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The Chinese Puzzle

Tuesday, 10 April 2001 12:00 AM

I was watching a bunch of so-called old China hands discuss the matter last week. On the whole, these gentlemen – retired diplomats, academics and military brass hats – showed every indication of knowing what they were talking about, but the impression I got from listening to them was that China really is inscrutable to the Western mind. They all had reams of knowledge about China, but in the end they appeared to be mystified by the standoff that was then just beginning.

This was the first time I heard the latest current wisdom about China's hostile attitude toward the West. For a long time, the story goes, China was cruelly exploited by the colonial powers, of which the U.S. was one. That exploitation, which amounted to an occupation of certain areas of mainland China by the colonial powers, allegedly still rankles the Chinese people and their leaders, even though it all ended a long time ago.

Now, I can understand why that would be true – exploited people tend to have long memories. My Irish ancestors felt that way about the bloody British, and for all I know the folks in Ireland still do. A friend of mine came back from a visit to the ould sod some years ago and said he got the impression that Oliver Cromwell was still alive.

The point of all this is that the Chinese don't like Westerners, especially Americans. Their colonial past may play a big part in this, but there is more to it than just bad memories. I doubt, for instance, that the average Chinese laborer or collective farmer gives a hoot for all that anti-colonialist stuff. They've had enough exploitation from their own communist government to fret about what the Germans, British, Americans and French did to their ancestors, which was considerably less brutal than what they got from dear old Mao and his charming Red Guards during the cultural revolution.

When I say the Chinese don't like us, I mean the Chinese government and the communist bureaucrats who run China don't like us, and not the average Chinese citizen. China's leadership have big ideas. They are determined to be the dominant power in the Far East, militarily and economically, and they would very much like us to butt out and leave the Orient to its rightful masters – themselves.

They see the U.S. as an obstacle to that dream, which they are bound and determined to make a reality. They are also convinced that the U.S. will not butt out, and so they are planning to kick us out. You probably haven't heard much about what Beijing has been saying about us in the past few years. Mr. Clinton and his minions preferred that you remain ignorant, and his cronies in the media obliged by playing down Beijing's bellicose statements about what they plan to do to us.

According to the vastly under-reported Pentagon annual report to Congress last June, "a cross-Strait conflict between China and Taiwan involving the United States has emerged as the dominant scenario guiding PLA force planning, military training, and war preparation."

That's right – a war involving them and us.

A White Paper issued by the Communist Party's military arm was more blunt: China is resolute in its determination to reunify Taiwan with the mainland and will use force if Taiwan resists. In the process, China will go to war against the U.S. and use its nuclear arsenal against us if need be.

A Chinese general, the officer now in charge of the military involved in the current hostage situation, said that he doubted the U.S. would allow Los Angeles to be nuked simply to aid Taiwan.

Last June I wrote in NewsMax.com about a document distributed by the Central Military Commission – the Communist Party’s arm of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) – to "All Regional Garrisons, All General Departments Affiliated to the Central Military Commission (CMC), All Arms and Services, All Corps Headquarters, All Provincial Garrisons, and All Prefecture Garrisons."

That document, obtained by Insight magazine, stated: "If the U.S. forces lose thousands or hundreds of men under our powerful strikes, the anti-war sentiment within their country will force the U.S. government to take the same path as they did in Vietnam. Unlike Iraq and Yugoslavia, China is not only a big country, but also possesses a nuclear arsenal that has long since been incorporated into a state warfare system and played a real role in our national defense."

The strategy outlined in the document envisions a quick, blitzkrieg-like strike at Taiwan, one that would overwhelm the Taiwanese before the U.S. could come to their aid.

"Although the quality of [Taiwan’s] equipment is not too bad, its quantity is limited," the authors explain. "It is obvious that after the first fatal strike, the Taiwan forces have no way to organize effective resistance. Under such circumstances, we will be able to control Taiwan before the U.S. intervention and then concentrate our forces to fight the U.S. Based on this scenario, it is impossible for the U.S. to force us to fight on two fronts when it tries to protect Taiwan. ...

"Taking into account the possible intervention by the U.S. and based on the development strategy of our country, it is better to fight now than future" – the earlier the better, the authors advise.

"The reason being that, if worse comes to worst, we will gain control of Taiwan before full deployment of the U.S. troops. In this case, the only thing the U.S. can do is fighting a war with the purpose of retaliation, which will be similar to the Gulf War against Iraq or the recent bombing of Yugoslavia as far as its operational objective is considered, namely, to first attack from the sky and the sea our coastal military targets, and then attack our vital civil facilities so as to force us to accept its terms like Iraq and Yugoslavia."

Such a strategic concept will not work against China, the document insists, claiming that China is, unlike Iraq and Yugoslavia, a "big country."

"So far the strategic superiority of the U.S. joint forces has not been tested in a war against a big country."

"It can be safely expected that once the U.S. launches an attack, the front line of the U.S. forces and their supporting bases will be exposed within the range of our effective strikes," the Chinese scenario for such a Sino-U.S. conflict states. "After the first strategic strike, the U.S. forces will be faced with weaponry and logistic problems, providing us with opportunities for major offensives and win large battles."

Nice, huh?

That's just a taste of what these people have been saying, and saying over and over again. Then problem is, we don't believe them. It's just talk. Like Hitler's pre-World War II threats were just talk.

If it's just talk, why is China, whose economy is anything but solid, spending billions on the People's Liberation Army, seeking to equip it with the best and most sophisticated and costly weaponry available? Just so they can brag about having it?

That brings me to the point I want to make. The current standoff is an opportunity for the Bush administration to let the Chinese know in no uncertain terms that we're finished listening to all those threats. We've reached the point where just getting our airmen and plane back is no longer enough. It's time to clear the air.

Either the Chinese stand down, cut out all the bellicose rhetoric and begin to make nice with us, or we will pull the plug on their economy – something easily done – and enjoy watching them try to buy all that military stuff on the cuff.

Hint: Mr. Putin is making nice with Beijing because they're buying all that expensive weaponry from him and giving him the money he needs to bolster his own sagging economy. Let's see how long he'll play along with a potential deadbeat buyer, which is what China will be if we turn our economic weapons in their direction.

It's time to face reality. China is no friend of ours, and will never be as long as we turn a blind eye to their determination to go to war against us as soon as they are able. We probably will never be buddy-wuddy with them, but at least we can arrange a modus vivendi with Beijing that will allow us to get along and engage in a mutually profitable trade relationship.

But we can't get there without laying all our cards on the table. Right now we've got a winning hand. We'd better play it while we can.

Pax Vobiscum.

Phil Brennan is a veteran journalist who writes for NewsMax.com. He is editor & publisher of Wednesday on the Web (http://www.pvbr.com) and was Washington columnist for National Review magazine in the 1960s. He also served as a staff aide for the House Republican Policy Committee. He can be reached at pvb@pvbr.com

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I was watching a bunch of so-called old China hands discuss the matter last week. On the whole, these gentlemen - retired diplomats, academics and military brass hats - showed every indication of knowing what they were talking about, but the impression I got from listening...
The,Chinese,Puzzle
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2001-00-10
Tuesday, 10 April 2001 12:00 AM
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