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Op-Ed Contributors

Can America win by confronting


China?
By Francis C W Fung (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-02-25 17:20
Will America win in an all out confrontation with China? The reality is both sides will
lose. How much each side will lose? Which nation will recover more readily from the
loss suffered from such an unwise and unthinkable confrontation? Will our over
reach into another unnecessary cold war be productive? How essential is it for both
nations to reach harmony consensus for win- win development instead of
confrontation? America should have a public debate on this very urgent and
important subject so we are better prepared for the consequences of our
confrontational actions should we decide to embark on it.
Leaders of both nations are fully aware of the severe consequences of an avoidable
all out confrontation. But a public debate in America is needed so President Obama
will not be subjected to undue pressure from the public to provoke China to the point
of no return. American media still mire its mind in the past Cold War mentality as to
have not done the necessary task to educate American public about China
development. We are uninformed and under disillusion about how China could
progress so fast economically during the past three decades.

Despite the fact that the 2008 global financial crises was caused by America, there
has rarely been any complaint from China. Chinese culture is not known to be critical
of others. Fortunately Chinese leaders also read Sun Zi and follow Deng Xiaoping’s
foreign policy teaching for China -“Observe developments soberly, maintain our
position, meet challenges calmly, hide our capacities and bide our time, remain free
of ambition, never claim leadership” and avoid serious confrontations. American
leaders are under pressure from the public to confront China for the last half century
ever since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Our citizens are
constantly reminded by the media that we have the best political system and China
must follow the American model to develop (See Martin Jacques, “When China
Rules the World”, 2010).
American media has vowed with confidence that China now is more dependent on
American market. This media driven misinformation served to build up American
confidence to please the public. This misconception of the public can be dangerous
as to force our leaders hands on too many unnecessary confrontations with China,
as witnessed by our superior than thou attitude on Internet Freedom, sales of arms
to Taiwan and Obama’s meeting with Dalai Lama, despite repeated warning from
China. On further analysis it is easy to show that America is actually more dependent
on China as our banker to support out twin deficits.

Americans think we won the Cold War because of our superior ideology. Over the
years, we have convinced ourselves that we are invincible. We also are very proud
that our military power is supreme and that we are a creative nation and lead the
world in technology. The truth is that our business enterprise is competitive because
we have an early action in industrial revolution and our most endowed land attracts
vast number of talents who seek opportunities. Ideology is very fickle. A nation can
change her ideology on a dime as we witness China’s transformation. During the last
three decades of reform and opening up she has proved that her hybrid system of
combined state economy with market economy can work quite well. Many foreign
talents that used to come from Europe, Japan, China and India are now returning
home because economic opportunities in their homelands are growing with
increased prosperity. This phenomenon is well known as we saw Japanese and
Taiwanese scientists and entrepreneurs returning home during the latter part of last
Century and recently some Chinese and Indian talents are doing the same.
If current American provocation is unchecked there may come a point that China will
be forced to retaliate in action by discontinuing to subsidize our twin deficits. This
reaction will most likely lead to an all out confrontation. The first to suffer will be
American consumers who will need to pay higher prices for essential goods to
maintain our living standard. Next will be American and Chinese businesses,
because 70 % of imports from China are under joint venture management with
foreign companies making more profit than that of Chinese business. It may not be
fun to watch the domino effects of worldwide trade protectionism and stock markets
crash, but it could happen like the 1929 world depression. When this does occur
there is no telling who will be the bigger loser.
Luckily the world will recover from the next depression if it should occur despite our
efforts to prevent it. The question is who will be more likely to recover from it fastest?
America has never had a major calamity that took place in our home land other than
the Civil War. China, however on the other hand, during the last Century,
experienced the devastation of numerous imperial wars of aggression, the Japanese
occupation, two major civil wars, the Cultural Revolution and the recent devastating
Sichuan earthquake. She has showed remarkable resilience in recovering from all
those calamities. In addition, as an ancient culture, she has shown continuous unity
for a long uninterrupted history of five thousand years.
As a dynamic young nation, America does not have a deep rooted ancient civilization
as binding force. China is a cultural state and not a political state. China is more
centralized and cohesive as is demonstrated by her developing pattern over the last
three decades and her fast recovery from the last global economic crisis. (See Martin
Jacques, “When China Rules the World”, 2010). As the world’s manufacturing
center, China certainly will be the first to have the get up and go to export consumer
goods to the rest of the developing world. Remember in any depression, when the
stock market has crashed, cash is king. Whereas America is currently heavily in
debt, China has two trillion dollars of foreign currency reserve. Adding the 700 billion
from Hong Kong, this will make 2.7 trillion. She and other cash rich nations in Asia
will certainly recover much faster during this potential depression than America, even
if they are not targeted to rise already by most accounts.
History has ample documentations of the 1929 global depression. It is sufficient to
conclude that at this time of crisis, caution is the best part of velour for both America
and China not to tempt fate. The most advisable course of action is for America and
China both to continue cooperation and reach Harmony Consensus. In a joint effort
between the most powerful developed nation and the fastest growing developing
country, America and China will both fulfill the manifested destination of greatness,
bringing lasting peace and harmony to the world. Harmony is the most common
value of human civilization and Harmony Renaissance is the next creative wave of
energy mankind is waiting for to lead us to the next level of accomplishment beyond
European Renaissance.
The author is the General Director of World Harmony Organization. The opinions
expressed are his own.