USA and China
It is naïve to think that the USA will act decisively against China when the two powers exist in economic symbiosis and do not have significant geopolitical conflicts of interest that will necessitate American military intervention. Rather, despite the occasional American posturing on the world stage about “human rights” in China, the USA has not used this as a subversive tool in the manner by which it is used to subvert and overthrow states that are a genuine annoyance to the USA, as per the contrived “Arab Spring,” the noises that are made against states marked for “regime change,” such as Myanmar, Syria, Iran, and Venezuela, or, most significantly, the campaign against Russia for being insufficiently “democratic,” a euphemism for plutocracy.
Indeed, not only has the USA failed to act in any decisive manner against its supposed rival, but Sino-American military cooperation is of long duration. Given the Sino-American economic symbiosis, a military alliance, under some pretext such as the “war on terrorism,” a catch-phrase used to rationalize a multiplicity of US global ambitions, is a natural development. Certainly, while neocons hold much power over American foreign policy and some are critical of China, they are not the only wire-pullers in Washington, nor necessarily the dominant faction, and plutocratic interests such as those centered around Goldman Sachs, Rockefeller, and Soros, et al, are Sinophiles. A report by the Congressional Research Service prepared for “members and committees of Congress,” outlines the historical relations between the USA and China since the Cold War, when the states were in accord vis-à-vis the USSR. This relationship laid the basis for ongoing Sino-American cooperation in terms of “strategic dialogue, reciprocal exchanges in functional areas, and arms sales.”
In 1984, U.S. policymakers worked to advance discussions on military technological cooperation with China. There were commercial sales to the PLA that included Sikorsky Aircraft’s sale of 24 S-70C transport helicopters (an unarmed version of the Black Hawk helicopter) and General Electric’s sale of five gas turbine engines for two naval destroyers. Between 1985 and 1987, the United States also agreed to four programs of government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS): modernization of artillery ammunition production facilities; modernization of avionics in F-8 fighters; sale of four Mark-46 antisubmarine torpedoes; and sale of four AN/TPQ-37 artillery-locating radars.
From 1989 to 1993 there was a disruption of military and trade relations between the two as the USA’s response to the “Tiananmen Square” massacre. Repressions of this type in almost any other state would have resulted in major consequences, including calls for “regime change” and the fomenting of a “colored revolution,” but the relationship between the two was quickly resumed, with some sporadic fluctuations during the 1990s and since. In 2001, the Bush Administration expanded cooperation, including Pentagon “mil-to-mil” (military to military) exchanges. Another hiccup occurred when there was a collision of US and Chinese aircraft over the South China Sea in 2001, but top level military consultation and exchanges were soon back on track. In other words, while the road has had a few rocks in the way, and perhaps even nothing more than staged shadow boxing as in the Cold War, it is nonetheless a forward movement, or what Mao would have referred to dialectally as “one step forward, two steps back.” The caution on “mil to mil” contacts comes more from China than the USA, as in 2005. From 2007 to 2010, China acted in a provocative manner towards the USA, perhaps on the basis that shadow boxing looks good on the world stage and any low level actions in regard to the USA will not result in any significant consequences. During the same period, Sino-American cooperation and dialogue in regional and international forums and dealing with piracy continued unchanged. The shadow boxing serves US interests in the region well enough, since, as in the Cold War era and the “Russian menace,” the USA can maintain its big brother persona throughout the Pacific region while not undertaking anything that will seriously challenge China’s interests.
In 1994, the U.S.-China Joint Defense Conversion Commission (JDCC) was established “to facilitate economic cooperation and technical exchanges and cooperation in the area of defense conversion, but this had to be terminated due to pressure from Congress.” This indicates that the US administration must tread a path of caution in dealing with China in cognizance of domestic pressure, but that at the highest echelons of the U.S., a quite different policy is advocated. It seems, however, that cooperation has been taking place in a manner that is planned to bypass public concerns:
In early 1999, under the Clinton Administration, the Washington Times disclosed the existence of a “Gameplan for 1999 U.S.-Sino Defense Exchanges,” and Pentagon spokesperson Kenneth Bacon confirmed that an exchange program had been under way for years.17 Representative Dana Rohrabacher wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense William Cohen, saying that “after reviewing the ‘Game Plan,’ it appears evident that a number of events involving PLA logistics, acquisitions, quartermaster and chemical corps representatives may benefit PLA modernization to the detriment of our allies in the Pacific region and, ultimately, the lives of own service members.” He requested a detailed written description of various exchanges.
The bypassing of US laws by the Clinton Administration continued under Bush. In the Defense Department’s 2008 report to Congress, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England defined one of the primary aims of U.S. China policy as being to “encourage China to play a constructive and peaceful role in the Asia-Pacific region; to act as a partner in addressing common security challenges; and to emerge as a responsible stakeholder in the world.” While this might be regarded as well-meaning diplomacy to assure world peace, at face value it is America’s statement of intent that China should become a U.S. partner, an attitude that is far from U.S. intentions towards Russia. It is a statement in accord with the advice of veteran foreign policy globalists such as Kissinger and Brzezinski and plutocrats such as David Rockefeller and George Soros, who see China in partnership with the USA and primarily against Russia, as in the Cold War era. The common objectives of the USA and China in the Brave New World have recently been clarified:
Secretary of State Clinton gave a speech on April 10, 2012, stressing that “China is not the Soviet Union,” “we are not on the brink of a new Cold War in Asia,” and “this is not 1912 when friction between a declining Britain and a rising Germany set the stage for global conflict.” Apparently responding positively at the S&ED on May 3 in Beijing, PRC leader Hu Jintao called for a “new type of great power relationship” that is reassuring to both countries and to others. Hu promptly dispatched General Liang Guanglie as the Defense Minister to visit the United States on May 4-10, where he echoed Hu by saying that “China and the United States should build a new type of state-to-state relationship that is not in the stereotype that the two major powers are predestined to engage into confrontation or conflict.” The PLA supports a positive tone for U.S.-PRC ties.
Despite the USA’s best effort, India is aware of her true friends. Admiral Verma stated that regional co-operation is needed to reduce conflicts, but India continues to rebuff the USA’s interests. India is aiming for the so-called “1000-ship concept” for the region mooted by the USA, whereby there would be naval co-operation between allies in the region, with the important difference that India does not see a role for the USA as part (i.e. that dominant part) of such a regional security arrangement.
In June Defense Secretary Leon E Panetta went to India to secure military cooperation and geopolitical alignment, but was rebuffed. There was no customary joint press conference with Indian officials, and India made it plain that she would continue to pursue an independent policy. Even the enticement of arms purchases from the USA did not succeed: “India is the world’s largest arms importer. Washington was disappointed last year when U.S. companies lost out on a $12-billion deal to sell 126 fighter jets to New Delhi,” states a report in The Los Angeles Times.
India maintains that the U.S. offered older aircraft technology. Officials also bridle at what they see as U.S. reluctance to transfer other sensitive technology, and Washington’s insistence on after-sales, on-site inspections of equipment, part of U.S. policy to ensure sophisticated weapons aren’t diverted to rogue states.
India learns that with American aid and trade comes subservience to American interests.
One might get the impression that American relationships with China have long been more cordial than with India. Arms deals with India, “in the pipeline,” worth $8 billion, are seen as one of the few or only advances of American interests. However, as for any geopolitical alignment, such a prospect does not seem to be even on a faraway horizon, despite some news media touting of the Panetta trip and the arms deal as a great breakthrough in Indo-U.S. relations. Indian Defense Minister A K Antony “told Panetta politely but firmly that India doesn’t wish to be seen as a U.S. alliance partner as it embarks on its Asia-Pacific strategy.”
…[W]hile New Delhi has been open to increasing bilateral engagement with Washington—and does in fact undertake a number of joint exercises across the three defense services—the establishment in India is still wary of any military alliance, or even a formal partnership with the United States.
Panetta, according to media pundits, seems to have tried to sell an alliance with the USA across South East Asia on the implied basis of protection from China. The China bogeyman thus serves the U.S. well when necessary, like the old “Soviet menace,” but India is having none of it; or at least very little: “Indian lawmakers and politicians continue to have reservations over the United States itself, doubts born largely from India’s perception of the past half a century that Washington has tended to side with India’s arch rival, Pakistan.”
Antony, who last month became India’s longest serving defense minister, has been especially careful not to publicly cozy up to Washington. Indeed, he has often instructed ministry officials to downplay joint bilateral exercises with the United States, resisted signing deals tied to weapons systems weapons, and he has consistently told officials that India believes any U.S. disputes should be dealt with bilaterally.
Despite the USA playing the China card to scare small states, on the one hand, while at a higher level, pursuing a decade’s long policy to integrate China as a partner in a New World Order, already manifested in the economic symbiosis between the two, India is not succumbing. Gokhale writes that while being wary of China’s expansion in the region, India prefers alignment with the small states such as Vietnam.