A blog on Chinese economy & society

Containment by any means

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Yes, I’ve been waiting for Chinese econ data as well, but most of my time is on the geopolitical side lately as Sino-US relations are so tense now that it’s not even funny anymore.

Asia Times wrote about a new face to US-China ties, central tenet being the US adopting a “if all you have is a hammer (military), everything looks like a nail” policy regarding China. And China so far has taken a combative stance as well, highlighting several scheduled military exercises of its own. Seldom mentioned in the press is that the one held in the Yellow Sea simulated a rescue operation in the event Chinese vassals being attacked, evoking memories of the sinking of Kow-shing in these waters in 1894 that started the First Sino-Japanese War.

The US, on the other hand, insists that it’s going to have an joint military exercise with South Korea despite Chinese protests in September in…you guess it…the Yellow Sea, 500km from Beijing.  So China responded by providing fresh supports to North Korea amid the latest sanctions.

While quarrels over the Korean Peninsula fester, a fresh one is being brewed in the South China Sea, with Hilary Clinton wading in the already muddy waters. However tenuous Chinese claim to these islands seems, it cannot be more ludicrous than the US claim of “national interest” there. Chinese response in this case is not even diplomatic anymore and increasingly hostile.

So China pushes back, not only with words, but with a large scale naval drills in these waters that involves all three of its fleets. The US then answers with a finger, a small batch of arms sales to Taiwan.

The US is obviously trying to build a tighter alliance encircling China, by forcing the collapse of a Japanese government that had the gall of distancing itself from its true master, fast-tracking unpopular FTA with South Korea, promoting Vietnam to “great nation” status, and cozying up to Indonesia.

Predictably some are applauding the US for standing up to China, while the cynic in me simply points out that any power in economic distress will try to divert attention outwards. But more importantly, I doubt this policy will work in the end since China is already the largest trading partner with most Asian countries.  As Sun Tzi explained in Chapter 1 of the Art of War, national power is ultimately derived from economic power. But meanwhile, watching two gorillas pumping their hair and “displaying” against each other is no fun if you happen to live close to them.


Written by Cindy Luk

July 31, 2010 at 3:42 am

Posted in China, Geopolitics

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