U.S. China Policy?
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Tue May 22 08:39:18 MDT 2001
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China fears repeat of Reagan strategy
by Ching Cheong
THE recent downturn in Sino-American relations has made the Chinese refocus
their attention on US policies that led to the downfall of the former Soviet
This is because they find stark similarities in the policies of US
President George W. Bush towards China and former President Ronald Reagan
'The need to study seriously how Mr Reagan brought about the collapse of
the Soviet Union becomes imperative now,' said social scientist Lu Jianhua,
specialises in China's foreign policies.
'It is not just an academic issue but one that concerns life and death,'
added the researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of
Citing Mr Peter Schweizer's book, Victory: The Reagan Administration's
Secret Strategy That Hastened The Collapse Of The Soviet Union, Mr Lu found
Mr Bush's policy towards China is surprisingly similar to what Mr Reagan did
to the Soviet Union two decades ago.
The author was a fellow at the Hoover Institute of Stanford University. His
book was written in 1994 using highly-classified documents like National
Decision Directives (NSDD).
He also interviewed key personnel in the Reagan administration, such as
Defence Secretary Casper Weinberger, National Security Adviser William Clark
Secretary of State George Shultz.
The former Reagan stalwarts also helped review the manuscript to ensure its
accuracy and validity. This amounted to an endorsement by the top executors
of the plot. In his book, Mr Schweizer concluded that Mr Reagan's strategy,
which attacked the very heart of the Soviet regime, included four main
Covert financial, intelligence and logistical support to the Solidarity
movement in Poland that ensured the survival of an opposition movement in
of the Soviet empire;
Substantial financial and military support to the Afghan resistance, as
well as supply of mujahideen (pan-Islamic separatists in Russia) personnel
the war into the Soviet Union itself;
Attempts to ruin the Soviet economy by launching a campaign to reduce
dramatically its hard-currency earnings through driving down the price of
Saudi cooperation and limiting natural-gas exports to the West;
Aggressive high-tech defence build-up, like the Strategic Defence
Initiative (SDI), designed to strain the Soviet economy severely.
These were set out in several top-secret NSDDs signed personally by Mr
Reagan early in his administration.
NSDD-32 stated that it was US policy to 'neutralise' Soviet power in
NSDD-56 fired the first shot in the economic war that helped bankrupt the
Said Mr Lu: 'Although it was a story about the Soviet Union, yet, if one
substitutes China for the Soviet Union, Taiwan for Afghanistan, Hongkong for
Radio Free Asia for Radio Free Europe, and national missile defence (NMD)
for SDI, then the parallels become apparent.
'In particular, we found Mr Bush's May 1 announcement on installing the NMD
and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's May 8 statement suggesting the
of outer space particularly disturbing...according to Peter Schweizer, an
integral part of the strategy outlined in NSDD-75 was to commit the Soviet
to an arms race that eventually bankrupted its economy.'
The NMD was estimated to cost between US$60 billion (S$108 billion) and
US$100 billion over the next 10 years, according to Pentagon estimates.
As for the development of space weapons, roughly US$6 billion a year has
already been spent in the past few years, according to Mr Karl Grossman,
of journalism at the State University of New York.
If China were to engage in such an arms race, its economy would be strained
In his book, Mr Schweizer wrote that NSDD-75 declared it would henceforth
be administration policy to exacerbate Soviet economic problems in the hope
plunging the system into a crisis.
It was signed by the president for a specific purpose, which was to squeeze
the Soviet economy by both reducing income and forcing an increase in
Said former National Security Adviser Bill Clark, who was quoted in the
book: 'Ronald Reagan wanted a complimentary relationship between the US
build-up, futuristic defence-related technologies like SDI, and econo-
mic-security policies directed at Moscow.
'Frankly, our intention was to divert priority Soviet resources to meeting
future US capabilities beyond their grasp.'
If Mr Reagan's plot brought about the implosion of the Soviet Union, the
social scientist added, 'we had reason to be sceptical of Mr Bush's current
towards China, which bore much semblance to Mr Reagan's'.
'NMD and space weapons aside, there were other similarities.
'Mr Bush's Taiwan policy was comparable to Mr Reagan's support for the
mujahideen which eventually developed into the separatist war of Chechnya a
later,' he said.
Beijing had objected to Mr Bush's arms sales to Taiwan on the grounds that
it would embolden separatism.
'This is taking the war into China, like what Mr Reagan did with the
mujahideen,' Mr Lu said.
When Mr Schweizer's book was first published, only the orthodox Marxist
ideologues in China paid serious attention to it but, now, Mr Bush has
including the liberals, to revisit the Reagan plot, he added.
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