• Thu
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 3:25pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2014, 3:51am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2014, 5:58pm

Analysts argue for containment, co-leadership or war with China

When it comes to China, many foreigners - and Hong Kong people - can't seem to resist doing a lot of hand-wringing. People have no difficulty rushing to moral judgments. And what psychologists call confirmation bias takes care of the rest in selecting the facts needed to bolster one's case against China, Asia's bogeyman.

That is why it's refreshing to read Robert Kaplan's latest book, Asia's Cauldron. Unlike many a foreign critic, this hard-nosed realist and geo-political strategist recognises the inevitability and legitimacy of China's rise, especially its military modernisation. But precisely because he doesn't get on his moral high horse as he analyses the power relations between the key players, the scenarios he paints here are far more disturbing. In the process, he kills some sacred cows.

Being less autocratic doesn't mean becoming less nationalistic. China's potential democratisation and weakened central power in Beijing, far from being peaceful factors, may actually bring nationalism to the fore and worsen conflicts with neighbours. "The current crop of dull, technocratic party leaders in Beijing," Kaplan writes, "may constitute the most reasonable regime in foreign policy that China may have for some time to come."

Moreover, domestic upheaval and economic trouble at home don't necessarily mean a weaker posture abroad; it's likely to have the opposite effect. The fight over a few barren rocks in the South and East China seas may seem silly and inconsequential. "Their underlying causes are anything but inconsequential," Kaplan writes. "The fact that China's military rise is wholly legitimate makes little difference, given that China's air and naval acquisitions are altering the regional balance of power, something which in and of itself is destabilising."

There seem to be two possible "peaceful" outcomes. Kaplan charts one here. Hugh White, a former Australian defence official, argues for the other in his new but influential book, The China Choice. Either "contain" China under US leadership to preserve the independence of Asia's less powerful states à la Kaplan; or accord equal co-leadership with the US to China in the region, as White argues.

Failing both, it means war.

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dunndavid
I have listened to Kaplan's interviews and read Kissinger's book and recognize that both are learned men, however neither has a great understanding understanding of economics. In the modern day beyond a certain point you have to have increasing international interaction to continue economic growth. China's international integration is decreasing rather than increasing which will eventually catch up with it. A democratic China will place a higher emphasis on improving people lives, that means more integration not less. A democratic China is going to be a less aggressive China because of the need to improve ordinary peoples lives.
jiawang@adb.org
A simple projection of current geopolitical trends will indicate that there will be a war with China.
The current arms race in Asia has increased not decreased.
US and Japanese preparations for war are growing not declining.
Only the naive and the foolish refuse to see the signs for war.
jiawang@adb.org
Poorly written article.
XYZ
A third outcome would be for China to follow Deng Xiaoping's dictum to focus on economic development and forget about militaristic nationalism in a world that presents no existential threats to China's peaceful rise. But that would hardly suit the PLA and their massive money machine, would it?
Mikado
There seem to be two possible "peaceful" outcomes. Kaplan charts one here. Hugh White, a former Australian defence official, argues for the other in his new but influential book, The China Choice. Either "contain" China under US leadership to preserve the independence of Asia's less powerful states à la Kaplan; or accord equal co-leadership with the US to China in the region, as White argues.
Actually there's another "peaceful" outcome. Russia destroys the US and helps China destroys Japan.
wailunscmp
How ironic. 70 years ago Japan was seen as the greatest threat while today, China is perceived as such. History repeats itself with different actors
P Blair
When it comes to war the US and her allies have launched countless wars against weak countries but never against strong countries. Only the crazy Japanese who because of the Bushido code was crazy and barbaric enough to launch a war against the US and her allies in 1941 with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbour. Given history, China like the US previously needs wary of Japan. The devil worshipping fascists are truly crazy.
 
 
 
 
 

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