Bush victory worries China's militarists

By Peter Zhang
web posted December 25, 2000

Jiang ZeminAs expected, Jiang Zemin offered the customary congratulations to Mr Bush on his presidential victory. Make no mistake, Jiang was grinding his teeth, in fact the grinding of teeth could be heard throughout China's military establishment. Gore was their man. Sa gua (stupid) as they sneeringly referred to him. In their view, any country stupid to re-elect Clinton was surely stupid enough to elect Gore. Well, it was a very close thing indeed. (I still believe that Gore would have had his clocked wiped, as you Americans and English say, if the American media was not so corrupt).

China's militarists are now hoping that the Democrats will do all in their power to paralyse the Bush administration, gut its military spending plans and kill its national missile defence proposals. The latter is of particular concern to the generals. China has never forgotten the devastation wreaked by America's military technology during the Gulf War. To say they were stunned would truly be an understatement. They saw something that frightened them and yet hardened their resolve, just as Admiral Perry's black ships convinced the Japanese militarists that they would one day have to challenge America militarily — the result was Pearl Harbour and the Bataan death march.

American will never no how lucky they are that the Democrats were defeated. I'm beginning to conclude, against my instincts, that maybe America does indeed enjoy divine protection, even when it behaves foolishly.

However, a national missile system is the next best thing to divine intervention. There is no reason why it cannot be seen as God's work if one is of that particular turn of mind. As my teacher used to say: "God helps those who help themselves." And American had better take that advice seriously. When a Chinese military paper threatened a loss of 200 million Americans as the price of defending 20 million Taiwanese it was an empty deed. But it revealed a mode of thinking that dominates the Chinese military. OK, we can't beat Americans today or even tomorrow, but there's always next week.

Sometime ago I pointed out that the result of Clinton's treasonable activities was not just to allow Beijing the ability to target with pinpoint accuracy American cities but to relieve the regime of the cost of developing this technology for itself. That may very well have shortened the time frame within which America has to act to protect itself against the possibility of nuclear blackmail or even a sneak attack.

The problem is that Chinese militarists are a pretty stupid and ignorant lot. They have no understanding of the American mentality. They only know to act the bully, thinking this will be sufficient to intimidate the American public, oblivious to the fact that the American public is totally unaware of this blustering. What's worse is that they do not comprehend that should Americans take notice of these outbursts their reaction will be quite aggressive, the very opposite of what is hoped for.

These outbursts are not emitted from a vacuum. Behind them is the very genuine worry that America will proceed with a successful national anti-missile defence system that would reduce China's nuclear arsenal to a heap of scrap. They know any attempt to breach such a system would require a continuous and horrendously expensive programme of trying to penetrate the shield, knowing that the shield itself was being continuously perfected.

China is still a very poor country. It cannot afford the kind of 'technological arms race' that finally broke the Soviet Union. It can only hope that a carrot and stick approach will work. On the one hand, the likes Jiang Zemin will play the good cops while Sha Zukang and his ilk will play the bad cops, threatening that a missile defence system will only provoke China. Zemin will argue, however, that implementing a missile defence system will make it impossible for him to resist the military. Don't fall for it.

A final word of warning, don't be surprised if various 'peace groups' start accusing Bush of provoking China or trying to start a new Cold War. And don't be surprised when certain members of Congress and the Senate attack the missile defence proposal. Just ask why.

Reprinted with the The New Australian's kind permission.

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