Archive for Wednesday, June 6, 2012

U.S. shouldn’t ignore China’s actions

June 6, 2012


This past Monday marked the 23rd anniversary of the Chinese government’s massacre of hundreds, perhaps, thousands of protesters in Tiananmen Square. Once, again, as in virtually every year since the massacre, the U.S. government has called upon China to release dissidents and begin to follow international norms on human rights. Once, again, the Chinese government has told the United States and the world to mind its own business and has marked the nonevent (according to the Chinese) by censoring any attempts to memorialize the brutal actions of the government at Tiananmen Square.

It is easy to say that what China does internally is its own business and that the U.S. should stay out of its internal affairs, but that’s an extremely dangerous approach for Americans to take. For years the American government has permitted China to accumulate a massive amount of U.S. debt instruments, so much so that many believe that the U.S. economy is now very much at China’s mercy.

Indeed, it was revealed recently that China, alone of all purchasers of American Treasury bonds, has been given the right to purchase these bonds directly from the U.S. Treasury, a significant financial concession to the Chinese. For years, China has manipulated the value of its own currency, manipulation that has harmed American financial interests and the American trade deficit with China. As American officials declare that the U.S. and China are not military antagonists, China has deliberately modernized and built up its military, particularly its Navy and its space capabilities. Here, again, such a build-up cannot be beneficial to the United States over the long term., particularly given U.S. interests in the Pacific, interests that may well be directly adverse to China’s.

At a time when the United States has intervened in various ways to protect human rights in North Africa and the Middle East, it has quietly accepted China’s internal human rights abuses. It has also been stymied in its efforts to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians in Syria by the opposition of Russia and China to such humanitarian steps. To pretend that the United States and China are not antagonists on the world stage is foolhardy and, ultimately, dangerous. And it’s clear that China will continue to increase its financial leverage over the U.S. as well as continue to build up its military and transform its military from a defensive force into a massive military machine capable of challenging U.S. power in the Pacific and around the world.

Certainly, American policy should be oriented toward finding a way to have a peaceful and long-lasting relationship with China. But the anniversary of the Chinese government’s brutal acts of repression at Tiananmen Square should not be the occasion only for half-hearted exercises in diplomatic rhetoric. This anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, like every other, should be an occasion on which the U.S. government carefully considers China’s actions and its ultimate goals regarding the United States. The United States has ignored foreign powers’ actions too many times in recent history to forget that potential threats need to be stopped before they become real and present dangers.

Mike Hoeflich, a distinguished professor in the Kansas University School of Law, writes a regular column for the Journal-World.


Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 11 months ago

Clipped from:

"We've (the U.S.A.) got roughly 2.03 million people behind bars, or 701 per 100,000 population. China has the second-largest number of prisoners (1.51 million, for a rate of 117 per 100,000), and Russia has the second-highest rate (606 per 100,000, for a total of 865,000). Russia had the highest rate for years, but has released hundreds of thousands of prisoners since 1998; meanwhile the U.S. prison population has grown by even more.""

The statistics seem to be a bit obscure and possibly not terribly accurate for China and some other countries. It is also very likely that they are skewed a great deal by the prolific use of the death penalty by many countries.

But, it appears that the U.S.A. has 701 per 100,000 people behind bars. And China has about 117 per 100,000 people behind bars.

But, our ethnocentric point of view is that we represent the free world, and China does not, although our per capita rate of incarceration is about 6 times what China's is.

Maybe we should get our own house in order before trying to solve other country's problems.

But, I do not mean to belittle the rather serious potential problems that are not at all unlikely to arise from the U.S.A. owing so much money to China, as well as many other foreign nations.

And, the U.S.A. spends a lot of that borrowed money on foreign aid to nations that have a large segment of their population considering us to be "The Great Satan".

The problem is that we, along with many other nations, have racked up our national credit cards. When are the bills coming due? Oh, probably after today's politicians are out of office.

I think that it should be considered to be a national emergency to get the U.S.A. out of the situation of needing so much crude oil from politically unstable nations. Until that problem is solved, it appears to me that just about everything else is a side show.

Mike Hoeflich 5 years, 11 months ago

Ron: I don't think that incarceration rates alone give a full measure of human rights. It is also important as to why people are put in prison or executed. I would argue that China consistently imposes repressive measures against folks for "crimes" that we would consider attempts at free speech, etc.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 11 months ago

That is true, but their society is so very different than ours that I doubt very much that we will ever really understand the actions of the Chinese government. As I noted, the use of the death penalty skews the statistics, or perhaps it is a very effective deterrent.

I read something written in the 1930s that stated the Japanese are noted for their great politeness. Some time later I read something else about Japanese society that might have been a bit more accurate - in Japan, one way of expressing disdain towards someone is to act in an exaggeratedly polite matter. Hence, there was a great misunderstanding that went on for generations.

I read something else years ago that claimed that no historical event can really be understood by historians for about 50 years, that is, long enough for all of the relevant documents to come to light, and long enough for people to feel free to talk.

So, I don't know anything about the world today, except it appears to be a great big mess to me.

But looking back to the 1960s, exactly what were we fighting for in Vietnam? Without going into details, about the only thing that was being done was a show of "fighting communism". We had a big war over that, and we lost. And today, Hewlett Packard laser printers are manufactured in Vietnam, we are not much of a manufacturing nation anymore. What happened?

There is simply not enough thought put into the foreign policies of our nation. That could be because politicians need to be experts in order to make wise decisions, and they are not.

But I'm sticking to my statement that we need to free our country of dependence on crude oil from politically unstable nations. Here's something you don't read about much: What could/will happen after the fall of the House of Saud? There is no telling what kind of government might take its place or how many countries Saudi Arabia might be split into. And if/when that happens, all hell will break loose in the crude oil market.

And no one ever seems to mention or really realize that Osama bin Laden's and Al Qaeda's agenda was really not against the U.S.A. Instead, Al Qaeda was largely formed to overthrow the House of Saud. And Israel also of course, which is considered to be a puppet state of the U.S.A. in many places in the world.

The following is a clip of a comment I made on this forum on January 25, 2012: The whole nation is being run by lawyers, and that is obvious because the House of Representatives and the Senate are packed with them. Even the president of the USA is a lawyer.

We, the public, by using our votes, do not hire historians, experts in foreign relations, experts in finance, or experts in political science for those jobs.

"Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve." - George Bernard Shaw

Flap Doodle 5 years, 11 months ago

At the very least, the Campaigner in Chief should tweet about this.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

I've said for many years that trade with other nations should be tied to human rights - we're a large consumer nation, and they want our business.

Also, if we're antagonists, then we shouldn't be borrowing money from them.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

If it were that easy.

As you know, it's quite hard to find things that aren't made in China these days, especially if one isn't rich.

Mike Hoeflich 5 years, 11 months ago

Lateralis: China, like any sovereign nation, has a right to build up its military. My point is that the U.S. is foolish to pretend that China and the U.S. are not both present economic rivals and potential future military adversaries so that we can continue to let China buy up our debt and invest freely in major US industries as well as ignore Chinese human rights violations.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm not convinced that statement is accurate. Yes, the Han Chinese have been around for thousands of years, and not just a couple thousand, but there were many different dynasties.

In relatively recent history, there was a revolution in China in 1950 which resulted in the formation of a Communist government on mainland China and the unfortunate split with Taiwan.

And, the 'Great Leap Forward' from 1958 - 1961 represented a break with the past, and so did the 'Cultural Revolution' in 1966.

But, I do tend to think that the Chinese government thinks farther ahead than our politicians do. Maybe that's because it's so handy to not have to face the challenge of an election so often.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 11 months ago

China's one-child-per-family policy was introduced in 1979, which was not really that long ago. As a direct result of that policy, many female babies are unwanted and abandoned, because in Chinese society male babies are preferred. If that cultural inclination was not present, it would not be a problem. But it's a reality, and that's why it's so very easy for Americans to adopt Chinese girls. They are simply not wanted in China. Americans can never adopt Chinese boys, only girls.

While the long term implications of that policy are not clear, they are certainly not good. There are not and never will be enough women to go around for all the men for almost a generation after that policy ends, if it does end.

And - those electronic backdoors are a worry. However, they are not new at all. I don't remember the name of the company for sure, but I think it was IBM, that had a backdoor into all of their mainframe computers way back in the 1970s and 1980s. I don't know anything about it, I was only told of its existence for troubleshooting reasons in case of a complete system crash.

But, that is very different than a backdoor that is controlled by a foreign nation that does not necessarily have our best interests in mind.

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