What is China Up to?

I found this report on some forum discussion a bit interesting.  The discussion that came out all seem quite obvious, especially for those who paid attention to Taiwan for the past decade.  But perhaps for those who only pay attention to China for the past 10 years, Chinese behaviour become something of a puzzle.

To those observe from Taiwan’s perspective, Chinese policy and strategy seems quite consistent.  They never change much.  But to those outside, the recent expansionism attitude from China might strike as odd because they are not used to it, whereas those Taiwanese who paid attention notice them frequently and recognize the pattern.

Something about how Chinese recent aggression is some sort of result of self prophecy is very interesting though, and I think it might be true.  People often underestimate the power of human psychology.  Consolidating this and from the one taking about Chinese thinker using “warning” state era as a model, we can summarize:

  1. One view is that China’s previous conformity to international rules set by the west is only a temporary mean to obtain an end – Chinese hegemony in Asia and ascension to become a global super power.  This is not too different from the traditional Chinese rulers’ world view, in which China is the centre (especially centre of Asia where all minor states have to pay tribute) and the top of a hierarchical world.  In their view, that is the road to order and peace.  (In Chinese movies, this is quite evident.  Heroes often have to “unify” China to bring order and peace.  When China is unified, all the minor states around China pay tribute…this is part of Chinese ancient history and mythos).
  2. Because people keep saying “rise of China” and “21st century belong to China” etc, Chinese thinkers and general public have become arrogant about the state of their country.  Who wouldn’t?  If most people around me keep saying I have become stronger I will naturally think that I have become stronger.  Furthermore, because things seem to be working out very well, call for democracy or political reform has been largely marginalized.

Adding to all this is that in the past decade, the US really suffered economically and in wars.  Although technological advancement (such as internet and its utilization innovation) still largely come from the US, its economic problems have become quite severe.  Even worse, China and the US now have this huge trade deficit problem.  This globalization really has created some serious problems which those economists have not foresee or fail to come up with a new paradigm.  I am no expert in this trade thing so I don’t want to dig too deep into it.  But I think it is suffice to say that people on either side are happy (American thinks they are losing jobs to China because Chinese artificial suppression of RMB, while Chinese thinks that the US just want to ruin China or use China as a scapegoat).

In conclusion, I think the combination of Chinese leader’s (and its people’s) traditional mindset, West’s corporations’ and leaders’ over flattering attitude and appeasement toward China, and the macro global situation all create the current predicament we are in…As for what does all these mean for China and the world?  I really don’t have a clue, because it’s just too big of a topic for one person to comprehend.  But the question of what does it mean for Taiwan is probably more important for Taiwanese leaders.

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