America vs China: Why The US Is The Right Choice

US President Barack Obama has visited Australia this week; as a result, 2500 US soldiers will be stationed here for six months of the year, with the possibility of an increased US troop presence and/or a new US base being established in the future.

Unsurprisingly, China — and some of her neighbours — are not happy.

And unsurprisingly, discussion in the circles of opinion this week has focused on the potential economic damage these developments might inflict on Australia; after all, China — and its appetite for Australian minerals — are not only holding this country out of recession at present, but on one reading would seem to underpin any prospect Australia might have for economic prosperity in the longer run.

Readers of this column know that I place a large premium on the economic welfare of Australia in my opinions on various issues; the one thing I place even more of a premium on is the country’s national security.

So for now, let’s place economic considerations to one side — we’ll come back to those.

And let me say at the commencement of my remarks that they do not apply to ordinary rank-and-file Chinese people, but to the Chinese government, its Communist Party, and the junta which runs it.

China, viewed through a military and national security prism, is not the sort of friend Australia needs or wants. Indeed, even were it to be, it’s not much of a friend to have.

As China has developed over the past forty years — and especially in the last ten to fifteen years — it has become increasingly belligerent in its assertions of its own national interests; those assertions alone should give thinking people reason to pause.

It lays claim to the entire South China Sea, in spite of internationally-recognised sea boundaries; specifically, it seeks control over vast oil reserves and other natural resources contained in the South China Sea basin.

It lays claim over the Spratley Islands, for much the same reason, in the face of legitimate claims held by several other south-east Asian countries.

It is an ally of North Korea. It doesn’t matter that China is North Korea’s only ally; the fact remains that it is allied to a brutal, murderous, regressive, nuclear-armed Stalinist socialist regime.

China has an agreement with Russia — also no democracy — to co-operate on military matters; no small matter, given the historically malevolent nature of Sino-Russian relations.

It is committed to the reclamation of Taiwan and does not rule out military force to achieve this objective, despite the USA being legally obliged to defend Taiwan in the event of any military attack and the near-certainty of the use of nuclear weapons should such a conflict ever eventuate.

China is building military and economic co-operation pacts with various third-world countries, in Africa and South America, to bolster its global influence and to shore up its stocks as an emerging superpower in its own right.

And finally — but by no means least of all — China is run by a regime which crushes dissent, stifles free speech, restricts its people’s access to information from the world at large, and simply disposes of those of its citizens it deems too dangerous to its interests to be allowed to be left alive.

Through its various alliances, co-operation agreements and other pacts, China’s influence already covers more than a third of the world’s population.

And that is before considerations such as Australia’s reliance on orders from the Chinese for coal, gas and so forth are taken into account.

The pending US military presence in Australia has been described as “a strike force” and as “a balance to Chinese influence in the Asia-Pacific region.”

As it rightly should be.

Much as we might need the cheques from China for our natural resources today, the question must be posed: what will we receive from China tomorrow?

It is inarguable that at best, China seeks to extend its influence into every corner of the world; at worst, it could be argued that the economic rise of China is a mere precursor to its military manifestation.

Indeed, China’s military is modernising and expanding at a fearsome rate, and its sabre-rattling and conduct to date are not suggestive of a regime seeking peaceful hegemony.

One other observation I would make with direct relevance to China is that it is home to some 1.3 billion people, in an area not that much larger than Australia with its 23 million inhabitants.

There has been negative reaction to the announcement of the US troop deployment in Australia not just from China but also from its neighbours, some of whom are in dispute with China over other matters. Indonesia, with its 300 million people, is a case in point.

At the end of the day, however, Australia’s security is the responsibility of its government, just as the protection of American interests are the responsibility of the US administration; and after all, Australia and the United States have been staunch allies now for many decades.

So this development should come as little surprise to the Chinese government. The fact it has elicited the reactions it has is suggestive of more sinister motives that may very well have been blunted, if not at least frustrated, by the measures announced this week.

It is inarguable that there are economic and trade opportunities with China that should be pursued vigorously.

It is also a fact that all of Australia’s eggs should not be placed in the one basket.

Especially when the owner of that basket — the Communist Party of China — maintains a persistently undervalued currency to give itself a permanent advantage over all of its partners, and which now openly canvasses a controlled slowdown of its economy, which will hurt all of those partners (but further advantage China itself).

There are other opportunities for trade in the raw materials we export to China; just as we ship natural gas to China, we could ship it to dozens of countries in Europe which are held to ransom by Russia for their gas supplies (indeed, the Russians have closed the pipeline that supplies mainland Europe twice in the past five years in order to make its political will known).

But there will come a day when China, one way or another, is a fully developed country; it won’t have the space to house its people, the food resources to feed them, or the mineral resources to run itself.

Here in Australia we have wide open spaces and the food production resources with which to feed tens of millions of people in addition to our own population — and that’s before anything like this  is even implemented.

There is nothing racist, bigoted or xenophobic in any of this; just a hard, cold assessment of future events that are all too foreseeable, and all too possible.

Pretend the New Zealanders (sorry, Kiwis!) were a nuclear-armed superpower far, far more powerful than Australia is; and consider a future scenario in which they invade Australia, subjugate the population, and enslave the country to materially support their own, at great detriment to Australians and under the threat of conventional or nuclear devastation.

Two potential saviours ride up on white steeds; one is called China, the other the USA.

Who do you pick?

Clearly, Uncle Sam is more a friend to this country than China is, or ever will be.

No matter what export opportunities lie at the end of the Silk Road.

Let’s not forget that, and let’s keep this debate over China and the USA in perspective.

What do you think?

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8 thoughts on “America vs China: Why The US Is The Right Choice

  1. Whatever medication you’re on, reduce it by half.

    “Indeed, China’s military is modernising and expanding at a fearsome rate” Yes, isn’t it disgraceful that anybody other than an anglo saxon derived nation should even think that they should have a modern military.

    It is inarguable that if America develops a fifth generation fighter then they are doing so to further the course of “Freedom” and “Democracy” and everything else that is good, but should the Russians or Chinese do exactly the same thing then they are obviously bent on world domination.

    No, China is not our friend, but neither is America. In the event of “trouble”, America will do what it perceives to be in its best interest to do. If that means hanging Australia or any other nation out to dry, then that is what they will do. To think otherwise is to indulge in fantasy.

    “Especially when the owner of that basket — the Communist Party of China — maintains a persistently undervalued currency to give itself a permanent advantage over all of its partners”

    And America and others have prohibitive tariffs to do exactly the same thing. Or is it only different because it’s the “Yellow Peril” doing it?

    “But there will come a day when China, one way or another, is a fully developed country; it won’t have the space to house its people, the food resources to feed them, or the mineral resources to run itself.”

    Point 1 is already being taken care of points 2 and 3 already apply to Germany. Germany has neither the food resources to feed itself nor the mineral resources to run itself. Germany has also been modernizing and developing its military. (Don’t tell anybody, but they actually make their own tanks there you know. Very suspicious that and not suggestive of a regime seeking peaceful anything.) So how come there is no panic over the possibility of “Deutschland Uber Alles” being sung again?

    Ooh, ooh! Wait! I know! The Chinese have an Aircraft Carrier now, their very first one. Okay, it is a refit 23 year old Russian one that was scrapped, but that is inarguably beside the point. The desire for a nation to have one is an obvious sign of their desire to spread their influence around the globe.

    America of course has 11 at the moment and is building 3 more of the Super heavy “Ford” Class SuperCarriers. Britain is building 2 of the new “Queen Elizabeth” Class, France has 1, Russia has 1, Italy and Spain have 2 each while India, Brazil and Thailand have 1 each.

    But we must beware the fearsome Chinese build up.

    And before going on about Territorial claims “in spite of internationally-recognised sea boundaries” realise that it is those boundaries that are causing the dispute. The Chinese claim is hardly less reasonable than the claims of any of the other nations involved. Considering that China is the oldest civilisation in the region their claim to “previous ownership” is a good argument.

    There are a number of nations involved, why are the Chinese the selfish, expansionist bad guys here?

    • JohnB, were I to reduce the (gastrointestinal) medicine I am on, it would be an unsightly mess. Best leave that alone.

      Now…nobody is suggesting China is not entitled to have a modern military; the problem is that China’s military mischief over the decades (largely when its military was next to useless — which it is not now) instils little faith in its responsible use.

      Not least when it is busy throwing its weight around in south-east Asia.

      Your comment on Americans building fifth-generation fighter planes is based on a false premise. The US has never declared war on any nation without provocation; even Iraq and Afghanistan fit that bill.

      The Tony Blair-authorised “dossier” justifying the incursion into Iraq was a mistake, but Afghanistan was a clear case of a fundamentalist Muslim regime harbouring and training terrorists for the explicit purpose of striking at “The Great Infidel.”

      And do remember that the South Vietnamese asked Uncle Sam for help, before they flung it back in his (and our) face.

      The false premise in your argument rests upon the fact that the USA is the number one target, as a nation state, of both rogue elements and nation states — and has been for more than half a century. Japan, Soviets in the Cold War, terrorists shortly after, rogue states like North Korea and Iran explicitly, and I dare say China under its breath all detested and detest the United States. Of course it must defend itself.

      China is not our friend, but America is. I’m stunned you would assert otherwise. Did they leave us out in the wind in WWII, when Darwin was bombed, and when Japanese submarines were found in Sydney Harbour? No, they didn’t.

      America has a tariff wall as you correctly assert; much — but not all — of that has been lowered to Australia and to Australian companies as a consequence of the free trade agreement negotiated by the Howard government with the US in 2004.

      As for the rest of your comments — and speaking generally, my point is very simply that China is not a reliable “partner” or “friend” to have: it is purely motivated by its own interests.

      That’s understandable, but one thing China has yet to learn is to be a responsible member of the world community.

      Cowering and intimidating its neighbours into an attempted forced capitulation; manipulating world markets to the point it can force a recession on any country it chooses to, and waving its military power around like some macho shithead is not the way to become a valued citizen in a global political and economic sense.

      My other point, very simply, is that there are real alternatives to trading with China; indeed, trade with China has become an unhealthy drug to too many countries.

      Perhaps it’s time for a rethink.

      But in the meantime, whilst China is rattling its military sabre anywhere it thinks it can’t get what it wants by any other means, I’ll stick with Uncle Sam any day, despite his flaws.

      Oh, and JohnB — your attempt to link China today to Germany 70 years ago, and to its reunified persona today, is ridiculous: Germany has been not only a model world citizen since its reunification, but has also done a colossal amount of heavy lifting aimed specifically at keeping other countries afloat.

      Aside from the commercial trade dollars China doesn’t even think it ought to pay for what it wants, what’s China ever done for anyone outside its own borders?

  2. John B – I will let the history books enlighten you on the cruel character and morally reprehensible behaviour that has been displayed by the Chinese people over the centuries.
    Give me the U.S and Britian anyday to aid us in the dreadful event that someone (who has previously marched in, using whatever deadly force they desire and just taken what they want) should decide to again take what is not theirs in Australia.
    I say open your eyes to when a proven dictatorial and human rights destroyer starts gaining military strength, we need to protect ourselves with an also proven ally.
    Yes, the U.S has alot to answer for – but when push comes to shove, I would take them any day.

  3. “China is not our friend, but America is. I’m stunned you would assert otherwise. Did they leave us out in the wind in WWII, when Darwin was bombed, and when Japanese submarines were found in Sydney Harbour? No, they didn’t.”

    Hate to bust your bubble, but you might remember that WW 2 started on the 1st Sept 1939, not the 8th December 1941. The Americans only acted because they themselves had been attacked. Up to that point they were quite happy selling war materials to both sides.

    The point is that America will act in it’s own best interests, just like everybody else. If “something” happens and the American gov decides it is in Americas best interest to hang us out, then that is what they will do. To believe otherwise is a fantasy.

    “Oh, and JohnB — your attempt to link China today to Germany 70 years ago, and to its reunified persona today, is ridiculous: Germany has been not only a model world citizen since its reunification, but has also done a colossal amount of heavy lifting aimed specifically at keeping other countries afloat.”

    The point that you are valiantly attempting not to see is that you are claiming that given certain conditions China will be dangerous, yet you fail to explain why this should be so when other nations who are already facing exactly those conditions are not. Rather than trying to establish a link, I was demonstrating that since Germany isn’t a problem due to those conditions it is unreasonable to assume that China will become so. (Although given recent events I’m sure the Italians and Greeks would have something to say about German influence outside its territoral borders.)

    “As for the rest of your comments — and speaking generally, my point is very simply that China is not a reliable “partner” or “friend” to have: it is purely motivated by its own interests.”

    Which is my point, so is America. Do you understand that America will not sell us their best technology? The new 5th generation jets are the best around and can make mincemeat of the JSF that we are spending squillions on. America will not sell us those new 5th gen fighters, but Russia and China will.

    Like us, China, Russia and every other nation on the planet, America is motivated by its own interests. I accept this fact. You ignore it in the Americans and find it somehow “wrong” for other nations. There is nothing suspicious, underhanded or wrong with a nation acting in its own interests, as all nations do it, it is “normal”.

    “Cowering and intimidating its neighbours into an attempted forced capitulation; manipulating world markets to the point it can force a recession on any country it chooses to, and waving its military power around like some macho shithead is not the way to become a valued citizen in a global political and economic sense.”

    Ever heard of Admiral Perry? I suggest starting there and working forward to the present.

    Big Sis, I’m well aware of history, probably more so than you are from your comment. Do you forget that the poms left us to dry in WW 2? It was a hell of a fight to get the troops back to protect us when Churchill wanted them in Africa to defend Europe. You might want to google the “Opium Wars” and “Gunboat Diplomacy” as well.

    You both seem to be labouring under a misapprehension. My point is simply this; ascribing dubious motives to a nation for certain acts while at the same time absolving other nations for those same acts is illogical. Yes China is building up its military, it also has 1 billion people to defend and is currently seriously outgunned, so can you really blame them for doing so? What is intrinsically wrong in a gov wanting enough firepower to defend its people from those who may threaten it?

    Nor am I saying that China is a better “friend” than America is. If push came to shove we don’t really know which way either of them will jump. Economically we are too tied to Chinas economy and militarily we are too dependent on America. We, like they, need to act in our own best interests. We could have bought that carrier the Chinese have refitted for a measly $20 million and given ourselves a Fleet Air Arm again.

    America is in deep economic doodoo and can’t afford to be the planetary protector for much longer. We will have to increase our spending and modernise our forces so that we aren’t as dependent on America as we are. A Defense policy that relies on the yanks riding in to help is a silly policy. We have neither the population nor economic base to support a large military so we must get the best. If that means American tech then fine, but if it means buying from someone else or developing our own, then that is also fine.

    The funny thing is that what is being said about China now is what was being said about Russia 20 years ago. Dire predictions about Russian expansionism based on their policies, actions and the military buildup should have had us in WW 3 about 10 years ago.

    I will add a final tidbit that WW 3 very nearly started in 1999 at the command of American General Weslay Clark who ordered UN forces to overpower Russian troops at the Pristina Airport in Yugoslavia. The order was refused by the British Commander General Sir Mike Jackson with the now rather famous line of “I’m not having my troops start World War 3”. So Yale, the only reason that America hasn’t started a war is because the orders to do so were refused by those on the spot.

    • Excellent response JohnB. I agree completely. Antipathy toward China is fuelled by semantic nonsense – meaningless phrases borrowed from American media like ‘sabre-rattling’ and ‘military mischief’ – and an absurd willingness to overlook the fact that they act in exactly the same way America does. Allies of North Korea, hey? Shall we list the regimes propped up at one point or another by America? Start with, oh, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban and Gaddafi, and work backwards.

      China wants world influence? Of course it does, but only because America has held a near monopoly on world influence (economically, but especially culturally and militarily) since WWII. China has plenty of questions to answer about its actions internally – in Tibet and the western Muslim provinces, specifically – but America has just as many human rights violations; it’s simply that they chose to export them. Mostly to Latin America and the Middle East, though every continent has had a look-in from big, huggable Uncle Sam.

      Anyway that is all. It’s not as if we as citizens are provided with a choice in the matter anyway. Thanks, first-world democracy!

  4. The usual dross from the Mail. Considering that there are only three nations that can be classed as “Superpowers” on the planet and the Russia/America War idea has been around for 60 years who else would you write an article about? Somehow I don’t think a headline of “Will World War III be between the U.S. and Fiji?” will exactly sell papers.

    As to propping up Zimbabwe, how many regimes has the West propped up even though they were utter bastards on the basis of “At least he’s one of our bastards”?

    History tells us that empires come and go. The British held world domination for some hundreds of years, this gave way to the yanks. The Americans may give way to the Chinese and the Chinese might finish up giving up to an “African Union”. No nation or group of nations should expect to hold global power forever.

    It’s all very well to bitch about the Chinese being a “responsible” global citizen and not playing by all nice and gentlemanly rules, however playing by those rules isn’t how the West won dominance, was it? The whole point of wanting a set of nice rules is that those rules actively prevent anyone challenging Western dominance, in effect relegating the rest of the world to “second class” status.

    We used drugs, blackmail, economic coersion and straight out military force to gain our dominance and we now demand that those who seek to challenge us don’t use those same weapons to advance themselves. Exactly how are they supposed to claim equality with the West?

    Why be concerned about Chinas increasing economis power? Because it challenges Western dominance. Why be afraid of their military? Because if they have a strong military they can’t be cowed by Western demands backed with threats of force. Isn’t it funny that when a white nation does something it’s “just politics” but when a non white nation does the very same thing it’a a threat to world security.

    Looking again at the Mail article;
    “The Chinese navy is growing fast, acquiring aircraft-carriers and sophisticated missile systems.”

    They’ve got 1, count ’em 1 bloody Aircraft Carrier that is a revamped 20 year old Russian one. Compared to 1 American at Pearl and 3 more at San Diego and you can add to that at least 5 Nimitz Class Supercarriers wandering around the Indian and Pacific Oceans. 1 carrier against at least 9, let’s be really scared.

    And they’re acquiring “sophisticated missile systems”, Well what else would they put on the ships? Guns? Bows and arrows? Would anybody expect any nation to build a new warship and not put a “sophisticated missile system” on board?

    The simple fact is that China is decades away from having enough conventional muscle to challenge the West. They have manpower, but not the ability to project that power, not now and not for quite some time. China is as aware as everyone else that a nuclear exchange will have no winners and won’t start one. It is also aware that it’s economy is based on trade with the West and a conventional war will cut off that trade and lead to economic collapse after a short while.

    They’re building contacts to get more raw materials from Africa? Big deal, those raw materials will have a long way to travel and ships at sea can be easily stopped or sunk. Heck, if push comes to shove it’s highly unlikely they could get enough coal to keep the lights on. While they are working to develop the Mongolian coal reserves to bring it in by rail, if all your coal is coming in on 2 rail lines it is incredibly vulnerable to attack and considering the terrain involved can be easily disrupted for months at a time.

    The very things that are helping the rise of China are the very things that are making her more vulverable and less likely to go to war.

    But I suppose some people just aren’t happy unless they are worrying about some problem that might happen at some time in the indefinite future.

  5. Actually, the Taiwan Relations Act does not state that the US is legally obligated to defend Taiwan. The act does not recognize the terminology of “Republic of China” after Jan. 1, 1979. It defines the term “Taiwan” to include, as the context may require, the islands of Taiwan (the main Island) and Penghu, which form the Taiwan Province and Taipei and Kaohsiung cities. The act does not apply to Jinmen, the Matsus, the Pratas or Taiping Island.
    The act stipulates that the United States will “consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States”.

    All it states is that any efforts to resolve the issue using non-peaceful means would be of “grave concern” to the United States.

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