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---------"Towards a new cold war China - USA".23/03/2001http://www.strategicsinternational.com/3engfouchet.htmBy Gérald Fouchet. Gérald Fouchet is a political analyst, a writer and a journalist.
Increasing geostrategic rivalry between the United States and China for the ownership of the Pacific establishes a line of very worrisome world fracture and anticipates from a "new cold war" more dangerous than the first.China rearms. Why ?
Facts, at first, merciless : the People's Republic of China is the country in the world which increases its military budget in the most considerable proportions : on March 6, Peking announced an increase of military spending of 17,7 % in 2001, what brings them to 141 billion yuans, either 19 billion euro or 120 billion francs. The Occidental experts estimate that the real military expenditures are "two in three times as high that figures officially admitted" ("Le Monde", 07/03/2001)
. This rough progress is strongly observed for twenty years, and it constitutes the thirteenth consecutive increase, which exceeds 10 %. Contrary to Europe which disarms and cuts down on the military budgets, China makes so an effort of rearmament and massive military increase of its power, superior to what Germany made between 1933 and 1940 and to the military budget of the USA after Pearl-Harbor.Why ?
For a long time, one knows that a country that rearms obeys two hypotheses : either it feels threatened and wants to protect itself, or it wants to attack. Whom China does it want to attack ? Taiwan, to re-conquer it ? No, because it would not need to rearm so strongly to re-conquer the island ; and the strategy is the one of the "persuasion" : China wants to get back Taiwan gently ; a war would ruin juicy economy of the lost province of which is needed by China.
It envisages Taiwan, as an intended "autonomous region", just like Hong-Kong according to the famous proverb "a single country, two economic systems"
. General Régis de Marsan, suggested (in "le Soir" 28/02/2001) "that it is necessary to put in parallel the Chinese military budget with the depopulation of Russia". Would it be so Russia that China wants to attack ? One knows that China could claim a part of the Eastern Siberia, where infiltrate her migrants
. One remembers Chinese, Russian fights on the Amour of the 60s. There is not nevertheless geopolitical Chinese preoccupation ; the Empire of the middle does not feel at all threatened by Russia more than by India (especially since the Russians always supply her with weapons, notably the hunters, bombers Sukhoï)
. China has interest to maintain good relations with these two continental powers. For which reasons then does China rearm ? Because the Chinese have a presentiment of the possibility of a major conflict, in the 21-th century, with the big thalassocratic superpower : the United States. China, a nation (as France) at the same moment maritime and continental understood that the Pacific, at present under American control, was going to become a major place of friction. Let us not forget also that two military superpowers from 2015 will be the United States and China. This last one foresees a situation similar to that of "cold war" Western block-USSR of the years 1947-1991. And, within the framework of this rearmament, it is necessary to know that China does not increase at all its actual ground (what would be the case in the hypothesis of continental inhabitants conflict of the border zone) but, as accidentally ; 1) China develops the strength its open sea fleet and submarine - Peking plans the launching of aircraft carrier - and its aviation ; 2) she improves the ballistic and nuclear capacities, preparing also military spy satellites ; 3) she revalues all the pays, to motivate the army. The Chinese get well ready for a conflict of "postmodern" type, centered on the electronic war, the missiles, the planes, the submarines and the satellites, a conflict which would have inevitably a nuclear aspect. The Pentagon perfectly realized it.The true reasons of the American anti-missiles shield (NMD).
In defiance of the agreements of nuclear disarmament SALT - and in formal discord with China, Russia and France - M.G.W. Bush wants to endow his country of interceptors shield anti-missiles (NMD) capable of shooting down in flight possible nuclear warheads launched against the American territory (1). He breaks there "balance of terror", which avoided any atomic war due to the "mutual assured destruction" (MAD, mutual assured destruction) ; this last relaying on an implicit pact between nuclear powers, according to which the aggressor, by being certain to be struck by an atomic riposte, is dissuaded from launching his A-bombs or H. But, if a country, in this particular case the USA, possesses a shield anti-missiles, it can allow himself any war type against a nuclear power without being afraid of serious retort
The commentators of world press assert that the Americans want to protect themselves against possible atomic ballistic striking "from rogue States", that is North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, etc. The press relations departments of the White House confirm obviously this version
. Nevertheless, it is little credible. The above-mentioned countries are not mad or with suicidal tendencies. They know that they are not world major powers.
In the hypothesis (highly improbable) where they could endow of nuclear missiles with long reach capable of reaching the USA, they would not take the stupid risk of an aggression that would provoke on their ground a devastating retort. Really, everything indicates that the Pentagon envisages a major confrontation with China in twenty years
, and wants to give itself the means to knock (not necessarily with nuclear annihilation moreover) without risk of nuclear counter-offensive on the American territory. In brief, the thesis, which we propose, is the following one : the NMD, the shield anti-missiles American, is probably intended to protect the USA of an atomic Chinese threat.
The logic of the nuclear deterrence is similar at the same moment to the game of chess, and also, to the game of go : the American leaders know very well (and we shall there speak in a more low voice) that China, considering the 1,25 billion inhabitants, is afraid much less than them of nuclear striking. The protection is its demography. This American project of defense anti-ballistic missiles (NMD) defended by the administration Bush, is considered in China as an aggressive measure, almost a casus belli. Traditionally, contrary to the Occidentals, the Chinese use a very diplomatic language and mask any hostility of language. When this last one appears, it is that the things are serious.
Sha Zukang, the Chinese negotiator on the disarmament, could declare: "The United States will have a position at the same moment defensive and offensive. I do not believe that the other nuclear powers would tolerate a superiority and a security absolved by Americans, while they would feel in a situation of absolute insecurity". He said it again in these terms during a press conference in Canada : "I hate the NMD, produced by an American mentality of cold war, people who look themselves for new enemies, China maybe...
". And then, he had this sentence, very calculated, but heavy of threats : "China is too big so that the Americans send it on the Moon. The Chinese are on the earth for 5 000 years and will stay there forever"
. Finally, sign also disturbing, the influent Teng Jianqun, chief editor of the official World Military Review wrote at once, always about the NMD, the American spatial shield anti-nuclear missiles, that this last one was in fact intended to prepare a war against China ; he noted : "when a country prepares a confrontation with China in the space, we have to pay to it serious attention".Let us not forget a central fact that the American thalassocracy, in spite of the ultra-pacifist official speech and humanitarian, is an "imperial nation" based on war and military function. The USA need war ("just war", crusade against the miserable, obviously), not only for economic reasons - the industry of armament is a technical-industrial and financial locomotive - but to maintain their "defenders - rulers" world status of the world. Since 1941, the USA is the country in the world, which led the biggest number of military operations and bombardments outside its borders.
However, without being ever afraid for the integrity of the territory. There, things change :
they have not to deal any more with small countries, Vietnam, Panama, Serbia, etc. However, with enormous China, terrifying challenger, which, with the 1,25 billion inhabitants, can support heavy losses of nuclear striking, and which endows at present time, missiles of long reach ! Perspective is much worse than in front of the deceased the USSR. Breaking radically with the politics of Clinton, the President Bush junior declared, at the beginning of March, what press little raised, but who is nevertheless major : "China is a rival and not a strategic partner".
A war will have maybe for theater and central stake the Pacific and will set possibly the USA and China, by 2010. Which will be the excuse of it, on which disputes will it burst ? At the moment, nobody knows it. But, contrary to nearsighted and improvident European politicians who "have no more enemies", who do not feel more threatened by nobody, who disarm, for whom military function is only a force of police for humanitarian interposition, the American strategists read Clausewitz ; they argue in the long run and know that war is always possible, tomorrow, between two major powers even though, today, one does not know the exact excuses of it. It said, the global stake in such confrontation, we guess it easily : it is the dominion of Pacific Ocean.Analyze forms of a rising conflict.
Therefore, a major conflict for the ascendancy between China and the United States is likely, but not certain, for 21-th century. In any cases, a constant rivalry during 21-th century is absolutely evident. It will take either the forms of opened conflicts, or a permanent tension, with always the risk of nuclear striking. All the question is to know which camp will choose the European Union, Russia, India and the Moslem States. Anyway, a new cold war begins. China appears as the appearance in the history of a future hyper-power such as the humanity has ever seen yet. Regretted Alain Peyrefitte in his book "When China will wake up" had predicted it : China will be in the 21-th century a 1/5-th representing unified State of the humanity. Never a similar case had occurred.
What are relations between Peking and the new republican administration and why do they degrade ? Much more than of the time of Clinton, the circle of acquaintances of Bush dreads the ascent in military power of the Empire of middle. Quian Qichen, Vice Prime Minister, diplomatic councilor of the Head of State and the Chinese CP, went to the White House on March 22. China not being any more, according to the statements of Mr. Bush, a "strategic partner" but a "strategic competitor", Peking tries to defuse American distrust, according to the technique of the game of go : to put to sleep then to suffocate the opponent rather than to provoke it
; traditional practice in China since the Emperors Ming, where according to Lao-Tseu's rule, resumed by Mao, it is always necessary "to smile to his most dangerous enemy and to show teeth to smaller enemy".
China tries therefore to calm the fears of the big American rival, but is not ashamed to cover Taiwan of invectives. Nevertheless, an internal document in the Chinese CP of March, 2001, posterior to the election of Mr. Bush, reveals that the geostrategic purpose of China is "to counter the development of the hegemonies and the law of the strongest".
What means this sibylline formula ? The Chinese have time, they calculate always in the long run. Their objective is, at first, not only to get back Taiwan, the rebel island, for reasons as economic as political, but also, in a second time, to distend defender links between the USA and their two main Asiatic allies : South Korea and Japan.
In a third time, China attends resuming the mastery of peaceful, commercial and military - including on Australia where it encourages a Chinese immigration
- by trying hard, notably to close American bases as the one from Okinawa. China gives itself about twenty years to reach this objective. Now this last one is as unacceptable for the USA as a geostrategic alliance, outside the NATO, between peninsular Europe and Russia ("Euro-Siberia "). The double nightmare of the Pentagon, it is that the American thalassocracy sees itself eliminated from the Pacific by China, and from the Euro-Russian continent by an ascent in power of Russia, allied to an European Union breaking with the NATO.
However, nothing will be able to divert China of its aim on the Pacific where it wants to substitute itself from the American defender. China knows that economically and geo-strategically the Pacific - all around on which will live in 2020 the two thirds of the humanity - will be in the 21-th century what were the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean for the other centuries. China would obviously prefer to obtain the hegemony, which would dedicate it as superpower without conflict with the USA. However, a conflict does not frighten the Empire of middle.
New American position is the following one : if China, ambitions of that seem disproportionate, breaks the pax Americana in the Pacific, it will be a casus belli. Administration Bush understands that China stays an "intermediate power", as India or Japan. Now, the Americans began to pass in the offensive : one remembers the "accidental" bombardment of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, which was intended to test the level of riposte of Peking, according to the Italian secret services. More recently, they accuse China for helping technologically it "Rogue State" that constitutes Iraq, what is probably a lawful charge.
They intend to sell to Taiwan frigates anti-missiles provided with radar Aegis system, (following the sale by France of frigates La Fayette), as well as missiles (to counter the recent rockets M9 and M11 pointed by China on its Southern coast), which would make difficult an attack against the island ; they block the membership of China in the World trade organization, for fear of being submerged by the subsidized Chinese farm produces. And, in end of March, 2001, the United States decided to sponsor a resolution in front of the commission of human rights from the UNO, which sat in Geneva for "to condemn serious violations of human rights in China".
Another litigious, rather explosive matter, deserves to be mentioned : the major question of the reunification of two Koreas, inevitable at long-term, because of disaster provoked by Pyongyang's regime. At the moment, Peking supports to the end Kim Jong Il's regime. The objective is the creation of Korea reunited under the Chinese crook, with a system "authoritarian capitalist" as in Hong-Kong. American objective is apparently close, but inverse : the creation of unique Korea, the consequent economic and military power, under American hegemony. The purpose of the USA is clear : to intimidate China and to contain it by three "guns" and competitors aimed against it, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
Peking, toward these States tries to play the argument of the "ethnic solidarity" of the Asiatic against Occidentals.
One other friction is Vietnam. Washington lost the first game, because, due to the Chinese help to North Vietnam imposed on the Uncle Sam the first military defeat of its history.
But the USA want to take their revenge, a "peaceful" revenge, but which arouses the exasperation of the Chinese CP : to help Vietnam to "de-communized", to make a capitalist country of it which returns in the American lap. Economic incompetence and financial necessities of the regime of Hanoi go to the direction of the American strategy, especially since the Vietnamese are historically very suspicious toward the Chinese, with whom they knew sporadic military confrontations (victorious for the Vietnamese) on the north border, after the reunification.Towards a Chinese capitalist national capitalism.
The main thing is to understand that, in all the history of the humanity, the cause of conflicts and wars was never mainly ideological, but nationalist. Cold war between the West and the communism has never degenerated into warm war, because at the bottom, conflict was at first ideological, between the communism and the capitalism.
On the other hand, Second world war began, one forget it too often, not by a fight between the German National Socialism, the Italian fascism, the Occidental democracies and the communism, but on a nationalist and geopolitical rivalry of the European countries : Germany, Russia, France, United Kingdom, etc. Ideology intervenes only as excuse, as "by-product" would have said the sociologist Pareto
. Also today, what is very disturbing in the rising rivalry between China and the USA, it is that it is not any more about an ideological conflict between the Chinese communism and the American, logical capitalism totally exceeded, but by the return in a classic geopolitical rivalry of powers.
China does not look any more at all, as of the time of Mao, to defend communist messianism, to export its model in Far East, or to take the head of a crusade of the poor countries against the Occidental capitalism. China exchanged communism for the nationalism. The objective, very cunning, is double 1) To preserve an authoritarian regime with unique party, militarist, with the aim of becoming first world power by 2020. 2) For more efficiency, the Chinese CP decided, under Jiang Zemin's presidency, to pass gradually in a capitalist economy (in two speeds, note), what worries the Pentagon, because the USA eventually understood that an opponent within market economy was more successful and dangerous than an opponent for the communism to be paralyzed. At this level, the Americans are taken in the net of a painful dilemma : in atavistic storekeepers, they can not make otherwise that to invest in the Chinese market, which is called to become colossal (the USA are the first foreign investor) but, by this making, they strengthen regime and contribute to modernize the giant, to increase the wealth (and therefore the techno-military capacities) and to make a dreadful commercial competitor, capable of pulling Japan in its orbit.
One of the American trump cards is that Peking is at the moment badly seen by its Asiatic neighbors
; they prefer by far an American hegemony to a Chinese hegemony, which would be much rougher. That is why, the Chinese CP does not stop multiplying statements of good intentions to all the countries of the region, beginning with Japan,
to which is opening the doors to investments in South China.The worsening of Chinese - American relations.
The most crucial and the most dangerous dispute concerns the Chinese capacity to endow nuclear missiles of long reach. China proceeded, since 1990, to a constant increase of its spatial performances from rockets "Long March" (inspired by the soviet technology), capable of putting into orbit several tons. It means simply that China tests also there, its intercontinental vectors ICBM, simple or "mirvés" (2), capable of affecting the USA. The military ballistic technique appeals, indeed, to the same resources and the knowledge as the programs of orbiting.
Chinese - American relations still deteriorated in March 23, 2001 by the desertion in the USA of a superior officer, a colonel of the popular Army of liberation ( APL). Worse still : his wife found refuge in the USA by the intervention of the American embassy in Peking,
what the Chinese consider as a humiliation and a "serious incident". And as for Qian Qichen's visit, Chinese Vice Prime Minister, in the White House, on March 22, what we evoked higher, it was a considerable failure because the Chinese did not obtain American renunciation of the sale to Taiwan of a shield anti-missiles Aegis (3). This point was nevertheless crucial for Peking. Mr. Bush and his State Secretary, the "falcon" Colin Powel, big artisan of the War of the Bay, attend applying literally the Treaty of Taiwan's protection signed in 1979 (4), while Mr. Clinton was ready to negotiate a possible reunification gently, according to a "process in Hong-Kong".
Another serious dispute between Peking and Washington, little known by the public and little evoked by the European press, concerns the suspension by the CP of freedom of religion, and notably the discreet suppression of Christianity.
In September, 2000, a campaign of destruction of churches by dynamiting would have begun
. Several thousand buildings were destroyed, claim the Americans ; what deny obviously the Chinese leaders. It is one of the reasons for which administration Bush has just accused China in front of the committee of the human rights of UNO, gathered in Geneva (for seeing higher). For the Chinese leaders, this American instigation on "human rights" in their own country, this constant criticism of the "dictatorial" and "repressive" character of their regime establishes, according to the usual term, the "unbearable intervention", the humiliation, which reminds the semi-colonial time of the "uneven treaties" and the "territorial concessions" of the beginning of 20-th century.
The Chinese were extremely hurt by the following statement of Mr. Bush (during the visit, quoted in this article, during Mr. Qian) : "Our guests will not be surprised if I say that I believe in the freedom of religion and that it would be doubtless much easier to forge ahead in a constructive way in our relations if our interlocutors honored freedoms of religion inside their borders" (5). For the Chinese, it is a question there, not only intervention, but also moral imperialism. Do they require that, the United States and the West, apply the Chinese cultural rules ? Let us underline there, moreover, a fundamental philosophic and ideological difference between China and West - more particularly the USA. One knows that, in the history, philosophic breaks between civilizations, the "breaks of vision of the world", according to the statement of the political analyst Julien Freund feed hostilities, and instigate geostrategic conflicts. This difference does not concern at all the choice of a social economic system (of the type communism against capitalism), what the Chinese, in pragmatic checks, laugh at. It concerns the universalistic ethics of human rights and democracy to the Occidental that the Chinese leaders take absolutely as issue. In followers of Confucius and Lao-Tseu, much more than Marx, the Chinese laud relativism and not universals. For them, the notion of democracy and the philosophy of human rights are not applicable only to the West, not in the other areas cultural identity. Furthermore, they dispute the aptness of these notions, deducing that the United States themselves - donors of lessons - do not respect their own hypocritical principles, for example by bombarding Serbia or the embassy of China in Belgrade.In conclusion.
Let us not forget that China and the United States had been already in military confrontation in 1951, during the war of Korea, and indirectly, during the war of Vietnam. One will notice that never the United States and the former USSR had directly been in confrontation.The two main lines of fracture and risks of conflicts of 21-th century will concern a confrontation Islam-Europe and Islam-India on one hand, and China - USA on the other hand (Islam West China the USA).
As demonstrated it by Alexandre Del Valle in two of the recent works, and in some of goods articles of American foreign policy aims to neutralize the European and Russian rivals by playing the card of the Islam
, as the war of Serbia demonstrated by it. However, the USA has a more serious preoccupation on their western side : to neutralize China. They feel as a thalassocratic island surrounded, obliged to control the Big threatening Continent. There is a constant in the history of wars, which obeys to a strange paradox, which geopolitical appoints "the paradox of the Trojan War". It can formulate as : opened wars burst between two powers or two coalitions on particular and unpredictable excuses, which are never fundamental because ; these last ones are a global, strategic, economic, ethnic rivalry, etc. which looks only for a spark, at the bottom secondary, to degenerate into opened conflict. First-rate Trojan War immortalized by Homer, set in fact the young cities Greek-achenian against the city, State of Troy, installed near Bosphorus, and commercially formidable and military rival. The pointless excuse of the release of hostilities and expedition of Agamemnon was a loving jealousy (the removal of beautiful Hélène by Trojans). However, the real cause of the conflict was the geostrategic will of the Greeks to eliminate their oriental competitors and to appropriate the Aegean Sea.
Many wars can analyze according to this railing, which distinguishes the excuses of essential causes, backcloths. Now, in the case of the potential conflict China - USA, we can track down a structural backcloth extremely loaded in hostility : rivalry for the hegemony on the Pacific ; fear that the USA, become unique superpower, to see re-appearing a competitor otherwise more dangerous than the deceased USSR, because much more populated, and because at the same moment continental and maritime power, what is not Russia
; America been also afraid of the world economic and technological competition of the Empire of Middle and its tremendous demographic mass ; flourish of Chinese nationalism which becomes aware of its immense power and which has a debt to be adjusted, a revenge to be set against the West which would have humbled it since the beginning of 20-th century with the "uneven treaties", etc.
In brief, the conflicting "backcloth" is particularly dangerous. The dispute China - USA is much heavier than former contentious the USA - USSR, because it is geostrategic and either ideological,
and also because it is similar, as being showed by Samuel Huntington, in a shock of civilizations.
That is why, as the French-German wars of 19-th and 20-th centuries, which could burst under any excuse, one can not say that "Taiwan's problem" will be inevitably cause of a confrontation. Quite other excuse can appear. The future is always opened, everything is possible. As for 2020, Chinese - American rivalry will make only increase, as a powder keg, which does not stop filling. Nevertheless, we do not know the name of the lock, which will blow up it. To summarize this analysis, we shall say that a global confrontation between North America and China constitutes one of major risks in the 21-th century, without we can know the excuse of its explosion, or the shape, which it will take. Anyway, a philosophic spirit could notice that we are going to assist during 21-th century in the confrontation of the most ancient civilization of the world (China), an alive and homogeneous long-alive people, according to the statement of Raymond Ruyer, and of the most recent (America), which is moreover more a society than a historic civilization, a diverse and short-alive people.