Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

China in a bull shop

Posted by Charles II on November 27, 2012

Once again on my China-is-not-a-benign-continental-power rant….from Jonathan Kaiman, The Guardian:

It took just one little map to create a regional diplomatic dispute.

The map, in China’s newly designed passport, claims ownership of the entire South China Sea – parts of which are also claimed by Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia – as well as disputed areas on the China-India border and two Taiwanese tourist destinations.

The Philippines, Vietnam, India and Taiwan have all vehemently protested against the new microchip-equipped passport, which essentially forces neighbouring countries to validate China’s position on contested regions.

Vietnam and the Philippines lodged formal complaints last week with Chinese embassies in Hanoi and Manila, respectively. India’s external affairs minister, Salman Khursid, called the map “unacceptable”.

It’s as if the US did a map with the Jamaica, Iraq, and, oh, say, France as US territories. Would not make the locals happy. And would suggest that the US is even more arrogant than it actually is.

None of this would be of much moment if the US were stable or if the nations of the South China Sea had developed to the point of being capable of mutual self-defense. But China is behaving recklessly. Evidently the lessons of the generation that suffered in war to achieve national independence have been lost, and a narcissistic generation, grasping for power, has emerged. We should know. We have been there before.

18 Responses to “China in a bull shop”

  1. It has nothing to do with a map. The map is only used as justification. That map is a symbol to gain popular support in China from the Chinese people.

    Sort of like what LBJ did with the Tonkin Gulf incident (that didn’t happen as he claimed to the public) so he could gain popular support to back the escalation of the US war in Vietnam or what G. W. Bush claimed about WMDs in Iraq to start a war there when the focus should have been in Afghanistan.

    What is happening in the South China Sea has everything to do with resources–not that patch of ocean. China needs the resources, such as oil, which it has a shortage of, that may be found in that area of ocean. How many wars has the US and UK (and their allies) fought to keep Middle East oil flowing to the West?

    How many ocean oil spills have there been to feed North America with oil?

    Other nations in the region also want to have claims over this oil because that oil equals wealth and how many people in each of those countries will end up with most of that wealth?

    However, to actually define who controls most of that patch of ocean: “Territorial waters, or a territorial sea, as defined by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is a belt of coastal waters extending at most twelve nautical miles from the baseline (usually the mean low-water mark) of a coastal state. The territorial sea is regarded as the sovereign territory of the state, although foreign ships (both military and civilian) are allowed innocent passage through it; this sovereignty also extends to the airspace over and seabed below.”

    So, that area of ocean outside historically established territorial waters as defined by the UN is up for grabs.

    Historically, the country with the most powerful military will usually control the resources. To decide who has the most military resources, answer these two questions?

    How many military bases does China’s PLA have outside China (that includes naval bases, airbases, missile bases, etc) compared to how many military bases the US has outside its territorial limits?

    Maybe this is similar to the US Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression, requiring U.S. intervention. Therefore, if the US got away with that in 1823, why cannot another country do something similar such as China’s claim over the South China Sea or are only Western Countries such as the US and the UK allowed to do such things?

    Most of the problems we have in North Africa and the Middle East are due to the British Empire’s meddling in the affairs of other nations and cultures.

    • Charles II said

      Lloyd, I’ve blogged about the resource issues a number of times. See for example here. I have said I think that royalties from resources should be donated to stateless people…like, say, refugees from global warming caused by oil extraction.

      What constitute national waters is much more complicated than you make them out to be. What matters here is not the territorial waters, over which there is no real dispute, but the economic zone. China wants Senkaku and other offshore islands not because it has ever occupied them, but because ownership would give them rights over minerals, fishing, and–through territorial waters and contiguous zones–maritime transit.

      And the comparison to the Monroe Doctrine is a false one. The Monroe Doctrine (which was more braggadocio than policy; its first implementation was in 1845) attempted to expel European economic interests so that Americans could establish them. In this case, China is irritating Vietnam, the Philippines, India, and a number of other countries by infringing on their rights. It is, in short, doing what the US accused the European powers of doing in Latin America: trying to colonize.

      Your suggestion that the US doing something in the 19th century justifies China, in the 21st century, doing…well, something that could be muddled with the Monroe Doctrine if one doesn’t think about it too closely… is risible. Think of the wonderful things the US did in the 19th century: slavery, child labor, women as property, slaughter of Native Americans.

      I fear China’s rise precisely because I remember the evils the US committed on its road to becoming a great power.

      • Are you suggesting that the United States was tainted in the 19th century as an empire builder but is without sin in the 20th and 21st centuries as if the US cleaned up its act and is pure now? In fact, what China is doing today in the South China Sea is similar to (but not the same because this is over a patch of water and not over land occupied by another culture/nation) what the British Empire did as it swallowed chunks of Africa, the Middle East, the Americas, India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, etc. and what the US has done for most of its history possibly starting with the Louisiana Purchase from France by Jefferson. What gave France the right to claim all that land and then sell it when there were millions living on it that had been there longer than 10,000 years?

        The answer is military force. The nation with the best weapons almost always has its way.

        All of these land grabs by empires be they British, American, French, Portuguese, German, Italian, etc. were all done with weapons and armies. However, now that East Asians are doing it but without firing a shot so far, it’s wrong and evil.

        In fact, the Philippines was once an occupied territory of the US until 1946 and many of the people rebelled in1899-1902, but resistance did not end there. Hundreds of thousands were persecuted and killed – possibly more than a million people.

        Then there was America’s Vietnam War (1955 – 1975 that was based on a lie by LBJ, a US president) that included military incursions into Cambodia and Laos in addition to more bombs dropped on Laos than the US dropped in all of World War II. About 200,000 cluster bombs were dropped on Cambodia and still claim lives today.

        Millions have died.

        In addition, there was the Iraq War (2003-2011), also based on a lie from a US president of WMDs.

        But if China beats its chest and throws it’s weight around over a patch of ocean, then it is wrong and evil? If we were to compare the sins of America as a global power to that of today’s China, who would win that contest? I argue the US is much more of a global aggressor than China is.

        One litmus test might be the nuclear arsenals of each nation and the number of aircraft carriers in America and China’s navies.

        The US has eleven active nuclear-powered aircraft carriers with about 1,000 combat aircraft (three more aircraft carriers are under construction). China has one twenty-year old, used aircraft carrier that carries less than 30 aircraft and it is not nuclear. Thailand has an aircraft carrier with about the same capacity as China does. India has one active, one being refitted and two more in construction.

        China has about 250 nuclear weapons.

        The US has 2,150/8,000.

        In addition, the UK has 160/225.

        France has 290/300.

        India has about 100 and so does Pakistan.

        And there is only one country on the planet that has the ability to move armies anyplace on the earth in a matter of days and that is the US.

      • Charles II said

        Lloyd Lofthouse says,

        Are you suggesting that the United States was tainted in the 19th century as an empire builder but is without sin in the 20th and 21st centuries as if the US cleaned up its act and is pure now?

        That’s a strawman argument. What I said was that one cannot justify what China does in the 21st century by what the US did in the 19th.

        Judging how wrongful the deeds of the US now vs. the 19th century is above my pay grade. If you were to read this blog regularly, you’ll see that we opposed the intervention into Iraq at the time and, in fact, oppose any country meddling in the affairs of others.

        Lloyd Lofthouse also says,

        But if China beats its chest and throws it’s weight around over a patch of ocean, then it is wrong and evil? If we were to compare the sins of America as a global power to that of today’s China, who would win that contest? I argue the US is much more of a global aggressor than China is.

        China is responsible for one of the world’s largest genocides of the 20th century, so I guess it depends on whether one only counts the bodies of foreigners or whether one is willing to include the bodies of citizens in reaching moral judgments. Me, I am not fond of bodystacking to decide who is the better and who is the worse.

        The US has behaved like every hegemon from the Roman Empire on down. In some ways it has been more beneficent than most hegemons. In other ways, not. If China becomes a hegemon, it will do similar things.

        Indeed, it is doing similar things. Which is what worries me.

  2. Stormcrow said

    The answer is military force. The nation with the best weapons almost always has its way.

    All of these land grabs by empires be they British, American, French, Portuguese, German, Italian, etc. were all done with weapons and armies.

    You just nailed this, but I’m not sure you understand the implications of your own words.

    Sooner or later, China’s bluster is going to have to be backed up by force of arms. That’s inevitable when you start throwing your weight around.

    And this is decidedly NOT the 19th century, when the emerging industrial powers of Western Europe and the United States had a killing advantage over every other socioeconomic system on the planet.

    Hell, it’s not even 1920.

    Here’s an extremely broad hint. The following quote is from a poem composed in 1898. How does it utterly fail to describe the military balance in 2012, even when you’re comparing the United States, say, and a Third World country?

    Whatever happens we have got the Maxim Gun, and they have not.

    Answer: Now, they have.

    • However, China doesn’t have as many “Maxim Guns” as the US has. That may take ten to twenty more years if China wants to develop a military capable of doing what the US military can do today, which is the ability to invade any country on the planet in days and/or weeks. No other country currently has that ability but America and there is no evidence that any country is building a military that can do what the US can do.

      At this point in time, every military force on the planet–but one–has more of a defensive force. The only exception is the US that has about 700 foreign military bases so every country on the planet is within easy strike distance of US military forces.

      China has a long way to go to match the capability of the US military.

      The US still has military bases in Germany and Japan 67 years after World War II ended. Sounds like occupation to me.

  3. Dickeylee said

    We “acquired” The Philippines in 1898 during the Spanish-American war. We then needed 15 years to “civilize” the natives and take full control in one of our bloodiest police actions ever. EVER.

    • Charles II said

      Sorry this comment got caught in the spam filter, Dickeylee.

      What you say is true, and we told ourselves at the time that we were liberating the Filipinos and that they would be eternally grateful to us.

      And contra to what Lloyd has said, many Filipinos would say that they were occupied as long as Subic and Clark were open. But now they are asking us back, as the threat of China rises.

      • I suspect that the reason the Filipinos want the US Navy back is because of all the money that comes with those US troops. With the US Pacific Fleet and, I assume, treaties with the US, China is not going to invade the Philippines. The US does not need a military base in the Philippines to contain any expansionist ideas from China or anyone else. That’s why the US has eleven aircraft carriers and three more under construction.

        “Thus, in the name of peace, the US is preparing for a catastrophic war with China. US strategic planners are especially concerned with China’s so-called A2AD military capacities—the development of sophisticated submarines, missiles and war planes capable of posing a danger to the US navy in the Western Pacific. While the US habitually presents such weaponry as a “threat” to its military, in reality China is defensively responding to the presence of overwhelming American naval power in waters close to the mainland. US naval preponderance in the East China Sea, the South China Sea and key “choke” points such as the Malacca Strait, menaces the shipping lanes from the Middle East and Africa on which China relies for energy and raw materials.”


      • Charles II said

        Your speculation about Filipino motives is as good as anyone’s, Lloyd.

        Personally, I wouldn’t quote globalresearch or WSWS as a primary source. I’d go back to the CSIS report and consider what it was saying:

        A key point here is that U.S. strategy is not to prepare for a fight with China. Indeed, the United States and China have a stake in each other’s success, as the president put it early last year. The strategy must therefore be to “win the peace” by building a relationship with China that makes conflict virtually unthinkable and cooperation mutually attractive.


  4. “Then there was America’s Vietnam War (1955 – 1975 that was based on a lie by LBJ, a US president) that included military incursions into Cambodia and Laos in addition to more bombs dropped on Laos than the US dropped in all of World War II. About 200,000 cluster bombs were dropped on Cambodia and still claim lives today.”

    Actually, the first American “advisors” entered Vietnam during the Eisenhower administration, and were added to by Kennedy. LBJ, after first escalating, realized his grave blunder and sought to end the war via the 1968 Paris Peace Talks, but those were sabotaged by Henry Kissinger and Anna Chan Chennault, acting on Richard Nixon’s orders. (The Republicans would run the same plays from the same playbook twelve years later, only this time it was to cut deals with the Iranians to ensure that Jimmy Carter’s presidency would sink on the hostage crisis.)

    • Stormcrow said

      You gently neglected to point out that Lloyd contradicted himself. Inside the space of a single short sentence.

      Then there was America’s Vietnam War (1955 – 1975 that was based on a lie by LBJ, a US president.

      What is the obvious logical flaw in the sentence I just quoted? LOL.

      • I’m sure LBJ would have loved to have been both Senate Majority Leader and President at the same time in 1955, but alas, Ike was in the White House during that time period and would have strongly protested any efforts to lift him up by his ears and oust him.

      • “China is responsible for one of the world’s largest genocides of the 20th century.”

        Genocide is a powerful word and in this case it is wrong. Genocide means the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group”. Murder on a national scale did not happen in China after 1949 and that includes what happened in Tibet regardless of false claims that the PLA shot down millions of Tibetans. The real figures of those killed in Tibet are actually in the hundreds and not millions.

        The Soviet’s under Stalin committed genocide killing about six million.

        The Turks in 1915 massacred more than a million Armenians and this was genocide.

        Hitler’s Nazis committed genocide during the Holocaust killing 16 million.

        Pol Pot in Cambodia committed genocide killing 2 million.

        Leopold II of Belgium committed genocide in the Congo in 1886 – 1908 of 8 million.

        As for China under Mao, I assume you are talking about the famine in 1958 during the Great Leap Forward. China has a history of droughts and famines. In fact, Imperial records record droughts and famines in one or more provinces annually for about 2,000 years proving that annual droughts and famines are not uncommon in China.

        Yes, millions died in China in 1958 and into 1969 during the early stages of the Great Leap Forward. Even the CCP admits that. But no one knows how many. Every number given from the 3.5 million from the CCP to the 70 million from one of China’s Western critics are all based on the same data/facts and it is all conjecture. Included in those numbers is about two million that died from floods along one of China’s major rivers.

        In addition, there is no evidence that the CCP or Mao deliberately set out to commit genocide as you and many others in the West continuously claim without a shred of evidence to support such opinions. Instead, reputable scholars—not muckrakers—that have studied all the available evidence have conclude that this tragedy was not deliberate but was caused by a mixture of poor planning and incompetence during The Great Leap Forward, drought and provincial CCP officials that inflated (lied) about crop yields in reports to Beijing leading to policies that led to more tragedy.

        Even one of Mao’s doctors, the one that came to the West and wrote a biography of Mao, has said that he believed Mao was unaware of how bad it was in the provinces hit hardest by the drought that led to millions of deaths from starvation. Mao’s doctor said there were conflicting reports, so Mao sent troops from the division that was responsible to guard him in Beijing into those provinces to investigate and then report back. As soon as those troops reported back to Mao, the CCP cancelled the Great Leap Forward and immediately sought wheat from the West but the US had a total blockade on China at the time and urged its allies to ignore the request. It has been documented that America’s leaders were counting on the suffering and deaths of the people in China to lead to the downfall of the CCP and Mao so Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalists could return to rule over the mainland.

        Fortunate for millions of Chinese that had not died of starvation yet, Canada, Australia and France ignored the total US embargo and sold wheat to China. France also played middle man and bought wheat from American farmers using the ruse that it was for French consumption and then resold that wheat to China. My wife is Chinese. She was a born in Shanghai and was a child living in Shanghai at the time. She remembers that there was a shortage of food in Shanghai because once the CCP discovered what was really happening in the provinces, rationing was imposed throughout China and any spare food goods was shipped into the provinces hit hardest by the drought but there still wasn’t enough food.

        Due to the famine and deaths from starvation, in 1959, Mao stepped down as State Chairman of the PRC. Liu Shaoqi, (the new PRC Chairman) and Deng Xiaoping (CPC General Secretary) were left in charge to change policy and bring about an economic recovery.

        Mao’s Great Leap Forward policy came under open criticism at the Lushan party conference in July, 1959.

        Mao is both a hero to many in China and a criminal mostly due to the Cultural Revolution and his purges within the CCP of anyone that he saw as a threat to him but he is also considered a genius by many. A saint, no. Why would so many Chinese that do not belong to the Communist Party consider Mao a hero at the same time that they see him as also a criminal?

        A few facts stand out as evidence that Mao was not a total criminal as many in the West keep claiming:

        Before 1949, for instance, the illiteracy rate in Mainland China was 80 percent, and life expectancy was a meager 35 years. At his death, illiteracy had declined to less than seven per cent, and average life expectancy had increased by twenty years. In addition, China’s population which had remained constant at 400 million from the Opium War to the end of the Civil War mushroomed to 700 million as of Mao’s death.

        One would think that if 70 million had been deliberately killed during the Great Leap Forward and millions more slaughtered in Tibet, the results would be a decrease in population—not an increase.

      • Charles II said

        Lloyd, we can agree to call what Mao and the Gang of Four did “democide.” The foremost scholar of the issue (or so I think he is), Rudolph Rummel, thinks that the Communist government is responsible for over 35 M deaths.

        He says,

        Many explanations have been offered for such killing, but I contend that most fundamentally the root cause is arbitrary, undisciplined power in the hands of tyrants. That where ever such power has been centralized and unchecked, the possibility exists that it will be used at the whim of dictators to kill for their own ends, as by a ruling group for ethnic-racial purity, national unity, or greater national glory, or by a doctrinaire party for development, equality, or utopia.

        I think that’s about right. And the increase in Chinese power very likely foreshadows more murder, not less.
        Added: Rummel breaks down the causes in this chart. You can see that democide is exclusive of famine.

      • The dates for the Vietnam Conflict are 1955 to 1975. I stand by that number.

        By 1961, the US had 2,000 troops in Vietnam.

        In August 1964, when LBJ was president, he used the false claim of the Tonkin Gulf Incident as an excuse to escalate the war. By the end of 1964 that number was 16,500. By December 2005, there were 200,000 US troops in Vietnam. Up until then the US troops were in Vietnam serving mostly as advisers training South Vietnamese forces that were armed by the US.

        Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on 7 August 1964, signed by Johnson, and gave the President power to conduct military operations in Southeast Asia without declaring war.

        Four US presidents served during the Vietnam War: Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, and Nixon. Eisenhower was the first US president that sent US troops into Vietnam to fight communism.

    • Cherry picking so called experts on the famine that supports one opinion over another about the results of the Great Leap Forward does not change the fact that everyone that has made claims about this tragedy all used the same data that the CCP provided from its own documents. There are no other reliable records and what does exist is incomplete and sketchy. Millions died. No one knows exactly how many. It is all conjecture. Even the CCP’s claim of 3.7 million is conjecture.

      However, China critics and Chinese Communist Party bashers will believe what they want to believe if it demonizes.

      • Charles II said

        You call it cherry picking without offering any substantive refutation of Rummel’s comments or provided alternate expert sources. I’ve spent time over his site, examined his methods, and been impressed by how he develops his estimates. He spares no government or nation as, indeed, none should be spared.

        So, yes, all estimates have high associated uncertainty, but the best estimate according to (who I believe to be) the world’s foremost expert is for over 35M human beings.

        I don’t think you’d like it if I implied that you are engaged in pro-Communist propaganda and apologism, which is what turning around your last sentence would come out to be. So please don’t imply that I am engaged in bashing or demonization. I’m just calling it as I see it.

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