Bush doing the right thing in China?

President Bush seems to be doing a good job vis-¨¤-vis China these days. I personally feel the Hainan plane incident could have been handled much better by both sides, but that¡¯s water under the bridge. Not sure how much press the APEC meeting is getting in the US as I don¡¯t see much on the wire services. For those that didn¡¯t know, this week has the greatest number of sovereign heads of state visiting China ever, 17 IIRC. There is also a huge number of industry leaders from Bill Gates to the Chairman of Hitachi for the commerce portion of APEC.

Short background. After Sep 11, China immediately expressed it¡¯s condolences to the US people. China has also been cooperative with the US in the UN regarding actions against terrorism. This week, there have been announcements that China is sharing intelligence with the US on Afganistan. Also, China has it¡¯s own problems with radical Muslim extremist terrorists carrying out domestic attacks. Historically, China has ALWAYS opposed ¡°interference in a country¡¯s internal affairs¡± because of it¡¯s own situation in Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. So, from China¡¯s point of view, they are making a huge gesture by supporting the US attacking Afganistan.

After Sep 11, Bush¡¯s itinerary was shorted from visiting Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai (where the APEC meeting is being held), to just 2 days in Shanghai. Bush has actually come to Shanghai two days early. Sure, maybe it¡¯s more to build support internationally for what the US is doing in Afganistan, but nevertheless this is giving a huge amount of face to China and Jiang Zemin. It¡¯s a good move regardless of what the motivations are.

(I also wish I could have seen Bush¡¯s face and heard his impressions comparing Shanghai of today with the proletarian post Cultural Revolution hardline China of 25 years ago when he visited Dad in Beijing.)

The current administration is now doing a decent job of creating a good working relationship with the Chinese. Any thoughts? Disagreements?

The South China Morning Post this morning noted that like Reagan and Bush I, Bush II started off his presidency with a hardline approach to China which gradually softened. September 11 is described as having accelerated this process.

Some delicate sidestepping on Taiwan went down well. “Great nations cannot be expected to agree on everything,” said Bush. That’s a nice line, which should go down really well with the Chinese public.

The loser out of all of this is Taiwan. Their delegate to APEC was rejected, and they went home humiliated.

  1. I want to see if the weirdo special characters will come through on your end, too. Your posts always have these weirdo special characters after an “apostrophe S”, like “it’s” and “Bush’s”. Instead of an apostrophe, it’s a semi-colon and some kind of upper-level horizontal straight line. And “vis-a-vis” has quotation marks and some kind of double X symbol instead of the “a”. And there’s a semi-colon and a degree symbol in front of “interference”. And other weird stuff. Do you see it? Are you using some kind of Chinese font? Or is it my browser? I’ve got IE 5.5.

  2. Yes, I think he’s doing a good job, but I’m sorry that it took something like WTC to bring him around to it. I think for people of Dubya’s generation, and mine too, China’s been “Red China”, the Bad Guys, for so long, that it’s hard for him to break that mindset. So props to him for at least trying. But subtract 20 points and take away his official 2008 Olympics windbreaker if he bails on Taiwan, leaving them twisting slowly in the wind. A true politician, and a smart man, would be able to find a way to be, if not friends, then at least satisfied business partners, with both sides.

But I still think McDonalds and Pizza Hut get 80% of the credit for starting the ball rolling, in opening the Middle Kingdom to the rest of the world. :smiley:

Eating American fast food and enjoying American consumerables does not mean that China is on its way to democracy or capitalism. I’ve never understood how anyone can thank multinationals for the promotion of freedom and democracy, when all they are out to do is make a buck in another country.

I don’t buy the consumerism and capitalism leads to democracy argument either. But it can lead to something resembling “peace”.
But, if the United States has vast investments in China, and China exports heavily to the United States; and the United States and China both desire economic growth and healthy stock markets, then war between the two countries will become unlikely.
I know that’s a pretty cynical view, but it seems to be the unspoken basis for Sino-American relations at this point. “Engagement” is a euphemism for making the economies more interdependent, therefore making war unattractive from a purely “capitalist” point of view.
That’s probably the Bush administration’s (internal) argument. Bush doesn’t want to go through a “China crisis” (like with the plane on Hainan Island) every 6 months.

Actually, I would say that China is largely capitalistic, and one example is fast food of all stripes and consumerables. State owned enterprises only make up approximately 30% of the economy (although I don’t have a handy cite for that), and is shrinking every day. Prices are set by the market for just about everything. One exception is petroleum prices, which are largely set by the market but still have bureaucratic interference. They again, China produces most of it’s energy needs domestically. Contrast the China of today versus the China of when Bush came here in the 70’s. I don’t think there is another country in the world that has come so far down the capitalist path in so short a time.

Elections on the local level are also increasing year by year.

You can argue that China is moving too slow or the absolute level of

Don’t you live in Hong Kong? Take a trip across the border to Shenzhen if you want to see an example of unbridled capitalism. Hong Kong, which is usually held up as a model capitalist economy, is run by cartels (property, banking, supermarkets to name but 3) and in very many ways is a very restricted economy. Taiwan is not a purely innocent victim much as they try to paint it that way. That said, this OP is about China and not about Hong Kong or Taiwan.

China Guy – I appreciate your starting this thread. It’s educational. I’d be interested in your continuing observations and impressions of what happens at this conference.

Duck Duck Goose – Thanks for your joke about McDonalds and Pizza Hut. The one bit of useless info that I can contribute is that Kentucy Fried Chicken deserves to be cited. I have a lovely photo of a KFC franchise right at the bottom of the Great Wall in Beijing.

In Shanghai, McD’s and KFC are nicknamed the “twins”, because you can rarely find one without the other. Seriously, put a McD’s on a street corner, and a KFC pops up on the opposite corner. Latest invasion here is IIRC 8 Starbucks locations with another 20 in the works. We’ve got Pizza Hut here but not nearly as many outlets, however it’s usually an hour long wait in the evening.

Just saw on Bloomberg that Bush’s next test will be how he handles the ABM. Both China and Russia back keeping the ABM in place. Bush and Putin meet tomorrow for talks. I haven’t seen much discussion in the whole ABM thing about China. It’s been focused on Russia, or how it won’t work, or how NATO allies are not hot on the idea. Guarantee that if the ABM gets scrapped, China will certainly think it is targeted at them. Scrapping the ABM will not be a good thing for Sino-US relations.

The China trip’s gotten quite a bit of play in the U.S. press. NPR ran an hour long show on the trip, and on China policy just yesterday.

I wouldn’t read too much into this temporary message of convenience. It doesn’t change China one iota. By paying lip service to supporting U.S. attacks in Afghanistan, they can take some of the diplomatic heat off their crimes in Tibet, essentially free.

Moreover, apparently China has problems of its own with a small minority of Muslim extremists in its far western provinces. This sets the stage for a crackdown, if they so desire.

Rest assured, by pretending to be with the U.S. on this one, China will have taken a lot of the teeth out of the ongoing MFN debate in Congress, and will make its WTO membership go a lot smoother. China would of course love to wrest a return to a “One China” lie–er–policy, in return for their support and cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Bush apparently ain’t falling for that–good on him.

It kinda pains me to see the Chinese wringing their hands over “innocent casualties” in Afghanistan. These are still the same ratfucks who gave us the Tiananmen Square massacre and continue to torture and rape nuns in Tibet.

While the U.S. should encourage the development of free trade as much as it can, IMHO, the rapid changes evident along the coastline and the rise of consumerism in urban China represents nothing more than a ring in the snout of a swine.

PanzermanPanzerman, rather than reply point by point, I’m just spitting this out.

Regarding Tiananmen, while I disagree with the Chinese government, I can understand why they felt threatened and did what they did. Please see Hinton¡¯s documentary the Gate of Heavenly Peace for what I believe is a fairly accurate and balanced view of what happened. I would point out that there were many cities in China that had worse fighting and loss of life than Beijing, which never made the western press. Chengdu, Guiyang and Wuhan all spring to mind. However, this is not China of 1989. China¡¯s economy has more than doubled since then. Leadership has changed once and is going to change again next year. The Chinese population has more rights and freedom than ever before. What can I say, it¡¯s a different world.

I would reiterate, this is the first time ever that I remember seeing China tacitly giving support for interfering in the domestic matters of a sovereign nation. China has always opposed this given Taiwan, Tibet, Mongolia, Xinjiang, etc. China has had a very large crackdown on radical muslim terrorists in Xinjiang province during the past few weeks according to the local Chinese press. This has gone unnoticed in the Western press as far as I can tell.

Correct me if I¡¯m wrong, but I think once China ascends WTO, MFN is a thing in the past.

When has the US had a One China policy? It¡¯s been a two China policy for a long time, at least since the Shanghai communiqu¨¦ of 1972. Bush, if you remember correctly, raised doubts over the Two China policy on IIRC Good Morning America when he deviated from the previous diplospeak. His aids and spokesmen backpedaled that one practically before he was off the air.

Continue to rape and torture nuns in Tibet? Certainly has happened. Do you have a recent cite as I haven¡¯t seen anything for a while? I have no idea what to do about Tibet, but that¡¯s similar with Kashmir, Xinjiang, Mongolia, Montenegro and Northern Ireland. Somewhat ironically, I take the lead from the Dalai Lama for what to do about Tibet.

The changes happening in China are not restricted to the big cities nor to the eastern seaboard. It is affecting the entire country. Keep in mind that there are between 1-200 MILLION Chinese migrant laborers from the countryside scattered throughout China driving all sorts of industries. This mass migration of peasantry is unprecedented in the history of China and mankind. It is a profound structural change that very few people even think about. For the first time ever, there is real money going back to the impoverished countryside. Peasants are using that money to create a better life, build homes, educate children, and now have the financial resources to fight the local bureaucrats that can be guilty of horrendous abuses of power. This quiet revolution happening in China is driving huge changes and may affect the entire globe.

I¡¯m not sure what your point is though. That China and the US are enemies? That China is just an evil fascist empire?

<<Regarding Tiananmen, while I disagree with the Chinese government, I can understand why they felt threatened and did what they did.>>

Sure. I can understand why rapists do what they do, too. After all, some girls ask for it, right?

<<I would point out that there were many cities in China that had worse fighting and loss of life than Beijing, which never made the western press. Chengdu, Guiyang and Wuhan all spring to mind.>>

Ah. So it was worse than I thought.
<<However, this is not China of 1989. China¡¯s economy has more than doubled since then.>>

Well, hey, at the risk of invoking the wrath of Godwin, let’s give credit where credit is due. Hitler really turned things around in Germany, economically, in a lot of ways in the 1930’s. Forgive me, though, if I look beyond the dollar signs to recognize a murderous regime where one exists–be it in Berlin or Beijing.

<<Continue to rape and torture nuns in Tibet? Certainly has happened. Do you have a recent cite as I haven¡¯t seen anything for a while? >>

“Mistakes were made.”

Ok, here’s one of many cites. This one from Amnesty International–less than a year old.


This one has to do with recent coerced abortions in Tibet, among other things:

This one

( http://www.amnesty-usa.org/education/newsletters/2000fall/drapchi.html )

refers by name to 14 young Tibetan nuns arrested and subject to torture for the last 10 years or so. (one was only 15 years old at the time of her arrest). Do you have information that these women have been released? If not, then let’s not candycoat China’s crimes against humanity, or plead about the great “progress” that’s been made in China. This so-called “progress” does nothing for these women.

This one: http://www.tchrd.org/hrupdate/2000/200004.shtml
names women who have died at the hands of their Chinese captors as a result of beatings or torture as recently as 1998.

<<I have no idea what to do about Tibet.>>

Well, jeepers, how about starting with halting the practice of raping nuns with cattle prods or tearing people’s fingernails off. Is that too much to ask?

That China and the US are enemies? That China is just an evil fascist empire?

The US and China are neither enemies nor friends. Just two powers that happen to share the globe, whose interests sometimes coincide, and sometimes collide.

As for whether China’s ‘evil,’ well, I think the actions of the Chinese government wrt Tibet, the Falun Gong, coerced abortions, and many imprisoned scholars speak for themselves. At the very least, the Chinese government is brutal and oppressive. The fact that the lot of millions upon millions of Chinese is improving economically does not change that fact. And stopping the brutality of Chinese officials towards the imprisoned nuns, and others, would cost Beijing nothing. Why does Beijing drag its feet?

You can’t just pass this off on “local bureaucrats.” When abuses of power are reported, and Beijing allows it to continue, then the responsibility lies with Beijing.

Is it evil? Well, I’d say it’s better than the Taleban. Let’s just leave it at that.

The OP is regarding whether Bush is doing a decent job with China. Panzerman ¨C do you want to debate this particular issue or do you want to take your thoughts over to a more appropriate forum?

That said, Tiananmen was a lot worse than you possibly suspect. Learn something about it first (Hinton¡¯s documentary The Gate of Heavenly Peace is a good starting point) and then start a GD. Ditto on Tibet. Regarding population control in China, that would also be another OP. That said, China has to do something to limit population as it is already a global problem.

Nazi comparisons cheapen your argument and are apropos of nothing.

How about putting the source for ¡°Mistakes were made.¡± A Google search for an exact phrase returned around 15,000 hits, so what does this refer to?


Well, hey…you asked for a cite re: the brutalization of Tibetan nuns. So I gave it to you.

<<China has to do something to limit population as it is already a global problem.>>

Horsehockey. Tibet occupies an area the size of central Europe with a population less than that of several major U.S. cities. Tibet doesn’t have a “population problem.” Tibet has a “China problem.”

<<Nazi comparisons cheapen your argument and are apropos of nothing.>>

Naw. The cheap argument goes like this:

Point: "China is an oppressive regime. It rapes, tortures, brutalizes, and murders as a matter of state policy. It jails scholars on trumped-up charges in order to quell the expression of ideas.

Counterpoint: “Umm, yeah, but look at all the fast food restaurants!”

What the heck do fast food restaurants have to do with the price of life in China?

<<How about putting the source for ¡°Mistakes were made.¡± >>

Sure. This catchphrase, and other variations on the theme, have a long and spotted history, chiefly of denoting the evasion of responsibility.

Here’s a good essay by Mary McGrory on that very topic. (Sorry for the small font size)


<<The OP is regarding whether Bush is doing a decent job with China.>>

Ok. Then my position wrt the OP is that we do not have enough information to know how well Bush is dealing with China. Superficially, he’s doing just fine. What matters, though, is what he concedes in return for Chinese lipservice, and what actual support China gives the U.S. in private. I.e., intelligence, crackdowns on money laundering which may be related to International Terrorism, ect. All that will happen behind the scenes. We simply cannot assess how “well” Bush is handling China. After all, sometimes handling China “well” may mean pissing them off in the process.

panzerman, my bad, I should have said stick with the OP the first time. I did read your cites though and you won’t get any arguement from me on Tibet but that’s a seperate post.

Yes, I agree, how well we do with China may involve pissing them off. Next big hot spot will be the US unilaterally scrapping the ABM treaty and/or Taiwan.

China has long supported interference when it suits their needs, and opppoised it when it doesn’t. China has interfered in South Korea, South Vietnam, Tibet, Taiwan, and India. And as I recall, last time the US interfered in Afghanistan, China helped.

Perhaps I was unclear. Yes, China has long interfered with the domestic affairs of foreign countries. However, in the UN and in the international press, AFAIK the Chinese have always refused to condemn or criticize other governments for their internal affairs. Serbia, East Timor might be a good examples. Of course China takes this tact because it would open themselves up to further criticism regarding Taibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Taiwan, etc.

If I missed a case of China weighing in with the UN regarding another countries’ domestic affairs, please let me know.


Nah, economic investment in each other’s countries does not mean peace. See Europe pre-WW1 and pre-WW2.
In fact economic rivalry (squabbling over economic resources) is far more likely to lead to war than anything else. See too many wars to mention, but certainly Gulf War, Pacific War.
I guess there is an argument (which I don’t care to make without looking at it further) that a Chinese economic superpower is more likely to go to war with the US than a communist China.

China Guy

Oh no I don’t disagree with you, in your assertion that China is thoroughly capitalist (but totalitarian).

Fast food imports are a symptom of Chinese capitalism, not the cause of Chinese capitalism. That was the only point I was trying to make. McDonalds isn’t responsible for creating middle classes and bringing enlightened democracy to the world, as many people seem to think.

In respect to the argument between panzermanpanzerman and China Guy, I tend to be percived as an apologist for China only because I repeatedly encounter people (such as our friend Beagle) who appear to have outdated views of what China is all about. China is not Cuba. Nor is it is not part of the red monolith. It will not cause a communist domino effect across South East Asia. China Guy lives in Shanghai, which is China’s economic powerhouse. He must know the deal better than anyone when it comes to Chinese capitalism because he is sitting in the middle of it.

But China, as I said above, is undeniably totalitarian. It is a one party state that frequently abuses the liberties of its people. It has not in the slightest subscribed to a theory of Western universalism, that it should maintain respect for the individual, and relies upon a wide range of valid cultural/historical arguments to say that it does not
need to follow the West in this (which doesn’t help the liberties and freedoms of the individual Chinese person, but helps Chinese society - which is the point). Singapore is exactly the same, and most Asian countries follow the theory that the rights of the individual should be subordinated to the good of the nation of the society. As an aside, when the Asian economic tigers were the flavour of the month, people like Mahathir of Malaysia was saying that Westerners had it wrong if they thought that instituting Western concepts of freedom for the individual would lead to economic prowess - it was Asian ideals which would lead to this. I guess he’s eating his words now (actually he’s not - he’s blaming a Jewish financial conspiracy) but the point is that its a regional perspective, and its particularly potent in China.

Bush’s current handling of China accepts the fact the China, like the US, is a sovereign country, with its own cultural values and pride. Some of those values are an anaethema to Westerners. But China is too big and important nowadays to bully around. Jesse Helms can try all he likes to pass private members bills to try and punish China for its dismal human rights record. China can ignore him. Bush, to his credit, would rather deal with China in a more positive way. Bush talked up Jiang Zemin at the APEC meeting in Shanghai, and tried to establish a rapport. The fruits of realpolitik are no consolation for those poor bastards being tortured in prison. But the US is dealing with a country holding more than a fifth of the world’s population. The US can’t ignore China: it can only hope to influence China.

(PS China Guy - Hong Kong commercial cartels are entirely notorious. But there is some sneaky movement to introduce fair trading legislation by the back door. It has already come into effect in respect of telecommunications and broadcasting. Anti-trust laws here would be a breath of fresh air.)

China is totalitarian, but it has and is getting more liberal. Sure, it¡¯s got a long ways to go, and even the Chinese government would agree with that. Remember though, you¡¯re trying to liberalize 1.3 billion people, which is a little tougher than social experiments in Finland. Without trying to hide behind semantics, totalitarianism does also involve definitions and what constitutes ¡°totalitarian¡±. To illustrate my point, is the American public High School totalitarian because of the strict enforcement of zero tolerance policies, and does that by extension mean the US government is as well? Compare China of today to when Dubya first visited Bush Sr in the 1970’s, you might as well be comparing two separate worlds when it comes to individual freedom. The Chinese press is getting “freer” (albeit not the same as a “free press”) and is a force for change (one of panzerman’s AI cites mentioned press exposes). Individuals have greater recourse against corrupt bureaucrats; individuals can bring lawsuits and win.

I pointed out earlier that the mass migrant labor force from the countryside occurring now is unprecedented in all of Chinese history. For the first time, not all peasants are tied surf-like to the countryside. Along with that comes the freedom to starve in the big city, and the exploitation that most poor migrant laborers anywhere in the world can experience. This change is truly going to completely revolutionize China.

Regarding totalitarian: it¡¯s not like there are armed police on every street corner. Even during APEC, there were unarmed police on every street corner only when motorcades were passing by. I¡¯m sure there were armed police, undercover police as well as escorts in the motorcade, but an overt presence wasn¡¯t there. All buildings overlooking the elevated roads were required to have their windows shut. The condo I lease out had the windows open and my tenant called from an out of town business to ask me to help shut them. I don¡¯t know what would have happened if the windows weren¡¯t shut. But, by the time this all got sorted out, I shut the windows a day late and there were no jackbooted storm troopers busting down the door and closing the windows. These are just simplistic examples, but I see a lot of posts that seem to think China is one massive gulag, where the people outside are little better off than the people inside. The reality is different.

Dave is very correct in pointing out that most Asian societies have a very different concept of the rights of the individual versus the rights of the state. Yes, by the US laws, yardsticks and moral precepts, China has heinous human rights violations. As a counterpoint, the average Chinese (okay, my wife and her family so no one thinks I speak for all Chinese) just find it an unbelievable infringement on human rights whenever they see a news report where a convicted murderer or rapist gets out of jail in the US, and then commits another capital offense. No right or wrong here, but both sides do not even start with the same basic presumptions, yet each side to a great degree thinks ¡°their way¡± is the only way.

I would argue that a large middle class correlates pretty highly with peace or non-warlike behavior. A large amount of foreign direct investment does not necessarily create a large middle class, but it can sure help. I can¡¯t find any good cites offhand, but the Chinese middle class now is somewhere between 100-400 million, depending on that is defined.

There are numerous OP¡¯s that can be opened on China. I would once again say that while not a Bush fan, and believing he stumbled poorly at first (unclear Taiwan statements, Hainan, missile defense), nonetheless the current administration is making the right moves. And these right moves included giving China huge face for it¡¯s coming out here in Shanghai last week for APEC.

The following is a pretty good piece from the Far Eastern Economic Review regarding Bush’s trip to Shanghai and ramifications for Sino-US relations. http://www.feer.com/2001/0111_01/p036china.html