Friday, February 29, 2008

Update: Frozen meat dumpling incident in Japan may be a test of the maturity of Sino-Japan relations

By China Watcher

Two weeks ago, the Japanese police investigators handling the dumpling poisoning case announced that the contamination most likely happened in China and not in Japan as the insecticide, methamidophos, detected on the packaging and in the vomit of the 10 persons sickened in December and January, is a banned chemical in the country. In another press conference, the Health Ministry of Japan has however mentioned that there were traces of tampering of the packages containing the frozen food and is of the opinion that it could have been sabotaged.

Yesterday, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) told a press conference that there is little chance that the tainted frozen food, produced by Tianyang Food Plant in northern Hebei Province, was contaminated in China. To support its statement, they claimed that they had conducted extensive tests and inspections on the production, storage and transport of the dumplings and found nothing unusual at the factory. Fifty-five people involved in the production were questioned extensively and no suspicious activities were uncovered. Furthermore, the investigations on the samples also revealed that the poisonous food could have been man-made and did not come from any tainted raw materials or ingredients as what was earlier thought to be.

Beijing claimed that though methamidophos is being used in the country but since 2004, they had banned the use on fruit and vegetable crops. China is a huge developing country and it has now come to terms on the importance of food standards and quality which the Chinese residents have also demanded. China has very strict laws on food production and arising from last year international outcry of its toys and foods, they have implemented a control mechanism to monitor the export of goods to overseas market. Given time, the quality issues on Chinese foods and products will be a thing of the past.

From the two announcements, it was clear that there were pesticides in the selected frozen dumplings but there were two differing opinions of where the contamination actually takes place. Both the police in the two respective countries have evidences backing their conclusive stance but whose data – either quantitative or qualitative are more scientific, objective and reliable.

It is not easy to support the conclusions that the poisoning could have been deliberate but with the less trustful and suspicious feelings of the people from the two countries, it is often very easy to deduce an outcome from that perspective. Almost 80% of the residents from both China and Japan do not view each other as “friends” but more as “adversaries” or “competitors”, a result of the historical feuds which has remained even after more than 60 years. The rise of China and the influence of the right-wing camps in the ruling administration have contributed to the sometimes “war-like” atmosphere between the two economic giants in Asia.

We hope the two countries could bring the dumpling case to a close and will not allow such incident to damage the fragile relationship which has just become slightly “hot” with the resignation of the previous Prime Minister of Japan in 2005.

Moving forward and to avoid a recurrence of similar incidents involving Chinese foods and goods, it is important for Japan to set up a branch of its Food Inspection Unit in China, mirroring the US Food and Administration Authority, to randomly check the goods before it leave the port for Japan. In the event of another case of this nature, it would be much easier to pinpoint the place and cause of the problem.

The present governments of both countries have tried very hard to deepen and strengthen the relations further by building bridges between its people but they must also be wary of certain people – internal as well as external – who do not want to see the two neighboring countries getting closer together.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Olympic Games will integrate China into the world global role and improve human rights

By China Watcher

According to a senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) director, Francois Carrard, the Beijing Olympics will bring human rights progress to China. He mentioned that if the Games were awarded to the Canadian city of Toronto in 2001, then there would not be any chance, even how little, for human rights to evolve from the host city, Beijing.

Human rights is an important factor for most Western nations and its influence in the IOC have thwarted China’s bid in 1993 but China support from the mainly Third World countries have assisted the country to successfully bid for the 2008 Olympics to the chagrin and disappointment of the Human rights activists.

The observation of China’s human rights record began when the Games were awarded to China in 2001. Human rights practices were not only monitored in China by the West and its media but also, on the way China conduct its dealings with the other so-called autocratic governments and poor human rights countries in particular Sudan and Myammar. According to human rights bodies, China’s human record is poor and unacceptable but then there are many countries, even democratic governments, who have less than the acceptable standards but no criticisms were leveled at them.

The Olympic Games in China has not even commenced but the West and its media had already passed its judgment on China’s human rights progress. If we look at the perspective of history, there is ample opportunity for progress, even way after the Games.

Carrard is not agreeable with the resignation of Mr. Spielberg as artistic director and he believe that pressurized strategies will not be effective and political issues should be discussed in the many political forums. Politics and sports should not be allowed to mix.

The US, Germany and UK had developed good relations with China and is using the diplomatic channels to engage China in human rights dialogue which I believe is much more effective to chart a gradual progress of human rights in the country. The degree of progress in human rights in China may vary and subject to different cultural interpretations. The progress is expected to be gradual.

On Tuesday 26 February 2008, the Bush Administration said that the Olympics Games will help to open China further, a once reclusive nation, and add the country’s extended responsibilities to play a greater role in world’s affairs. We can observe this development from China’s involvement in the North Korea 6-nations talks and the active role it played in the US initiated discussion concerning Iran’s nuclear program.

Yesterday, at a news conference in Beijing, the US announced that it has convinced China to resume the annual human rights dialogue, to be held at a later date.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Racial discrimination at Paris's famous departmental store

By China Watcher

The allegations by the staff at the famous Galeries Lafayette in Paris that the Chinese couple had utilized fake note for purchases of goods and the subsequent unwarranted brutal treatment on the couple is clearly a sign of growing ethnic discrimination of Chinese tourists in Europe.

The store management had requested the police to intervene which resulted in the two newlyweds being dragged to the police station earlier this month. The French police claimed that the couple was taken to the station to verify the banknote, with an infrared scan due to the poor condition of the paper. No untoward incident happened at the station. What is not acceptable is that even after the note is determined to be real, the cashier continued to refuse it and insisted that it is a counterfeit. Do they not have any procedures to refer it to the higher authority? Or perhaps, the many immediate supervisors at the store also harbored such suspicions that a Chinese cannot afford to buy an expensive item from an upper class shopping establishment.

The Head of the Store had apologized for the incident but the damage and the repercussions have far reaching consequences. This incident confirmed the growing discriminations against Chinese nationals ranging from the transportation ride on the TGV to the purchases of first class tickets for an opera performance. China’s growing middle class, an attribute of the burgeoning Chinese economy, are traveling as tourists in bigger numbers this spring to Europe and US are now flaunting their new found wealth in the developed countries.

The Western media incessant reports over the past centuries of the Chinese as a race with poor social manners, selfish, practices money greed lifestyle and an uncultured society which do not respect universal human values only adds further to the inherent negative stereotyping by the mainly Caucasian white communities. Even present day acceptance of the blacks or colored persons into European societies is not complete and that there are still widespread discrimination against blacks. Black professional footballers were taunted with racist remarks when they played in Italy and Spain.

China had on Saturday 23 February 2008 warned its citizens against shopping at the leading Paris departmental store. Hong Kong Travel agencies may also follow similar action with their Chinese counterparts by taking out the departmental store from its itinerary.

I am a strong proponent that all races should co-exist together but let us honestly review this matter as it is and if the couple is white Caucasians the treatment would be very different. What do you think?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Double standards and full of hypocrisy in the Dream for Darfur anti-China Campaign

By China Watcher

The people who are involved in the crusade against the Chinese staging of the Beijing Olympic Games is essentially a New York based group known as Dream for Darfur. It is led by a person by the name of Jill Savitt, a former Human Rights activist and her international team. The group is supported by the American Jewish World Service and the Massachusetts Coalition to save Dafur, just to name a few.

They are using the Beijing Olympics Games as leverage to force China, who is perceived to have special influence with Sudan to end the Dafur crisis. According to this group, there are more than 200,000 deaths and 2.5 million displaced since 2003 in Dafur and they believed very strongly that China is the only country who is able to use its influence to allow an international force of peacekeepers into the poverty stricken region.

The latest publicized salvo it has created was the resignation of one of Hollywood's finest directors, Mr. Steven Spielberg from the Olympics due to the application of intense psychological "guilt" tactics by this group. The next step of this group is to increase the pressure on China by calling all Western based Olympics sponsors to pull out of its support for the August Games they termed as “Genocide Olympics”.

Human Rights Watch and other rights activists conveniently jumped onto the boycott bandwagon with this given opportunity to criticize China for its claimed despicable human rights by western standards and the suppression of Tibetan dissidents with a call for a Free Tibet. So the anti-China protest has actually widened to cover other areas in which the Chinese had international territorial recognition like Tibet and Taiwan. This is nothing new and it is not difficult to see such a ploy by the West and its media to achieve their underlying objectives.

The Chinese appointed envoy to Dafur, Mr. Liu Guijin mentioned in an interview that he was taken by surprise by the resignation of Mr. Spielberg of his involvement in the Olympics whom he has met last year. During the meeting, he mentioned that Mr. Spielberg has been given an offer as an artistic director on the advisory panel for the opening ceremony, the deadline to accept the offer was May 10 last year which has since lapsed. On that knowledge alone, he was wondering how Mr. Spielberg could resign when the offer was not accepted in the first place. He however told the media that the Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee was very keen to have Mr. Spielberg on the advisory board and could have extended the deadline due to his commanding international presence to raise the image and success of the Olympics.

On Sunday 24 February 2008, Mr.Liu’s told the media in Khartoum that China is committed to solving the Darfur issue by helping Sudan achieve stability and development and not seeking expediency from the issue. The Chinese envoy also appealed for further international support for the United Nations and the African Union (AU) -- the other two important players of a tripartite mechanism that also includes Sudan - in solving the Darfur issue

According to him, the U.N. Security Council in July 2007 authorized the deployment a U.N.- African Union hybrid force in Darfur, which would comprise 20,000 troops and more than 6,000 police and civilian staff in due course. Until now, there are only about 9,000 uniformed personnel on the ground, including 7,000 troops and 1,200 police who had been serving with the AU force. He told BBC recently that Beijing arms sale accounted for only 8% of Sudan total arms import and that countries like US, Russia and UK were the biggest arms exporters when compared to China on the Western media allegations that Chinese weapons were used in the killings.

In bidding for the Games in 2001, China promised IOC members that the Olympics would lead to an improved climate for human rights, but most independent monitoring groups say Beijing has failed to live up to that pledge. What standards of criteria are these groups using to judge China?

By comparison, China has actually raised the standard of living of its people and provides job opportunities for its residents and the Olympics is perhaps a good way for China to integrate into a global society where the West also hope to rope in the potential superpower to shoulder more responsibility for global efforts leading to peace. At this moment, the international political and economic scenes are still very much dictated by Western nations.

And I believe that when China won the bid in 2001, most of the countries which voted for China were not from the West but mostly from the developing world. The Western grouping of nations with its so called democracy standards was the main reason why China’s bid for year 2000's Olympics in 1993 was lost to Sydney, Australia. The West has to learn to accept that the growing force in the world will one day belong to Asia and the emerging economies of Brazil, Russian, India and China and no longer United Kingdom, France, Germany or even Japan. In 30 years, the US and European Union may be the two standing spheres of influence from the West.

I am also questioning the double standards in these Western activists method of tackling the issue of worldwide large scale human sufferings when the same group of human rights never shed a tear about millions of Rwandans and Congolese killed in the many conflicts since 1990. From historical records, it was stated that an estimated 10 million lives were lost at a rate of 45,000 per month in Eastern Congo during the peak of the problem. And the main Western official media remain silent to this day. Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders were accomplices to the modern day genocide by not lifting a finger when the situations demanded while the New York-based Human Rights Watch has been actively conducting the campaign of lies that hides the true extent of the real genocide in Central Africa.

I agree wholeheartedly with the Chinese government that to link the Darfur issue to the Olympics is clearly a move to politicize the Olympics which is inconsistent with the Olympic spirit of competitiveness and winning friends throughout the world.

From a press report we gathered that Adidas is committed to spending US$200 million for sponsorship rights and claimed that they do not have much political leverage to press China on the Dafur crisis. Visa, Coca Cola, Anheuser-Busch, Microsoft, Volkswagen and others ignored these political activists’ demands and have told the Organizing Committee that they will continue to sponsor the Olympics this summer. The grading techniques used by the Dafur activists on the corporate sponsors are beyond comprehension and child-like and we believe, once again, that it will have no bearing on the sponsorship program. Anyway, there are many non Western corporations who are waiting earnestly to take up the sponsorship should the Western corporations withdrawal take place. Overseas Chinese guilds and associations have donated large sums of money for the staging of this prestigious sports event and have expressed support of the Games.

Analysts warn that there are limits to the pressured strategies taken by the political activists on China. With or without Olympics, there is a lot of economic stakes in Sudan for the Chinese and they have already cooperated in whatever ways they could with the international parties, short of the ultimate agenda of these activists which is a complete withdrawal of support for the Sudanese government, which I think China would unlikely and should not do so.

If there is really a boycott of the Beijing Olympics by the West which brings us to the important question of who will stand to lose more – China, the trained athletics or the sports fan.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A timely boost for Research and Development activities in China

By China Watcher

Recently, it was reported in the Washington Post that the elite “brains” of former Chinese students who hold high paid jobs in US are resigning in batches lured by the Chinese government incentives to offer high positions and unlimited funding for research and development activities.

The Chinese government efforts to reverse the brain drain over the past 30 years by providing attractive grants, tax breaks and a lesser regulated experimental environment are believed to be the main success factors for the sizeable return of scientist and business managers from the US and the West.

In the same report it stated that more than 275,000 educated professionals have over the past few years returned to chart their fortunes in an economy which is growing in size to match up to its actual potential. The Chinese economy is expected to surpass the German’s economy at US$3.2 trillion by the end of 2008, to become the third largest economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product.

China has announced that it will double its research-and-development spending by 2010, to about $69 billion whereas the US has reduced and tightened its scientific budget.

Presently, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the government affiliated R&D Center, is staffed with 81% returnees. This is certainly good news to the one-party government in China and is a timely boost to ensure that the manufacturing sector, a vibrant part of its economy, will get the cutting edge technology to produce more innovative and creative products with its own trademarks and patents. These higher end products which command a better return will help China move up the technology ladder faster and reduce the scores of complaints initiated by the West on China’s unfair trade practices.

The biotechnology section under the Science Ministry of which the Chinese government has paid a lot of attention will also gain from the Chinese returnees. On the military front, the high technology developed from R&D activities especially on military craft and weapons, will speed up China’s military modernization by upgrading the precision of its missiles, the avionics on its fighter planes and most important, to build a blue navy in line with its status as a potential superpower.

Hopefully, one day we’ll get to see the US and the West attempting to source its latest technology – be it legal or illegal - from China instead of the other way as we all know.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Negative news fanned by Western media failed to stop China’s FDI growth

By China Watcher

According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, foreign direct investment in China was reported at US$11.2 billion for January 2008, up 110 percent as compared with the same corresponding period a year earlier. For the whole of 2007, investment increased by 13.6% to US$74.8 billion.

The Chinese economy expanded by 11.4% in 2007, which was the highest growth rate in 13 years and this led to concerns over inflationary pressures. According to an economist from JP Morgan Chase & Co in Hong Kong, the People Bank of China may need to sell more bills to absorb more liquidity, restrict loan growth and raise lenders’ reserve requirements further.

Bloomberg news network announced that China's trade surplus jumped 23 percent in January from a year earlier to US$19.5 billion. Money supply rose 18.9 percent, the biggest gain in 20 months. Low labor costs and a potential market of 1.3 billion people attract foreign companies to China. The government is trying to prevent the inflows of money from investment and trade surpluses from stoking inflation which is already at a high rate that may affect stability in the country.

Inflation based on the CPI more than tripled to 4.8 percent from 1.5 percent in 2006. December's rate was 6.5 percent and according to China’s National Bureau of Statistic on Monday, 19 February 2008, the January level hit a new high of 7.1 percent.

The People's Bank of China raised interest rates six times in 2007 and has ordered lenders to set aside more deposits as reserves on 11 occasions since the start of last year, pushing the ratio to 15 percent, the highest ever.

To be in line with China strategic move to a higher technology level and also to minimize pollution, the Chinese government has started to limit foreign direct investment in ``important mineral resources'' and in industries that are deemed heavy polluters and consumers of resources and energy.

As part of economic development plan to balance up the society, the government has also encouraged investment away from the eastern coastal cities and into less-developed regions in the west and the center. The country's five-year plan, running through 2010, also aims for a shift from assembly work to designing and producing high-technology brands.

A 25 percent tax rate for foreign companies is being phased in from this year. Previously they paid 15 percent, while the rate for local businesses was 33 percent. Now, both will pay the same rate.

The hordes of negative news over food safety and toy quality do little to dampen investors’ appetites from investing or conducting joint ventures in the world's fourth-biggest economy, which is expected to surpass the German’s economy by the end of this year.

Monday, February 18, 2008

China has nothing to do with less press freedom in Africa

By China Watcher

Reporters Without Borders, another political non-government group, claimed that China is to be blamed for the African countries increased abuse of human rights against journalist. The group added that China growing influence in Africa at the expense of European powers has emboldened the many governments to tighten the reins on dissident reporters and journalist. Jailing of reporters is a routine in most African countries these days. They concluded that China is toxic for Africa Freedom.

Firstly, why did the West suddenly shown an increased awareness of the type of government practices and the living standards of the Africans when they have ruled them for the past 2 centuries without any genuine concern for their livelihood and its living standards? This happened only after China openly increased its political and economic linkages with African countries in the last 5 years.

Secondly, most of the African countries are independent sovereign nations and China does not have the kind of extensive influence to tell them to practice or adopt more stringent control of its press and media. After all, most of these countries followed a form of democracy – where different level of press reporting is allowed. Most of these African countries have its own laws pertaining to political reporting and it is their right to implement such laws. Previously due to its dependence on its past colonial masters, it is unable to fully implement their information and press reporting laws as “special treatment” has to be given to foreign reporters.

Thirdly, it has been the consistent foreign policy of China not to interfere in the administration of a sovereign independent state.

Fourthly, no governments particularly those from the Third World (where the level of development is still in the infant stage) would allow you to carry journalistic work to condemn the present government in power. Some of these anti-establishment articles are not even constructive – it was merely published to serve the hidden agenda of certain parties. In this World, there are only a handful of countries which practiced the independence of the press. Not even in the democratic society of the US.

China burgeoning international trade with the African countries has given them a new revenue source and another lifeline to be less dependent on the West so that they could have a genuine say in the running of its own government and to decide for the well being of its own people. Since when does providing these nations a passage to make its own decision free from undue duress becomes a toxic to the press freedom of these countries?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The US busting of satellite is ok, but not the Chinese

By China Watcher

Last week, the US informed the media that it would use a missile to destroy a defunct satellite to stop it from crashing to earth, the actual location has yet to be known or to be ably predicted. The Pentagon justified its action by saying that the satellite contained hazardous fuel which is a threat to humans. The US claimed that the blowing of the satellite up would disperse the hydrazine in space, leaving only small-scale satellite debris to fall harmlessly to Earth. The US Navy will use a ground based ballistic missile launched from its ship in the Pacific.

In early 2007, the Chinese used a ballistic missile to destroy an old and obsolete satellite in space, prompting a loud outcry from the US and its allies over the scattered debris in space which may pose a danger to space vehicles and other peripherals. It also raised the speculative concern of an arms space race.

Yesterday, Russia accused the US of using this act as a “cover” to test its anti-satellite weapons on a broken spy satellite after the reasons given was sketchy and insufficient. Such testing essentially means a re-start of the testing in space age weapons. The US is the only nation in the US who objected vehemently to the suggestions on the limitation of space age weapons and this raises a lot of questions of its intentions.

The Russia Defense Ministry said that past spacecrafts and space vehicles with more dangerous chemicals and gases did not merit adopting such “extraordinary” reactions and hence, this act is viewed very suspiciously as a “test”.

When the US shoots down anything in space it is alright and international criticisms is almost non existent but if China takes any similar action, you can bet it will draw lot of condemnations especially from the US government and the Western media. It is obvious that there are double standards practiced here – US actions are ok but not others.

Sample of Opinions From Bloggers on the Beijing Olympic Games

By China Watcher

Provided below is a sample of opinions from the various communities living in China and overseas:

(1) I live in China. I support Spielberg's decision, but not his protest. I understand some western people cannot tolerate a peaceful and friendly Olympic games in Beijing. But using the Darfur problem to boycott it is not right. The tragedy in Sudan did not come from the oil trade, but from the conflict between black Darfurians and Arabs. I hope they can understand the complexity first before simply picking on China for the responsibility. Please do boycott the Olympics - I don’t want the west bringing political hostility with it here.

(2) Let's see if he'll boycott the London Olympics for the UK's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. What do westerners really know about China besides western propaganda on human right issues, Tibet, freedom of speech, etc? On the Darfur issue, I think there's a difference in thinking between China and the west. China does not believe in the high moral stuffs that the west likes to talk about. China sees all that as just a way to hide the west's true ambitions for Africa's resources.

(3) Mr. Spielberg's behavior is inappropriate. Complex China has many groups of people. Those who prepare the Olympics are different from those who decide Darfur policy. This behavior is rude. It can only be interpreted as hostility against China - as a whole. The feelings of the Chinese people are hurt.

(4) I do not support Spielberg's protest. It is very politically incorrect! I cannot believe some people are being negative towards the Olympic Games being held in Beijing. Many people are extremely prejudiced towards China and the Chinese people. China just wants to give the world a great Olympic Games. Take it, or leave it. Please stop being narrow minded, mean and malicious towards China!

(5) No doubt the Chinese government has loads problems, but what about the Chinese people? It is because of the hard working Chinese,China's GDP annual growth rate remains 10% for 20 years, 2 billion of Chinese rural population were lifted from poverty. What they have achieved in the past 30 years had taken developed countries 100 years to complete.There were no other country on earth has ever had such economic success on such enormous scale,so why shouldn't the Chinese people been awarded Olympics?

(6) Spielberg is the only winner of this GAME. Why focusing on Darfur while many other places around the world surfer the same? Why attacking China while his own country entered other people's land without invitation? Where was he when the US were hosting 1984 1996 Olympics? Boycotting Beijing is a big statement, but a statement doesn't equal to a resolution. Humanity crisis is a far too complex world issue that a little star could handle. Many people hate China but, never mind, many hate USA too!

(7) To be honest, if I had never been to China and only knew about China through the Western media like BBC or CNN, I would be horrified about this country. Although the camera never lies, footage of China in the 80's used in a documentary filmed in 2007 could be very misleading. Buy a ticket to Beijing to see the olympics, talk to local peole there, and your impression of China will be changed.

(8) I am surprised at the stance of the UK regarding the Dafur issue. I am quite perplexed because the UK has been putting pressure on Zimbabwe and it has failed terribly. This should be taken into context. a beggar has no choice.The Chinese have no choice and cannot attach strings to their dealings with the sudanese govt. What about Russia, there are issues surrounding the abuse of human rights and the UK could not even extradite the person behind the killer of Lityenko. China is the same.

(9) What I find interesting about this debate is why do people pay so much attention to Spielberg's political opinions?Why do people think that a director is the moral guiding hand on the Dafur situation?
This is like asking a comedian for medical advice, you don't do it because he/she isn't a medical expert.Likewise wouldn't it be better to trust the experts on the Dafur issue(ie UN).
Spielberg is using his fame and fortune to corrupt the minds of the public,DON'T FOLLOW HIM,DECIDE FOR YOURSELFS

(10) Why does everyone on this board seem to forget the simple fact that Olympics is a sports event? It should not be linked to politics. Why not just use the opportunity to appreciate another country's culture and cheer on for our atheletes? Leave China's politics alone, every country has its issues.

(11) I would simply ignore Mr Spielberg’s action. He was hired as an advisor of the Beijing Olympic Games, but he saw himself as the Governor of China. Being living in the UK for many years, I have an in-depth understanding of what kind of human rights and democracy western countries want to promote to China. China may not be powerful enough yet. However Chinese people are becoming more and more open mind while the western people’s opinions towards China are still staying in 40 years ago.

(12) United States is a racially segregated country and the people from the USA who complain about China all the time are people who do not make the complaint out of sympathy for the people in Dafur but out of hatred, jealousy and bigotry that they feel toward the Chinese. We all know that Guantanamo Bay exemplifies the values that Americans place on Human Rights.

(13) Many have raised issue on Tibet. Why not find a Tibetan around yourself, and ask if Tibet has been part of China since the 12th century, when UK was doing slave trade, and the US, hmm, was not in history yet after another 500 yrs. There might be other problems in Tibet today; but Tibet has never been a "country" in the last 800 years. Not a single country, including UK (invaded Tibet in 1900s) and India, has admitted its independency. How could you blame today's China (since 1949) for this?

(14) I've been living in China for 26 years, and what you said was obsoletely nonsense! I admit China has problem with free speech and human rights, but that doesn't make it hell. Most Chinese are satisfied with their life because it's getting better. And we are working on our democracy. I beg you go to China and have a look, don't just blabla based on what u hear

(15) USA should stop supplying arms to dictators or training their military in countries such as Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Argentina where slaughters often occurred. Why can't the Olympics be left out of politics, it is an occasion when we are supposed to celebrate the sporting youth and not remark the failures of our politicians.

(16) Keep politics out of sport. Boycott the Beijing Olympics and then others will boycott London 2012 in retaliation. Don't get involved in the sort of childish nonsense we had in 1980 and 1984. (Moscow and Los Angeles).

(17) First of all, why on earth did Spielberg accept the offer to become an adviser then turn his back against the PRC? Hadn't he already heard about the buzz since a year ago or he just realized that within a month? Second, please fellow westerners don’t be such hypocrites, western countries also caused stir around the world. Don’t keep pointing China as if they are the main source of the issue in human right's degradation. What about Iraq, Afgh., Guanta., Israeli's toward Palestinian? Few actions taken.

(18) The Chinese can be critical of a long list of Westerners' misdeeds such as: Forcibly taking land from Native peoples in America, Australia and Africa and keeping them drunk and stuck on reservations. The invasion of the Middle East to secure the West's share of oil. America's influence in the rise of dictatorships and political unrest in various South American nations. The list goes on for miles. However, Chinese people do not criticize Westerners in such childish and naive ways. Have respect.

Western motivated boycott of the Beijing Olympics is considered a big snub for all Chinese throughout the world.

By China Watcher

If you are able to read some of the forum and “blogs” comments – both in Chinese and English - on the many topics linking the Beijing Olympic Games to the Darfur issue, you would have noticed that there were scores of people of Chinese descent including overseas Chinese who feel offended by the constant barrage of unfair criticisms leveled on China. Some of those Western civil and rights groups who hold extreme views even called for a boycott of the Games for the lack of Chinese pressure on the Sudanese government to end the humanitarian crisis in Dafur.

The Beijing Organizing Committee (BOC) commented that linking the Darfur issue to the Olympic Games will not help to resolve the sufferings of the Sudanese people and is also not in line with the Olympic spirit to separate sports from politics. BOC also confidently announced that the preparations for the opening and closing events were progressing smoothly and it would be a success despite the pullout of Mr. Spielberg from the Committee in charge of such ceremonies.

Finding a replacement should not pose much of a problem as there are lots of capable talents in the like of Chinese directors Zhang Yimou. In the first place, why should the BOC hire foreign artistes who tend to have many hypocritical consciences and worse still, they can easily be manipulated at the last minute by the various rights groups to serve its controversial agenda.

The Chinese foreign spokesperson told the media that China has made significant steps to alleviate the sufferings of the people in Darfur by appointing a special envoy in May 2007 who visited the poverty stricken region 3 times and has also sent 140 engineers to help prepare for the hybrid UN-African peacekeeping force. Another 175 engineers will be deployed in the next 6 months. The agreement by the Sudanese government to accept the hybrid peacekeeping force was believed to be through the negotiation skills of the Chinese government, an effort which earned kudos from the US. This pragmatic move to use soft power on the Sudanese government has worked to a certain extent whose previous stand was an outright rejection of UN forces on its soil. China’s efforts were also commendable as it is a slight departure from its non intervention of the affairs of an independent sovereign country at the bilateral level, which remained as one of the core principles of its foreign policies since it appointed itself as a voice of the developing world.

According to Xinhua news agency, the Chinese government has provided material assistance worth USD11 million to Darfur and USD1.8 million aid to African Union, and 500,000 U.S. dollars donation to the U.N. fund for solving Darfur issue. Chinese enterprises in Sudan also provided many assistance and constructed many projects there. In recent years, Chinese companies had helped dig 46 wells, build 20 small-scale power plants in Darfur and water supply projects in southern and northern Darfur states, as well as provide teaching equipments.

Political activists and sympathetic artistes claimed that such initiatives were inadequate and there are still persistent human killings in the region as reported by the Western media. If I am not mistaken these groups would only be pleased if China completely pull out its support – both politically and militarily - of the present Sudanese government. But if that really happened, do you think it will help? Even international economic sanctions do not work on many “rouge” nations like Myammar, Zimbabwe, North Korea and Iran. In actual fact the opposite sometimes occurred – the people of such countries suffered even more.

Other human rights groups instantly jumped onto the anti-China bandwagon and started to call for a boycott of the summer Olympics for its claimed despicable human rights, restrictions of free speech and also, to champion its Free Tibet cause. So if you analyzed the whole context behind this crusade it actually goes beyond the theme of boycotting the Olympic Games because of Darfur.

Certain Western media highlighted the secrecy of Chinese commercial deals with the African nations during the Chinese President trip to Africa two years ago and I sensed that there is a tinge of jealousy in the whole matter. When the West concludes business contracts bilaterally with its buyer, do you get to see the details of such contacts or are there being published publicly?

Last Thursday, the Sports Minister of Slovania, Milan Zver, who holds the European Union’s Presidency said athletes should resist raising human rights and other sensitive political issues during the Beijing Olympics. The official added that though he understood the importance of human rights but the Beijing Olympics should be spared the controversy as it is not a good place for such issues to be raised. He believes that multinational companies with trade and investments in China should do more to speak out on the many human right issues rather than athletes.

International Olympic Committee’s President, Jacques Rogge, told broadcaster France 24, that the IOC will not play a political role and should not be called upon to do so and said that he did not fear a boycott of the summer Games. He further warned that athletics who used the event as a political stage would be punished.

US President George W. Bush was praised by the Chinese authorities for going ahead with his plan to attend the 2008 Beijing Olympics as he viewed the Games as a sporting event.

Chinese residents feel very proud that China, a country which was deemed a backward agricultural-based country 30 years ago, is now a dynamic and rising industrial nation who has the potential to successfully host a major and prestigious international event like the Olympics. The West has to understand and learn to accept that the Middle Kingdom was at one time a great nation 500 years ago and it is time for it to take its rightful place in the world after the humiliation it had suffered under developed powers in the last 200 years. Overseas Chinese in the majority supported the event and envisioned it as a dream for all Chinese by donating funds to the staging of this largest sporting meet. The Malaysian government has officially stated that The Beijing Olympic Games is not only the pride of the Chinese, but also the pride of East Asia.

After listening to the various public comments and the review of the opinions from the Chinese communities, the boycott of the Olympics motivated by the political activists is really a big snub on the Chinese people throughout the world and it has really hurt their pride and dent their respect for the West and this could even signify the beginning of the many clashes between the East and West over different values.

It is thus important to look squarely at the Olympics as a sporting event and the Charter must be reinforced to ensure that it is
not easily hijack for a political agenda. As tennis women world’s number one, Justine Henin, puts it appropriately that athletes must focus on its job of competing in sport and bring joy to the people watching the Games and nothing else.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Putin says Russian-Chinese ties pole for world stability

By Xinhua News Agency

Posted by China Watcher

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russian-Chinese cooperation is an important pole in maintaining world stability.

"China is one of our strategic partners and links between China and Russia are important for the world stability," Putin said at his annual and maybe last press conference before he steps down after the March 2 presidential election.

Putin also hailed the strategic partnership of coordination and mutual trust between the two countries, saying increasing trade and economic cooperation boosted bilateral ties.

"The cooperation between China and Russia will reach new horizon in the future and will expand in fields such as trade and economy, science and technology, aviation and space research, and environmental protection," he said.

The marathon conference is attended by nearly 1,400 domestic and foreign journalists and expected to last for three hours.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

China's soft power filling moral void

Posted by China Watcher

I totally agreed with his comments on the two-faced US foreign policies when it comes to supporting dictatorship and monarchy-led governments as against the country’s underlying beliefs on democratic principles and human rights values. Two obvious examples of these countries getting US’s moral and military support are Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

As for China’s non interference stand, it is a universal culture in Asia (without the religious fervor) to respect your neighbors and the use of soft suasion skills to achieve the balance between not antagonizing the ruling governments and securing a safe and profitable commercial interest in that country.

Even the world’s largest democracy like India is adopting similar strategies of non interference when dealing with the junta-led government in Myammar when it intends to win huge commercial dealings in the country. But India was spared much criticism just because it is a democracy. Different standards, I presumed.

Enjoy the article below.

China's soft power filling moral void

By David B Roberts at the University of Durham, UK

On any given day, China announces various deals, exchanges, missions, activities, exhibitions, events, parties, celebrations and agreements between itself and any given country.

In recent weeks, Malta, Sierra Leone, Slovenia and Malawi have all been visited by a Chinese official in some capacity. What, you might be asking, do these countries have in common? The short answer is nothing. Obviously, they need investment and/or support in ventures, but that is hardly a distinguishing feature, after all, who doesn't? These countries are simply the latest recipients of attention by Beijing and its prodigious foreign policy making machines.

No country is too small or seemingly too insignificant for Beijing's attention in a concerted campaign to make friends and - more crucially - influence people. To this end, China has been making vast steps forward in expanding its soft power. This is a kind of power whereby - crudely put - the country or actor in question will do what China want them to do because they see their goals as being shared by China, they want to follow China's lead out of loyalty or a belief that it will be to their longer term benefit to do so. Soft power is conveyed in a myriad of ways.

It can be through an attentive ambassador including local business leaders in meetings or conferences, the exporting of a country's culture through music, theatre, films or technology, thereby theoretically creating a better understanding or empathy or it can be the education of diplomats in Beijing - getting them used to the ways of the Chinese and making contacts that they may well find useful at a later date. China have been pursuing just such polices specifically but not particularly in East Asia recently with considerable success.

The opposite of soft power is - unsurprisingly - hard power, which is coercion of one form or another: you don't follow China's lead because you want to, but because there are implicit or explicit military, economic or diplomatic threats. While the use of hard power can be effective, it is surely better to persuade and finesse countries towards your goals and ends, as opposed to being pressed into doing so, inviting resentment and general antipathy.

But what are these policies and why does China care if they have relations - good or bad - with Sierra Leone or Malta? Most of the time, China seeks resources of one kind or another. This is clearly the case in Sierra Leone where the Chinese have been harvesting timber for years. In the Maltese, for example, case it would be more accurate to say that the Chinese simply want - like all countries - good relations with all countries.

However, the Chinese also want one other thing which is utterly central to all of their politics and policies: international recognition and corroboration of the one China policy. Indeed, these sentiments of concordance are often specifically included in the Xinhua report of the meetings.

This is the crux of their soft power policies. In return for countries strict adherence to an avowed policy of sovereignty and non-interference in other states' affairs, China offer both unusual levels support even of smaller countries as well as, crucially, a reciprocated and fervent promise not to interfere in their policies. This policy can thus lead China to deal unusually closely with some of the world's more repressive regimes.

There are two distinct points of view to this. Firstly, from the other country's perspective, China offers its help without conditions. There are no human rights complications, no promises for elections, and no pressure for free press. Countries such as Sudan and Zimbabwe appreciate China's unquestioning support in return for arms, oil, trade or whatever is on offer. These kinds of policies - unsurprisingly - draw considerable international criticism. The Chinese charge d'affairs in South Africa recently defended China's policies of engagement, trade and interactions with Sudan and Zimbabwe by saying that China was "simply protecting its own interests".

Others, notably those from the West, find China's foreign policy of interaction with pariah regimes anything from unfortunate to disgraceful. There is, strictly speaking, no right answer. While it is easy for the West to harangue China for these policies, they are not speaking from an unsullied pulpit either, both historically and presently speaking. Selling billions of dollars of arms to various countries in the Middle East, all of whom rate poorly to atrociously on the Freedom House index, does not lend the West the high ground.

Nevertheless, entering such a kind of Faustian bargain with Saudi Arabia is better than the alternative of non-interaction. Take the recent example of the multiple rape victim in Saudi Arabia who was herself going to be flogged as she was sitting in a car with an unrelated man. The opprobrium that this created in the West was translated into international pressure heaped on the Saudi government and can surely be credited with pressuring the Saudi King into pardoning the women. Would this have happened if China had been the major trade partner and the West not had any kind of sway? Obviously not.

What this goes to prove is that interaction is needed - but it must be the right sort of interaction. There is a fine line between exacerbating the problems inherent in the countries in question by trading with them, enriching and/or arming the elite, and simply ignoring them. Simply leaving the states as international pariahs will not work.

Into this morally created void will walk China, shoring up the regime with trade and reciprocal promises of non-interference. One can only hope that through interaction with the West and the exchange of Western soft power, grandiose notions such as democracy and human rights will filter down however slowly and become embedded to help guard against the seductive allure of a mechanical foreign policy of naked self interest.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Spielberg resigns as artistic advisor to the Beijing Olympics

By China Watcher

It was reported today in the anti-China media, BBC and New York Times, that Steven Spielberg boycotts his Olympic’s role though I would rather choose the appropriate word like “resign” or “withdraw” over differences in personal opinion towards the handling of political concerns around the globe, more in particular, over the Darfur crisis.

Personally, I do cherish the many works of Mr. Spielberg especially in bringing family and human oriented values in the entertainment arena and the injection of creative ideas in film-making though there were some critics who do not agree. It is because of his inborn talent and his commanding presence in the cultural sphere that the Chinese Authority has selected him for this important role.

The decision to resign must have been pressured by the Western International Artiste Groups and the various human rights associations who feel that they could somehow add their weights to “force” China to withdraw its support of the Sudanese government in view of the humanitarian sufferings in the Western part of the country.

As I have said this before, politics and sports should not be allowed to mix as this could turn out to be a very messy state of affairs like in Los Angeles and Moscow. Further, it is against the principles of the Games in promoting gamesmanship and respect for all the participating countries. By turning your backs on the Olympics – a major sporting event – you are merely showing disrespect to the host and other countries.

It is with profound regret that a cinematic talent like Mr. Spielberg has succumbed to the pressure of these small pressured groups who are trying to undermine the coming Olympics to champion their cause. Finding a replacement for Mr. Spielberg with his worldwide stature and presence will take a while but I am sure that the Beijing Organizing Committee would have a contingency plan already. Picking a reputable director from Asia with an international flair would be my choice since the Games is held in the Asian continent.

Like a capable and respected corporate CEO once said, “No one is indispensable. A company will survive on its own strengths”. The Olympic Games will go on.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Russia’s Far East develops positive view of China

By China Watcher

The US political plan to use Russia to assist in its strategy to contain a resurgent China in the next 10 years has moved further down a few notches. Generally there is a rising anti-Americanism in Russia.

Russians are evidently sympathetic to its current President Vladimir Putin. His United Russia party took a landslide 64 percent of the parliamentary vote with a 63 percent turnout, an election his party would have won easily even without repressing his opponents, judging by the results of the polls. He has attracted a devoted, nationalistic following among students—Kremlin-linked youth groups supervised the December voting to prevent a feared U.S.-funded revolution.

Extracted from a social studies conducted in August 2007, the results revealed that 21 percent of respondents assume that Russia will be on best terms with China within the next 10 to 15 years, a very positive development indeed among its people.

Another separate poll released in September 2007 asked Russians about their opinion of employing Chinese nationals in Russian companies. Russians in the far east were more positive about this reality than their counterparts in western Russia, an area farther removed from China.

Russians are inclined to think that using the labor of Chinese hired workers may lead to: an increase in the level of unemployment for the local population (as 58% of respondents identify, 26% do not agree with them), worsening in the criminogenic situation (as 50% of respondents consider versus 29% who have a different point of view). As for the assertion that using the labor of Chinese workers makes up for the scarcity of work force in Russia, respondents’ opinions on this point were not unanimous (40% support this point of view, 38% do not). Respondents would rather not agree with the statement that hiring Chinese workers raises productivity of labor at Russian enterprises (28% agree with this opinion, whereas 46% oppose it).

Residents of the Far Eastern Federal District, who encounter Chinese hired workers more frequently in their every day life than other Russians do, treat them, as a rule, more positively than the rest of the respondents. They also are inclined to think that the use of Chinese workers’ labor leads to an increase in the unemployment rate among the local population (63% versus 31%), however, they also mention that this helps to make up for the scarcity of work force in Russia (52% versus 35%), as well as to increase productivity of labor (43% versus 33%). Furthermore, the residents of the Far East, as opposed to respondents from other regions of Russia, are not inclined to associate Chinese hired workers with the worsening in the criminogenic situation (33% assume that the presence of these workers leads to an increase in crime, however, 50% think that it does not).

The development of strategic partnership between the Chinese and Russian government and the strengthening of genuine people to people relationship will certainly be positive news to the two countries and bad news for Uncle Sam. This is a step in the right direction to promote a multi-polar new world order rather the one we are seeing today.

Is China a threat? What threat?

By Henry Rosemont, a professor emeritus at St. Mary's College of Maryland, US

Posted by China Watcher

China's unprecedented industrial growth over the last two decades has raised the question of whether it now poses a threat to the security of the United States economically, militarily, or both. Economically, the extent to which China truly threatens the US depends at least in part on the chauvinistic assumption that any potential challenge to absolute US global economic dominance is threatening.

On the military question, the answer is much clearer. China is not a military threat to the US. Only those who believe that Fu Manchu is alive and well in the Middle Kingdom and fulfilling his dreams of world domination through a large and aggressive army, air force, and navy still subscribe to a notion that China poses a global military threat. Several recent books on the Chinese military perpetuate this myth. Their titles reveal everything: Imagined Enemies: China Prepares for Uncertain War, by John Wilson Lewis and Xue Litai for instance, or Showdown: Why China Wants War with the United States by by Jed Babbin and Edward Timperlake.

These and numerous similar narratives share an alarmist tone combined with a dearth of relevant facts in support of their claims. These books suffer from such flaws for good reason. The facts belie the claims, especially when placed in comparative perspective. When it comes to the putative Chinese military threat, the numbers simply don't add up.

Crunching the numbers

Much has been made of the double-digit increase in Chinese defense spending over the last three years. China has indeed increased its spending. But much of the additional expenditures have been devoted to upgrading information, weapons, and communications systems. At the same time, China has cut troop strength to almost half of what it was in 1990. Moreover, the estimate of military expenditures for 2006 is $35 billion. That is about 7% of the US defense budget, once the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are factored in. Even before including these latter expenditures the US military budget is now larger than the defense budgets of all other nations combined. Almost surely China's actual military expenditures are larger than the 2006 estimate. But even if the military budget is twice as large, $70 billion is still less than 15% of the US total and less than what was spent in Iraq and Afghanistan last year alone.

In terms of ground forces, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has an active duty component of 2.3 million personnel. That's a lot of soldiers, but the US has 1.4 million, with less than one-fourth of the population. True, the Chinese have reserve forces of another million plus. But they are responsible, among other things, for patrolling more than 8,000 miles of borders with India and Russia - not always the friendliest of neighbors in the past - functions the US military does not perform at the Canadian and Mexican borders. Moreover, despite the supply breakdown scandal in Iraq, the 1.4 million US troops are much better equipped overall than their Chinese counterparts, few of whom have state-of-the-art support materiel or personal safety equipment.

The PLA's air force capabilities, meanwhile, are no match in quality for the US either defensively or offensively. Many of China's aircraft models are over 40 years old. Certainly the mainland forces pose a threat to Taiwan, but Taiwan's own modern air force should not be underestimated. And with the recent electoral defeat of Chen Shui-bian’s Democratic Progressive Party by the pro-mainland Kuomintang, political and military tensions are likely to decrease markedly. Beijing can be very patient in waiting for a rapprochement with Taiwan.

At sea

China’s weakest link is naval. It has no blue ocean navy, and it is difficult to imagine how it could dream of building one. Of the 21 large aircraft carriers operational in the world right now, 12 are American, with a total landing space of 75 acres. The carriers belonging to the rest of the world have 15 acres altogether. None of the other aircraft carriers belongs to China. So, the score is rather lopsided on the naval front: the United States 12, China 0.

The picture is similar for submarines. In a 2005 Atlantic Monthly article Robert Kaplan issued the dire warning that "The Middle East is just a blip. The American military contest with China in the Pacific will define the 21st century. And China will be a more formidable adversary than Russia ever was." Kaplan cites as one important piece of "evidence" supporting his doom and gloom scenarios the fact that "The Chinese are investing in both diesel-powered and nuclear-powered submarines - a clear signal that they intend not only to protect their coasts but also to expand their influence far out into the Pacific."

In the first place, the Chinese might have a hard time "expanding their influence far out into the Pacific" because so many US soldiers, sailors, marines, and air force personnel are already stationed in the region. There are 18,000 troops stationed in Alaska, 60,000 in Hawaii, 37,000 in Japan, 5,000 on Guam, and 30,000 in South Korea. Again, the Chinese number is zero. The United States has over 700 military installations outside its borders overall, while the Chinese have none at present.

Kaplan's supposedly "clear signal" of expansion rests on the fact that the Chinese already have 55 submarines, and have a few more under construction. But 50 of these are diesel-powered and hence must surface or near-surface every few days to take in oxygen. This makes them more vulnerable to detection and destruction (by US reconnaissance satellites and missile launchers) than nuclear submarines. Although formidable vessels, these diesel submarines are in the end not even a secure defense against the highly sophisticated technology of the world's sole superpower, let alone a military threat to it. Strictly in terms of deterrence, then, it is unsurprising that the Chinese would like more nuclear-powered submarines than the five that are currently operational for protecting their shores.

On the other hand, the US currently has 72 submarines, all of which are nuclear-powered. And more are on the way, including the Virginia-class attack submarine, not a vessel designed for defense. Perhaps most frightening for the Chinese are the US underwater capabilities in the Pacific, where the Navy maintains two-thirds of its strategic submarine forces. "At least two of these submarines are kept on 'hard alert' in the Pacific at all times, meaning they’re ready to fire within 15 minutes of a launch order," write Keir Lieber and Daryl Press. "Since each submarine carries 24 nuclear-tipped missiles with an average of six warheads per missile, commanders have almost 300 warheads ready for immediate use. This is more than enough to assign multiple warheads to each of the 18 silos in which the Chinese have nuclear missiles capable of reaching the US. Chinese leaders would have little or no warning of the attack."

Finally, China has 100-400 nuclear weapons. But only the 18 silos mentioned above are capable of striking the western continental United States and these cannot be launched quickly. Unless fired as a first-strike weapon, they could easily be destroyed. The United States, on the other hand, has almost 10,000 nuclear warheads and sufficient delivery capabilities to obliterate every Chinese city with a population of a half-million or more, and still have more than enough of a stockpile to hold the rest of the world at bay.

Who fears whom?

It should thus be clear that the Chinese have much better grounds for fearing the United States than the other way around, and this holds true not only in terms of actual military capabilities, but also in the readiness and willingness to use them. Unlike the US, which has well over a quarter of a million troops stationed overseas with attendant army, naval, and air force weapons and delivery systems equal to the rest of the world together, the entire Chinese army, navy, and air force are based within its own borders, and shooting at no one.

Absent future US provocation, the Chinese will not likely try to match the US militarily as the former Soviet Union did. First, the costs would be prohibitive. Building a blue-ocean navy, for example, would require not only the construction and deployment of aircraft carriers, but escorts and supply ships for them, and other ships for other purposes. This new navy would have to be very large, as active in the Indian Ocean as in the Pacific in order to keep sea lanes secure for oil deliveries necessary for the economy. It would necessitate increasing significantly the number of airplanes built and deployed, fighters and bombers alike. And it would require large expenditures for standard operations at sea, and of course maintenance, plus the salaries and benefits of the much larger complement of personnel that such a build-up would require.

Even if the Chinese economy could absorb the costs of building and maintaining such an expanded navy, however, it would be fairly ineffective without many overseas bases to refuel and resupply the fleet(s), and the Chinese government would be extremely reluctant to seek such bases. In terms of physical size, demographics, and industrial output China dwarfs the Southeast Asian countries on or near its borders. It has been actively engaged since the beginning of the century in forming trade and other agreements with ASEAN not only to play down its Goliath image but also to develop markets closer to home in order to avoid dependency on the US market, cut transportation costs, and reduce military expenditures. It is in the Middle Kingdom's best interest to form closer ties with South Korea and Japan as well. This will clearly be easier if its military forces continue to be seen as fundamentally defensive in nature, with no bases abroad. The same applies to China's relations with India. The two countries share a long border and have an equally strong interest in keeping the Indian Ocean open to the commerce necessary for both Asian giants to continue their economic development, as Prime Minister Singh's recent state visit to Beijing underscored.

Head to head?

A significant number of people profit greatly from the present US defense budget. Since even people with little knowledge of military tactics realize that aircraft carriers and nuclear attack submarines are worthless for deterring ideologically driven young people from strapping IEDs to their waists, a more compelling threat must be conjured up to justify increased Pentagon spending. Since the end of the Cold War, China has become the candidate of choice among illusionist hawks.

Confrontation with China is not, however, inevitable. Perhaps the best reason for China not to seek a blue-ocean navy comes from an initially most unlikely source: The US Navy. Its former head, Admiral Michael Mullen proposed a "Thousand Ship Navy" (TSN) that would mark "a new chapter in cooperation as it emphasizes the management of shared security interests of all maritime nations". China could become a significant component of this TSN, and thus keep its shipping lanes secure at relatively little cost beyond present expenditures. Given the fact that 90% of all world trade and almost 70% of all petroleum is transported by sea, it clearly behooves both countries to cooperate closely to keep the maritime commons free of pirates, terrorists, and drug traffickers. Cooperation at sea is equally needed for missions of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Unfortunately, the highly invasive foreign policies of the US, combined with its overwhelming military superiority, provide the Chinese with very good reasons to continue distrusting US motives (including the TSN). It is therefore the responsibility of the US to take meaningful initiatives to build support for closer cooperation with the soon-to-be world's second largest economic power. Some of those initiatives would deal directly with China, such as providing materiel and advanced training for the Chinese military to conduct search-and-rescue missions.

The US could also foster far greater trust and cooperation specifically with the Chinese by clarifying the US's position toward Taiwan. Taipei should understand that the US will come to its immediate aid in case of attack. But should Taipei seek independence and a seat at the UN, Washington will use all its diplomatic strength to insure that other nations do not recognize these claims.

The US could also signal to China that it is willing to be a more cooperative international player. For instance, the US could significantly reduce its nuclear stockpile and renounce the first-strike use of nuclear weapons, as China did long ago. It should also sign and ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as 155 nations have done (including China) since it was promulgated in 1982. Ending the brutal occupation of Iraq is another global measure, as would placing US troops in Afghanistan under UN administration and signing a peace treaty with North Korea (55 years after the cease-fire). Holding out an olive branch to Iran, and stopping the one-sided US support of the Israelis would also provide clear signals to the Chinese and the rest of the world of a major shift in US foreign policy.

A reduction of US threats to the world - from nuclear weapons, regional wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and potential conflicts with Iran and North Korea - would decrease the likelihood of confrontation with China as well as undercut any rationale for China's own increased military spending. Such a shift in US national security strategy would not only increase the security of China and the US but the world as well.