January 22, 2022

How China and America See Each Other

It is not helpful that the United States is seriously reducing the Pentagon’s budget over  the next 10 years. It is a policy which sends a message of extreme weakness not only to China, but to Russia, Iran, North Korea and other countries that dislike the United States. It is not helpful that the president has stated more than once that he wishes to abolish the nuclear arsenal of the United States since that also sends a message of weakness.

Minxin Pei wrote an article entitled “How China and America See Each Other and Why They Are on a Collision Course”, which was published in the March/April 2014 issue of Foreign Affairs. Pei reviewed the book Debating China: The U.S.-China Relationship in Ten Conversations (2014) edited by Nina Hachigian.

The author of Debating China pairs one leading American expert on China with a Chinese counterpart to debate a specific bilateral issue. Nina Hachigian moderates the conversations by asking key questions that the participants should address. The debaters express their opinion and, in a second round, focus on their disagreements. The book then summarizes each side’s positions on issues such as human rights, climate change, military affairs, and regional security. Pei depicts the book by saying that it is “illuminating but disheartening, for those optimistic about the future of the United States-Chinese ties who will find little to cheer in these pages.”

The United States and China have the most important bilateral relationship in the world. If that relationship deteriorates in the years ahead into open conflict, the whole world will be impacted negatively. Whether the United States or China chooses to cooperate or confront each other will affect billions of people throughout the world. For many years many observers believed that the two countries were neither friends nor enemies. However, the remarkable expansion of Chinese power (militarily, economic, diplomatic) and the global financial crisis that impacted the United States and Europe have led Chinese leaders to believe that the United States and the West are declining. This writer has just written a 480-page book entitled America in Decline (2014).

The gap between the United States and Chinese power, which was narrowing before the financial crisis, has closed even further. In 2007, for example, the economy of the United States was four times as large as that of China, but by 2012, it was only twice as large. China’s GDP was $202 billion in 1980, today, it is over $7 trillion. The United States and China have the two largest economies and military budgets in the world. They lead the planet in Internet users. Obviously, a large shift in the balance of power between China and the United States will bring a change in the attitudes and behavior toward each other by the people and their leaders.

China’s rapid modernization of weapons and expansion of its military as well as the current cyber and currency warfare against the United States have created a great deal of concern among Americans. Over the last few years, China has stolen our nation´s most valuable military and industrial secrets. The cyber attacks conducted by the People’s Liberation Army have increased in spite of the complaints of our government to the Chinese leaders.

China is implementing a more aggressive and assertive foreign policy since 2010. It is engaging in territorial and maritime disputes with its neighboring countries. In addition to claiming all of Taiwan, China has been involved in many other international territorial disputes with India, Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines, and other nations. China is claiming ownership of several small islands in the East and South China seas such as the Japanese Senkaku (called Diaoyu in China) islands and the Scarborough Shoal. The waters around these islands are believed to have oil and gas.

Incredibly, China is claiming ownership of almost the entire maritime and space of the South China Sea. Beijing has seen the response of the United States to their new imperialism-the so-called pivot and later known as rebalancing- as an attempt to contain Chinese power.

The American and Chinese scholars agree that the United States-Chinese relationship is full of distrust, especially as nationalism in China has increased. The Chinese debaters believe that the distrust will persist as long as China’s domestic political system remains unchanged. There is complete disagreement among the American Chinese scholars with regards to China’s military modernization, human rights, and regional security.

A Chinese scholar insists that China does not agree with the United States and the West on human rights because the Confucian order is based on “prescribed codes of ritual behavior” rather than fundamental individual rights. The American scholar rejects this claim saying that China needs to comply with universal norms of human rights. It is well known that China is governed by an authoritarian and oppressive communist dictatorship which suppresses freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, the right to have children, and heavy restrictions in the use and access to the Internet. Property rights are often poorly protected. Rural migrants to the Chinese cities frequently find themselves treated as second-class citizens. The United States, other countries, and NGOs frequently criticize China’s human rights record. Among the complaints are detention without trial, forced abortions, forced confessions, excessive use of the death penalty, torture, treatment of ethnic minorities (there are 56), and restrictions of fundamental human rights.

Another area of irreconcilable difference is with regard to the rapid military modernization of the Chinese armed forces. Over the last few years the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has built stealth attack nuclear submarines, mobile nuclear missiles, carrier-killing missiles, an aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and advanced jet fighters. The Chinese military has 2.3 million, and is the largest in the planet.

Stewart Leavenworth wrote an article entitled “Amid Tension, China to Hike Defense Budget,” which was published in The Miami Herald on March 6, 2014. The reporter explained that China is planning to increase its military budget by 12.2 % this year, an increase over 2013. Last year, China spent 10.7% of its budget on the military. Many believe that China’s increased military spending is much greater than reported. The announcement was made on March 5, 2014 on the first day of the National People’s Congress in Beijing. Speaking to about 3,000 delegates in the Great Hall of the People, Chinese premier Li Keqiang explained the need to “build China into a maritime power.” He also said, “we will strengthen national defense mobilization and the reserve forces, place water preparations on a regular footing and enhance border, coastal and defenses.”

Stewart Leavenworth wrote that the state-run China Daily newspaper published a provocative interview with the top Chinese military advisor, Major General Qian Lihua, a former head of the Defense Ministry’s Foreign Affairs Office, who stated that a conflict with China’s neighbors could not be ruled out, with Japan being a particular problem. Denny Roy,  a scholar from the East-West Center in Honolulu, said that the increase in military spending “will reinforce the image of China being assertive, of preparing to force its will upon some of its neighbors.”

We cannot forget that China attacked the United States without a declaration of war in October 1950 with one million soldiers during the Korean War. General Douglas McArthur and the U.S. army had defeated North Korea and the U.S. and the United Nation forces were about to unified the peninsula under a non-communist government. As Constantine Menges explained in his book, China: The Gathering Threat (2005), China sees the United States as its number one enemy. China is becoming more imperialistic and has territorial disputes with 11 Asian nations, including Taiwan, India, Vietnam, Japan, and the Philippines. It invaded and annexed Tibet in 1950. China went to war with India in 1962 and with Vietnam in 1979 over border disputes. China wants to eventually annex Taiwan, our ally. It has threatened the United States with nuclear war, if it comes to the defense of Taiwan. General Chi Hoatian, Minister of Defense, stated in 1999 that “war with the United States is inevitable.”

The author of Debating China explained that Xu Hui, a professor with the rank of senior colonel, at China’s National Defense University, debated Christopher Twomey, who teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School. Twomey questioned why China needs to expand its military so much when it faces no threat of land invasion and none of his neighbors come close to matching Chinese power.

Judging from this book, there is clearly deeper disagreements that will play a larger role in determining the nature of the bilateral relationship. Minxin Pei wrote that “the United States and China should forget about trying to resolve their conflicts over China’s military modernization, Taiwan, human rights, and East Asian security and should instead find a way to manage them.” Debating China shows that the United States and Chinese relationship is heading in an increasingly competitive direction. The disputes among the two nations will remain unresolved for the foreseeable future. China and the United States have failed to develop trust in the long-term intentions of each towards the other.

The Chinese scholars argued that it is Washington that needs to change its Asia policy since China is becoming more powerful. The Chinese scholars mentioned that the Chinese economy, according to the International Monetary Fund, will likely overtake that of the United States economy between 2020 and 2025.

The revelation in the book that should concern Washington the most is the degree to which the insistence by United States that it does not seek to contain China has fallen on deaf ears. The Chinese scholars, as well as Xi Jinping, the  dictator who rules China, believe that the United States “will never willingly cede its global hegemony and allow China to become a great power in its own right.” The American scholars were surprised as to how China “can accuse the United States of trying to block China’s ascent when the United States has opened its markets to China, trained hundreds of thousands of China’s best and brightest at American universities, invested billions in Chinese manufacturing, and supported Beijing’s accession to the World Trade Organization.” The Chinese scholars remained unconvinced and believe that any United States support for China was entirely for self interest.

Chinese warship tries to stop a U.S. cruiser in international waters

Bill Gertz wrote an article entitled “Chinese Naval Vessel Tries to Force U.S. Warship to Stop in International Waters,” which was published on the Washington Free Beacon on December 13, 2013. The reporter explained that on December 5, 2013 the guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens was sailing in international waters in the South China Sea, which China has illegally claimed as its territory. The U.S. warship was following the Chinese aircraft carrier the Liaoning at the time. According to American officials, a Chinese Navy vessel ordered the cruiser USS Cowpens to stop. The cruiser refused the order because it was operating in international waters and continued on its course. Suddenly, a Chinese tank landing ship sailed in front of the cruiser and stopped, forcing the U.S. Naval vessel to abruptly change its course in what it became a dangerous maneuver.

This incident is a result of China’s illegal declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea. Bill Gertz wrote that General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had stated that China’s new air defense zone was destabilizing and this increases the risk of a military “miscalculation.”

China has dispatched fighter jets to the ADIZ to monitor the airspace that is used frequently by United States and Japanese surveillance aircraft. Both the United States and Japan do not recognize China’s air defense identification zone. The United States sent in November 2013 two B-52 bombers which flew through the ADIZ but not over the disputed islands of Senkaku/Diaoyu. However, the United States informed U.S. commercial airlines to notify China when their airplanes fly over the ADIZ. This writer believes that this was a serious mistake by President Obama since it has acknowledged the legitimacy of the Chinese air defense identification zone. Defense Department officials have said that China’s declaration of the ADIZ is geared primarily at curbing surveillance flights in the zone, which China’s military regards as a “threat to its military secrets.”

Bill Gertz wrote that Rick Fisher, a China military affairs expert, said that it was likely that the Chinese deliberately staged the incident as part of a strategy of pressuring the United States. Fisher believes that the encounter with the United States cruiser appears to be part of a pattern of China´s signaling that it will not accept the presence of American military power in its East Asian theater of influence. Fisher stated the following: “In this early stage of using its newly acquired naval power, China is posturing and bullying, but China is also looking for a fight, a battle that will cow the Americans, the Japanese, and the Filipinos.

The United States and Japan should also step up their rearmament of the Philippines. China has spent the last 20 years building up its Navy and now feels that “it can be used to obtain its political objectives.” The reporter said that the United States military has been increasing the surveillance of China’s naval forces, including the growing submarine fleet, as part of the U.S. policy of “rebalancing forces to the Pacific.” It is obvious that China is seeking to control illegally large areas of international waters where the ships and airplanes of many nations travel. The United States and its allies need to make sure that these major sea lane, where an enormous amount of international traffic occurs, remain free.

The reporter explained that China’s state-control media reports on a regular basis that the United States is seeking to defeat China by encircling the country with enemies while working with dissidents within China to overthrow the communist regime. The Obama administration has denied the accusations of seeking to “contain” China and has made it clear that he wants to continue close economic and diplomatic relations.


It is obvious that China would like to change the existing world order and that it would confront and challenge the United States in the near future. The United States needs to improve its alliances with China’s neighbors and strengthen its military force in order to counter any Chinese action that might threaten to undermine the existing world order. China declared an air defense identification zone in November 2013 that overlaps with those of Japan and South Korea. This has increased the risk of conflict with the United States and its allies. China should not be allowed to get away with claiming most of the  South China Sea as its territory in violation of international law.

It is not helpful that the United States is seriously reducing the Pentagon’s budget over  the next 10 years. It is a policy which sends a message of extreme weakness not only to China, but to Russia, Iran, North Korea and other countries that dislike the United States. It is not helpful that the president has stated more than once that he wishes to abolish the nuclear arsenal of the United States since that also sends a message of weakness.

More importantly, President Barack Obama and Congress need to quickly put our financial house in order. The nation cannot continue to endure enormous annual deficits and growing federal debt. Allowing China to continue to purchase our debt, which now holds approximately $2 trillion U.S. treasure bonds, is against our national security. As Hillary Clinton once stated, “how do you deal toughly with your banker?” As China continues to grow stronger, it will seek to modify the existing world order. Both China and Russia have already stated that they want to replace the dollar as an international currency. If they succeed in this endeavor, the United States will be seriously hurt. The United States cannot allow China to continue stealing its most precious military and industrial secrets.

This writer believes that China is a gathering threat to our national security. It is a great mistake for the United States  to seriously cut the budget of its Armed Forces as it is currently doing, since both China and Russia are increasing the size of their armed forces and modernizing their weapons.

Second article of 3

1. China is Engaged in a Currency War with the United States

3. Is China a Gathering Threat to our National Security?