Thursday, June 02, 2005

China's Peaceful Rise?

Now that Brookings has posted the transcript of Jaswant Singh's talk we blogged on yesterday, here's a very interesting excerpt, during Q&A:

QUESTION: Do you in fact believe in what China espouses as a peaceful rising, or do you see them as a threat?

MR. SINGH: I think the Peoples Republic of China is currently so engaged with the great issue that confronts them as a country that there is no free play available for that country to engage in conflict. They do want another 20 to 30 years of consistent development in which they can address what they have themselves identified as the great modernizations and as also economic development. It has always been China's strategic philosophy that if your adversary is humbled without conflict, then that's a much better way to humble. And it's the assessment of the Peoples Republic that if they're able to grow economically, as they're demonstrating today, then in the foreseeable future of just about a decade or so, it has already, I mean, my [inaudible] the achievement that the Peoples Republic has demonstrated and the acclaim that the world has accorded to it has already conferred upon it the great power status that they seek. They don't have to go to [inaudible] for that purpose.

No free play, Mr. Singh says, thus dismissing the threat from ascendant China -- and he leads supposedly the party of hawks. He is clearly inebriated with the arrack of ostriches.

This denial of Chinese threat is, alas, a widely held view among India's strategic circles. A couple years ago, a senior Indian member of parliament told a group of our friends of his visit to Beijing where he met, the then President, Jiang Zimin. Jiang told him that, for China, geo-politics is all about economics -- as it should be for India. India has apparently bought this theory hook, line, and sinker.

Then there's the reality, always ready to puncture hot air balloons.

Let's just count the number of muscular balls China presently has in the air. Then let's ponder on whether this is evidence of China's peaceful rise.

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