Simon who writes the very informative Asia Blog "Simon's World - East Meets Westerner" is an Australian who lives and works in Hong Kong. He was kind enough to link to Dawn's Early Light through a link he found on Publius Pundit, which began an email correspondence printed below. With Simon's permission, I have reprinted the exchange. Please feel free to comment on and add to the discussion. We are very interested in US-Sino relations and which way diplomacy will ultimately go between the the superpower and the emerging giant. I have made a few grammatical edits for clarity and inserted links to some of the items referenced that were not in the original email.
We hope you enjoy our discussion:
Thanks for the couple of links you have posted to Dawn's Early Light (you referenced me through Publius Pundit). I caught a WaPo article this afternoon about China for the 10th year increasing defense spending by double digits. Additionally, they are proposing "anti-secessionist" bills that can only be a tacit threat to Taiwan.
I have worked on an analysis of Pacific region defense spending and what the implications of the EU's lifting of the arms ban to China would mean for the region.
While there is good news coming from the Middle East, and revolutions for freedom are the lead news stories, it is important that we keep a watchful eye on potential emerging threats in Asia.
Thought you might find of interest.
Dawn's Early Light
I linked to your analysis. If you do other posts that cover East Asia, drop me a line, although I've marked your site down as one to check regularly. You might be interested of analysis by Thomas Barnett [DEL: I believe he is referencing here], who says that America needs to see China as a partner rather than rival to get the best out of the relationship. I think that's partly right but certainly we cannot be complacent about China. Events in 1989 [DEL: Tienanmen Square, info regarding here] proved that.
PS: I do a wrap-up of Asian blogs and news each week called Asia by Blog. Would you like to be added to the email notification list?
Thanks for your kind response. I would be interested in your email. I enjoy your blog. With respect to China as a partner or competitor, I don't think either road is a forgone conclusion. My worry, which I did not make clear in my post, is that US foreign policy post 9/11 is stressing the importance of pursuing democracy with friends and foes (I support this).
The events of the Middle East can only make China more nervous and the Taiwanese more anxious to pursue independence and their own freedom with self determination.
President Bush has, in an American TV interview in his first year, pledged his support for defending Taiwan. It would seem hypocritical of the US not to support Taiwan independence. The US is strengthening its ties with Japan, Australia and South Korea for a variety of reasons. All of this leaves China more sensitive to feeling like Japan in 1940-1941, isolated.
I have read (a WSJ article) that WalMart accounts for 10% of US trade with China. This is an important indicator of how tied our two economies are. But as I am a "realist" for the most part in viewing foreign policy, I think back to Europe pre World War I. France and Germany I believe were each others largest trading partners. Economics are strong ties, but not strong enough to keep two powers with different goals together. Good diplomacy can, and I am all for the US and China making moves to bring stability to Asia.
However, China's desired policy is not for a spread of democracy, yet the US policy clearly is. That is going to be a real challenge until China creates more liberty within its own society.
Sorry for the long email, but you got me thinking.
Dawn's Early Light
The problem is China sees Taiwan as an inalienable part of its territory. It's rather like the state of Texas declaring itself independent, or more relevantly today like the Quebec/Canada issue.
It's hard for outsiders to understand the depth of feeling in the issue. That said you're right the US and others have an obligation to support Taiwan. The stupid thing is both sides know the long term solution - a recognition there is one China, but two states. The problem is getting to that point involves compromises on both sides and neither leadership is prepared to be the first.
Without wanting to stick up for China too much, it does have cause to feel isolated. That's why its rapid growth and growing trade with the rest of the world is the strongest mediating force on them, just as it was on Japan.
China is also getting used to being a world player. For most of its history "the world" for China consisted of Japan, Korea and SE Asia. It's only recently that China has been forced to engage on the world stage. It is still feeling its way, and misunderstandings and mistakes will be made. That's not easy when you're a nuclear power with a massive military, but that's why the rest of the world and especially its sole superpower need to work with China rather than against.
Very interesting stuff.
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