Appeasement is the proper policy towards Confucian China?
The correct statecraft for the West is to treat Beijing politely but firmly as a member of global club, gambling that the Confucian ethic will over time incline China to a quest for global as well as national concord. Until we face irrefutable evidence that this Confucian bet has failed, 'Boltonism’ must be crushed.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard,
A Response to the Proposition:
Appeasement is nothing more than failed diplomacy. It is an afterthought of diplomatic “accommodation” that failed. There is no such thing as “Boltonism” and “unreconstructed neo-cons,” either. There is, however, muscular diplomacy.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard suggests the West be firm with China, yet claims the time for appeasement has come upon the US in the Sino-US relationship. But how can the US reasonably earn concessions from China while China embraces the status quo and asks no concessions from the US, especially while the US has given China no incentives to change the status quo?
Evans-Pritchard’s reference to the economic imbalance of 1900 Europe is tempting, but a stretch of the imagination. The Long Peace that began at the end of the Napoleonic Wars under the Concert of Europe, which lasted for a hundred years, was maintained by British shifting of European alliances in a balance of power system.
A wise and mature China would realize this concept was at the heart of Nixon’s overtures for Chinese recognition forty years ago as China was balanced and triangulated against the Soviet threat. Secrets were given away and Nationalist China (Taiwan) was replaced on the UN permanent membership of the Security Council while the US pledged defensive support for Taiwan.
What the Nixon policy sought from China was hegemony against the Soviet to exact entente. But Nixon’s goal of entente, while successful, failed to contemplate the actual death of the Soviet twenty years later.
China is no longer a useful tool against a common enemy. It has emerged as an immature economic oddity. The missing rule of law and lack of human rights aside, China has serious structural problems. Of her 1.3 billion souls, only ten percent live in urban areas that might be considered potential members of an emerging middle class enabled by CCP membership and attendant corruption.
Her “capitalist” identity is a misnomer. She has built only an export platform that feeds excess profits by funding the West’s excess consumption. She lacks the confidence to put her currency against the market while she pegs the Yuan below the dollar, essentially outsourcing monetary policy to the US Federal Reserve Bank.
As a percentage of GDP, domestic consumption is less than twenty percent while US domestic consumption is close to seventy percent of GDP. Further, China’s vast populations of about one billion people are simple folk who reside in the mountains and small hamlets with no electricity and still fire their woks with scarce firewood. It will be a long time, if ever, before they are counted as “consumers.”
For the US to base its economic policy on the belief that China will ever find parity with US consumption is only wishful thinking.
The most salient economic fact, though, is that interest on $800 billion in US Treasury bonds held by the Chinese is financing the “young colonels” who want to flex Chinese military muscle as a world power.
Of course they do. But they are not ready yet and won’t be for some time in spite of missiles and fighter airplanes designed and built with technology stolen from the US. The only intellectual property China claims to own--from video games and computers to aerospace technology--was stolen from the US.
Evans-Pritchard’s contention that the so-called moderate leaders of China’s wretched history are hardly dictators because Hu’s father was a victim of the Cultural Revolution and Wen narrowly escaped retribution (i.e., torture and imprisonment followed by death) after Tianamen Square is to ignore the policy currently being pursued by Evans- Pritchard’s so-called “leaders.”
What is that policy? Whatever it is, it is overly cocky and arrogant.
If it is a policy of prestige fueled by economic excess it makes no sense for the Obama Administration to feed those interests with the groveling prostrations of a state dinner at the White House after earlier prostrations and bows a year earlier on Chinese soil.
If it is an emerging policy of power fueled by an anxious cadre’ of “young colonels,” it makes no sense to accommodate whatsoever their want to dominate Taiwan in particular and the Pacific—and beyond—in general.
If it is a dysfunctional policy of both, as it most probably is, or will become soon, it would be far more sensible for the US to embrace the largest democracy on earth, India, and to remind China that her usefulness in not all that important anymore.
It is past time she was triangulated with India for Asian dominance under the same strategy initiated by the US, forty years ago, that brought forth the corrupted adolescent Sino nation with which we are now forced to contend.
We should dare her to dump our bonds on the market and get fifty cents on the dollar. She won’t. What could China do with all the cash, anyway?
We should dare her “young colonels” to attack our navy in the China Sea. They won’t.
We need to convince China that the last five hundred years were not merely an Occidental interlude of dominance that interrupted her goose step march from various dynasties toward communism, that the US is exceptional and unwilling to be eclipsed by corruption and mindless commerce with governments of the enslaved, that freedom is sought by all men, that liberty is contagious, that she can’t stop it, even within her borders, no matter how many assaults she makes against the internet.
We should remind Ambrose Evans-Pritchard that Confucius is nothing compared to the principles of Jefferson and Lincoln, that politics among nations are guided by right and Providence, and that appeasement is the best pejorative term known for the failure of “accommodation.”
All free peoples should remember Winston Churchill’s dictat of failed British “accommodation” for the Hun—what is called “appeasement” today:
“Britain had the choice between shame and war. She chose shame. She got war.”
Alas, the leader of free peoples, the United States, needs to find its backbone.
January 23, 2011