Saturday, January 18, 2014

Keep your head down, and smile

In 2005 I posted this interview of Lee Kuan Yew that appeared in Der Spiegel. It seems to me that the PRC government may not have the patience to bide its time as recommended by Lee. Once again, he appears prophetic.
SPIEGEL: The Chinese Government is promoting the peaceful rise of China. Do you believe them?

Mr. Lee: Yes, I do, with one reservation. I think they have calculated that they need 30 to 40 -- maybe 50 years of peace and quiet to catch up, to build up their system, change it from the communist system to the market system. They must avoid the mistakes made by Germany and Japan. Their competition for power, influence and resources led in the last century to two terrible wars.

SPIEGEL: What should the Chinese do differently?

Mr. Lee: They will trade, they will not demand, "This is my sphere of influence, you keep out". America goes to South America and they also go to South America. Brazil has now put aside an area as big as the state of Massachusetts to grow soya beans for China. They are going to Sudan and Venezuela for oil because the Venezuelan President doesn't like America. They are going to Iran for oil and gas. So, they are not asking for a military contest for power, but for an economic competition.

SPIEGEL: But would anybody take them really seriously without military power?

Mr. Lee: About eight years ago, I met Liu Huaqing, the man who built the Chinese Navy. Mao personally sent him to Leningrad to learn to build ships. I said to him, "The Russians made very rough, crude weapons". He replied, "You are wrong. They made first-class weapons, equal to the Americans." The Russian mistake was that they put so much into military expenditure and so little into civilian technology. So their economy collapsed. I believe the Chinese leadership have learnt: If you compete with America in armaments, you will lose. You will bankrupt yourself. So, avoid it, keep your head down, and smile, for 40 or 50 years.

SPIEGEL: What are your reservations?

Mr. Lee: I don't know whether the next generation will stay on this course. After 15 or 20 years they may feel their muscles are very powerful. We know the mind of the leaders but the mood of the people on the ground is another matter. Because there's no more communist ideology to hold the people together, the ground is now galvanised by Chinese patriotism and nationalism. Look at the anti-Japanese demonstrations. ...
For more on this topic, I recommend this talk by Lieutenant General Noboru Yamaguchi.
CHINA’S RISE, AMERICA’S PIVOT, AND JAPAN’S CHOICE: The security landscape in the Asia-Pacific region will mainly be determined in the long term by two significant actors, the People’s Republic of China and the United States. China’s rise has been and will be an extremely prominent factor; while how fast and in which direction China proceeds are open questions. The US has taken a significant step to stay involved in the region by declaring that it will rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific. For architects of Japan’s security strategy, it is crucially important, according to Lt Gen Yamaguchi, to, first, scrutinise both the negative and positive impacts of China’s rise without any bias; second, have a clear picture of the rebalancing by the US with an understanding of the roles of American allies for proper implementation of this policy; and third, develop courses of action and possible policies for Japan to better serve the region’s peace and stability.

The lecture has been made possible by the support of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


BobSykes said...

Their actions in the South China Sea indicate that the rise is no longer peaceful.

5371 said...

Peaceful doesn't have to mean submissive to all provocations.

Bobdisqus said...

It is hard to see what they are up to through the smog in Beijing, but as the major beneficiary of Mideast oil I say let's let them flex that new muscle they built in their cross fit workout. Assuming responsibility for the free flow of that resource will allow the world a chance to show them some respect. Just as they have loved us for it.

dwbudd said...

Lee has been right about an enormous number of things, so I would give his views the respect that they deserve.

Perhaps his most prescient remark was in the second paragraph quoted. Namely, can the Chinese government control the nationalism of its people sufficiently? The CCP have done a remarkable job - really almost unprecedented - at improving the living standarads of a huge number of people. Well, at the least, they've not obstructed the environment that let it happen.

The growth in China is unlikely to continue at the pace it has, and thus the rise is likely at some point to slow. Despite the incredible transformation, the sheer size of China means there are millions and millions of people who face poverty of the most abject sort. Many, I think, are willing to accept the gross inequality because they believe that their time will come, and that their sacrifice is for the greater good of the Chinese nation - note: NOT the PRC necessarily. As they realise that they are not going to get rich, nor will their children, what will keep them in line? As Lee points out, it will not be ideology.

There is a fine line between patriotism (generally, a good thing) and nationalism (which as often as not is bad, and in some cases, terrible).

Will the leadership in Beijing use this to keep order? If they do, can they control it?

ZZZ said...

The balance of power has shifted fundamentally in the past 9 years. China's GDP has risen from less than half of Japan's to about 2X of Japan's during this period. A large segment of the public in China feels that the government too soft towards the Japanese. I don't think any politician in the US dares to appear to be soft towards China. Only a true dictator like Deng can enforce peace.

Rudel said...

Let Japan fully re-arm. That'll cool the jets of Chinese militarism big time.

gs said...

If eight years before the Spiegel article, the discussion between Lee Kuan Yew and Liu Huaqing happened in 1997. At that time it was plausible for Chinese planners to expect that the USA would be governed competently for the foreseeable future.

To put it mildly, the records of the Bush & Obama administrations and the prospects for the 2016 election warrant reassessment of that expectation.

Duke of Qin said...

Lee Kuan Yew is a running dog lackey of the Anglo-Imperialists. A half breed Nyonya with not a single ounce of Chinese in him repeating the same threadbare lies that the West accepts as established truth while busily deracinating his erstwhile co-ethnics and inundating his own nation with hostile aliens.. The Soviet Union's military spending was not as excessive as the US DOD and Pentagon claimed with their wildly inflated estimates nor was it responsible for the poor condition of the Soviet economy. Their failed planned economic system could not have sustained Soviet standards of living even if they cut military related spending to nothing. Naturally truth comes somewhat hard to organizations that lie to all and sundry that a reduction in growth rate of military spending is actually some kind of drastic cut.

Comparing prewar Germany and Japan to China of today is ridiculous and belies the absolute ignorance and stupidity, and not to mention intellectual dishonesty, of the Western commentariat. Ignoring that the first World War was begun by the Entente powers, Prior to 1939 Germany had already annexed Austria, they had taken the Sudetenland from the Czechs. They were in flagrant violation of previous arm control limits and had signed a short lived military alliance with the Soviets. Yet when they finally moved against Poland, it was France and the UK that declared war on Germany but not their co-conspirators to the east. Likewise Japan prior to 1941 had already been at open war with China for over four years. They had already military invaded French Indochina in an effort to expand their war. Even prior to 1937, they were in military occupation of much of Northern China and were helping themselves to more. China of today has implemented a seasonal fishing ban in the South China sea and an air-defense identification in the same vane as the United States, with defense spending at approximately 1.5% of GDP and under 10% of their total budget. Those dastardly Hitlerites! Imagine what sort of mischief they could get up to when they expand military spending to 15% of GDP and 90% of revenues while ostensibly at peace.

5371 said...

We've heard this before - a hundred years ago.

LondonYoung said...

Looking at this image makes me wonder if the Spratlys aren't the Sudetenland of the 21st century

Hacienda said...

Thanks for the Japanese General's speak. Jesus what a rag. Couldn't keep attention.
I started back to Kpop/Steve Sailer as soon as he started off thrilling the audience with his previous
itinerary last time of 4 cities vs 2 cities this time around. A typical militiary/Jap +sshole.

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