And there’s not much we can do about it because China is too important to us. It is the engine of the world’s economic growth. If Western countries want to continue to grow, they must trade more with China and that means remaining on good terms with the Chinese Government. Even if the West were to sacrifice warm relations with China for more strident defence of democratisation it would probably do no good. China can out bid the West for the allegiance of target countries in nearly every way, and its power is growing rapidly at the West’s (and particularly, the US’s) expense.
American rightwing thinking and military planning increasingly envisions eventually conflict with China (you didn’t think the US was buying all those F-36s to bomb terrorists did you?) but that just shows the out-datedness and bankruptcy of rightwing thought. There will be no war with China: there is no casus belli, the economic and human costs are too great for modern democracies to countenance, we are too interdependent, and China’s military is too strong.
What to do then, if we want to continue spreading democracy and not see the international stage increasingly dominated by a non-democratic actor? The only option is to build relations with China at every level. As it opens its society more we must engage with the Chinese people through trade, tourism, and growing inter-personal ties. As Chinese people become more exposed to life in democratic countries, the more they are demanding the same freedoms for themselves. We must encourage this process.
The Chinese Government’s actions to stifle freedom and democracy dismay and anger us but turning our backs on China on will do nothing to change things. Instead, we must build bridges with the country that, either way, will have most influence over the shape of the world in coming decades. The cornerstone of a democratic future is a democratic China.
Pages: 1 2