WASHINGTON: Why has China, after a decade of “good neighbor” policies, engaged in high-profile high-seas standoffs with the Philippines and Japan? What is Beijing’s strategic purpose?

The most dovish analysts say that China is simply trying, albeit clumsily, to reassert what it considers its rights — its historical rights to territories China once controlled before Western imperialists and Japan stole them away during the “century of humiliation” between 1842 and 1945. The most hawkish analysts say that China is an unappeasable aggressor, like Imperial Japan in the 1930s or even Nazi Germany, and that any concessions by its neighbors or the US will encourage Beijing to grab for more. But both analyses have fatal flaws.

That’s my conclusion after watching retired Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt demolish dovish analyses this morning at the Wilson Center — and then asking him afterwards what he thought of the hawks (not much). [Click here for more from this event on China’s dangerous weakness]. In fact, McDevitt said, the painful truth is that Beijing may well be bumbling through these crises instead of possessing any strategy at all.

“I’m increasingly coming to the view that China’s reputation as a brilliant strategist is misplaced,” McDevitt told the audience. “They’re very tactical [and] focused on whatever is in the inbox…. Their reactions in many places seem designed to shoot themselves in the foot.” Policymakers in the People’s Republic, he said, don’t seem like worthy heirs to the ancient master strategist Sun Tzu.

McDevitt was speaking on a panel with two dovish analysts — Liselotte Odgaard, a Danish scholar, and Dennis Blasko, a former US Army attache in Beijing — who had just presented their paper on “China and Coexistence.” Odgaard and Blasko effectively blamed Japan for the crisis over the Senkaku Islands (called the Diaoyus in Chinese).

“Japan’s first priority is not stability,” Odgaard told the audience. “Stability requires you give a little, not just pursue your own position, and for Japan the most important thing is to maintain undisputed sovereignty over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands.”

“China’s strategy does contribute to escalation and conflict,” Odgaard acknowledged, “[but] they probably hadn’t expected that….They’re following a standard behavior of Chinese foreign policy, relying on co-existence, and that usually works for China, [but] in this type of conflict about sovereignty, China lays claim to have historical rights” — in contrast to current international law based on “effective control” — “and pursues a standard of right and wrong conduct that no one else can subscribe to. That kind of creates the problem here.”

China is sending lightly armed, civilian, Coast Guard-type vessels (with some military backup) to assert its right to what it considers ancient Chinese territory “but the others perceive China’s actions as bullying and aggression,” she said. “So there is a signaling and communication problem.”

McDevitt’s dissection of this argument was a beautiful thing to watch, terribly polite and utterly devastating.

“The first thing that jumped out at me is the statement that peaceful coexistence is China’s grand strategy,” McDevitt said. “For those of us in Washington who are watching day in and day out….’peaceful cooexistence’ is not what comes tripping off the tongue.”

After reeling off a few other, more academic shortfalls in the paper — Odgaard was at one point scribbling notes like a grad student at her thesis defense — McDevitt added, “I was surprised that you reached the judgment on page seven that ‘China’s strategy of combining peaceful deterrence and active defense allows Beijing to signal non-aggressive intentions towards neighboring states.’ The signals are not being received that way.”

From the subsequent question-and-answer session, it seemed like the scholars and experts in the audience weren’t buying the “non-aggressive” interpretation either.

The hawks, however, have an enthusiastic choir to speak to. For an unnerving contrast to today’s dovish presentation, we just have to look back one week to the annual conference of the Air Force Association, where analyst Gordon Chang denounced China as a “classic aggressor” on Hitlerian lines and received, not skepticism, but enthusiasm and applause. (“He was great, just great,” I overhead one attendee saying afterwards).

Chinese forces have penetrated “deep” into Indian territory, Chang said, referring to April’s 19-kilometer incursion into an uninhabitable region in the Himalayas, and they have “seized” the Scarborough Shoal from the infuriated Philippines, a US treaty ally, by setting up cables and reportedly dumping concrete to create an artificial island on which to plant the Chinese flag. Now, he went on, “the Chinese are using forceful tactics to wrest the Senkakus” from Japan, with their long-term goal being the Ryukyu Islands and Okinawa, while “Washington and other capitals are doing their best to ignore what’s going on.”

This was the second year Chang was asked to speak at the AFA conference, and it’s easy to see why. “The sequestration is only going to last until the first big incident in the Asia-Pacific and then all these budgetary restrictions go out the window,” Chang told the enthusiastic audience of military officers and defense contractors. “The sequester may exist for another year or so… but the Chinese are going to end it,” with Beijing lashing out as its economy falls apart.

“I’m not saying that Xi Jinping is Hitler, because he’s obviously not Hitler,” Chang told me when I asked him after his talk, “but the dynamic is the same as 1939.”

“China is not the same as the Third Reich but the dynamic is the same, because both China today and the Third Reich then want territory under the control of others,” Chang said — and a limp response by the great democracies encouraged Berlin then and Beijing now to keep pushing right up to and over the brink of war.

“I think that’s over the top,” Rear Adm. McDevitt told me when I summarized Chang’s 1930s comparison for him. “It would be crazy to make that analogy.”

McDevitt agrees with Chang that China has plenty of economic, social, and political problems at home, but he sees those as sapping Beijing’s appetite for aggression rather than pushing it to lash out.

“China has so many internal problems, the last thing they’re trying to do is pick a fight externally that would actually lead to conflict,” the admiral said. “They’ve got a lot of things that they have to do.”


  • weedenbc

    Given that Gordon Chang wrote a book in 2001 entitled “The Coming Collapse of China” and is now predicting that they are aiming for world domination, I don’t think there’s much validity to his opinions. And that the Air Force Association keeps inviting him back mainly because he can fire up the converted speaks volumes about their interests.

    • Don Bacon

      Chang updated his prediction in 2011

      The Coming Collapse of China: 2012 Edition — I admit it: My prediction that the Communist Party would fall by 2011 was wrong. Still, I’m only off by a year. . .. So, yes, my prediction was wrong. Instead of 2011, the mighty Communist Party of China will fall in 2012. Bet on it.,0

      This clown makes a living out of dissing China, which after all has been a favorite sport for in the U.S. for generations, and which featured the Chinese Exclusion Act.

      But China laughs all the way to the bank, as it continues to dominate the U.S. economy and now has the ability to control US military behavior in the East and South China Seas. Bet on it.

      • bridgebuilder78

        Wait, I thought he originally predicated that China would collapse in 2005.

      • Mazza02

        Your comment following the comment of luisdyding above is instructive and clearly lends weight to Gordon Chang’s arguments.

    • luisdyding

      you’re right, chang is a liar. china is not stupid aiming for world domination, even america or russia can’t do it.

      • Mazza02

        You are either a chinese or incredibly naive westerner. No one outside of the West will believe that china has no designs or aims for world domination.

    • Mazza02

      No one can blame him for being wrong about a prediction as many many smart and credible people have been wrong also.

      Still, in terms of understanding the chinese mindset and intentions, many people would view his opinions as more credible and ‘on the money’ than many westerner’s.

  • Peter_Goon

    Vested self interest over everything else, including even the National Interest.

    That, along with the Dunning-Kruger effect that has led to the arrogance and hubris that comes from institutionalisation of Janis’s Groupthink and a preponderance to believe in “a total indifference to what is real” (a.k.a. bullshit), make up the toxic cocktail of organisational management diseases that plague many if not most of the lemming like Western nations taking lead from you-know-who.

  • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

    Considering China is going to have 2/3rds of the Worlds middle class in a few decades what country on the planet is going to be able to stop them if they decide to take land they think should be theirs historically and maybe some they just want. What countries allied with those now are going to flip and go to China as an allie because of the money. I do believe the Dynamics of the World, it’s money woes are heading all into a World War. That must be averted.

  • Mike

    There is beginning to be a ground swell in this country against products “Made In China” and a move to products “Made In America”… If that movement becomes more of a majority, it could have a profound impact on China’s future…

    Also, it should be noted that never in history has a huge “Middle Class” ever been developed in a military dictatorship…

    That said, special thanks goes to Dick Nixon and his benefactors who thought they could move American factories to China and reap huge profits… That did not work out so well did it.?.. I’m reminded of some of the wealthiest Americans during another time, that quietly financed and willingly sold many of the products to the Nazi’s that helped them build their huge military machine…

    • Don Bacon

      Baloney. The opposite is true. Middle class Americans who see their family incomes steadily decreasing will increasingly pay the lowest price they can for whatever they want and they won’t pay more for something Made in America. WalMart’s parking areas will remain full.

      • Mike

        Ok, let’s go political… We’ve been here before. It was the 1930’s and another Crash and Depression had occurred on the watch of another Republican administration…. That brought FDR in 1932 and from that point until 1982, the Middle Class flourished… From 1982 forward (under the Republicans) the Middle Class got crushed…..Now comes October 2007 and it happens all over again. Then Obama and the Democrats return to power and the plight of the Middle Class begins to improve again… The last time that happened, the Democrats stayed n power for 50 years and again the Middle Class flourished…. You have to be able to look to the future Don….

        Incidentally, Don, Walmart announced several weeks ago, that “due to increasing customer demand”, they were making a concerted effort to put more “Made In America” items on their shelves…. You seemed to have missed that announcement..

        • Don Bacon

          WalMart will make a 10-minute concerted effort and then continue to bring shiploads of Chinese-made goods to the U.S. And the ships are super-sizing.

          news report, 2010:

          The Emma Maersk, shown in these photos, was launched as the third of a planned fleet of five new “supersize” cargo ships, designed to transport goods across the Pacific in just 5 days. Two more ships are commissioned to be completed in 2012.

          These ships were commissioned by Walmart to move goods from China faster and more economically than presently possible with standard merchant vessels. The new “super-size” ships can each carry an incredible 15,000 containers!

          • george

            Mike. That ‘concerted effort’ by WalMart has been trashed by the Financial Times as meaningless and ingenuous. Just a publicity stunt.

          • george

            To say that Walmart made a ten minute effort to buy American is still being too kind. The Financial Times dismissed it as an ingenuous gimmick.

        • Mazza02

          Don is likely a chinese Mike. Don’t be fooled by names. Chinese are known in the internet for ‘false flagging’ i.e. pretending or giving the impression that they are from anywhere but China.

          • Mike

            I was thinking the same thing…..There were certain things that he said and his approach and access to information and photoes, etc…. I’m reminded of some of the things that the Nazi’s did over here before we entered the war on England’s side… I appears that there are a number of “them” targeting this site…… Notice how he reacted to my “Made In America” and Walmart and my comments about “The Bear And The Dragon”? Sadly, I’m figuring that you noticed that we lost Tom Clancy yesterday… Heck of a guy with one heck of a forward looking vision that was usually correct

          • Mike

            You might have also noticed that when I asked him if he’d ever served, he never did come back with an answer…..

      • Mazza02

        Not if Chinese products are no longer as cheap because chian is forced to unpeg from the US dollar and compete fairly with other countries products i.e. no more ‘Most Favoured Nation’ trading status for China from the US, no more US companies using China as a cheap factory to sell products back and at the same time promoting it as a big market for American products, etc. China should be forced to compete fairly with other emerging and developing countries. If this happened, many many factories would close and move from China to Vietnam and Bangladesh among others.

    • luisdyding

      if you don’t buy China products , Chinese will not buy American products too. so, there is no winner. use your head Mike.

      • Mike

        You seem to have missed those mountains of shipping crates stacking up on both coasts… They buy virtually NOTHING from us….

        • luisdyding

          you’re wrong Mike, if those crates are in the port that mean it is waiting to be shipped.

          • Mike

            Do you live in the United States? They are empty and there are thousands of them, where ever they can stack them…. Geeezzz!… Google it if you are than uninformed…..

      • Mazza02

        You should use yours as clearly China needs US far far more than the other way around. Americans can buy from others and others will purchase US products. Unlike with China where it is mostly a one way street hence the ‘Global Imbalance’.

  • Don Bacon

    McDevitt said, the painful truth is that Beijing may well be bumbling through these crises instead of possessing any strategy at all.

    What does McDevitt know about the mysterious East? Nothing, obviously.

    Sun Tzu: “Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”

    Kipling: “Asia is not going to be civilised after the methods of the West. There is too much Asia and she is too old.”

    • Mazza02

      Quoting Kipling shows you have no understanding the context of the statement or at least an appreciation for its condescending tone toward the Asia.

  • Don Bacon

    President Obama, yesterday: “The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region.”

    Obama was talking about US endless war for US “core interests” in a region 10,000 miles from US shores. What China is doing in its contiguous areas doesn’t compare.

    • Mazza02

      If you really think about it, those areas can be construed as ‘contiguous’ also as you no doubt view the Spratly’s as contiguous to China.

  • uw4ever

    China, as are most Asian nations complex. But this article and the comments cover the spectrum of thought. My only point to include is to think back on the hardships placed on Germany after WWI that contributed to a Nationalism that clouded the true goal of Nazi leadership. If China becomes a wreck in its economy as Mike warns below are we not potentially seeing a point that can be used internally to rally the populace to a nationalism that could lead to conflict? Could this current display of arms be the precursor to that action if mitigation strategies are not put into effect? One of the most important and urgently needed is for the west to stop thinking that China is interested in what we think and our concept of Liberal Democracy as defined in Fareed Zakaria’s book ” The Future of Freedom.”

    • Mike

      Good point, but when Nazi Germany moved beyond it’s borders, that argument became null and void… If the signing powers had not gone home and forgotten about Germany, WW-ll would not have happened…..

      We had better be very vigilant in the Far East… There is a monster out there and we created it, or at least the Ultra Wealthy of America did along with the politicians they own! Hopefully, we learned and are remembering what happened the last time around… It certainly appears that we have!…

  • luisdyding

    chang is a liar, a bastard and a traitor. everytime he show up in tv we switch off. go to hell chang!

  • uw4ever

    Thank you for your comment back and I agree with your comments, my only return point is that China is also reaching outside of its borders in that they are in and are influencing many regions of the world through “partnerships” with other countries. I have spent most of my adult life working in and planning in these regions and have see it increasing dramatically in the last 10 years. Are they not now, albeit not with military violence, spreading throughout?

    • Mike

      Thank God, we have someone on this site that has had “boots on the ground”! You have had a front seat to the world domination theory that few seem to understand…. Our military does, but, I am amazed by how naive many are…. That is without counting the hundreds of paid Chinese “apologists” in this country and probably on this site also…. Studying the headlines from the major newspapers of the late 1930’s and early 1940’s is insightful…..

      • Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

        Setting aside the larger issues, when you refer to “the hundreds of paid Chinese ‘apologists’ in this country and probably on this site also,” I can assure I’ve never seen a dollar from a pro-China organization. For that matter, I haven’t gotten a dollar from anti-China one either, though the defense firms that advertise on our site would no doubt appreciate the extra sales that could come from drumming up fear of China. We run stories about Chinese threats, about the military’s efforts build ties with China, and about how perceptions of threats and manipulations of those perceptions can affect the funding battles. You can find examples of all of these at

        • Mike

          Ms. Freeberg,

          Sorry if my comment had you concerned…. I think your site is first class and very unbiased…. You present articles that are very insightful, especially to those of us that have had “Boots On The Ground” or as some would say, “skin in the game”….

          That said, I do find myself more than a little miffed when some on this site offer, what I consider either incredibly naive or purposefully “rose color” opinions that do not, in my opinion, truly represent the gathering danger to the U.S.A. and, in turn, the rest of the Free World….

          Again, no disrespect intended….. Your site, in my opinion, is first rate… The more these problems are brought to the public’s attention and discussed, the better!…..

          • Don Bacon

            Well, get more than a little miffed, or better, recognize that other people may have opinions different from yours, and this being the USA we have the freedom to express them, hopefully with some backing in truth, which is not something to get more than a little miffed about, IMO.

          • Colin Clark

            While Sydney does have fabulous hair, he’s a guy. Not a biggie — just so you know for the future!

          • Mike

            Ya, nice hair….. :) Last time I had that much hair was my first day of Basic Training… Of course, then my whole life changed and for that matter, the rest of my life changed… Nothing like being “G.I.” in your younger “formative” years… Certainly has a way of making one’s vision a little clearer for the rest of one’s life also… Talk about really appreciating what we have here and how lucky we were to have been born here and have citizenship here…

        • Mazza02

          Ms Freeberg,

          I have full respect for your opinions and insightful analyses as evident in this article. However, would you agree that being an American and a ‘Westerner’ your interpretation of China’s actions differ significantly from non Westerners? For example, it would seem that among China’s neighbours, China’s threat is not a perception but a reality.

      • Don Bacon

        The notion that real Americans are bound to hate china and Chinese is stupid, prejudiced and short-sighted. I’ve lived in and visited China and so I have a deep respect for the 5,000-year old culture, manners and lifestyle of China and Chinese.

        The false contention that China involves a “world domination theory” is also stupid. China has never invaded other countries, has no troops in other countries, and in fact it has been the victim of occupation by the United States as well as a brutal occupation by Japan, now a US ally.

        • Mike

          You do know, Don, that the huge profits being made in the sweatshops of China at great cost to the Middle Class in America, are being spent to buy up an increasingly growing amount of the world’s natural resources….. Perhaps a different form of world domination, aye?

          That said, America is still the consumptive engine of the world. Without America’s markets, China would be in a pickle… My point is that more and more Americans are connecting the dots over the huge imbalance of trade with China and beginning to realize that “Made In China” goes hand in hand with the destruction of America.

          I note that you “have lived in and visited China”, yet I’m assuming that you chose to live in America for some reason over China…. Might I suggest that if you want America to stay as the place you chose to live, you might give some consideration to doing your part and begin to buy products “Made In America”, aye?

          • Don Bacon

            But your point about Americans connecting the dots has no basis in fact. People buy what they want at the lowest price they can, and mostly (except for ideologues) give not a moment’s thought to the imbalance of trade. None.

            IOW you might avoid WalMart but most people don’t.

          • george

            Don. Do your comments take into account that the average Chinese person will die early due to pollution and reckless disregard of the environment. Would you be in favor of a pollution tax to put America on a level playing field? I think not, but I hope so.

            The problem is they have few ethics. The Chinese mantra is if you have the power use it. You may mention Washington and we would all nod, but Americans have a much higher life expectancy so Washington is not doing that bad. I respect your numerous posts and appreciate your knowledge over many issues, breaking defense would not be the same without you, but your view of China is too simplistic and almost romantic. If you had lived there and done business there for a few years, I believe you would change your views. Really it is not nice.
            Their ruthlessness (colored word as it is) has a lot to do with the Pacific strategy. these people do go back thousands of years and it affects their mindset. There is a Chinese proverb “Kill a chicken, scare the monkeys’ .Apply that to the SC Seas. The chosen chicken is of course the Philippines.

          • Mike


            Thanks for your clearheaded comment about the Chinese…. Chamberlain would have not so endangered England were it not for a large number of Englishmen that though the Nazi’s were “Europe”s problem” until they started bombing England and many here until they started sinking our ships, some right off the East coast…..

            There are times when I think the removal of the draft was a huge mistake (thanks again to Dick) as it now has loaded our country with a huge swath of people who fail to see the danger out there because they have not had the “opportunity” to serve and be exposed to the “real” world out there … Sadly, now most of the “death and dying” is being done by the poorest kids in this country and they have no political clout…..

          • george

            Mike. Thanks for that. I lived in China for 12 years and for the first 10 I did not know what was going on. I have had several girlfriends there, I speak the lingo, and know family life, yet I could not understand how a car could nose into a gap a yard long and yet there would be no road rage. Then I realized. If you have power you are expected to use it. It is accepted and no one gets uptight, it is the order of things. If a person has the power of position, height, finance, friendship they will use it. They are misunderstood. If they have a modern powerful army they will be a danger to World peace.

            I have sounded out many Chinese about the SC Seas islands and the common reply was we are bigger and it is ours. Seriously, I am not lying. They are very worrying.
            I also see Don saying the F35 is a lemon. Yes it is, and in a big way too. It has low range, low climb rate, is not super maneuverable, has a small pay load, is poorly defended for AA, cannot do high altitude operations, has a very low top speed, has had its stealth downgraded, cannot super-cruise without engine damage, has a small operational envelope, only one engine and I am sure I have missed a few things, but – what else is there. Sensor fusion may make it more survivable but that is unproven technology. But it may be all we have got.

          • Don Bacon


            the average Chinese person will die early

            What’s “early?” . According to the CIA World Factbook the average Chinese will die at age 74.99.

            The problem is they have few ethics.

            That’s a value judgment best addressed by looking at the success China has had in a relatively short period of time in its commercial dealings with the many US corporations who do business there, and with the many countries in the world where China has been successful in bilateral trade and investment.

            If a person has the power of position, height, finance, friendship they will use it.

            That’s hardly unique to China, is it. Americans are starting to realize that there is a class structure in the U.S., with the low-high economic divide greater than any other industrialized country.

            If they have a modern powerful army they will be a danger to World peace.

            That’s wild conjecture, not based on history and not taking into account that China’s foreign policy is totally based on mutual acceptance and economic progress. Contrast that with the bellicose U.S. foreign policy.

          • george

            Don- Firstly America has had a policy of systematically destabilizing the middle east, using false pretexts to invade other countries, assassinating up-and-coming popular leaders who do not have pro-American policies, training ‘rebels’, supporting terrorists and the list goes on and on and on. I do not think any contributor here would seriously disagree with that. It has been Washington’s perception/ prerogative that the ends justify the means, and that is a moral argument that has no answer.

            China is steadily getting more polluted, year on year but there will be a 20 year lag in the death rate for cancers to take effect, but statistically the number of deaths introduced by say air pollution is well known and maps are available. Cancer villages are everywhere. Incidentally many places in America also have surprisingly high air pollution.

            As for using power when you have it, the Chinese have taken this to a whole new level, it is ingrained in their society. Chinese are not polite, although when immersed in Chinese society you will quickly do the same, simply because politeness it is not necessary, very simply, power rules.

            You seem happy to say China is non threatening but history teaches us to be prepared. The mongol Genghistan – invaded Europe because he could, he had a super bow. If you think Han Chinese will be different then I fine, I hope so too, but let us be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.

            As Sun/Zhun would say, the best result is to get what you want without fighting.

          • Don Bacon

            Chinese are not polite

            Wrong. –bu hao

            from the web:
            — Relationships are deeply valued in Chinese culture. Guanxi or ‘relationship’ is an idea that is fundamental throughout society. Having friends, family, and business contacts to help you is very important.
            — Face, or mianxi, losing face, saving face, and giving face are important concepts that should be taken into serious consideration at all times. An quick example of losing face would be to lose your temper in public.
            — Being polite and courteous, or li. Chinese believe that proper etiquette preserves face.
            — Keqi literally means, “guest” and “behavior”. It is most closely linked to being modest and humble. You’ll often times people says, “Bie keqi” (pron. “bee-ah kuh-chee”) which means “You’re so polite”, or “You needn’t be so polite.”
            — It is important to show respect to elders (and everyone for that matter.) Although the Chinese do not use “thank you” in the same way or with the same frequency as some Westerners, you should always say “xie xie” (thank you) if someone does something for you (pours you a cup of tea, adds food to your bowl, offers you a pear, etc.) “Xie xie” roughly sounds like “shay shay”. Don’t worry about perfecting the accent, the sentiment is what counts.
            — If you have Chinese family members who are older than you, always go out of your way to help and assist them (pulling out chairs, opening car doors, assisting them with steps, etc).
            — Chinese people offer respect in a different way than Westerners. For example, a taxi driver is called a “shi fu”, or “master”. It is important to give face and respect to people who are working for you.
            — Chinese to not use sarcasm as a form of communication. Sarcastic comments do not translate well and will lead to confusion. Also, Chinese people do not playfully attack each others character as some Westerners do. You would never pick on someone in a group, especially if they are your own family. If you have these squabbles back home, do not bring them to China.

          • george

            Don OK, so you have been there, that is a given, but you are being romantic about it. They may not share your ideals.

            Guanxu is the art of wining, dining and bribing. Shuo hui, Xing hui. Past a certain level you have to be corrupt. I have seen it repeatedly. In the west people rise to their level of incompetence, in China they rise to their level of corruption. The top 10% salaried people get 2 times their income in black money. That is a statistic.

            Making people who can do you favors lose face, mianxu, diu lian, is not a good idea anywhere unless you want enemies.

            Being polite, or limao, to people who can do you favors in China is important. I have never see a ‘Shanghai ren’, or Shanghai person polite to a farmer, or lao bai xing. Never, in fact they look down on them, kanbuqi tamen. Absolutely.

            Being humble, qianxu, in front of important people is rigid acceptance of the power philosophy in China. People often mistake this as humility, it is not, far from it.

            Family is their saving grace!!! Yes they have great family ties and the young look after the old. In the west the old still have to look after and pay for their young.

            Taxi drivers or sheji always come from a low class district, at least so well-to-do people tell me. They are of course normal city folk, but respected, I cannot agree. I have heard people called teacher or laoshi although it is also often used as friendly sarcasm too. I have heard engineers called gong, and sometimes first born, xiansheng, which is respectful, so OK, but only farmers in my experience use such forms of address and generally because they have to.
            Incidentally, when workers think I am out of earshot they call me yang guizi or over seas ghost, and even irban guizi, or Japanese ghost. This is partly sarcasm and could be disrespectful, but they know if I hear it I will not mind.

            Don, family members are always calling each other mad or maobing/fafeng or stupid – ben. Although their sarcasm is deeper and playful not poisonous like the west, so while I disagree with your example I do support your point.

            I wanted China to be the romantic land where people are humble, respectful, where there were beautiful biuldings and eons old culture and the women were slender and beautiful. Well, the latter may be true. Something wonderful about their women. Keneng ni renshi yi ge piaoliang, miaotiao, guniang shi bushi. Wo dui ni hen gaoxing, zhende. But their military posture and adherence to a power philosophy is another issue entirely. Can you honestly say you can separate the two?

          • Mazza02

            Chinese know of the values you mentioned above, it does not necessarily mean they follow them. Chinese are particularly known for rudeness in Asia. The more chinese you are, the ruder the behaviour. That is why mainlanders are considered the rudest, followed by hong kong, taiwan and singapore and then chinese from southeast asia. This is not something that is hidden or denied. Chinese themselves admit this as you only have to listen or read comments about mainlanders from Hongkies or Singaporeans.

          • Mazza02

            “What’s “early?” . According to the CIA World Factbook the average Chinese will die at age 74.99″ And this figure is based on Chinese statistics…known for its veracity hmmm

            “That’s a value judgment best addressed by looking at the success China
            has had in a relatively short period of time in its commercial dealings
            with the many US corporations who do business there, and with the many
            countries in the world where China has been successful in bilateral
            trade and investment.” Using commercial transactions between parties where the only thing that matters is the bottom line is not a convincing rebuttal and defense for chinese ethics, methinks.

            “That’s hardly unique to China, is it. Americans are starting to realize
            that there is a class structure in the U.S., with the low-high economic
            divide greater than any other industrialized country.” Chinese have been known to be more materialistic than even the most materialistic western country the US. It is one aspect of their mentality that is quite telling on how they see the world and view interactions between individuals i.e. might makes right.

            “That’s wild conjecture, not based on history and not taking into account
            that China’s foreign policy is totally based on mutual acceptance and
            economic progress. Contrast that with the bellicose U.S. foreign policy.’ Surely you cannot be talking about the country that is now called China’s history are you? With invasions, colonisations and war near constants. As for mutual acceptance, there is a saying about China in Asia that goes along the lines of ‘What mine is mine and what yours is mine’ as the chinese view’. It is telling that China’s closes allies in are countries like Cambodia, Kyrgyztan, Pakistan, North Sudan, etc. quite the examples of progress.

    • Don Bacon

      China’s “partnerships” with the outside world is why Chine is successful and is also why the US, with its fixation on military domination, is much less so. As the main engine of global economic growth in the 21st century, China is making its presence felt throughout the world.

      Africa is no exception. China is Africa’s largest trading partner. Chinese investment is similarly evident throughout the continent. In 2009, China overtook the United States as Africa’s biggest trading partner. In 2000, the total Sino-African trade volume was approximately US $10 billion; it is now closer to $200 billion per year. The key to China’s acceptance in Africa has been its strictly businesslike approach: economic investment without political engagement.

      In late July, Beijing hosted the 5th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, during which China pledged up to $20 billion to African countries over the next three years. China has proposed or committed about $101 billion to commercial projects in Africa since 2010, some of which are under negotiation while others are currently under way. Together, construction and natural resource deals total approximately $90 billion, or about 90 percent of Chinese commercial activity in Africa since 2010.

      • uw4ever

        thanks for the post. At times we and I forget the huge influence that the Chinese have in Africa. Just using the example of Africa, I think, supports my theory that the leaders in China did in fact read their own book ” Unrestricted Warfare” by Cols Liang and Xiangsui

        • LookBothPersepectives

          Your logic that diplomacy is warfare itself is delusional to say the least. Tell me a country which does not look after its interests? If I follow your flawed sense of diplomacy then UK and Frances use of giving high interest loans to African states is an act of war. African countries at present cannot afford to pay up their debts and thanks to the overly expensive interest they will always be unwilling dictated by Europe’s foreign policy.

          • Mazza02

            You should tell Cols Lian and Xiangsui this as well as Sun Tzu.

        • Mazza02

          Good point.

  • Tomxyz

    This is Japan fault creating this problem.

  • Andy Hoover

    The reason for China’s reactions to domestic, regional and global events is the Chinese military is ideologically driven. This was true through the dynasties, and is true for the Communist Dynasty.

  • T. Man

    Hmmm…has the author actually read Odgaard’s book or is he simply a McDevitt cheerleader? It is normal for scholar and professionals to critic each other’s thesis and arguments in conferences like this. Sometimes they do it nicely, sometimes they do it harshly. Nor are arguments readily accepted quickly in such conferences. That does necessarily mean it is wrong. The author’s delight in McDevitt’s critic betray a lack of maturity and understanding in how these conferences work.

  • T. Man

    Odgaard has a valid point. It was Japan that changed the status quo by nationalizing the islands and refusing to admit to a dispute. China could have sent naval ships right to the islands but they instead sent coast guards.

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