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Taming the Asian Tiger?

                                               Taming the Asian Tiger?

Introduction:  The Inter Press Service in USA, reported that one of the top priorities of the American President George W. Bush, as soon as he took up office for the second term in the White House, was to develop ”appropriate strategies for dealing with threats posed by China, Russia and the emergence of a number of aggressively anti-American regimes…” (IPS, 1)  Does President’s agenda reflect thorough analyses of the latest developments in China; or it does it stem from a lack of understanding and a deep sense of mistrust, of the successful Communist phenomenon called ‘CHINA’? Why the latter seems to be a more plausible reason will be analyzed in this essay. Some of the causes and the events that led to the conflicting interests, and the fall-out of these events, in their cultural and political contexts, will be discussed, to argue that the US has in more than one way been responsible for the escalation of the situation.

The Hot Bed of Politics: The aftermath of 9/11, WTO bombing and connected disasters, made the President George W. Bush declare “War against Terrorism”. China was listed as one of the emerging ‘potential threats’ to the US security and freedom. When asked why he thought that America was dealing with an enemy in China, Republican senator, Fred Thompson detailed three counts. 1) China was a large country with tremendous potential, and they were growing economically. 2) China was building up its military arsenal in general, and concentrating on in it build up towards Taiwan, in particular (ally of the US). 3) Most important of the three, was that they were undergoing changes in their leadership, and having social problems, which cause anxiety (Thompson, 2). China for its part has always held the view that Taiwan was a part of Greater China, which had to be returned to motherland China as a legitimate part of its territory, severed during the unfinished civil war. The Chinese Ambassador to the US, Yang Jiechi, articulated that, Chinese just like the Americans, jealously guarded their “own sovereignty and territory, integrity and dignity. And if people understand these principles that they apply not only to the United States, but to China and to other countries, then they can understand the emotions of the Chinese people” (Jiechi, 3). The earliest origins of strained relationship may be traced to some historical events in the twentieth century.

Prior to 1939, three powers competed with each other for the control and exploitation of China, viz. US, Japanese and European. Finally, though the imperialistic US forces were successful in their bid, the aims of US were rendered fruitless by the Chinese Revolution of 1949. The US stooge Chiang Kai Shek fled to the island of Taiwan, and ever since, the America foreign policy for the Pacific Region has been centered round ‘stopping Communism in its tracks’. The Korean War and the splitting of the nation into two, and the humiliating defeat of America in the Vietnam War have all been viewed as an infringement on the valid and legitimate powers that China wields over the region. The US has seized the opportunity to pointedly criticize the appalling atrocities of the Tin an men Square, in 1989 as Human Rights violations, and subsequently executed sanctions against China, dropping it from the most favored list of nations.

– China for its part defended the incident as an internal security matter not to be trifled with by outside power. However, it silently went about the reformation process in a number of fronts under primer Deng Xiaoping. China has perceptibly changed since then, as demonstrated by the obvious opening of a) China’s economy, b) as newspapers and magazines, c) non-governmental organizations,  d) the courtroom; more recently holding of the World Beauty Pageant contest in China. Ironically, the opening of its doors to the modern world and ceding in part to the American demands, has opened up a hoard of opportunities in the economic front for China, making it stronger then ever before, putting America in a very piquant situation. The bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1999 by the US, was another provocation that justifiably evoked widespread protests and resentment in China and the Chinese world over. The US, has however brushed it aside as an accident. Can such indifferent attitude be expected to foster friendly relations, between two nations already wary and watchful of each other?

Cultural Aspects:

The New World of Opportunities Vs The Land of Ancient Civilization:  The United States of America is a comparatively young and recent outcome a very victorious colonial experience. America had vast and undiscovered soil, and hence, it was productive compared to the timeless and millennia old exploration of the Chinese land. Thus it attracted people from various European nations with the opportunities to make the maximum use of the potential riches in the form of original, natural wealth. It was then unabashedly exploited by an immigrant population, mostly literate, sometimes even at the cost of wiping out the Native American Red Indian population. With a history no more than three to five centuries old and no deep roots to bind their culture, exploitation of plentiful resources became the new mantra, the driving ideology of the American nation, with profit-making the singular motto, of its people. The free spirit and entrepreneurship of the individual led to the technological advances, their use of the technological breakthroughs was focused on commercial success rather than public good. A case in the point is the world’s richest man Bill Gates, who made, at least a part of his money, through the sale of  Microsoft Windows Operating Systems software, issuing a ‘License to Use’, for a fee. Compare this with the Chinese technological invention of ‘paper’, which is used by majority of the world population even today; it is not even patented.

Indeed, the successive barbaric rulers have invaded China. The Chinese civilization was impacted by, and also befittingly, adopted by these rulers.  They have constantly transformed the nation while getting transformed them-selves. Thereby, they bound themselves to the Chinese culture, for their own benefit and contributed to the development by optimization and redistribution of rare resources. This included knowledge skills and warfare techniques like the making of superior ‘double-bow’ and other weaponry, making of glass, porcelain, metal ores and metallurgy , making of paper, silk manufacture, poultry farming etc.

Although a gullible section of the world does view ‘modernity’ as an exclusive trait of the West, real modernity shall seek to free the world from entrapping clutches of racism, hegemonic superiority and condescending ‘holier than thou’ manner. It shall seek peace, rather than power, respect and free people to practice religious beliefs according to their perceptions rather than judge the religions barbaric, base on Christian beliefs; pursue a more equitable sharing model, rather than exploitation for the dominance of a few. Samuel Huntington in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, points at many significant issues under the contexts of culture. In the US, and the West in general, he argues that since technology is used exclusively for the purposes of exploitation, wealth accumulation, the same being selectively re-distributed; this lean ideological conflict acquire larger proportions and undergo metamorphosis into among people with different religions, values, ethnicities, and historical memories. Civilizations then become defined by these cultural factors. And nations will re-align themselves, along these lines of civilizations.

 Nothing can prove to have more evidence of this statement, than the developments in Chinese positioning in recent years. China is making new forays, consolidating previously held ties in two regions, where US has overlooked – Africa and the Latin America. Indeed, the unimpeded rise of the Asian Tiger – the Chinese power, is viewed by the American State as warnings to its own interests; the opportunity cost lost due to “War on terrorism” and its preoccupation with Afghanistan and Iraq. The Tao-Confucius philosophy, reshaped by the pluralistic good-will to one and all of Buddhist philosophy, permeates the Chinese way of thinking a very fundamental level. This explains why even many of the young Western-educated Chinese youth, are disillusioned with the individual-centered capitalist philosophy of America. The Chinese were the first to invent gun-powder. But it was never used in China, since culturally it was not considered valorous to use it in honorable wars. As Pepe Escobar has illustrated in the article ‘US and Eurasia Part II- Eurasia strikes back’, even the European nations feel “threatened by the American social model. European society is far from being as mobile as American society: it is deeply rooted (Escobar, p. 2)”. Escobar clarifies that Russia is a military power, Japan and the European Union – Industrial powers. America has no control or hold on these powers. Now China is rising in the horizon, strategically and steadily. Has proved itself to be ideologically and politically stable and consistent, non-aggressive and mutually well-wishing. Which is why America feels threatened by China. The episodes and encounters are just a tip of a fraction of the hot cauldron of suspicion and tensions that lie below surface. While there may be no direct war immediately between the two nations, the seething differences and ill-will shall take the toll on innocent, poor, dependent countries, caught in the political cross-fire. Solutions can be found if both the nations let of their suspicious, move-counter move politics, and work towards peace and stability of the world; measures of which have already been demonstrated by China so far but have hardly been forthcoming from the USA.

Conclusion: The flaws of a capitalist ideologue pursued in excess; recession, the preoccupation of the USA’s “War against Terror” in a prolonged engagement with Iraq, and Afghanistan, on one side, coupled by the strong and steady and healthy growth of China in the other, has lead to conflict of interests between the two. If the rising Chinese power can be recognized, respected and canalized, it may prove to be a boon indeed, to America and to the rest of the world.

List of Works Cited

Huntington, Samuel. “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” in

            Islam- The Middle East and the New Global Hegemony by Simon W. Murden.

Lynne Rienner Publishers. London, 2002.

IPS.  Inter Press service. Jim Lobe. “Neo-Con Agenda: Iran, China, Russia, Latin America…”

            “Common Dreams News Center”. Published on Sat. Nov 6th 2004.

            <http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1106-01.htm> Accessed on

            March 1st 2006.

Jiechi, Yang. “Dangerous Straits – Interviews”.  Frontline- PBS Online.

            <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/china/interviews/lampton.html>

            Accessed on March 1st 2006.

Pepe Escobar. “THE US AND EURASIA Part 2: Eurasia strikes back” in the Front Page,

Asia Times Online Dated: Dec 5th 2002. <http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/DL05Aa01.html> Accessed on

            March 1st 2006.

Thompson, Fred. “Dangerous Straits – Interviews”.  Frontline- PBS Online.

<http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/china/interviews/lampton.html>

            Accessed on March 1st 2006.

Readings

Grant, Ted & Woods, Alan. “China, America and the Pacific” in Defense of Marxism.

            Published on Apr 23rd , 2001, London.            <http://www.marxist.com/Theory/china_america_pacific.html>

            Accessed on March 1st 2006.

Koppel, Andrea. “Some changes evident in China 7 years after Tiananmen massacre”. In

            CNN Interactive World News Dated June 4, 1996.

            <http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9606/04/china.tiananmen/index.html>

            Accessed on March 1st 2006.

Liu, Henry C K. “THE ABDUCTION OF MODERNITY Part 1: The race toward barbarism”

            In China. Asia Times On line. Dated Jul 9th 2003.

            <http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/EG09Ad01.html>

            Accessed on March 1st 2006.

Yuan, Jing-dong. “America’s China problem” in Greater China.  Asia Times Online

            Dated Jun 7th 2005.  <http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/GF07Ad02.html>

            Accessed on March 1st 2006.

 

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