Many economists, military analysts and security experts all have seen a new nation advancing on the military, economic and technological spectrum. The nation is the People’s Republic of China. China has a population greater than the U.S., which totals 1.3 billion, compared to the U.S.’s population of just 330 million. China’s GDP is expected to exceed the U.S.’s in the near future. Moreover, China has the largest cash surplus in the world, allowing it to invest heavily in defense, infrastructure, and research and development.
Back in the 1970s, the big threat to U.S. security was not China, it was the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, the U.S. used a strategy of containment against the Soviet Union. The U.S. was particularly alarmed about the Soviet Union’s influence in its neighbors and other countries. The U.S. implemented many strategies to prevent the spread of communism. Ultimately, the U.S.’s answer to Soviet expansion was NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). NATO’s key role was to keep all of Europe and Canada as one united military alliance. Furthermore, it was to prevent the Soviet Union from gaining control on these nation’s governments. The Soviet Union later countered with the Warsaw Pact.
In 1991, the Soviet Union had collapsed. The Soviet government’s economy was in disarray and they were locked out from other international markets. Capitalism later slowly moved into Eastern European economies. NATO later expanded into Eastern Europe pressing on the Russian Federation’s borders. In response to this threat, Russia formed the Collectible Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) the successor to the Warsaw Pact. Many former Soviet states joined this military alliance, trying to recreate the Soviet Union’s original borders.
The strategy that the U.S. used against the Soviet Union and is currently using against China, is not a new concept. The British Empire took this approach in the past as well. In the 1930s, Britain had a colossal problem. The world economy was in a depression and British naval superiority allowed it to still control the seas, although its finances were a mess and its man power was in decline. In the mid 1930s, Britain was beginning to become apprehensive about its neighbor. Nazi Germany had a massive population, and their new leader Adolf Hitler was speaking out about his anger towards his neighbors and certain groups of people. British military and foreign policy experts decided on using containment to stop Hitler. A war in the short-term for Britain would have been a catastrophe. It would have cost Britain too many lives and financially would have put Britain in more danger. Britain formed a military alliance with Poland, then later with France, Belgium, Netherlands, Romania and Greece. Nazi Germany later responded to this alliance, their response would be the start of one of the deadliest wars in the history of this planet.
Presently, the U.S. is the world’s predominant superpower. It is sometimes called the “Modern Day British Empire”. In reality, the U.S. is implementing the same containment strategies that the British used in the 1930s. The major problem is that today the U.S. is using this old strategy, to prevent China from expanding. Currently, the U.S does not have a single enemy that is an armed, stable nation-state with military capabilities of the same magnitude of itself. Therefore, the U.S is making sure that China does not become that nation. Why won’t the U.S. allow China to have similar military capabilities? Does the U.S. feel that no other nation should become a world superpower? Shouldn’t the U.S. allow China to enhance it naval capabilities to defend its Eastern coastline?
The U.S. successfully used containment to slowly chip away at the Soviet Union, which ultimately succeeded. Currently, the U.S. is trying to prevent China from becoming too powerful, ultimately into a world superpower. The U.S currently has an alliance with Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan, Afghanistan, India and Mongolia. Furthermore, the U.S. has troops deployed in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Afghanistan, Australia, Singapore and the Philippines. This strategy has China’s foreign influence constrained and quarantined.
Events in the past, such as the South China Sea incident in 2009 and the Hainan Island incident are a direct consequence of this containment strategy. For example, the Soviet Union had an economy that was not internationally accessible. China on the other hand, has an extremely universal and international economy. The Soviet Union had virtually no Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into it; China has the largest on the planet. Furthermore, the Chinese have immense manufacturing capabilities, one of the most efficient systems on the face of the earth. The Soviets failed to manufacture large enough quantities of goods to sell to the world. If the U.S. used this same strategy against China, would it really force China to implode like the Soviet Union did? Would China’s trading partners allow the Chinese economy to fail? If the Chinese government/economy failed, what would the cost be to the world economy?
In order for China to view the U.S. as a potential ally, both nations have to recognize each other as partners instead of rivals. How would China accept the U.S. as a true partner, especially if it has other chief allies? NATO and The Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS) would still be viewed as the U.S.’s primary allies. In the eyes of China, NATO/ANZUS will be seen as America’s only priority and China will view them as a major obstacle. The U.S would have to either withdraw or reorganize NATO/ANZUS, which would involve the U.S. streamlining it, so it doesn’t have to pose a direct threat to the Russian Federation and potentially China. Moreover, the U.S. would create more permanent members of NATO/ANZUS. This strategy would show the Russian Federation and China that NATO/ANZUS has no interest in expanding further eastward. At the same time, China would view them as a reliable and steady alliance system with limited expansion. NATO/ANZUS’s expansion could eventually anger the Russian Federation and China to a point, where it may use the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to isolate the U.S.
The U.S. must fully comprehend that the entire containment strategy against China is viewed by the Chinese, as a serious threat to their national security. The arming of Taiwan is increasing infuriating China. Furthermore, American military facilities in Japan, South Korea and Afghanistan are increasingly irritating China. There has been a discussion about more naval exercises by the U.S. military being conducted in the South China Sea. Some military experts believe that the U.S. may also consider moving military facilities into other former Soviet-states next door to China. If this were to occur, it would only further agitate the Chinese.
The overall best strategy for the U.S. would be initially, to stop arming Taiwan. This strategy would allow the Chinese to realize that the U.S. is not trying to prevent Chinese influence into Taiwan. If a war did break out between China and Taiwan; would the U.S. try to rescue Taiwan? What would the cost be for the U.S.? The U.S. should consider restructuring its military presence in Japan and South Korea; this would show China that U.S. military presence has no intention to potentially harm China.
Currently, the U.S. military has the most highly developed, versatile and lethal military on the planet. However, China is drastically upgrading their military capabilities. China is upgrading their naval, air and land units to a degree where they will become comparable to American-made units in the near future. The U.S. is facing a gigantic problem regarding military weaponry and units, which is the illegal copying of American-made military equipment. China is able to reverse-engineer and successfully rebuild American aircraft, engines, and other weapons. This is seen by the U.S. government as a serious concern. In reality, is China doing it to defend themselves from the U.S.’s policies of containment? A good analogy would be if China had military bases in Cuba, Canada and Mexico. Do you think the U.S would be copying Chinese-made weapons? Would the U.S. be concerned about its national security?
An added concern regarding hostilities between both nations, is the chance of cyber-warfare becoming a persistent problem. Cyber warfare is a gargantuan setback for both the U.S. and China. Cyber attacks occur daily between both nations. At the moment, cyber warfare exists on the internet, an abstract information superhighway. What if one day the internet had the capabilities to alter the function of physical equipment/facilities? The ultimate fear is; how infrastructure or military applications would be reprogrammed if an attack occurred? What if a cyber attack occurred on a nuclear facility or military unit carrying an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) or tactical nuclear weapon?
The U.S. will eventually have to recognize China as an ally and a partner, not a military rival. If the U.S. had China as an ally, many humanitarian and counter-terrorism missions would be aided by China. The Chinese army would give the U.S. army needed backup support. What if other humanitarian/natural disasters occurred somewhere in the world, would the U.S. have enough soldiers? How many U.S. soldiers are currently deployed in counter- terrorism/counter-drug operations throughout the world? How many Chinese forces are deployed in these operations around the world?
A beneficial concept for the U.S and China; would be the implementation of encouraging joint military exercises with each other. These would occur in international waters, U.S. waters and Chinese waters. The U.S. would allow China to lease/use U.S. military bases/facilities. At the same time, the Chinese would give the same option to the U.S. A relationship in which these two nations collaborated would not only benefit the U.S./China relationship, but would benefit nations all throughout Asia. It would create increased security in the Asia-Pacific region. U.S./China naval capabilities would conduct joint operations countering terrorism, human/drug trafficking, whaling and increasing port security (chiefly in the Golden Triangle). Eventually, other nations will see the benefits and join these operations.
In regards to economics, many economists would argue that the manipulation of China’s currency could lead to a trade war and potentially exacerbate a conflict between the U.S and China. That is only if both nations remain antagonistic towards one another.
Some economic experts believe that a potential North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) entity and the European Union (EU) could merge to enhance both western economies considerably. The theory behind this would be to directly challenge to China’s impending economic preeminence over the western world. As a matter of fact, this theory may actually backfire and enrage China even more, potentially to the point where it is seen as a direct threat to China’s economic dominance and national security.
Many believe that China and the U.S. should not allow each other to invest in one another. These people believe that it could increase espionage and counterfeiting of products. In actuality, these people are dead wrong. Both the U.S. and China need to greatly increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into each other. The U.S. would benefit considerably from China investing in its companies, government, military and infrastructure. Moreover, the U.S. would allow investment to repair/maintain/build its schools, hospitals, electric grids, nuclear power plants, streets, bridges, tunnels, refineries, railroads etc. This would ultimately give the U.S. the extra capital needed to continue to expand its infrastructure and further the nations Human Development Index (HDI). Additionally, China would receive massive investment from the U.S. Take a look at basic history; did Nazi Germany and Britain invest in each other in the mid 1930s? Did China and Japan invest in each other in the 1920s? Regrettably no, we all now what the outcome was.
A common argument that people make is, only the U.S. imports oil from the Middle East. In reality, over the next decade China will surpass the U.S. in oil imports from the Middle East. Yes, China will face the same colossal problem; it needs to become energy independent more than the U.S.! Together, both nations will have the capabilities to decrease their dependence on foreign oil by collaborating in the private and public sectors. Advancements will occur in solar/wind technologies, artificial intelligence, surveillance, nanotechnology, battery technology and other technologies. These two nations would have companies and local governments jointly working together in research facilities to create new technologies that will benefit all of humanity over the long term.
So, can these two nations really be allies even if they are both the biggest economic rivals? The answer is yes. The U.S. and China both deeply rely on each other so much, that they would have to allow this system to function. American companies outsource work to China to reduce their labor costs. Simultaneously, China sells these products to the U.S. Furthermore, China has the ability to keep purchasing U.S. debt because it relies on the reserve currency and believes it is an established and dependable currency. These actions by China, eventually allow the U.S. to borrow astonishing amounts of money. What would happen to the world economy, if this economic relationship collapsed? Can this system of trade/finance really be put to a complete halt?
A new policy for both nations must to be proposed imminently. Currently both nations are rapidly moving towards a potential military altercation. The policy of containment has historically created wars. If a military clash were to occur; how many people could potentially become casualties? What implications would it have on the U.S., Chinese and world economy? What if the U.S. were ultimately to lose the war? What reparations would the U.S. have to pay? (Remember the U.S. has a massive trade deficit and a national debt that it owes to China.) This new policy would give the U.S. guaranteed security, peace, a balanced budget and new technologies in the future. It would prevent China and the U.S. from becoming adversaries and allow them to become reliable, ethical and dependable partners. In the end, this new policy would end a bitter conflict that unfortunately, may be inevitable.