Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fragile China by Erick San Juan

Fragile China by Erick San Juan

The following excerpts are from the interview of Asia Times top writer George Koo with Professor Susan L. Shirk, the author of 2007’s acclaimed “China, Fragile Superpower.”  Prof. Shirk is an influential expert on Chinese politics who served as deputy assistant secretary of state during the Clinton administration.

George Koo: How does the domestic insecurity of the Chinese Communist Party leadership influence its foreign policy? Under Xi, are they feeling more or less secure? To what extent did the world financial crisis of 2008-9 alter China’s perception of the US?

Prof. Shirk: “The CCP leaders are more insecure than ever. They continue to worry that their rule could end overnight like that of the communist party in the Soviet Union. Can a communist party continue to govern a society drastically changed by market reforms and opening to the world?  Pres. Xi Jinping’s focus is much more on domestic threats than international ones. And now that economic growth is slowing and people could be facing real economic distress, the threat of public discontent looms larger. The big question is whether Xi Jinping will try to rally people around the CCP by stoking anti-foreign nationalism and even possibly try to distract them from domestic problems by provoking confrontations over maritime claims. It could work the other way, of course. He could behave more cautiously toward China’s neighbors and the US to keep a peaceful international context for China to address its domestic problems, which is what China did before 2008.

The 2008 global financial crisis changed Chinese views of the US, leading to the misperception that the US was in decline and discrediting the American model. Because China recovered fastest from the crisis, people in China felt a kind of premature triumphalism. The Chinese public and elites started to demand a more assertive foreign policy. The muscle-flexing that resulted has raised anxiety among the neighboring nations about China’s intentions. The net result is harmful to China’s own national interest.”

It is good to know that what we have been saying all this time about the real condition of China, economically and its domestic affairs are now being confirmed by an expert. Actually even though how hard China tries to cover up the real score in its socio-eco-political affairs from the world, truth will catch up and expose whatever China is trying to conceal from us.

Another important point that was mentioned in the interview by Mr. Koo -

Koo: “The Chinese government has never adopted an Asian version of the Monroe Doctrine to keep the US out of its neighborhood”–a quote from your book. In light of recent developments since your book was published, to what extent is your statement still true or not so much?

Shirk: It is still true. It would be unrealistic for China to expect to dominate Asia the way the US as a rising power dominated the Caribbean and Latin America. The regions are very different. There are other large and powerful countries in Asia such as India, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and therefore there can’t be only one regional hegemon. Even if the US forces weren’t in Asia, it wouldn’t be possible for China to recreate a regional hierarchy like that of the Qing Dynasty. China is going to have to find a way to work together on a more equal basis with other regional powers.”

Coming from an expert on China, I agree with this observation so it is very clear that China is dreaming to be a hegemon by antagonizing its neighbors in the process. Xi Jinping's 'China Dream' will surely fail with a divided leadership and purging from within disguised as anti-corruption campaign. It is time for China to wake up and accept the reality that it will never achieve its glory like in the Qing Dynasty.

Even for China, there must be no uni-polar world, a multi-polar world and a peaceful co-existence with the rest of the world.

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