[Marxism] Responding to China

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Fri Oct 28 14:22:33 MDT 2005

(Another interesting WSJ piece on the divisions over China policy within the
ruling Republican party. Probably the most critical long-term foreign policy
issue facing the US is assessing whether China mostly represents a threat or
opportunity and how these contradictory elements can be taken into account
in fashioning a response. The ideological split reflects the different
interests at play - the US military and its civilian network of suppiers and
advisors inviting confrontation, largely pitted against American
corporations increasingly dependent on imported Chinese goods and capital
and eager eyeing the vast export potential of the burgeoning China market.)
China's Rising Clout Splits Republicans

In U.S. Congress, One Faction Stresses the Benefits of Trade, While Other
Fears Military Threat By MURRAY HIEBERT Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET
JOURNAL October 27, 2005; Page A4

WASHINGTON -- China's rise is creating fissures among Republicans in
Congress over how the U.S. should respond.

The rifts mirror some within the Bush administration. But Chinese government
officials seem more concerned these days with those in Congress, where
passions about potential foreign rivals can sometimes force through harsher

The emerging blocs in Congress are divided between military hawks who
portray Beijing as a potential strategic threat and the Chamber of Commerce
camp, which tends to see the Asian giant as a great economic opportunity.

Two different congressional groups were launched earlier this year to
analyze and shape the policy debate over China's surging economic and
political clout. The 31-member China Congressional Caucus, focusing on the
People's Liberation Army's military modernization, is headed by Rep. J.
Randy Forbes, a Virginia Republican. When discussing China, he mentions a
scene from the movie "Jaws," in which the police chief nonchalantly throws
fish bait into waters off the New England coast. A great white shark lunges
out of the water, terrifying the audience. "That's kind of what China did to
the world," says Mr. Forbes.

Illinois Republican Rep. Mark Kirk heads the 35-member U.S.-China Study
Group. He says his group's main goal is to "reduce needless conflict with
China based on wrong information." While the congressman says China's
military upgrade is "profound and it's worrying," he argues that U.S. trade
and diplomatic ties will turn "China into a less-menacing state." Healthy
economic ties are also good for his district in Chicago, where three giant
U.S. corporate players in China -- Boeing Co., Motorola Inc. and United
Airlines parent UAL Corp. -- have their headquarters.

The two factions clashed earlier this year over a House resolution opposing
the bid by Chinese state oil company Cnooc Ltd. to buy U.S. oil producer
Unocal Corp., a deal that failed in part because of congressional
opposition. Mr. Forbes says he backed the measure, which passed by a
398-to-15 vote, because the Cnooc takeover could have threatened U.S. access
to oil supplies. He also says it would have given the Chinese "monitoring
capabilities" for U.S. military installations near drilling sites in Alaska
and the Gulf of Mexico.

Mr. Kirk opposed the resolution, arguing that much criticism of the deal was
based on inaccurate information. He says many legislators didn't realize
that most of Unocal's oil and gas exploration activities were no longer
based in the U.S. and that Beijing allowed American oil companies to invest
in China.

The differing approaches to China on Capitol Hill mirror similar strains
developing within the Bush administration. Two weeks ago, Treasury Secretary
John Snow visited China, praising the government for economic restructuring
and playing down congressional criticism over Chinese currency policy.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived in China for his own visit last
week, after months in which the Pentagon has bluntly criticized China's
military buildup as potentially destabilizing for Asia. While Mr. Rumsfeld's
remarks in a speech in China were less critical, he still fretted about
Beijing's rising military power, saying that it "leads other nations to
question China's intentions."

But these days, Chinese government officials are watching the split in
Congress to see which group dominates -- the one run by Rep. Forbes or the
one championed by Rep. Kirk.

Both men were elected to Congress in 2000. Mr. Forbes, 53 years old, was a
lawyer in southeastern Virginia before entering politics. Mr. Kirk, 46, had
a history in international relations, as a Naval Reserve intelligence
officer, in posts at the World Bank and the State Department, and as an aide
in the British House of Commons. Mr. Forbes tends to vote with the
Republican Party's most conservative wing on economic, social and
foreign-policy legislation, according to an analysis by the National
Journal, a nonpartisan political magazine. Mr. Kirk, by the same study,
splits his votes more evenly between conservatives and liberals.

Mr. Kirk praises Mr. Forbes's efforts for helping to focus more attention on
China. Mr. Forbes criticizes the Kirk caucus as "cheerleaders" who "want
more trade with China" that ultimately could provide Beijing the income to
build its military machine.

Mr. Forbes, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, says in an
interview that "we still don't know if China will be our best friend or our
worst enemy."

Chinese officials say they need to modernize the military to block Taiwan --
which Beijing considers a breakaway province -- from declaring independence.
But Mr. Forbes is convinced that China's recent purchases of diesel
submarines and development of missiles are "much bigger than Taiwan." He
argues that the upgrading of China's military poses "a huge threat" and is
"all focused on the United States."

While he doesn't have specific policies to propose at this point, Mr. Forbes
urges the Bush administration to do a more thorough assessment of China's
impact on the American "military-industrial base" and how it should respond
to China during the next decade. He emphasizes the need for a long-term
shipbuilding plan for the Navy to compete with China's active program. With
a major shipbuilding center nearby, his district is home to many
shipbuilding workers.

Rep. Kirk, who first visited Beijing in 1984 as a congressional aide, says
his group's main policy objective is to make U.S. relations with China the
top diplomatic priority in Washington, as opposed to what he considers the
current overemphasis on relations with Europe. "The two largest economies on
earth should place the highest priorities on relations to each other," he

His group -- whose co-chairman is Washington State Democratic Rep. Rick
Larsen -- supports increasing the resources available to the State
Department to bolster the number of Chinese-language speakers in the foreign
service, upgrade the U.S. Embassy's Web site in Beijing to cater to the
"Internet addiction" of Chinese under the age of 40, and set up consulates
in all Chinese cities with a population of more than 10 million.

China appears to appreciate the friendly outlook of Mr. Kirk's caucus.
China's new ambassador to Washington, Zhou Wenzhong, has coffee regularly
with the group. Its members were slated to have a 90-minute meeting in
September with Chinese President Hu Jintao, before his visit to Washington
was postponed after Hurricane Katrina.

Mr. Forbes hasn't yet met with Mr. Zhou. Two attempts were canceled because
of scheduling conflicts. His group wasn't offered a meeting with Mr. Hu.

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