China: How Scared Should We Be?
April 2, 2007
by William P. Meyers

Decades ago, when I was still legally a child, some news story I was reading struck me funny. Looking at a sentence, which was saying something negative about the USSR (Russia), I thought, "Substitute USA for USSR and this sentence would still be true." When I am reading the news this trick has become a sort of automatic subroutine my mind runs. Are US officials saying something nasty about Iran, China, or France? Probably the same could be said about the U. S. A. Of course to play this game well you have to know what the U.S. is up to, and its history.

China bashing comes right after Islamic-terrorism bashing in the list of priorities of U.S. officials and the U.S. news media these days. Lately we have been told that China is spending too much on its military, that such spending must be for offensive rather than defensive purposes (are you playing the game yet?). We have been told that China's economy is a threat to ours because of the imbalance of trade (China sells us more useless junk than we sell the Chinese). And just in case the small crowd that passes for the "left" in the U.S. has any good feelings towards China, we are told that they are the main culprit in global warming and other environmental disasters.

I think China has adjusted pretty well to its situation in the world, all things considered. China's borders have changed fairly dramatically over history, so sorting out what is self-defense and what is offensive is a bit tricky for everyone. But for the most part a few centuries ago the Chinese empire was just sitting there, prosperously minding its own business, and suddenly it was set upon by European jackals including the U.S., and then by Japan, which saw itself as uniting Asians against the predatory West. The Japanese expelled all the European powers from China except America, which ruled part of China through its puppet, Chiang Kai-Shek. After World War II the Chinese Communist Party expelled Chiang, leaving them with much of their traditional territory excepting Hong Kong and Formosa (Taiwan).

The Chinese government has fought a number of wars since then, but it has always shown restraint, and that restraint has increased over time. It has border disputes with India. It had to intervene in Korea. It has fought over some islands, and of course it wants Taiwan's status changed from rebellious province to part of the harmonious hole. Meanwhile the US has illegally invaded numerous nations. Without minimizing the forces that favor military solutions inside China, I would say that the U.S. is the country that spends too much on its military and is a threat to world peace.

On the economic front, recall that China was basically prostrate after World War II. The Chinese Communist Party did a pretty good job building up its economy to where it could begin to compete in the capitalist global trading system. China has indeed taken over jobs that used to be in America and other countries. But it is not a solely export-driven economy. Its internal consumption has risen rapidly. Certain sectors, such as steel and concrete, are primarily for internal consumption. Let's face up to reality: many Americans have become fat and lazy. Our nation raped and pillaged the world for a century, and now we are complaining because we don't get good-paying jobs as a birthright.

Take a look at reality as revealed by economic statistics (I am using Pocket World in Figures by The Economis, 2007 edition). 12.1% of U.S. gross domestic product comes from manufacturing, and that amounts to $1.417 trillion dollars. The Chinese manufacturing sector is now 46% of their economy, for a total of $0.889 trillion dollars. Despite have only one quarter of the population of China, the U.S. makes 60% more value in manufacturing. On a global basis China exports only $32 billion more than they import. The United States, in contrast, imports $651 billion more than it exports. Yet the U.S. exports $819 billion worth of stuff to the rest of the globe. In contrast, China's total exports are valued at $593 billion.

Yes, Americans are, on the whole spendthrifts. Yes, spendthrifts almost always come to a bad end. But that is not China's fault. China's imports and exports are in reasonable balance. All the people of the U.S. have to do is: stop spending so much on offensive military equipment, stop spending so much on "services," and start making things other people in the world find useful or at least buyable.

Finally, there is the pollution front. China did not prioritize environmental concerns - not under American puppet regimes, not under communism, not back in Imperial days - until fairly recently. But having studied the problem, they seem determined to do something. For all practical purposes cutting trees has been banned in China. You won't see that anytime soon in the U.S.A., despite our legions of environmentalists. China's standards for car mileage have been set higher than those here in the U.S. Yes, they have a long way to go in China to get to a sustainable environment and economy, but if I had to bet who will get there first, the U.S. or China, I would bet on the U.S. In both countries environmentalists need to keep up the pressure, but America's politicians are far more corrupt than the Chinese are, so it is harder to make progress here.

I just covered four enourmous areas (history, the economy, the environment, militarism) in a few short paragraphs. I'll be elaborating more on China and these topics in the future. Be sure to check out my U.S. War Against Asia pages. I have not done the China chapter yet, but it is coming soon.

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