China's Media Stay on Message

If you read China's online press, this week's meeting between President Hu Jintao and George W. Bush is a get-together of natural partners who, but for a few misunderstandings, could and should be much better friends.

The relationship, says the People's Daily Online, is "maturing."

The Chinese commentary on Hu's visit doesn't just closely follow Hu's message to. It is Hu's message. The leading English language news sites are all controlled by the government. To get a more complete picture of the dance between the world's most powerful nation and the world' most populous country, you have to read other Asian online commentators.

Key themes of Hu's U.S. tour, from some Asian media's perspective:

1. China's economic gains don't come at America's expense.

In China Daily, analysts Zhou Shijian and Wang Lijun cite the example of a Barbie doll that sells for $9.99 on U.S. shelves. It is sold by manufacturers in China for $2 each. But Barbie's raw materials, they note, "come from the Middle East and are made into semi-products in Taiwan. The wigs are made in Japan, and the packing materials are provided by the United States."

The three parts of the doll package cost the Chinese firm $1, they say. Transportation and management cost another 65 cents. Thus the mainland, credited with $2 in exports, has really only gained about 35 cents. In other words, they say statistics that show a massive trade surplus in China's favor don't capture the realities of the trade relationship.

Self-serving? Michael DeGolyer, a columnist for the Hong Kong Standard, an independent business newspaper, thinks not. What matters, he says, is that the U.S. trade deficit with East Asia as a whole has actually narrowed. He says the United States would be wise to resist a "trade war."

2. Taiwan is a closed issue.

Chinese Ambassador to the United States Zhou Wenzhong told People's Daily Online that he hopes the United States will "properly handle the Taiwan issue, and work with the Chinese government to maintain the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and stand up for the Sino-US common interests." In other words, China will tacitly accept the island's democratic capitalist system but regard any formal expressions of sympathy as a hostile act.

The economic reality beneath that diplomatic language is that Taiwan is "the largest single investor in mainland China," and the "principal source of China's technological revolution," as noted by Jonathan Powers of the International Herald Tribune. China's claim to the island and American sympathy for its democratic capitalist system, make the island "one of the world's most dangerous potential flashpoints," Powers says.

While Taiwanese don't like China's intimidating stance, says the Manichi Daily News in Japan, they don't want to create problems for President Bush and United States, whom the island regards as its bulwark against a Chinese takeover.

3. China poses no threat to the United States.

The People's Daily cites Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's visit to China last fall, saying that Rumseld has changed his view of "China's quickening pace in defence modernization," now finding it "understandable."

A less political perspective of Rumsfeld dominated the Chinese online media in February, when the Department of Defense released its 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review outlining U.S. world strategy for next four years. The three paragraphs in the 92-page document that concerned China received close and extensive analysis.

Back then, the PDO said the Pentagon report "is making an imaginary enemy and taking 'China Threat' as its pretext to develop long-range and short-range weapons and aircraft and submarines. This can only prove that the defense secretary is shortsighted. And the people in DOD are still using 'Cold War' mindset to see today's China and do not see the peaceful development in China."

When Hu isn't visiting America, China's media downplay the claim that China is a threat, and put more emphasis on the view that America is. The bottom line: under China's authoritarian system, its media outlets place an emphasis on exercising message discipline.

By washingtonpost.com |  April 20, 2006; 12:21 PM ET  | Category:  Asia
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I don't know whether it was intentional or not, but eiher way the placement of the Falung Gong protester among the journalists during Hu Jintao's address was a diplomatic coup. Especially when President Bush proceeded to mention "freedom of speech" during his own address. I wonder how the Chinese press are going to cover that!

Posted by: Pat, Washington D.C. | April 20, 2006 01:09 PM

You can bet the chinese media (aka the Chinese government) won't even mention in passing that a protestor interrupted their esteemed President!

Posted by: John | April 20, 2006 01:55 PM

There is an element in the Republican Party that gets a little hysterical about "Red" China as a military threat, but they have not been overly aggressive and will remain within their traditional borders. Of course, Taiwan is regarded as being within it's borders.
Our major "dispute" with China is trade. The U.S. has become economically dependent on "cheap" Chinese goods. Along with Latin America, The United States has seen major industrial assets and jobs moved to China. We have the skills and resources to regain our economic independence through the use of trade barriers. This is what Alexander Hamilton taught us, and it works. It gave us our industrial might that took us through two world wars.
Development and economic independence does not occur without trade barriers and bilateral trade. "Free Trade" is a universal theory in a world that does not accept universal anwsers. Trade barriers are not "theory", and they can fit the individual requirements of the country that uses them..

Posted by: P. J. Casey | April 20, 2006 02:10 PM

I don't think there's anything hysterical in some powerful Americans' identification of China as a threat.

Exaggerating China's lethargic and feeble armaments program is a deliberate policy of US military and industrial interests, who see Cold War with China as their best long-term hope for institutional survival and personal profit.

Without a Chinese boogeyman, they would have to continue to rely on the even more implausible threat from third-rate Middle Eastern powers to justify their fantastic expense.

Their greatest fear is that the US public might notice that the world has actually been getting safer for decades, with the number and scale of active wars today less than half what it was in the sixties.

Posted by: OD | April 20, 2006 02:35 PM

Don't count on China to join the Allied Powers in WWIII.

Posted by: Rudy | April 20, 2006 02:56 PM

China has been making great stride economically from last 20 years. More and more Middle eastern oil will now go to china and India. More and more African, Middle Eastern and Latin American countries will buy chinese goods and weapons.
What this boils down to, is tough days for Western powers. More inflation will result from high gas price. Economy will grow slowly and people will become more restless.
So much for Leveling the playing field...

Posted by: Gen Tso' Chicken | April 20, 2006 03:14 PM

China really isn't any type of military threat to the U.S. on a mass level. Their long range ICBMs are limited in range to the West Coast (sorry, I don't mean to diminish the importance of any of you Californians). Their nuclear arsenal is extremely limited to boot. In terms of conventional weapons, the Chinese military is using old T-65 tanks, AK-47s and older MIG designs with some upgraded equipment. The PLA is an absolute joke in terms of training if you compare it with Western counterparts. They are building an uncomfortable number of conventional cruise missles around Taiwan and are trying to design a system that will allow them to retake Taiwan without much U.S. interference, but that's only a worst-case scenario.

The trade issues between China and the U.S. will probably only get worse over the coming years. It's difficult to know how long the bumpy ride will last. The main reason for the problems is China's inflexibility in allowing more foreign goods into the marketplace. Everything from food products to electronics are greatly overinflated price-wise due to high Chinese tariffs, which haven't changed all that much since China entered the WTO. The result is that Japanese, American, Australian and European products are out of reach of most Chinese. Some things will be out of reach for a long time, but, for example, Australian beef products were more than twice as expensive in stores when I was there. The other big thing is going to be ongoing piracy by the Chinese. I found bootleg movies out on DVD before they even premiered in the States (copies of master recordings). I knew of about a dozen places where I could buy all sorts of bootleg software as well, some of the packages I saw retailed in the U.S. for as much as $30,000 being sold on the streets of China for $0.60. These are professional type programs being used and abused by Chinese companies that are too cheap to buy licenses. Not to say that the U.S. doesn't have some inherent problems with trade deficits, but much of that could be alleviated by allowing China's currency to increase and getting the government to loosen restrictions on foreign products.

What really bugs me about China is the state of the government. The entire Chinese government and police structure are rotten to the core. Corruption is out of control there. Standard operating procedure for real estate development for example is to have some government official claim eminent domain over a piece of land, buy it from the poor farmers living on it for a pittance and turn around and sell it to the development firm owned by his buddy at an inflated price. The developer secures a loan from the bank to pay for the property, which he gets because his government official friend instructs the bank to approve the loan. Cheap housing tracts go up where there used to be farmland that stay empty and begin decaying not two years after construction, and the developer and government man split the profits left over from the inflated loan the developer took. Both of them reap a nice sum and the developer need not worry about paying the loan back because the government man makes sure the bank leaves his friend alone. This is just a typical example. There are far more subtle and insidious deals being made that probably make this one pale in comparison. I realize we have corruption in the States, but there has always been some semblance of separation between businessmen and politicians. Occassionally, some stupid politician gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar, but overall, there is a division that tends to mitigate the severity of corruption. In China, the politician is the businessman. China's government is basically morphing into an oligarchy/gangsterocracy. The central government may issue proclamations and prosecute the occasional government official for graft, but there's a bit of a "wink and a nod" type attitude from the central authorities that will continue (because they're just as guilty as any local officials). The people who control that government are going to do everything they can to make sure they maintain their grip as well.

The corruption is exacerbating an obvious problem between the haves and have-nots in China. We've seen this in tons of news articles, etc. This does set up a disturbing possibility that some revolt could spiral out of control and bring down the government. Less likely in today's command and control type world, but a distinct possibility, one the government is very aware of. Every single dynastic/governmental change in China has taken place at the hands of the peasantry after the government was seen to lose their mandate to rule.

On top of the corruption are limitless other problems that are a result of stupidity and bad policy. I'd say that about 50-60% of the "growth" that China is experiencing is fuelled by pure speculation and cheap construction of unneeded facilities. Between the tri-city area of Shanghai-Nanjing-Hangzhou are vast tracts of construction projects and housing that lie completely empty. They've forced peasants out of their land and built housing that none of the peasants can afford. Much of this is done with speculative beliefs that the price of the land is going to increase in the future, but the truth is projects like these are just a complete waste of good farm land and resources. The same goes for vast industrial parks that stand rotting because the builders can't find any tenants. All of this is important because we can expect that at some time China's economy is going to undergo a huge contraction, which could be potentially dangerous. Add to that the fact that China is losing approximately 3% of arable land per year and this adds up to an ugly situation in the future. I could go on, but I need to get back to work.

I don't mean to be so negative about China, but I think there's a greater chance of all the work that's been done there being undone than there is any significant threat to the United States. What we should be doing is partnering with the Chinese government to find alternative fuels to ease oil prices, improve the environment and assist with creating more responsible patterns of government and economic stability.

Posted by: Brian | April 20, 2006 03:36 PM

I have read some very interesting blogs here, so I pose this question to you guys.. If China with its enormous population, and emergence as a global might equal or close to equal with the US. Starts to use up there fair share of the earth's resources. I mean everything from oil to air jordans. The finite resources will face new demand, the united states will have to welcome another glutton to the dinner table. What will happen to the cost of consumer goods, fuel, interest rates? What will happen to our (USA) middle class? what will our geo-political outlook and policy be towards the rest of the world when the threat of our millitary intervention can be checked by red china? I challenge a forecast/answer from this discussion group.

Posted by: Casear | April 20, 2006 06:40 PM

The China Threat

In response to your question Caesar:

China will emerge as a global (not regional) power within 10 years. As the middle class increases in Asia, competition for world resources will increase and in addition to China, another glutton (India) will be at the table.

The cost of consumer goods, fuel etc., will go up unless you are one of those who believes the world's resources are infinite. Few actually believe that but it does not pay to be too prescient.

Can anything be done? I doubt it. Unlike ancient Egyptians, we do not shoot the messenger who brings ill tidings, but research funding for people who articulate such negative scenarios soon dries up. Successful politicians soon learn that simplistic cheerful banalities like ("no one can beat the American worker", or "The American innovation and enterprise will overcome any obstacle"... is the sure path to election. The Bush machine has done it twice with soaring federal and trade deficits. Why not a third time???

So my answer to you is "Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow you shall die".

Posted by: Oscar Mayer | April 20, 2006 09:05 PM

China will Help with Iran

I wonder what we gave up in return. Did we concede:

1. China can keep its currency groosly devalued and keep flooding our markets with cheap goods, or

2. We will look the other way when China starts taking more interest in Taiwan. That interst will probably not be articulated until after the summer olympics in 2008 in China

Posted by: Oscar Mayer | April 20, 2006 09:10 PM

When China's GDP rises to US level (in 2050?), the per capita GDP is still only 1/5 of American's.

Posted by: American superior | April 20, 2006 09:32 PM

The China Threat

>
_______________________________________

Not true. Its probably within 7-10 years. See web site below or text I have extracted below:. See what I mean what politicians` will not tell you?

http://www.cepr.net/err/2006_01_03.htm
I quote :

That Blur, It's China Moving Up In the Pack
David Barboza and Daniel Altman
New York Times, December 21, 2005, Page C1

This article reports on China's re-evaluation of the size of its economy. Based on new data, the government's statistical agency estimated its economy is 17 percent larger than previously reported. The article reports that this increment to growth pushes China into 4th place among world economies, behind the United States, Japan, and Germany. It also reports that China's economy is now situated to surpass the U.S economy by 2035 based on its projected growth path.

Actually, using a purchasing power parity (PPP) measure of GDP, which most economists view as the more realistic basis for making international comparisons, China is already the world's second largest economy. With the revised data on the current size of China's GDP, its economy should exceed the size of the U.S. economy within a decade.

According to the Penn World Tables, the generally accepted source for estimates of PPP GDP, China's GDP on a PPP basis in 2000 was approximately $5.1 trillion (including Hong Kong). If its growth has averaged 7.5 percent annually since 2000, then its current GDP would be approximately $7.2 trillion (in 2000 dollars), compared to $11.1 trillion for the United States. If the 17 percent figure is correct, then China's GDP would already be $8.4 trillion or more than 75 percent of the size of the U.S. economy.

Starting from this level, and using World Bank growth projections for China and CBO growth projections for the U.S., China's economy should be roughly equal to the size of the U.S. economy in 7 years. There is considerable error in the measurement of China's economy in its own currency units, and also in constructing purchasing power parity measures, but it is likely that the size of China's economy will be comparable to the size of the U.S. economy in the very near future.

Here is another study on military strength:
http://www.cepr.net/pressreleases/ss_defense_2005_04_05.htm

Projected Shortfalls from U.S. Defense Policy
Dwarf Social Security Shortfall


Washington, DC -- According to a new study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), the additional spending required to maintain U.S. military pre-eminence in the coming decades is likely to be many times larger than the projected Social Security shortfall.

While the United States is currently the pre-eminent military power, maintaining military dominance will be increasingly difficult as China passes the U.S. as the world largest economic power in approximately ten years, according to CEPR. The paper, The Social Security Shortfall and the National Defense Shortfall, projects the amount of additional military spending that the U.S. will need to keep pace with China.

Using a purchasing power parity measure, which nearly all economists agree is the appropriate measure of economic output, China's economy is already two-thirds the size of the U.S. economy and larger than any other economy in the world. It is projected to exceed the U.S. economy by 2016 and grow to more than three times the size by the end of the century.

"Many analysts have failed to appreciate the true size of China's economy, because they use the wrong measure of the GDP," said Dean Baker, Economist and Co-Director at CEPR and author of the report. "It is possible to debate the importance of the projected shortfall in the Social Security program over its 75-year planning horizon. But in almost any scenario, maintaining the current U.S. defense policy over this period will impose far larger costs."

The paper shows that:

Using a purchasing power parity (PPP) measure of GDP, China's economy is already two-thirds of the size of the U.S. economy and is projected to exceed it by 2016.
In a low-cost scenario, the gap between the amount of spending needed to keep pace with China's military and the amount of spending projected by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will be more than 2.0 percent of GDP ($240 billion at 2005 output levels) by 2030, and nearly 5.0 percent of GDP by 2050 ($600 billion at 2005 output levels).
In a mid-cost scenario, which assumes that China devotes the same share of its output to the military as the U.S. does at present, this military spending gap will be close to 7.0 percent of GDP by 2050 ($720 billion at 2005 output levels).
In a high-cost scenario, in which China matches the share of output that the U.S. spent on its military at the height of the Cold War, the military spending gap will exceed 12 percent of GDP by 2030 ($1.4 trillion at 2005 output levels) and 18 percent of GDP by 2050 ($2.2 trillion at 2005 output levels).
This U.S. military spending shortfall is far larger than the projected Social Security shortfall. In the low-cost scenario, the present value of the military spending shortfall over the next 75 years is $26.7 trillion, more than six times the size of the Social Security trustees projection of the 75-year shortfall in Social Security. The projected 75-year military spending shortfall in the mid-cost scenario is $35.7 trillion, nearly nine times the size of the projected Social Security shortfall. In the high-cost scenario, the projected military shortfall over the next 75 years is $89.2 trillion, more than 22 times the size of the projected Social Security shortfall.


Posted by: Oscar Mayer | April 20, 2006 10:43 PM

I am a Chinese,please come to China and see it by yourself,then you will find that Chinese people hate the war,and Chines leaders hate the war,too.

Posted by: zouling | April 20, 2006 11:26 PM

Not true Zouling. China is currently no match for the United States so it fights it's war through proxy states such as Iran to keep the United States off-balance. It is biding its time, waiting for the US to slip up or for its own economy to grow stronger. In North Korea the same story holds true. China could force N. Korea to make concessions as it is very heavily dependent on the Chinese economy. But it is in China's interest to maintain tensions in the region and keep the United States distracted with many regional conflicts.

I do not blame the Chinese. They were once a great empire and they have dreams of becooming a global power.

Posted by: Oscar Mayer | April 21, 2006 12:44 AM

I don't think China is a threat to the world. It is more a great opportunity for the world, with its dynamic economic development and strong desire for world peace. What we need is more engagement and candid exchange to help develop the country to a properous and democratic state, which takes time.

If you have not visited China, you should go there and see for yourself. Talk to Chinese people and see what they think about the current political system, the country and the world.

Talk and meet with Chinese immigrants in US to know more about the country. After this, I am sure you will change your view about China as a threat.

Posted by: Kevin | April 21, 2006 01:28 AM

Oscar Mayer is right, China, as well as Russia, use proxies now to combat America and the west. This, along with Chinese ability to project power abroad is the threat DoD talks about. Also, China is increasingly buying the latest in military technology and hardware as well as building the capabilities to project their considerable forces abroad. They may not be that well trained but they are competent and make up for it with superior manpower. What the Chinese people think is irrelevant, they live under a Communist Regime and have no voice or power. Whether the public wants peace or not doesn't matter, nor does it matter how nice or hard working they are. China, like all other countries, desires power and the ability to prosper and succeed. They are not necessarily peaceful nor bellicose but have the ability to be either. Right now, they are leaning toward the bellicose end of the spectrum with an unecessary force projection buildup as well as buidling alliances with the Irans, Sudans, and Venezuelas of the world.

Posted by: Archimedes | April 21, 2006 02:01 AM

Though China's economy is growing rapidly,but we are still very poor.What we need is the peace so that we can develop our economy.
Archimedes said:"China, as well as Russia, use proxies now to combat America and the west. "I don't think it's a combat.There are nearly 1.4 billion people in China,we have our histories and cultures.In some fieds,of course,we have the different opinions with you.We are equal,you can not ask us to follow your instructions.We should make more understandings among us and adopt the differences,but I think all of us have a common dream-a peaceful、harmonious society.We are a big family in the earth.

Posted by: Zouling | April 21, 2006 05:10 AM

Archimedes: "Oscar Meyer is right."

Is he? Are you? Why then do you provide zero evidence to back up your glib assertion that China is somehow attacking America through proxies?

What attacks? I've been watching the 21st Century pretty closely and the only attack I've seen on America came from Afghanistan. Are you planning to claim that China was behind that? Maybe they met Mohammed Atta in Prague?
Perhaps you'd care to give us some concrete examples. Pretty much all the actual attacking of foreign countries I've seen lately came from the United States.

"Right now, they are leaning toward the bellicose end of the spectrum with an unecessary force projection buildup"

America's force projection capacity is dozens of times greater than China's. Is IT also unnecessary?

Clearly not, since unlike China, America does actually go around invading foreign countries.

America's military expenditure is roughly equal to the rest of the world combined. Does that make America bellicose?

Or are you operating on the usual double standard, where the US gets a free pass on the standards of behaviour that apply to everyone else?

Posted by: OD | April 21, 2006 12:35 PM

Oscar Meyer: "But it is in China's interest to maintain tensions in the region and keep the United States distracted with many regional conflicts.
I do not blame the Chinese. They were once a great empire and they have dreams of becooming a global power."

China's most famous achievement as a great empire was building a wall around itself. No power in world history has traditionally been LESS expansionist than China.

In what way are the Chinese trying to change the regional status quo in their region?

All the initiatives I've seen have come from Taiwan, and especially the US Government.

With its crazy nuclear alliance with India, America is trying to close the ring on China. There are also now US troops surrounding China in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan.

Why?

If they are an aggressive expansionist power, show me the Chinese military advisors in Honduras and Guatemala. Show me the Chinese carrier group prowling off San Diego, the way the Seventh Fleet buzzes China.

You can't because they don't exist. The map tells the world clearly which is the aggressive, expansionist power. And it's not China.

America's policy, a re-run of Kipling's great game only this time with nuclear weapons, is going to get all our children and grandchildren killed so that the fatcats of your "defence" industry can upgrade the leather seats in their Cadillacs.

You cannot close the ring around China, because they will simply team up with Russia, which is also feeling increasingly hemmed in by America's aggressive policy of infiltrating troops and bases in every nook and crannie of Central Asia. In fact China and Russia held their first joint military exercises last year.

Nixon won credit in defusing the potential for a Sino-Russian alliance. Your current leaders have already thrown that legacy away.

I think Americans, of all people, have a bloody nerve calling other countries expansionist or aggressive. What monumental hypocrisy.

They aren't. You are.

Posted by: OD | April 21, 2006 12:57 PM

OD,
No offense, but unlike individuals, countries shape their foreign polices to serve their domestic interests. That is precisely what the United States attempts to do and that is exactly what China is doing today.

The "peace and bellicosity" you mention are just two sides of the same coin... to be used as necessary to further our self-interests. The problem occurs when we miscalculate.

China has not miscalculated. It has exploited certain weaknesses in western society. It has secured an expanded industrial and manufacturing base by opening markets in the West while keeping its own market relatively closed. This has allowed China to build massive foreign reserves (one trillion dollars at last count and growing) with which it has gone on a shopping spree to secure its economic interests (oil) and its political influence. We could debate the morality of free markets but that is largely irrelevant. What is relevant is that their strategy was brilliant and execution has been extraordinarily.

Our strategy in the last few years has lacked finesse and flexibility. It appears dogmatic. The Bush Doctrine seems more like the work of a middling undergraduate student in political science that the statesmen who shaped our policies under earlier presidents including Reagan, the elder Bush or Clinton. We have been equally inept at implementation.

The result is we currently have diminished influence among our european allies and less ability to project our military stregth in regions where our interests demand it. I refer chiefly to Iran, but the statement is valid for South America as well as N. Korea.

Economically too we have been distracted and weakened by the failure to aggressively open world markets to our goods. Too many economic concessions have come about to try to secure some support for our adventure in Iraq. China has played that card skillfully by resisting any moves to open its market or revalue its currency. More kudos to them!

Posted by: Oscar Mayer | April 21, 2006 01:33 PM

"China has played that card skillfully by resisting any moves to open its market or revalue its currency. More kudos to them!"

That's all very well, Oscar, But you're now describing the challenge posed by China in purely economic terms.

What I took exception to was what you said about their military posture.

When Zouling said the Chinese hated war you said:

"Not true Zouling. China is currently no match for the United States so it fights its war through proxy states such as Iran to keep the United States off-balance. It is biding its time, waiting for the US to slip up or for its own economy to grow stronger...it's in China's interest to maintain tensions in the region and keep the United States distracted with many regional conflicts."

You're saying that China is fighting a proxy war through Iran, stoking regional conflicts, and building its strength for a military confrontation with the US.

Those, to me, are much more inflammatory charges than currency manipulation or protectionism.

Don't you feel just a little disingenuous, as an American, in accusing China of raising tensions and stoking regional conflicts in Asia? America has invaded two Asian countries and is now threatening to nuke a third.

Posted by: OD | April 21, 2006 03:27 PM

America has infiltrated soldiers, bases, and nuclear weapons into Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan and Mongolia. They're crawling all over China's borders.

America has just promised to help India defy NPT, with the obvious goal of threatening China.

Can you tell me why America needs troops in Mongolia? To halt Chinese expansionism? Most people (who don’t set out with the nationalist’s double set of standards) would see their presence as evidence of US expansionism.

How is China fighting its war against the US through proxy states such as Iran? Can you give us some examples?

What regional tensions is China maintaining? Taiwan? All the stoking has been coming from the Taiwanese government, which has abolished the reunification council saying it will never be needed.

I think that you must mean China is maintaining regional tensions by not surrenduring on the principle of ultimate reunification. A principle the US government has always accepted.

China could have built a nuclear force capable of destroying America 30 years ago, but it never did. Even today it can only target the western US. It never had more than 120 ICBMs. It limited them precisely so that it wouldn't get drawn into a nuclear arms race with the US.

But there's no escaping the attentions of the Pentagon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Sandia, Livermore, the Center for Security Policy and all the other tentacles of the great US “defense community”. They depend on this stuff for their livelihoods.

They’ll always find a way to find a threat. There will always be an enemy for the American people to fear. Liberia looked at me funny, Angola dissed my woman, Bolivia spilled my beer. Whatever.

Posted by: OD | April 21, 2006 03:51 PM

"The powers in charge keep us in a perpetual state of fear, keep us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant sums demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real."
- General Douglas MacArthur

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

The "disastrous rise of misplaced power" came to fruition with the Bush administration. No government in human history has been so much a tool and creation of the arms industry.

Personally I worry even more about the 'spiritual' effect that Eisenhower foresaw. America has become a nation of militarists. A country obsessed with its army, its weapons, its military prowess. It didn't use to be like that, but something, somewhere has gone badly wrong.

Posted by: OD | April 21, 2006 04:09 PM

OD

The military-industrial complex is comfortably entrenched in Washington. The high cost of running for public office pretty well ensures your friendly neighborhood lobbyist a warm welcome anywhere he goes in Washington. His money secures life long tenure for the congressman who then does his bit to bankroll the corporate agenda. This comfortable arrangement means that only 15-25 of the 435 House seats in any election are really ever in play.

I think you will have to accept that one cannot stop this feeding frezy at the public trough no matter who is elected.

What we can change is the competency of our elected leaders. That will happen when we start paying attention to policies instead of sound-bites come election time. The media bears a high responsibility for informing, the public for listening.

As things stand today, Lincoln would not made it past the primaries. The media would make short shrift of him because of his "bipolar disorder". FDR would be un- electable since a man confined to a wheelchair can hardly be the president of the most powerful country in the world. John F Kennedy would be Swift-boated because of his extra-marital affairs, and impeached if by chance he managed to get elected.

By the way does anyone know what is a "compassionate conservative"? I still have'nt figured it out yet, but someday it will all make sense. LOL

Posted by: Oscar Mayer | April 21, 2006 09:02 PM

Bush has shown just how much in common he has with Hu by jailing that Falun Gong activist. Her crime? Embarassing Hu and Bush by exercising her free-speech rights.
We can only surmise that if Bush had his way, Fox News' propaganda would be the only "news" we'd see -- just as Hu requires his media to toe the Chinese government line.
So much for free speech in America.

Posted by: Disgusted with George Bush | April 22, 2006 01:08 PM

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No, OD, I do not feel disingenuous. I really do not have any problems in the United States invading other countries. Every country including China (see history of Tibet) does that. We have a history of doing so, from our intercessions in Cuba, Philliphines, Mexico and repeatedly in South America.

What I strongly take exception to is failure. The war in Iraq was a strategic blunder of immense proportions. We opened up a second front when our focus should have been our real enemy ...Al Quaeda. We raised hostility to our just cause and our nation by initiating a war using a justification that was false. In all this, we were directed by incompetents who could not understand that in this information age truth can rarely be concealed. The world knows we cherry picked intelligence to make a case that our own people could not support. That is not good.

I might after a few drinks too many perhaps accept that it was necessary to invade Iraq because an occupied Iraq would ensure control over other nations in the middle-east. Through middle east oil we could control the policies of oil dependent Europe and Japan. But the fact is this misadventure has been so incompetently managed means I cannot find any solace even in that fact.

The last few years reminds me of a bunch of schoolboys from private schools playing with their fast cars and fast boats. Unfortunately, in this case the fast cars and fast boats do not come from their rich daddies. They are the blood and treasure of the American people.

Posted by: | April 24, 2006 03:59 PM

US uses proxy countries to fight other countries too, for example, using Taiwan issue for China.

Posted by: Tom | April 27, 2006 09:57 AM

How come so many fat white bald guys from America keep overseas to try and get women? Why are all of you such big losers? I guess that's the only thing America can export--except for war, of course.

Posted by: Fred | April 27, 2006 10:52 PM

The G.W.Bush/Congressional raid on the U.S. treasury is unprecedented and obviously out of control. We were able to recover from the deficit spending on the Viet Nam War and the Cold War due to a pay as you go fiscal policy. Russia is yet to recover from the arms race that ultimately caused the collapse of Communism in their country. The question for our children and grand children is: Will they ever be able to recover fiscally from the reckless and dangerous deficit spending of the current military/industrial/legislative complex? Further, will the Chinese to do our economy what the U.S. did to the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War?
Voters are the only people who have the ability or desire to stop this train wreck. We need to throw the rascals out of office and put those in place who can see more than three minutes into the future. Rant over, don't get me started.
Ramses (True name witheld due to fear of I.R.S. audit)

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