Sunday, April 20, 2008

Arms Shipments Underscore Danger of Chinese Government

The presidential election was held in Zimbabwe more than three weeks ago. While it's widely rumored that strongman Robert Mugabe was ousted by voters, we don't know for sure. That's because his government has refused to reveal the results.

Mugabe apparently intends to cling to power, continuing to exercise his reign of terror (and error), thuggishly intimidating opposition, and killing off the Zimbabwean economy, while claiming that all the bad stuff in his country is Britain's fault.

How is Mugabe holding on?

He has help, first from the South African government which, in spite of pious protestations to the contrary, has been Mugabe's most stalwart backer.

Next, he gets help from the government in China.

A few days ago, dockworkers in South Africa refused to allow a shipment of arms they feared, rightly I think, will be used on Zimbabwean dissidents. (Read: Ordinary citizens who want their country to be a functioning democracy.) The shipment comes from China, whose government will do anything to feed the economic engine of their country, all designed to placate the Chinese populace while maintaining its own iron fisted hegemony on power.

It's shocking to me that in this year's presidential race, we continue to have almost no discussion about the greatest national security and economic threat confronting world stability generally and US interests specifically, the government in China.

We ignore the Chinese government's increasing danger at the peril of the world and the US.

[This was cross-posted at The Moderate Voice.]


Dennis Sanders said...


While I agree that China can be a danger to us, what do we do? I'm a bit wary of those who talk about China as an threat ala the Soviet Union partially because that's comparing apples and oranges. But having been in China (through Luther Seminary) I am aware that it is also a very authoritarian state.

I personally don't know what to do. Trying to cut them off politically and economically could make things worse and would punish the populace and not the government. Plus, doing that allows the government to stir up nationalism.

Maybe you know the answer, but I don't. China is an authoritarian regime, but I don't know if seeking to punish China the sole answer.

Mark Daniels said...

Certainly, we want to do nothing to create or exacerbate tensions with the Chinese regime. But a few prudent policy steps seem appropriate to me:

1. Cease to effectively subsidize the continuing development of China as an economic and military power. This will mean, in part, the US government exercising prudent control over economic ties and borrowing from the Chinese.

2. Continue to cultivate close ties with India and other Asian nations who might, in concert with the US, act as buffers on growing Chinese power.

3. Repudiate Rumsfeldian notions of a smaller US military. While the US could never hope to face off against the Chinese in a one-on-one war, a larger US military working in concert with other Asian powers can check Chinese aspirations for hegemony.