describes the relations between the 2 very well.

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  8. The Chinese government wants to ignore Europe when it comes to foreign relations, but on some of the issues mentioned, like human rights (particularly with respect to Tibet) or the environment, European countries are actually more critical of the Chinese government than the US government is. It’s the Chinese government that wants to portray the US as a “hegemon” for the ease of propaganda. It’s a self-fulling prophecy. By ignoring Europe, the Chinese government makes the US more of a “hegemon”.

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  9. @pug_ster

    I had the good fortune to be introduced to academic economics in the person of a brilliant professor, born and raised in Shanghai. He was translating papers written in China by freshmen in college in, I believe, Beijing. The striking thing about the Chinese students work was its clarity. This was in 1970.

    If the U.S. is hegemonic (and by definition I accept it can be) it is more by default then design. I certainly agree with you that relations between the two nations are complicated. That is why I hope (always) for more clarity.

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  10. “I am a little bit troubled;If, as Kaiser says in the intro this is fairly representative of the PRC foriegn policy community. Is it? anyone?”
    ————-
    From my readings, I would have to say yes- probably on the softer side, if anything.

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  11. @ C Custer

    I think the historic position of the U.S. about 1905 is a close parallel.
    I also see the third “misunderstanding” as the more serious and problematic.

    @xyz
    I have wondered about the same focus for awhile now. I assume it has to do with potential force projection and the Pacific ocean trade routes. Agricultural
    commodities,from the southern hemisphere, will only become more important to China as the population increases.

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  12. @MAC

    If so…is this analytic cheerleading for the home team or something else?
    I am aware of rumours of “princelings” manuevering, does it tie into something like that?

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  13. I think the article is a bit too vague and general to give much insight, like @Josh points out, it’s a long series of opinions without a single citation.

    The part where I disagree the most, along with @C_Custer, @Graybeard, and @Josh, is where he paints the all too common picture of the US jealously guarding its hegemony. I can come up with a few false assumptions that lead to lines like “America still does not recognize multi-polarity, and will do all that it can to prolong its global hegemony, anything at all to maintain its primacy.”

    First, I think the US military, lead by people trained to keep a sober and realistic view of the world, is coming to terms with that fact that the US military will increasingly not be the unilateral decision maker, at least not by the second half of the century. I’ve gathered this opinion from the moves the US has made under Clinton, Obama, and even in some cases Bush, to increasingly work together with other countries’ armed forces, particularly our allies like the Europeans, Japan, and even China (those military exchanges that were cut off after the Taiwanese arms sale). While every nation wants to its military to be as strong as possible, the US is also actively encouraging her allies to carry more weight in global operations and sees strategic partnerships as being the key to long-term US and global security.

    On the economic side, I think there’s an unproductive attachment to the idea that the US is some kind of monolithic entity. The truth is that while US companies are relatively successful and pervasive in the world, they’re operating largely independent of each other and the US government. In fact, as @pug_ster pointed out above, lobbies wield great power over the government, but he doesn’t acknowledge that for every lobby pushing one way there’s another pushing in the opposite direction. Sure, some are more powerful than others, but all lobbying groups eventually fall out of favor. At the end of the day, even though the US is economically strong, that power is unfocused and can’t be directed towards specific policy goals.

    And I think that’s part of why American’s are a little leery of China. While China’s not as economically strong as America, it looks to the average American like the Chinese government is frighteningly effective at getting Chinese workers and companies to line up behind specific policies. It’s not a fully justified view, but it affects public opinion and in turn the political environment that US policy towards China has to operate in.

    And when it comes to pop culture, well, I never saw an imperialist American in a business suit forcing my Chinese students to listen to the Backstreet Boys.

    Finally, as much as I’d like to avoid it, is the question of how the US should approach human rights in foreign countries. Volumes could be written how much rights do or do not apply across cultures (with @Chaji providing an excellent counterpoint to my views a few posts ago), so this part is inherently more subjective.

    I had a whole long rant with plenty of examples prepared, but for the time being I’ve decided to table it. The short version is that I agree with @xyz’s idea that it’s convenient for both the Chinese government and it’s supporters to try to label generic, liberal ideas as specifically US/European and imperialist ideas. It’s a tactic to turn outside criticism, a fact of life for a world power that I hope China learns to let roll off its back, into an internally unifying force. (If you’re going to get criticized, might as well take advantage of it domestically.) This propaganda ignores the vibrant democracies with very different conceptions of rights you can find in East Asia, South Asia, Africa, and Latin America. One quick example, Indians credit their country’s ancient history of multiculturalism, intellectual discourse, and regionalism for the success of their federal democracy, rather than any kind of uniquely European ideas that were forced on them.

    Also, independent of their right or lack there of the pass judgment, Americans are genuinely offended by what they see in China. Now, that doesn’t mean Chinese people should pay attention to US opinion, but American political leaders have to. Just like the Chinese government rebuffs American criticism to garner support, American political leaders criticize China to get domestic support from voters.

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  14. @XYZ,

    Ignoring other country’s influence is not a sign of China’s hegemony, rather China is ignoring EU’s hegemony over issues of human rights, Tibet, and etc…

    @Lewis,

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35192016/ns/politics-the_new_york_times/

    I noticed an article here that despite the ballooning deficit, we are not cutting our defense spending while cutting out our domestic programs. Are we maintaining US hegemony at the expense of its citizens? If China runs that kind of budget, I am willing to bet the Chinese would go out to the street and revolt. My fear is that the US economic collapse is imminent unless we do something drastic.

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  15. If it weren’t for Ralph Nader, who convinced a lot of people in 2000 that there’s no difference between Gore and Bush, the defense budget wouldn’t be where it is and the deficit wouldn’t be where it is. But given where things are, you can’t fix everything overnight, or even in one year. It takes time to withdraw responsibly from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Back on topic, what a lot of Chinese commentators don’t realize, or are not willing to say openly, is that the main reason for the tension between the US and China is the lack of democracy in China. It’s not because the US wants to suppress the “Rise of the Great Nation” (大国崛起) that the propaganda department would like people to believe. India has just as many people and its economy is on the rise, too, with liberalization after its many years’ experiment with state-oriented economy, but there’s no similar tension between the US and India. The Chinese government and the government-owned media tend to ignore other developing countries like India and Brazil and pretend that China is the only developing country that is succeeding and that the Beijing way is the only way for a country to develop. On the climate change issue, the Chinese government was able to bring India and Brazil (and South Africa to a lesser extent) to its side and use them against the US and Europe, but on other issues, I wonder how much of an alliance there will be between China and those countries. On trade, for example, the Chinese government’s effort in keeping the RMB down is hurting the export sector in other developing countries much more than it is hurting the US or Europe, though it’s the US government that’s been the loudest critic on the issue.

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  16. In other words, the Chinese are actually quite chauvinistic when it comes to other developing countries, perhaps not unlike how Russians thought of other Eastern Europeans, or how Japan used to think of China. I think other developing countries know this and are wary about getting under China’s umbrella. So, among other things, the government propaganda is also incomplete: though it’s a vast over-simplification, to the extent that there is a sense that the US wants to keep China from rising, it would also be right to say that there are also many other countries that want to keep China from rising, because the nature of country that is rising is unsettling to many.

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  17. “The Chinese government and the government-owned media tend to ignore other developing countries like India and Brazil.”

    It’s the same with western media, too. They’re articles about Brazil’s economic success, but compared with the coverage on China, their number is negligible.

    Even India is sidelined by the western media. You see headlines about China doing this China doing that. But, as many Indians complain, when it comes to western reports on India, it’s always about poverty. And most of the time when India is mentioned, it’s put in comparison with China. I don’t have the statistics but from my readings of the NYT, reports on China (both good news and critical coverage) far outnumber those on India. For the past month, China news reports were ubiquitous, even excluding the Google thing. For example, yesterday alone you get China leading the world in clean technology and Chinese electronic bikes are helping a boom of such vehicles worldwide. And today you have a story about a Chinese hacker.

    Sometimes I sincerely wish the western media could pay more attention to Brazil and India and South Africa, not because I wish it would distract their criticism from China, but those countries deserve more in-depth reporting as I would like to learn more about them.

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  18. Oh and over the weekend there’s also one Times report about Avatar beating Confucius, which is used to imply whatever the reporter believes. Given the lack of such comparisons in other countries, e.g. Avatar beating French arthouse movies, which implies blah blah blah; Avatar beating Indian movies, which implies blah blah blah (because the blue people are indeed beating movies everywhere), I’d say this article (very unprofessionally written in itself) reflects the desperate desire of the media to talk about whatever trivial thing they can find in China. That is a good thing, for China. But that’s a bad thing for other countries. I want to know how Avatar is doing in India and how the Indians see it. After a short period when interest in how the Indians perceived Slumdog Millionaire faded, there’s no mentioning of India or Bollywood again in the mainstream western media that I read.

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  19. India has just as many people and its economy is on the rise, too, with liberalization after its many years’ experiment with state-oriented economy, but there’s no similar tension between the US and India.
    =

    China’s political system is indeed a major factor in how other countries might want to suppress its rise, and I agree with what you say. But there’s a lot more minor issues that will never go away.

    After the Soviet Union collapsed, Americans and Europeans did change their attitudes toward Russia for the better, but it didn’t stop them from expanding NATO. Putin’s authoritarian rule is not helping either. Russia’s neighbors were as weary as ever, more so since the Georgian war.

    The wave of anti-Japanese sentiment sweeping the West in the 1970s and 80s as evidenced in Edith Cresson’s infamous rant against the nation of yellow ants. The Japanese mainstream media is indeed this week talking about a resurgent anti-Japanese sentiment in the US caused by the Toyota recall. (Yes I speak Japanese and read Yomiuri Shinbun and the rightist Sankei.)

    India will run afoul of the West sooner or later. It already happened with the nuclear thing. Who knows what’s lying ahead. Outsourcing? India is having a minor kerfuffle with Australia right now with the attacks on Indian students and Indian mainstream media calling Oz the land of racists. And don’t forget India has fewer strong rivals in South Asia, while in East Asia you get Japan, China, Russia and Korea and increasingly integrated ASEAN countries.

    All those minor issues supplement the suspicion people have of China’s CCP rule and here we are. But even if China was democratic as democratic could be, people would still be wary of the sheer size of the country, the economy the domestic population and a huge diaspora, only to a lesser extent.

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  20. It’s strange to me that there’s so much focus in the comments here on the boilerplate, pro-forma official-speak concerning American hegemony and efforts to contain China. Granted this forms the bulk of this somewhat gassy piece. But that’s not what I found at all significant about this. I think we need to see this as an effort, from within a foreign policy think-tank and in the parlance of the establishment, to urge a less confrontational, much more nuanced posture from the argument that China is not nearly in the position of strength that clearly many believe it to be. Chen is saying, basically, that US-China relations shouldn’t soak up too great a proportion of China’s foreign policy efforts, and that China shouldn’t see this prematurely as a two-player chess match; that China’s hand isn’t nearly as strong as America’s, and that we shouldn’t underestimate America’s capacity to rebound; and that the Chinese foreign policy community shouldn’t draw too stark a contrast between cooperation and competition (by which I think he aims chiefly to urge nuance on the more hawkish elements in the foreign policy community). Also of note I thought was the 2nd half of the sixth constraint, in which he recognizes that one of the chief forces that’s straining and constraining China’s diplomatic choices vis-a-vis the U.S. is online public opinion — something that I’ve argued elsewhere.

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  21. Yes, I agree that Chen’s is a relative moderate voice, considering the general tenor of Chinese media on international relationship veers towards the nationalistic and conspiratorial, with Global Times (a subsidiary of People’s Daily) setting the tone.

    By the way, Chinese academic in international relations are generally enamored of the American realist theory of IR (i.e. John Mearsheimer, Kissinger) because the interest-over-ideology/morality view of the world happens to fit well with their own worldviews and how the Chinese government conducts foreign relations. They have a hard time believing that a government will do anything on the basis of morality. So it’s very difficult to convince a Chinese person that the US invaded Iraq because of ideology rather than because of oil or some other economic interest, even when you show them that Chinese oil companies now have some of the largest oil concessions in Iraq, more perhaps than oil companies of any other country, and that the US is bankrupting itself because of Iraq.

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  22. Xyz,

    what does the lack of democracy has to do with cooperation with the us? The us works with regimes and dictatorships as long as their government with the US, like saudi arabia. Chauvistic? Issues with tibet xijiang and taiwan affects china’s soverignity so they are merely defending it.

    Chinese media merely reflects a different point of view. it probably sounds nationalistic and conspirational to you because us don’t have to listen to opinions that may not be of interest to the us because it is ‘unamerican.’

    Kaiser,

    Sorry I have to disagree with what you say. While us and china have diplomatic relations and agree with a whole range of issues, there a whole range of issues that they don’t agree on. And china should not be on the receiving end of the critism.

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  23. @pug_ster

    The US defense budget is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. It provides tons of jobs in all 50 states, not only soldiers, but in manufacturing and support and contracting services, and it makes us feel strong. When a president makes big cuts into the defense budget, they get called weak on security while congress puts lots of spending back into the bill.

    I think the defense budget is going to come down after the wars start winding down, but it’s going to be a very slow process.

    Also, I think an important aspect in the discussion of how powerful China really is that @Kaiser Kuo has brought up is that, for all of the weaknesses it does still have, it has joined a particular, uncomfortable club with the US. Chinese domestic decisions, be they economic policy choices, environmental policies, or even just consumer tastes, reverberate around the world. I think the US is the only other country that can have a significant affect on the global agenda just by setting its domestic agenda.

    (An example from America would be if Oprah says “I don’t drink coffee cause it stains my teeth!” millions of Americans would stop drinking coffee for a while, meanwhile countries that rely on coffee exports would say “Oh crap!” An example from China is that the number of people buying cars is changing what kind of cars companies build in order to appeal to the Chinese market and making global warming discussions all the more pressing.)

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  24. @pug_ster

    China’s allowed to ignore our criticism. China’s allowed to come right out and say that they disagree with our criticism and that we’re free to stick it where the sun don’t shine (Guantanimo Bay). France and Germany raked America over the coals over the Iraq War, but they’re still key allies on other issues.

    Receiving criticism is a natural part of being a significant world country, and I hope in this coming decade China learns how to deflect criticism rather than taking it as an insult to their dignity.

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  25. @Lewis

    There are lots of Chinese who do take well to constructive criticism. It’s the government officials and spokesmen who feign hurt feelings when there is criticism. The Chinese media is free enough today that there are periodicals like Southern Weekend and Outlook Weekly that look critically at things that going on in the society (just as all those Communist-sympathizing Chinese did before 1949). But just as there are conservative and nationalist in the West, there are conservatives and nationalists in China (they are usually lumped together as Leftists) who consider such criticism to be traitorous (汉奸). They are like the Neocons of China.

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  26. Lewis,

    Also, I think an important aspect in the discussion of how powerful China really is that @Kaiser Kuo has brought up is that, for all of the weaknesses it does still have, it has joined a particular, uncomfortable club with the US. Chinese domestic decisions, be they economic policy choices, environmental policies, or even just consumer tastes, reverberate around the world. I think the US is the only other country that can have a significant affect on the global agenda just by setting its domestic agenda.

    Mostly true, that China’s domestic decisions reverberate around the world, but that’s economic. In terms of political influence, they have little if any.

    Receiving criticism is a natural part of being a significant world country, and I hope in this coming decade China learns how to deflect criticism rather than taking it as an insult to their dignity.

    You are right in certain aspects in where China does deserve some criticism that affects the US like the RMB devaluation and trade issues like steel pipes and rubber tires. However, issues that affects China’s sovereignty and political issues like Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang and ‘internet freedom.’ This is what China draws the line because China runs their own country, not the US.

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  27. Thanks! I’ve been saying that forever! If China was, again, democratic as democratic could be, those anti-cnn folks would be part of a conservative force just like Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh and William Kristol, and the Tea Partyists David Brooks seems so enamored with. Of course some of them might join more extremist groups such as the Neo-Nazis, BNP or certain violent Japanese rightist groups that are strictly banned by the CCP along with liberal organizations too, but the liberals, intelligentsia and show biz people would come to dominate the media as in any well-running democratic country.

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  28. Chinese can freely talk about Mao.

    When average income of chinese exceeds $10,000, you will be able to talk about 6.4.
    _____________________________

    As about 汉奸, most of them were called traitor cuz they were happy about anything bad in China, sad about anything good in China.

    One of such examples is their bashing Qian xuesen (钱学森).

    Calling these kind persons 汉奸 doesnt make them nationalists.

    Like

  29. @xyz
    Excellent point, that’s a distinction I should have made.

    @pug_ster
    Your first point is another distinction I should have made. Political decisions can lead into economic changes, but yes, it’s China’s economic power that can drag the world with it.

    Your second point is the one I’m taking issue with. Of course, China and the US are both sovereign countries. I believe it’s the right of any sovereign country and its citizens to criticize another on any issue, but it’s also the right of any sovereign country and its citizens to completely ignore outside criticism.

    And for consistencies sake, I also criticize American Neo-Cons for being offended when other countries and people exercise their sovereign right to criticize the US.

    Like

  30. @ Lewis
    “And I think that’s part of why American’s are a little leery of China. While China’s not as economically strong as America, it looks to the average American like the Chinese government is frighteningly effective at getting Chinese workers and companies to line up behind specific policies.”

    I think this is an excellent point. The perception that the average American has of China often places the Chinese masses as little more than minions of the government, and is responsible for a misrepresentation of the nation.

    @ Kaiser
    Thanks for translating!

    Like

  31. “Mostly true, that China’s domestic decisions reverberate around the world, but that’s economic. In terms of political influence, they have little if any.”

    To imply that economic and political issues aren’t intertwined seems a bit shortsighted, if not naive.

    Like

  32. A headline that recently grabbed by attention was: China warns Obama not to meet Dalai Lama. How do they feel it’s their right to decide with whom another head of state meets?

    I don’t known when China’s leadership will learn not to overreact and sound like a bully. It only turns more of the world away from them.

    Much of it may be for domestic consumption, but the truth is China does need the “outside world” and its goodwill. You’d think they might have actually learned from history and the final condition of the Qing Dynasty after centuries of such self-absorbed arrogance.

    Like

  33. Lewis,

    Your first point is another distinction I should have made. Political decisions can lead into economic changes, but yes, it’s China’s economic power that can drag the world with it.

    You’re statement sounds like if A -> B and B -> C, therefore A -> C. You never hear China telling other countries to be an authoritorian states, nor many countries for the last for that matter went back to some kind of authoritorian country, maybe except for Russia.

    As for your 2nd comment about criticism toward China, I respect your opinion, but I don’t agree with you.

    Like

  34. “As about 汉奸, most of them were called traitor cuz they were happy about anything bad in China, sad about anything good in China. One of such examples is their bashing Qian xuesen (钱学森).”

    @Wahaha
    People criticize 钱学森 because of his support for Mao’s Great Leap Forward. See article below. Even the Party has acknowledged the Great Leap Forward as a mistake, how does criticizing a supporter of the Great Leap Forward make one a traitor?

    http://laochen07.blog.sohu.com/72840948.html
    钱学森在大跃进时期发表的一篇给其一生抹黑的文章

    Like

  35. Where are the statistics or sources to back up your claims, 陳教授?

    Claiming the territorial rights for a small group of islands with vast petroleum and strategic importance in the South China sea does not count as the type of act conducted by a hegemony? Or supporting corrupt, genocidal regimes in the backwaters of Africa?

    The reason the U.S. Government is creating a new department for Network Security is very simple. Every single day countless attempts to penetrate U.S. network systems originate from I.P.’s in mainland China, primarily Hainan island where the PRC cyber warfare units are based. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that these cyber attacks aren’t coming from your local 網吧 mmo patron. Therefore the U.S. will naturally seek ways to protect its networks from illegal, malicious attacks conducted under the auspices of the PRC.

    Basically, this article is nothing but propaganda seeking to justify why the time for the U.S. to play 老大 is out and why and how that will change. Keep trying China.

    Like

  36. Xyz,

    So?

    No chinese equated him to a government officer. It is extremely stupid to bash Qian and at same time try to gain support from Chinese people, anyone with a brain knows that.

    Like

  37. Basically, this article is nothing but propaganda seeking to justify why the time for the U.S. to play 老大 is out and why and how that will change. Keep trying China.
    _____________________________________________

    Why is it propaganda, not an opinion ?

    Like

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