Author: Chow Lee
Date: 04-07-12 21:03
"What the world ought to be demanding is two-track changes from China -- political change, respect for freedom and human rights at home; and robust engagement abroad on UN-approved military missions."
Thoughts? Perspective? Opinions?
The Rise of China. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
By Jonathon Narvey
When it comes to global security, why does China continue to get a free pass?
China, as we all know, is a developing country. It's vast hinterland is a place of backwardness and illiteracy. Yet thanks to its embrace of a sort of state-capitalism model, it has pulled up hundreds of millions of its citizens from dollar-a-day poverty. And that (for some reason) is why the world ought to forgive their government's intransigence on human rights and democracy at home and on the international stage.
That's one side of the story, anyway. The other side is that China is a country with a a space program, nuclear weapons and a military that has no regional contenders. It has more billionaires than any country except the USA. China's state-backed companies invest billions of dollars in the developing world, snapping up strategic resources at fire-sale prices without regard to pesky regulations on working conditions or the host regime's record on, say, not committing genocide.
By a thousand metrics -- number of factories, the size of its trade surplus, the scale of its missile arsenal, China is a country on the march. Yet in the key metrics that matter to us, it continues to scrape the bottom of the barrel. The Communist Party brooks no dissent. Protesters are subject to arbitrary arrest. Rumors abound of prisoners used in an industrial-scale organ harvesting industry. Labor unions are outlawed.
But it is on the international stage where China's sense of responsibility does not at all match its prodigous capacity. The Chinese strategy can be summed up as "you do security, we handle business."
Where are the brigades of Chinese soldiers to secure villages against insurgents in Afghanistan? Where is the Chinese expeditionary force to bring order to anarchic Somalia? When can we expect a Chinese special forces unit to enact regime change against the junta in Burma? How many Chinese boots on the ground can we expect if Iraq once more descends into chaos following the American pullout?
These are not silly, throw-away questons.
As an economic powerhouse, China benefits from global security that is largely enforced by other countries, some with only a fraction of the resources of China. And there are far more severe limits these days to what Western powers can do on their own, without being second-guessed and denounced by anti-imperialists, "peace activists" and even other friendly Western regimes.
Do we really want a totalitarian state that keeps a boot on the neck of its own population to "step up to the plate" on the international stage? Isn't this a little like adopting a tiger into your home to quell a domestic dispute or keep the drug dealers on the corner away? And how does a human-rights-trampling dictatorship fight for freedom abroad?
There are risks, of course. But particularly in UN-mandated international interventions like Afghanistan or in fighting piracy along essential sea lanes around the Horn of Africa, it is looking weirder and weirder for a permanent veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council to remain on the sidelines. And to be perfectly blunt, it does not matter if the bullet entering a the skull of a pirate, Taliban fighter or Janjaweed thug comes from an M16 or an AK-74.
In the middle of the twentieth century, we didn't ask the Soviet Union to cease fighting the fascist Nazi regime until it had emptied its own gulags and adopted democratic standards. More pertinently, we didn't ask the Chinese to stop fighting back against the Japanese Imperial Army until Chiang Kai Chek or Mao Tse Tung had both pledged to honor the core principles of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". Pragmatism won out.
Pragmatism in the past couple of decades has meant not preventing a genocide in Rwanda, abandonment of Somalia, a shameful policy of accomodation towards North Korea, Burma, Iran, Sudan and a host of other rogue regimes. Many of these troubles could have been prevented with a more responsible approach to global security from China.
As the West's ability to maintain security around the world has waned, China has not stepped up to fill in the gap. You could make the same argument about Japan, India, Russia, Brazil and the nations of Europe that have relegated their troops to guarding the photocopiers in Kabul. But these other nations don't have headlines written about them in glossy magazines and influential newspapers every day heralding their imminent rise as a global superpower.
What the world ought to be demanding is two-track changes from China -- political change, respect for freedom and human rights at home; and robust engagement abroad on UN-approved military missions.
The free ride for China has to end."