LIFE MATTERS: The Geopolitics of China

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By Col (Ret) Dencio Acop

The emergence of China as a global power is seen and felt everywhere now. When you go see a movie. Or just drive around. But only a few years back it wasn’t so. Not many of us are aware or even care (or maybe we should) but the rise of China is unsurprising. First, history would easily reveal it. Second, the uniqueness of the power of the communist party in China makes the country’s global dominance inevitable. And third, the preeminence of China was assured by the very nature of the capitalistic world we all live in. Everything was only a matter of time.

Anyone who reads history will know that China and the Chinese have been around long before other nations came to the fore. But the China we know today is so far different from the China of centuries back. Like many old civilizations long before the Western powers came, China had known its share of a local culture dominated by feudal lords only held together as a nation by geography and occasional threats of foreign invasion. The dynasties ruled China for centuries before even this ancient civilization had to conform itself to the Western patterns of self-rule and international trade. Things radically changed in the mid-19th century when the Qing dynasty issued a prohibition against opium trafficking by British merchants. The prohibition led to the two Opium Wars between China and the Western powers. The first war was between China and the United Kingdom from 1839 to 1842. The second war from 1856 to 1860 was fought by China against Britain and France for trading privileges. The loss from both wars made China suffer unfair treaties much like the post-World War I Versailles Treaty in Europe humiliated Germany later paving the way for Hitler’s rise and World War II. Domestic unrest eventually led to civil war in China and regime change in 1949. From October 1 that same year, Mao Tse Tung declared the creation of the People’s Republic of China. That signaled the growth of the Chinese Communist Party founded in 1921 in Shanghai. The CCP today has 98 million members making it the second-largest political party in the world after India’s Bharatiya Janata Party. But India’s democratic party is nothing compared to the CCP in terms of real power.

The Cold War between the US and then USSR took away any spotlight that could well have been deserved by China following World War II. Recall that China was not really the sleeping giant everyone would have us believe even then. Was it not in 1951 when General Douglas MacArthur told President Harry Truman that a war with China then would have been a more winnable war than a future one with a nuclear China? The famous general had defied his commander-in-chief by invading North Korea and threatening to bomb Chinese cities. MacArthur had cut-off the invading North Korean army’s lines of communication at the infamous Inchon Landing, annihilated them, and made them retreat. Since MacArthur pursued, the North Korean Army sought sanctuary into China across the Yalu River. Truman then fired MacArthur because he feared a war with Russia over China. Following an idealist doctrine, the Chinese leaders from Mao onwards adopted an isolationist foreign policy which dwindled the Chinese economy. Learning from this bitter lesson, succeeding communist party chairmen like Jiang Zemin and now Xi Jinping advocated a more pragmatic approach. Ultimately, this meant that the party would remain loyal to the communist ideals as envisioned by Mao but would henceforth adopt and use the West’s capitalistic institutions and structures around the world to advance China’s national interest. Xi argued that China’s strengths far outweighed her weaknesses if the party made a paradigm shift and adopted a Western mindset. Xi argued that the CCP was a monolithic party like no other which commanded the resources of an entire country beginning with its billions of people.

True enough, soon the US authored and engineered Globalization (thanks to Bill Clinton) to find off-shore markets for unsold excess American products stifling the domestic economy. This included weapons for war that have long sustained the military-industrial complex benefiting powerful individuals and organizations. With enough power to eliminate anyone standing in their way. It is even widely believed that the assassination of JFK in 1963 was somewhat connected to this export of war. Which was at the time of the Vietnam War. The costs of that war speak the evidence. Globalization relaxed tariff barriers for most export goods and services throughout the globe. Along with the downsizing of the US defense posture following the end of the Cold War, Globalization eventually presented the perfect opportunity for Xi Jinping’s China to dominate where the Western powers were retreating. In trade alone, China could produce the most cost-effective goods owing to her command of inexpensive labor. In services, few countries can compete with China in labor force magnitude. Globalization and technology have allowed the learning of the English language and Western education by Chinese citizens by the millions facilitated by the CCP. There is no single government or country today that can operate as one and the same entity except China. Whether it is manufacturing, distribution, corporation, brainstorming, brain-drain, or religion, China is like no other. With no moral boundaries or conscience as we know it in the Judeo-Christian world. False narrative or Sun Tzu is more like it. When we assess the situation in the South China Sea, therefore, or the probable presence of Chinese agents in overseas societies including our own, and who blinks, it must be through the eyes of the military-industrial complex and its adjuncts that we must view. For that is where everything comes right down to. Not UNCLOS or the Nine Dash Line. No, not really. For the myth of the west has been usurped and used by its enemy against itself. By guess who?

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