2001-04-21 / Columnists



By James Conway Sullivan

A few thoughts about the United States’ relationship with the People’s Republic of China.

For many years there has been significant folklore or myth created concerning China’s ascendancy and leadership in the world arena. The Chinese believe that they will eventually be the world’s number one, the supreme, the world leader. They have already started acting as if they really believe their own folklore. This is, naturally, a big headache for our nation.

China, with a population of over a billion people and a large and growing economy, is potentially a big threat. Where do we go, and what do we do?

China, that won its "freedom" in a bloody civil war, was and is largely ruled by classic Marxist/Leninist doctrine. China believes, according to its own folklore and dreams that it will be the world leader.

Presently, our policy of constructive engagement seems to have a mixed bag of results. It holds that only a new entrepreneurial class can affect or displace China’s aging rulers and ideologies. With this policy we are either helping to build a new China or we are giving them the weapons to bury us. After their recent actions on the jet run-in and other policies, we can see they are very hard-nosed. They were born and forged in revolution. They view the west as an implacable enemy. So, where do we go from here?

Just as we started to relax, since Russia’s defeat in the cold war, this comes back to haunt us. We must examine and scrutinize our policies and see what we have learned from dealing with them.

Now, essentially, we are gambling with our security and liberty. Ultimately we must decide to proceed on one path and hold to it. This is a gamble, and a very large one especially when we see the way the Chinese have acted recently. If we believe in the "liberalization" theory we must continue our "chummy" relationship with them. We must continue to assist their liberalization efforts, hoping that the economy will create a new entrepreneurial class that is more concerned with money and the economy than repressing human rights and starting wars.

At the end of this scenario we must hope and pray that the rising new capitalists and their allies can exert enough pressure on the hard lines to cut them off or shut them down. Conversely, if that theory is wrong, we could just be setting the stage for world war and world conflict. In effect, we would be "giving them the tools to bury us."

These are the same Chinese communists who hunted and tortured Catholic priests (like the British in Ireland) and recently we all witnessed the Tianamen Square human rights atrocities. Can we gamble with our freedom and security? Well, we already are!

I don’t know where it all will end, but President Reagan and Bush’s plans to implement a star-wars defense shield starts to look better and better and more and more necessary. We live in an increasingly dangerous world!

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