Wednesday, March 16, 2005

China versus Taiwan

Chalmers Johnson, noting that I had gone into crazy uncle mode, has delivered his retort. (Ok so he is not actually responding to me personally...)

Actually, we’re pretty much in agreement, probably because I’ve read a few of his superb books – Blowback and The Sorrows of Empire. If you’re interested in international affairs, his writings are enlightening.

The United States is doing more to inflame tensions between China and Taiwan than I had realized. When it comes to the nuance, I must put my crayons away and let this estimable Asian scholar fill in the details.

The Middle East thus trumped the neocons' Asia policy. While the Americans were distracted, China went about its economic business for almost four years, emerging as a powerhouse of Asia and a potential organizing node for Asian economies. Rapidly industrializing China also developed a voracious appetite for petroleum and other raw materials, which brought it into direct competition with the world's largest importers, the U.S. and Japan.

By the summer of 2004, Bush strategists, distracted as they were by Iraq, again became alarmed over China's growing power and its potential to challenge American hegemony in East Asia. The Republican Party platform unveiled at its convention in New York in August proclaimed that "America will help Taiwan defend itself." During that summer, the Navy also carried out exercises it dubbed "Operation Summer Pulse '04," which involved the simultaneous deployment at sea of seven of our twelve carrier strike groups. An American carrier strike group includes an aircraft carrier (usually with 9 or 10 squadrons of planes, a total of about 85 aircraft in all), a guided missile cruiser, two guided missile destroyers, an attack submarine, and a combination ammunition-oiler-supply ship. Deploying seven such armadas at the same time was unprecedented – and very expensive.


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