Beware of Chinese Bearing Gifts

By: Nancy Salvato

China makes the little voice inside my head nervous. China has surpassed India in having the largest population in the world with no other country coming remotely close to a billion in number. [1] As a matter of fact, the United States claims less than ¼ the number of China’s population. If forced into a war with China, we would be battling the largest military in the world. [2] It’s possible they are not as well trained as our forces and do not have as sophisticated weaponry, however there is no disputing they are currently “engaged in the most significant military buildup in the world.” [3] They’ve produced submarines and missiles that are serious threats to the United States. [4] Indeed, they are diplomatic and economic allies of Iran, a country which certainly cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons of mass destruction, and whose leader would like to decimate Israel and has made no secret of his animosity toward western ideas…wanting to unite the world under Islam. [5]

Of lesser, but still of considerable concern is China’s blatant disregard for how their industrial development is polluting the atmosphere. Although this has garnered the attention of the green movement, there is tacit acknowledgment that unless China chooses to address the issue, no one will mess with China. Because the media is preoccupied with an anti-Bush agenda for the past two terms our president has held office, sufficient attention has not been given to the true threat of Islamofascism, nor to how the one world movement (driven by the fictitious idea that by undermining the US economy global warming could be controlled) would actually impact the freedoms we take for granted.

Under the radar, China has catapulted into a position of power because of what Rowan Callick coins, “The China Model.” [6] Deng Xiaoping opened China’s economy “to foreign and domestic investment, allowing labor flexibility, keeping the tax and regulatory burden low, and creating a first-class infrastructure through a combination of private sector and state spending.” [7] The paradigm shift is that while he implemented these changes, he maintained the ruling party’s “firm grip on government, the courts, the army, the internal security apparatus, and the free flow of information. A shorthand way to describe the model is: economic freedom plus political repression.” [8] China continues to jail those who advocate democracy or religious tolerance. [9] Clearly, capitalism + a politically free society are no longer the only conduit to a free market economy.

China has enlisted its skyrocketing economy to woo allies and enemies alike into trade partnerships which serve to further China’s geopolitical goals. [10] The offer of “consumer market potential with developed economies” and “promises of cheap loans” and “successful developing country know-how” poses particular allure to developing countries run by powerful dictators known for woefully poor human rights records. [11]

“China offers a seductive model that is being eagerly taken up by the leaders of countries that have not yet settled into democratic structures: Vietnam; Burma; Laos; the Central Asian dictatorships that were part of the Soviet Union; a growing portion of the Middle East, starting with the United Arab Emirates, including its glossy new centers like Dubai; Cuba; most of Africa, including South Africa; and even to a degree the hereditary cult that is North Korea.” [12] Using money to win over new friends and influence people, China is making important inroads on the foreign policy stage and has quickly become a force with which to be reckoned. By offering Chinese-funded highways or hospitals, China is able to “strong-arm nations into acknowledging “Beijing’s one-China policy” so as not to allow acknowledgment of Taiwan’s sovereignty. [13]

“…if maintaining warm relations with the United States is China’s most important international priority, why did Beijing close the port of Hong Kong to an American aircraft carrier battlegroup on Thanksgiving?…Why has China abrogated maritime convention and denied safe harbor to American ships in distress?…Why did it successfully test a dangerous anti-satellite weapon?” [14] Although the wall fell down, it would seem that the Cold War is not over, and that at the very least the military arms race must continue to ensure that we have the capability to deter our would be enemies. Clearly, we have entered a new era. The rules have changed and the teams have changed.

It is true that in the short run, the United States has benefited from trade with China. However, The China Model might prove to be our Trojan Horse. Beware of Greeks Chinese bearing gifts (or toys) might be an apropos colloquialism in the new era of “Checkbook Diplomacy” [15] ushered in courtesy of the CPC (Chinese Communist Party).


[3-4], [9], [14] Blumenthal, Dan Blind Into Beijing (12/20/07) The American

[6-8], [12] Callick, Rowan The China Model The American (November/December 2007)

[10-11] China, Peru: The Politics of Free Trade Talks (May 17, 2007) Stratfor

[13], [15] Geopolitical Diary: Taiwan Moves Beyond Checkbook Diplomacy (May 02, 2007) Stratfor

[5] IRAN – Ahmadi-Nejad’s World Agenda.

[1] Most Populous Countries

[2] World’s largest army not necessarily the strongest

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Nancy Salvato is the Director of Education and the Constitutional Literacy Program for Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan 501 (C) (3) research and educational project whose mission is to promote the education of the American public on the basic elements of relevant political, legal and social issues important to our country. She serves as the Assistant Provost for the American College of Education and as the Education Editor for The New Media Journal. She is also a staff writer, for the
New Media Alliance, Inc., a non-profit (501c3) coalition of writers and grass-roots media outlets, and a frequent contributing writer to The World & I educational magazine.

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