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Contents Page








       China and International Relations

                     in the New Millennium


                                                                                                Hall Gardner


                             "If  profit  disappears  through  one outlet only, the state will have no

                             equal;  if  it  disappears  through two outlets, the state will have only

                             half  the  profit;  but if the profit disappears through ten outlets, the

                             state  will  not  be preserved. If the penalties are clear, there will be

                             great  control,  but  if  they  are  not  clear,  there  will  be the six

                             parasites."   Shang  Yang  "The  Book of Lord Shang"  fourth century B.C.

                                                                                             [Chaliand 1994: 244]  


      Any  effort  to  shake  joss  sticks  so as to ascertain the future of China's  international relations in the new millennium (as defined by the Western  Gregorian  calendar)  should first look back at the millennia of  Chinese geohistory from an aesthetic perspective.


     Here,  the observant eye can catch general trends in particular epochs that   can  be  adequately  compared  and  contrasted  so  as  to  reveal significant   similarities  and  differences  between  those  eras.  This methodological  approach may then provide the observer with an accounting of  the  dynamics  of international interactions of the past and how they evolved  over  a  specified  period  of  time.  The  dynamic  of the past  interrelationships  and  interactions may then be compared and contrasted with  the  dynamics  of  the  present  in  order  to  obtain a glimpse of  alternative yet possible futures.


     A millennial perspective attempts to explain China's repeated attempts to  overcome  periods  of  "warring states" through repeated moves toward unification  resulting  in  a  general  pattern  of expansion followed by subsequent  collapse into warring states then followed by either invasion  and/or  renewed  efforts  of  unification,  if not toward an even greater expansion, culminating in the Qing empire.


       It  is  common,  for example, to compare the interwar period and the beginnings  of the Chinese revolution with the "warring states" of 475 BC  to  221 BC unified under the Qin dynasty (221 BC to 207 BC), in which Mao Ze  Dong  plays  the  role  of  Qin  Shin  Huang, a comparison Mao himself  propagated.  This analogy represents a clear example in which the ancient and  the  irrational unexpectedly intrude upon the so-called "modern" and "rational."  Yet  it  also  represents  an  analogy  that quickly becomes clichéd, unless  the  significant differences between past and present are  thoroughly compared and contrasted.


     As  it  is  impossible in a brief space to relate the rich textures of  Chinese  history,  the  focus  of this short essay will be to compare and  contrast  contemporary  post-World  War  II  Chinese  ambition to achieve  greater  regional,  if  not  global,  power and influence with efforts of China  under  the  ancien  regime  to  expand its interests overland and overseas in the Ming (and then the Qing) dynasties from a demi-millennial perspective.   The  article  will  accordingly  seek  to  bring  out  key similarities  and  differences  between  these  roughly  comparable  eras despite the considerable time span between them.


       International  relations  under  the  Ming  dynasty  will  first  be  examined, as  the  latter  took  steps  toward becoming a maritime trading  state,  becoming an amphibious naval power from 1405-1433 A.D. China then  suddenly  abandoned  its overseas ambitions and turned toward continental  expansion  to  the  west  and  the  north under the Qing dynasty, with the significant  exception  in  which  the  Qing dynasty reluctantly absorbed Taiwan  as  part  of  their  conflict  with Ming loyalists. Secondly, the  efforts  of  the  "new" China (which has borrowed more from its past than  generally  recognized)  to  expand  its  power and influence will then be explored.  It shall be argued that China is once again attempting to move beyond  essentially  continental status and toward that of an amphibious, if not triphibious, power. In this regard, China is developing land, sea, and  air capabilities (a blue water navy, plus intercontinental ballistic  missiles  and  satellite  communications)  for  the  purposes of exerting regional, if not overseas, hegemony.


       Another  fundamental  difference  should be underscored: China under the  Ming  largely  acted outside the European systemic framework and the largely  European-dominated "World History". Post-World War II China has,  however,  increasingly  entered World History on its own footing in a new  systemic   geohistorical  and  geoeconomic  context  that  is  no  longer dominated by the European powers. In effect, the "new" China has not only entered  into  a  transitional period involving domestic change, but more accurately,  it  is entering a transformative epoch in World History that  could  substantially  alter  not  only the regional, but also the global,  equilibrium.


       It  shall moreover be argued that the Chinese version of "communism"  has   not  significantly reformed itself beyond its pre-1911  imperial  past.  Contemporary China still  appears  to  be  bound  by  geohistorical  limitations  in  terms  of its  potential territorial expansion as well as to the maximum possible extent of  its  regional  and overseas influence. Moreover, in terms of domestic governance  and foreign policy decision-making, Chinese Communism has not  yet  proved  itself  to  be more flexible than the system of prebendalism  that   predominated  throughout  the  ancient  regime.  Contrary  to  its  ideology, [i] « communist prebendalism » differs more in form than in substance in regard to its imperial Confucian past.[ii] 


     The  key  issue  raised  above is that China's "vaulting ambition" may  "overleap  its bounds," to paraphrase Shakespeare. On the one hand, China  could  overexpand  its  continental  and  overseas influence (through the  absorption  of  Taiwan,  for example, or by providing greater support for  North  Korea).  Such  actions,  however,  could  lead to overextension or implosion - if not confrontation with the United States and Japan.


       Or,  on  the  other  hand,  China  could accept its present external  geopolitical status as a "self-satisfied" state (having now acquired both  Hong  Kong  and  Macao).  Beijing  could then look inwardly to critically  examine  and  address  the numerous domestic and international issues and  crises  that  will  continue to confront it in the near future. Rather than exacerbate  tensions,  China could seek compromise over Taiwan and Tibet,  for  example,  and  seek  to  quell  tensions on the Korean peninsula, in  addition  to  addressing  issues  of  growing  domestic concern involving  political, juridical, economic, demographical, and ecological issues.


       Whether China will move in the direction of "vaulting ambition" (and seek  to overthrow the status quo) or else move toward "critical introspection"  (and seek to restitute itself within a renewed domestic, regional, and  international equilibrium) will depend not merely upon the outcome and  actions of China's internal debate, but also how the external world translates, and then acts in response, to that debate.


  The Geohistorical Past


        Much  as  the  rise  of  the  People's Republic of China (PRC) can not  entirely be understood outside the disintegration of the Qing empire into  warring  states  and war lords and the subsequent struggle between Chiang  Kai Chek and Mao Ze Dong in the interwar period, the rise of the Ming and  Qing  dynasties  cannot  first  be understood without reference to the crisis created by the division of China into five dynasties and ten kingdoms.


       Divided  into five dynasties and ten kingdoms in the period from 907  to  960  AD, the northern Song took steps toward imperial reconsolidation  (in  conflict  with  the  Kingdoms  of  Xixia  and  Khitan) in the period  960-1127.  With North China lost to the Jurchen Tartars (who forced Korea  to  recognize their suzereignty in 1123), the Song escaped to Hangzhou to set  up  the  Southern  Song  dynasty (1127-1279). With the West cut off,  maritime routes in the south and southeast replaced the Silk Road as the main  route of trade. Arab merchants consequently expanded trade with the south  of China at Quanzhou.


     The  Mongols  were  able  to  suppress  the  warring Xixia in 1227 and  invaded  Korea  in  1231  (Korea submitted by 1259). In 1234, the Mongols  annexed the Jin, taking Beijing (and establishing residence at Khanbalik)  in  1264,  before taking the Southern Song, thus forging the Yuan dynasty  from  1271-1368. The Mongols pressed into Champa and Annam (Indochina) to establish  a  vassal state, but then failed to establish tributary states  in  Burma  and  Java.  The Mongols did  establish  a tributary relationship with the  Siamese  kingdoms  of  Xieng-mai  and  Sukhotai. The Yuan ultimately lost  political  control  over Korea in 1356, although the rise of Confucianism  helped to establish permanent imperial and cultural Sino-Korean ties.


       Having  subdued  Korea  and  most  of China, Kubla Kahn attempted to  invade  Japan,  but  failed.  In 1281, he attempted another invasion from  bases  in China and Korea, yet was defeated by well-prepared Japanese and  the mythical Kamakazi typhoon. The Yuan Dynasty under the Great Kahn thus  failed  in its efforts to achieve hegemony over insular Japan. (The first naval  confrontations  between  Japan  and  China  had occurred in 662 AD  during the Tang period).


     The  subsequent  Ming  dynasty (1368-1644 AD) unified the country. Chu  Yuan  Chang  (later Hung-wu), a Buddhist monk, seized Nanjing in 1356 and  then  drove  the  Mongols  from  Beijing - an  event  now celebrated by the  mythical Mid-Autumn Moon festival and the eating of "mooncakes." By 1382,  the  Ming  conquered  Yunnan,  thus  putting  the core of China under one  government  (Formosa/Taiwan  not  included).  The Ming dynasty was highly bureaucratic,  a  fact  that  strengthened the power and influence of the  Mandarins  and  the  eunuchs. Its Confucian philosophy generally regarded  trade  and  industry  as  morally  suspect,  if  not corrupting to "pure"  Chinese values. Moreover, the Academy of Letters (which produced the Yung  Lo  Ta  Tien  encyclopedia  in  the period 1403-09) led a bitter campaign against the impact of all foreign influences.


       Nevertheless,  despite  bureaucratic opposition, the Ming leadership did begin a relatively brief effort (that is, from a long term historical  perspective)  to  achieve  a blue water navy and an overseas hegemony and  system  of  tribute in the period 1405 to 1433 AD. As it briefly expanded as  an amphibious power, China began to forge overseas protectorates over  Borneo,  many  states within Malaysia, Ceylon, as well as over peoples in  the Red Sea and the coast of Africa. By the time of his seventh cruise in  1431-33,  some  twenty  states  had  begun to send tribute back to China,  including Mecca. In effect, the latter established a durable Sino-Islamic  connection.


       Interestingly,  China's  period  of overseas expansion occurred just  following  the death of Timur (Tamerlane), who had proclaimed his mission  to  restore  the Mongol empire. After conquering Persia, Mesopotamia, and Afghanistan, Timur invaded India (devastating Delhi) in 1398-99, and then  defeated  the  Ottoman  Turcs at the battle of Angora in 1402. Timur then died  in  1405  before  beginning  a  "Holy War" against China. His death  consequently led to the decay of the Timurid empire and put to an end the  threat of Mongolian revanche - or at least lessened that threat in the near  term.  Ming  campaigns  in  1410,  1414, 1422-24 into Outer Mongolia were  consequently  aimed  at  preventing  Mongolian chieftains from once again organizing  their  revenge.  Here,  it  would  appear  that the lack of a  significant "threat" to the north permitted China to advance its overseas  interests to the south. (Cheng Ho’s first voyage may have been intended to protect China’s sea approaches against an impending Mongol attack that never came.)


     Having  suddenly  advanced  overseas over nearly three decades, China,  just  as  suddenly and unexpectedly, ceased its explorations and returned  to  its continental silkworm cocoon. In doing so, China lost its trade in  the  Indian Ocean to the Arabs and the Portuguese. The imperial court not  only banned naval expeditions to Indian Ocean after 1433 but, in 1436, an imperial decree forbade the construction of new blue water ships. Sailors  were  ordered  to  man the internal sea routes and canals for purposes of  internal  trade, hence avoiding the risky sea coast, which was subject to  bad weather and piracy. [McNeill 1982: 45-46] China's  turn  toward introspection did not, however, stop its progress: The  Ming  period  led  to  significant  technological  developments,  in  meteorology,   for   example,  as  well  as  in  rocketry  involving  the development  of  the  first  one stage rocket (the Fire Raven) plus a two  stage rocket (the Fire Dragon).


       A number of reasons have been offered for the sudden reversal in its   overseas  policy:[Wallerstein 1974: 51-63]


1)  The Confucian mandarins lacked any sense of a colonizing mission   and  feared the 

            corrupting influence of foreigners. Cheng Ho was a    eunuch  of Moslem origin and thus   

           overseas voyages were associated with foreigners.

2)  The  reappearance of the threat from Mongol nomad barbarians and  of Japanese Wako

          pirates may have diverted imperial attention away from overseas expansion;

3)  Overseas  systems  of "tribute" may have been seen as costly and      disadvantageous to the

         empire, if not a net drain on the  imperial treasury;

4)  Efforts to sustain hegemony over Annam (Indochina) in the period       1428-1447  suffered

        a number of setbacks, leading to withdrawal in 1428;   [McNeill 1982: 46]

5) Efforts to repress internal rebellions may have been costly;

6) The shift of the capital to Beijing in 1421, and the extension of      the  Great  Wall,  may 

        have shifted policy interests to the north,    possibly in accord with a shift in population to

        the north; [McNeill 1982:  46]

7)  Labor  intensive  rice  production  did  not  require  colonial       expansion  in the same    

        way that production of cereal and wheat, or       else  a  pastoral  economy,  did  for the West 

       (although China did      expand upon Eurasian pastoral areas and through its Silk Road trade

       on the continent);

8) And  finally,  the more centralized and less competitive Chinese        system  of 

      prebendalism did not lend itself to overseas expansion       as  did  the  more decentralized and   

     competitive system of Western      feudalism,   which  permitted  greater  individual  and 

     corporate   initiative.   (There   was  little  profit  involved  in  overseas        ventures, 

     particularly  as  it  involved  significant  bribery of  Chinese Mandarin officials.)


       Threats  from Mongols, the Jurchen, and "Japanese" pirates (who were not  always  from  Japan  and  included  Chinese fugitives and even black slaves  who  had  escaped from Macao) continued to exacerbate tensions in the  north  and along the coast. Acts of piracy were quite significant up until  the  1570s  and  represented major threats to China's coastal well being.  By the 1590s, a new threat appeared: Japan invaded Korea (1592-93 and 1597-98), impelling the Chinese to support their loyal Korean ally at  a high cost. (The Korean Li dynasty had based its legitimacy upon a close  relationship  with  the  Chinese  Ming dynasty in 1392.) Domestic turmoil  then led Japan to withdraw its troops in 1598. Conflict with the Jurchens in  Manchuria began to intensify and then forced a rise in taxes at least  seven times between 1618-1639.


       With  natural  disasters,  tax  increases,  domestic  rebellion, and  financial  crises involving the changing ratio of silver to copper due to  the  gradual  integration of China's economy into the world economy, Ming  governance  began  to  collapse,  leading  to  armed  revolt  and  Manchu conquest.  For whatever may be the primary reason, China continued to let  its  naval  capacity rust to the point that it could hardly defend itself against piracy or against the new, ultimately more devastating, influence of the wai guo ren (foreigners).




"Special Enterprise Zones": Keeping Barbarians at Arms Length


       Cheng  Ho's voyages took place prior to the more long-lasting overseas Portuguese  expansion  under  Prince  Henry  the  Navigator  who, largely insulated from European wars (until Portugal was taken by Spain in 1580), began  to  explore  the  coast of Africa between 1421 to 1460. By 1510-11 Lisbon  had established bases in Goa and Malacca before reaching China in 1514  at  the entrance of the Xia river close to Canton. It was not until 1557  that  the Portuguese established a permanent trading post on Macao, ruled  by their own government in pursuit of commercial profit, and which established  the  compradores as treaty port merchants and intermediaries between  foreign  businesses  and  China. It was, in many ways, the first "special enterprise zone," one under a Chinese system of tribute.


     While  Spain  barely  touched  the  Chinese  mainland,  Manilla in the Philippines  became  the  major entrepot in the expanding system of trade between  China  and  Europe.  Mexican silver was used to purchase Chinese silk  (along  with  Southeast  Asian  pepper);  at the same time, Chinese merchants  began  to  settle in the Philippines to profit from burgeoning trade  relations.  By 1575, the King of Luzon of the Philippines likewise became  tributary  to  the  Chinese  empire - in part to counterbalance the influence  of  Spain,  that  is,  until the Spanish opted to wipe out the Chinese population in Manilla in 1662.


     The  Dutch, in rivalry with Spain, prior to the formal independence of the  Netherlands  in 1648, established connections on the Isle of Java in 1595.  By  1622  the  Dutch  established  a  small fort next to a Chinese fishing  village  on  the  Pescadores,  where  they had been driven after failing  to  establish  a hold on the mainland. Up until the late 14th or early  15th  century,  Formosa  had  been  sparsely populated (largely by head-hunting tribes related to the Philippino Luzon).


     Yet  by  1624,  the  Dutch  were  able  to establish a protected fort, Zelandia,  on  Taiwan itself, and they proceeded to develop the interior. The  Dutch  produced  and  exported  sugar, rice, coal for both Asian and European   markets   from   Taiwan.  Dutch  industry  in  turn  attracted impoverished  labor  from the mainland (from Fujian and Guangdong) despite laws against immigration.  (Although  interested  in maritime trade, the Southern Song and the Ming dynasty had done little to develop Taiwan which had formerly been  explored  by  the  Han [206  BC-  24 AD] and the Tang [618-907 AD] dynasties.)


       During  years of opposition to Manchu rule (1673-83), in 1662 the Ming  loyalist,  Zheng  Cheng-gong  (known  to  the Portugese as Koxinga), took  refuge  on the island with his militias, and forced the Dutch off Formosa in  eight months, after having seized Amoy in 1653, Ch'ung-ming island in  1656,  and  attacking Nanjing in 1657. The Dutch then switched sides and  moved their fleet to support the Manchus in their battle in 1663-64.  Zheng's  naval  power  and  potential  influence among the population was regarded  in awe by 1661. In an effort to block trade and isolate anti-Manchu forces the Manchus ordered an evacuation of the coastal population to a depth of ten miles from the sea despite the hardships. Thus, while  Taiwan  had initially been under Dutch control from 1624 to 1662, it then fell to Ming loyalists from 1662 (after a long siege) to 1683, in effect, establishing an alternative government and claimant to imperial power.

      The  Qing (1664-1911) consequently defeated their rival claimants by first  occupying  the  Pescadore  islands. They were then able to build a garrison  on Formosa in 1683 thus solidifying control over "all" of China  and  placing  Formosa  under  imperial  administration  as a tributary of  Fujian.


Territorial Expansion under the Qing


     China's  widest  expansion  came  under the Manchu Qing dynasty in the  period  from  1683-1830. Having conquered China's core provinces and then Formosa,  the Qing turned toward westward expansion to establish a circle of "buffer zones" or protectorates over Mongolia in 1696 and Tibet in 1724,  and  then  engaging in wars of colonization in Dzungaria (east Turkestan) in 1729-34; 1754-61; Burma (1767-69), and in Tibet (1751-52).


       In regard to the latter, China first placed imperial troops in Tibet in  1720,  in  support  of  a  popular  Tibetan candidate, after the West Mongolian Jungars had attempted to impose an imperial candidate as dalai lama in 1714. By 1747-1749, Beijing was unable to restore order in Tibet,  leading  to  the  1751  invasion  and  the Chinese efforts to control the succession and non-spiritual "material world" politics of the dalai lama.


       While  the  Dutch  had pressed toward China's coasts from the south,  the Manchus moved in from the north. The latter thus conquered Beijing in  1644,  and  then  moved  to  take over the rest of China. Ironically this  occurred as the Russians simultaneously thrust into the Amur River valley  in  northern  Manchuria  in the 1640s. Despite continuing clashes, Russia  and  the  Manchus  signed  the  1689  Treaty of Nerchinsk, in part due to  Chinese  efforts  to prevent a Russian-Mongol alliance. The latter treaty  is  interesting  in  that it represented a departure from the traditional  Chinese  practice  "since  the  Empire did not conceptually recognize the existence  of  juridical  frontiers." [Mancall 1984: 77] The  Russians,  however,  pushed  for  a  more  definitive  treaty,  resulting  in  the  1728  Treaty of Kyahkta, which created the diplomatic mechanism  for  the  resolution  of disputes. The treaty terms compelling observance were only invoked three times from 1728 to 1860. [Mancall 1984: 79]


       Owen Lattimore has argued that Chinese territorial expansion largely followed  classical  lines  in  that  China  recognized  that  there were diminishing  returns.  China's  expansion  as  far as Outer Mongolia "was primarily  for  the  purpose of breaking up threatening concentrations of tribal  power  in the transfrontier, not for the purpose of acquiring new territory,  administering  it  directly,  and integrating it closely with China." [Lattimore 1962: 171] Over time, however, Chinese "internal" colonization and immigration has worked to create closer bonds and political-economic ties between the core  of China and its internal continental protectorates - as well as with Taiwan.


Overseas Outreach: Taiwan


      In  regard  to  its  southern  and  overseas  interests,  the Qing was circumspect.  Having  taken  Taiwan  and making it an appendage of Fujian province in 1683, the Qing attitude toward Taiwan remained ambivalent. It failed  to  develop  Taiwan  significantly in fear of the fact that freer trade  would  cause  social unrest, open China up to its foreign enemies, drain  silver  from  the country, and encourage piracy, and other crimes.[Spence 1990: 56-57]


    The  late  17th  century  Qing  court  debated the fate of Taiwan (which suggests  a  debate relevant to today): "Some courtiers suggested that it be  abandoned  altogether,  whereas  Admiral  Shi urged that it be made a fortified  base  to  protect  China  from  the  ‘strong, huge invincible’ warships of the Dutch." [Spence 1990: 57]


     At  least  initially, the Manchu Qing government did everything in its power  to  prevent  Taiwan's  development and suppressed revolts in 1721; 1747-49;  1755-79;  and  1786-87.  By the 19th century, however, the Qing dynasty  had  no  choice  but  to  develop Taiwan when confronted by conflicting  Japanese  and  European  interests  in  the island. The Qing government  refused  to claim absolute sovereignty over the entire island (only  over  ethnic  Chinese  on  the coast) until challenged to do so by  Japan in 1874. The incident demonstrated the weakness of the Chinese navy  and  military,  and  helped  provide  greater  political  impetus for the "self-strengthening" movement of Li Hongzhang.


     China  then opened up the island to Chinese immigration, but failed to develop  it properly. Then in the 1884-85 war with France over Indochina,  France   blockaded  the  island.  Previously  under  Fujian's  provincial  administration,  the  Chinese declared Taiwan a province in its own right  (giving Taiwanese a new, even more autonomous identity) in the effort to break set patterns of corruption and to modernize it, particularly in the period 1870-1890 under Governor Liu.




       The  1842  Opium  wars  further  opened  Chinese  society to Western  influence  and  opium,  humiliating the imperial Manchu leadership as did  the  occupation  of  Beijing  by  British  and French forces in 1860 (who burned  and  looted the summer palace). The 1850-64 Taiping and 1851-1868  Nian  rebellions further weakened the imperial court's capacity to govern the  country.  China's  imperial  expanse dwindled step by step, and very quickly  by  the late 19th century. China was forced to give the Russians (in  the  "unequal  treaties")  the  Amur  in  1858  (after the Treaty of Tientsin)   and  then  the  Coastal  provinces  in  1860  following  the occupation  of  Beijing  by  the  British  and  the  French. (The Coastal provinces  included  Vladivostok later claimed by Mao.) In 1887, Portugal obtained  the  secession  of Macao, but at the same time, promised not to alienate it. By 1890, the Board of Admiralty was abolished - indicating the total disarray of the Chinese navy.


     The  rise  of  Japan  finally  forced  China  to  abandon  its  Korean protectorate  in  1876  when Japan forced Korea to sign an unequal treaty modeled upon those treaties the Europeans had forced upon the Chinese! In the  Sino-French  wars  from  1883-85,  China  lost  its vassal states in Indochina. In the 1894-95 Sino-Japanese war, Korea called upon both China and  Japan to assist it against internal insurrection, but Japan used the opportunity  to  seize  Korea, forcing Chinese out, in addition to taking Taiwan  as  a  by-product, in part to preclude east Asian colonization by the  West  and to prevent China from loaning the Pescadore islands to the French.  (After  the  war,  in 1895, a secret Sino-Russian agreement gave Russia  the  right  to  develop  a rail system to Vladivostok - a fact that would help lead to the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05.)


       The  1894-95  Sino-Japanese  war consequently led to an even greater "scramble for concessions" by the British, French, Russians, Germans, and the  Americans. Following the Rebellion of the « Righteous Fists of Harmony » in  1900, and military intervention by the Europeans and the Americans, China was forced to cede Manchuria to Russia in the period from 1900-05 and was forced into further humiliation.  The American « Open Door » policy  was  as  much  directed  at the Russians as at the Europeans, but permitted U.S.  entry   into   the  region  following  the  1898 Spanish-American  War,  in which the United States was able to obtain the former Chinese tributary state, the Philippines, after a  brutal conflict with Philippino opponents of American annexation. Manila was to be the American « Hong Kong. »


       Russian  expansion  continued  up  to the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War when   Japan   acted   to   preclude   further   Russian   military   and  political-economic  outreach  by  means  of  the Transiberian railway. In  1907,   the  British  and  Russians  shocked  the  world  by  forging  an Anglo-Russian  entente  that affected relations with Persia, Afghanistan, and  China.  Tibet  (which  had  been  under a Chinese protectorate since 1750-51)  was  made  a neutral buffer, becoming autonomous by 1912. Outer Mongolia  likewise  became  autonomous  in  1911  (recognized by China in 1913).


       The  1904-05  Russo-Japanese war, ironically enough, led to promises of  imperial  reforms  in  both  Russia  and China. In China, the dowager empress had revoked  progress made in the Hundred Days of Reform in 1898; by 1908,  following  the  death of the emperor and of the dowager empress, a draft  constitution  was published, but the government remained in Manchu hands.  The  1911  revolution,  however, established a national assembly, which was then dissolved by its president Yuan Shih-k'ai in opposition to the  Kuo  Ming  Tang  (KMT)  led  by Sun Yat Sen. The failure of imperial reforms  in  both countries would, in part, led to revolution in China in 1911 and in Russia in 1917. At the same time the collapse of both empires would set the stage for Japan's Twenty-One Demands of 1915 and ultimately for Japanese expansion into Manchuria.


       In  sum, China reached its summit of its grandeur in the Qing period but  began to overextend itself. Its initial territorial expansion, prior to  the  devastating  fall  of its « mandate from heaven »,  however,  continues to set the framework  for  contemporary  China's  interactions  with  its  immediate neighbors, as well as with overseas powers, in that the People's Republic has  yet  to  cede  its  geohistorical claims, raising fears and creating uncertainty among its neighbors.


The Cold War


     In the post-World War II period, both China and the Soviet Union began to  review their relations with Mongolia and Xinjiang first as allies (in  the  period  1950-1958)  and then as rivals (in the late 1960s to 1980s). Indian  independence  likewise  meant a review of common Sino-Indian land  frontiers,  and  of  Tibet's "buffer" status in particular. The escape of  Chiang  Kai  Chek  to Taiwan in 1949 raised the question that had haunted the  Manchus  following  the  escape of Ming loyalist Zheng to Formosa in period 1662-83. At the same time, these geopolitical events took place in  a new systemic geohistorical context in which China has been increasingly integrated in "World History" both in geoeconomic and geostrategic terms.


       Following  unification  in  1949, China opted to absorb Tibet at the onset   of   the  Korean  War  (to  preclude  U.S.  support  for  Tibetan independence),  and  likewise  absorbed  East Turkestan (to forestall  pan-Turk, pan Pan-Islam movements in Xinjiang province). In effect, these actions removed the buffer between Russia, China, and India  over  Afghanistan  and  Tibet that had previously been established by the 1907 Anglo-Russian entente.


       In  addition  to supporting the "anti-imperialist" struggle of North  Korea and North Vietnam, and attempting to pressure the United States and  Taiwan  by shelling the islands of Quemoy and Matsu in the 1950s, the  People's  Republic  began  to  expand its influence overseas in the 1960s upon  an  ostensibly  "rational"  ideological basis, forging military and  trading  links  with  Pakistan  and Iran (the Sino-Islamic connection) as  well  as  African  regimes such as Tanzania, for example. But contrary to its myth of support for anti-Soviet anti-American revolutionary political movements,  China was in many ways retracing its geohistorical pattern of external  outreach  in  terms  of  the  formation  of  tributary (and not necessarily lucrative) arrangements as first outlined by Cheng Ho.


     During  the  Cold  War,  Beijing  attempted  to take advantage of U.S.-Soviet   rivalry   as   a  tertius  gaudens  power,  in  what  was  more appropriately  called  a  "Game  of  Go"  than the more often referred to "Great  Game"  of Asia. The latter was Rudyard Kipling's expression which largely referred to the repetitive nature of conflict between Britain and Czarist  Russia,  and which then appeared to repeat itself in Afghanistan once  Pax  Americana had fully replaced the global insular-hegemonic role of  the  former  Pax  Britannica.  The  Game  of  Go  thus refers to U.S.-Soviet-Chinese games of "encirclement" and "counter-encirclement."


       In  the  "Game  of Go" Beijing sought to play Soviet versus American interests, tilting first toward Moscow in 1950 following the formation of NATO,  but  then falling into self-imposed isolation and inner turmoil of the  Cultural Revolution following Khrushchev's 1959 rupture. By 1967-68, Beijing began to break out of that isolation with ping-pong diplomacy and the opening to the United States under Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. In  a  step  that  was  intended  to  "appease"  the  People's  Republic, Washington  removed  Taipei  from the UN Security Council and replaced it with  Beijing.  By  1978,  President  Carter's  National Security Advisor Zbigniew  Brzezinski  attempted to play the so-called "China Card."[iii] The  United States opted for diplomatic recognition of Beijing, but without  first  having  demanded  that  Beijing renounce the use of force against  Taiwan as urged by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. [Gardner 1994: 96 and passim]


     U.S.  policy,  however,  represented  an  unsuccessful  effort to turn Beijing into a long-term "active strategic counterweight" against Moscow. China  began,  ironically,  to  shift back toward Moscow during the 1980s when  it appeared that President Ronald Reagan would not entirely give up support  for  Taiwan (even following the 1982 Second Shanghai Communiqué) in  accord  with  his  more  traditional  anti-Soviet and anti- "Chi-Com" ideology  that  dated from the 1950s. Beijing likewise refused to provide diplomatic  recognition  to  those countries that recognized Taiwan as an  « independent » state - in an effort to intimidate and isolate the island.


       Moscow  first  sought  to  woo  Beijing with Leonid Brezhnev's peace offensive  and  the  1982 Tashkent address. Then under Mikhail Gorbachev, Moscow  began to address the three obstacles to peace: Soviet   involvement  in  Afghanistan,  Soviet  support  for  Vietnam  in Kampuchea/Cambodia,  and  Soviet  troops  along  the  Sino-Soviet border. Contrary  to  the  view  of  American  pundits at the time, China and the Soviet Union  were,  step-by-step,  able to mend fences. At the same time, China has  been  able  to  pressure  or  assert its influence over Vietnam (but unable  to  defeat  Hanoi militarily in 1978-79), Cambodia (in tacit support of the Khmer Rouge), and the two Koreas. (In the case of the latter, China gave positive support in promoting the October 1994 Geneva agreement in which North Korea agreed to freeze and eventually eliminate its nuclear weapons program. On the other hand, a nuclear China has given support to both the Iranian and Pakistani nuclear programs - primarily in an effort to counterbalance its rival India whose own nuclear program has  been assisted, at least in part, by Russia - in a post-Cold War continuation of the « Game of Go. »)


     Despite  Soviet  implosion (Deng Xiao Ping justified his repression of  students  in  June  1989 on Tiananmen square on the basis that the Soviet failure  to crush the Solidarity movement in Poland ultimately led to the  Soviet  collapse),  Russia  and  China  have reconfirmed closer ties. The Russians  believe  that  they  are  now  playing their own version of the "China Card." At the same time, the Chinese have been playing "barbarians against barbarians," as described by Wei Yuan. [Edward 1984]


     The Chinese Game of Go has extended itself even further to include the European  Union  (but  often  playing French versus German interests) and playing  EU  and Japanese interests against each other, in addition to playing Moscow against Washington in an effort to expand Chinese geostrategic and geopolitical-economic  power,  influence,  and position. On the one hand, China  has  protested  against  U.S. efforts to rebuild Japanese military capabilities and to possibly permit Japan a more active role in the defense of Taiwan;  on  the  other  hand,  China  recognizes  the U.S. role in "double-containing"   Japanese   power.  In  effect,  a  strong  American  diplomatic  and  military presence in the region prevents China and Japan from re-escalating their geo-historical conflict. Ironically, the weight of peace in the region falls even more upon American shoulders after the collapse of Soviet naval power and political-military influence in the Far East.




Questions for the New Millennium


       China's  new  regional  and  global  status  as a potential "trading  state" is most commonly represented by the absorption of Hong Kong, which symbolized  the  Qing  regime's forced defeat by perfidious Albion (Great Britain)  after  the  1842  Opium  wars.  But,  from an even longer term, geohistorical  perspective,  China  has  also  overtaken  the  historical Portuguese outpost at Macao, which, actually and symbolically, represents its  first  opening to, and exploitation by, the European wai guo ren. In effect,  China has re-established itself as an imperial entity. The point raised   here   is  that  China,  by  regaining  Macao,  has  essentially re-established  its  former  imperial  pre-western pre-Open Door respect, status,  and  identity  and can thus begin to deal with the "west" from a  position  of  greater  geopolitical  and  political-economic parity - if it chooses to do so.


       Given  the  above  geohistorical  perspective, significant questions arise for the new millennium:


     Will  the  present period after the "four modernizations" of Deng Xiao   Ping   (perhaps   most   comparable   to  the  late  19th  century "self-strengthening" movement under Li Hongzhang) lead to a longer period  of  continental  or  amphibious  (really triphibious) overseas expansion?

Will China  attempt  to  advance its regional and global position with a back-up alliance of Russia and in potential conflict with Japan and the United States? Will the People's Republic seek "tribute" by means  of the forging of hegemonic protectorates over Vietnam, Burma, the two Koreas (or in strong support of the North), Thailand, Cambodia - if not Taiwan - within  and beyond the South China sea? Will China try to overturn the  present  regional  (and  international)  order,  possibly leading to  China's overextension, if not implosion or confrontation?


       Or  will  China  accept its geohistorical limits as a self-satisfied "trading state" and seek to harmonize its internal and external relations through  compromise?  Will China reach a more stable equilibrium with its neighbors and the global community and begin to play a more positive role  as  a  largely  self-satisfied maritime power and counter-balancing state concerned with finding compromise among many regional disputes?


       Also  at  question  are  China's  new  relations  with India and the Islamic  world,  as well as its efforts to build a "silk highway," not to overlook  relations with a newly independent Mongolia. Will China compete with  Russia  for  hegemony  over Mongolia? Will it seek to partition the  country? Or will it respect Mongolian independence? Will Beijing continue to  support  its "silk highway" connection with Pakistan, and the Islamic world,  against  India?  Or  will  it  seek a new reconciliation with New Delhi?


       One  of  the  keys  to  the  above  questions will be China's future  relationship  with  Taiwan. The latter thus far represents a counterpoise  to  the  hegemonic  ambition  of  the  People's  Republic,  and in effect  "contains"  the latter's regional and global outreach. As the validity of China's  historical "claims" to Taiwan are historically complex as argued  above,  the  possible  "absorption"  of  Taiwan  by  the  PRC  would thus  represent  a  significant enlargement of Chinese sovereignty and overseas space, most reminiscent of the Qing conquest of the Ming loyalists who had occupied the island from 1662 to 1683. "Total"  control  of  Taiwan  would, in effect, permit Beijing to  control  the  entrance  and  exit  to  the South China Sea and to control regional  sea  lines of communication (much as Britain still controls the entrance and exit of the Mediterranean at Gilbraltar).


       In absorbing Taiwan, China would be revenging itself upon the "loss" of the island to Chiang Kai Shek. Yet, at the same time, it would also be re-establishing   a   new  position  of  power,  re-asserting  itself  in  relationship  to  Japan,  after  having  suffered  defeat  in the 1894-95 Sino-Japanese  war,  largely  fought over Korea, but which gave Japan the additional  trophy of Taiwan at the Treaty of Shimonseki. Chinese control of  Taiwan  would, for example, permit Beijing to control the flow of oil  to  Japan  from the Persian Gulf. In effect, China would, after centuries  of  tensions,  finally  hold Japan in a « tributary » relationship. Moreover, with  a  blue  water  navy  ultimately stationed on Taiwan, Beijing could  project power into the Pacific.


      Chinese goals appear to be:

       (1)     Prevent the « Taiwanese independence » movement from instigating

          new   movements  of  secession  within  the  People's  Republic  by

          demonstration effect;

       (2)      To  eliminate Taiwan's export competition with the People's

          Republic  as  seen  through the eyes of its Communist "prebendal"

          ideology despite significant Taiwanese investment on the mainland itself;

       (3)      To  assert  control  over  the  Spratly  islands  and other

          off-shore oil reserves;

       (4)      To eliminate a potential strategic-military threat from the

          island  and  to  be  in  a  better  position to defend China from

          potential rivals.


     Perhaps even more significant than Taiwan in terms of global relations are  China's  burgeoning  ties  with  Russia.  Chinese relations with the  Russian Federation are, in many ways, growing closer in mutual opposition  to  what  both  states perceive as American efforts to achieve an insular  global hegemony or "unipolarity." At present, neither state seeks to fall into line with Pax Americana; at the same time, both are fearful that the other may align with the United States against their essential interests.  A Sino-Russian entente thus protects both states by building mutual trust  against  American  global  "hegemony."  A  closer  Sino-Russian  strategic

 partnership  may  well continue to define Asian, if not global relations, well into the new millennium, unless Russia begins to fear the burgeoning power potential of a rising China, forcing Moscow to look toward a closer entente, if not alliance, with the United States and NATO and in the assumption that the latter seek to draw Moscow away from its present support for Beijing.


       On  the  one  hand, the 1728 Treaty of Kyahkta (which was based on a rough  parity  between  Russia and China) is relevant to today in that it represented   a   historical  precedent  to  the  negotiations  over  the  Sino-Soviet  and  Sino-Russian  borders  during  the  Cold War and in the post-Cold  War  period.  The  latter  has  helped  pave  the way to a new Sino-Russian  "strategic  partnership" which has permitted Russia to sell significant  quantities  of  high tech armaments and dual use materiel to  the People's Republic.


       On  the other hand, the step-by-step collapse of the Qing empire led to  the  further  territorial  expansion  of  a  superior  Russia  (which ultimately  overextended  itself),  and  the  rise of China's irredentist claims  expressed  by  Mao  in  regard  to  the  "unequal  treaties"  and Vladivostok, for example. Sino-Russian relations could possibly change as both  states  eye  Siberia  (virtually non-inhabited) and Outer Mongolia, particularly without Japan as a common threat.


     Yet  it  appears  that  these  contemporary agreements may be longer lasting  than  the  Sino-Soviet  alliance  of the 1950s precisely because China  is now a more significant partner. A weak Russia no longer plays a  role  in drawing Chinese attention to the North, as did the former Soviet Union.  Ironically,  the  Soviet  Union  played  a  major role in "double containing" Chinese power capabilities by forcing the latter to focus its resources  on  the  Soviet  "threat" to the north, just as Imperial China  once  focused  on  the  Mongol  threat.  In contemporary circumstances, a stronger  Beijing  could  possibly  press  Russia to agree to a new joint agreement over the "unequal treaties."


     The fact that both Russia and China are concerned with the possibility of  secessionist movements undermining their respective state sovereignty  has  brought  the two sides even closer together. While the Russians have brutally  suppressed  the  independence movement in Chechnya in 1999-2000  (attempting,  in  part,  to  send  a  symbolic  message to other would-be secessionist  movements  within  the  Russian Federation), China has been most  concerned  with secessionist movements in Tibet, Xinjiang province,  Inner Mongolia, and Taiwan.


     The  mutual  fear  of  secessionist movements has furthermore begun to  bring Russia, China and India together despite their geohistorical disputes (and although suspicions remain among them). All three condemned the U.S.-led  NATO  military intervention against Serbia in the war "over" Kosovo  as   an   action   that  violated  the  principle  of  territorial  state sovereignty. All three oppose the feared possibility that the U.S. policy might  likewise  provide  more  overt  support  to  regional secessionist  movements.


     The Russian Federation has largely backed India's position on Kashmir; Moscow  has likewise been attempting to nudge China to resolve its border conflicts with India (tensions which had expressed themselves in the 1962  Sino-Indian  war  which  broke  out in October the same time as the Cuban  missile  crisis; not-so-ironically, both Washington and Moscow backed New Delhi at that time.) While strongly backing Pakistan during the Cold War, China  has,  at least tentatively, begun to backtrack on that support for Islamabad following Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and the victory of the Taliban and radical Sunni Islamic fundamentalism in Kabul. In effect, China  fears  a  radicalization  of the situation in which both India and Pakistan  now  threaten  each  other with nuclear weapons and continue to engage  in  border  clashes  over Kashmir. Further destabilization of the region could loosen China's grips over Xinjiang and Tibet.


The Question of China's Overextension


     While most economists predict superior growth projections for China by the  year  2030  in  the new millennium, other, largely domestic factors, could  slow  down  predicted  growth,  perhaps in similar ways as China's naval program of the Ming empire ground to a halt:


      1)  The  continual rise of "democratic" or "religious" opposition to

         the  regime  if the latter fails to implement significant reforms,

         particularly  in  the  area of legal accountability, political and

         human rights;

       2)  Ethnic  opposition to the regime from Tibetan, Mongol and Uighur

         minorities leading to stronger secessionist movements;

       3)  Burgeoning  population  growth:  By the year 2050 it is expected

         that some 50% of the population may move to urban centers;

       4)  Political-economic instability following collapse of inefficient

         government-controlled industries.

       5)  Mounting  regional tensions between a generally prosperous south

         and  southeast and a largely stagnant north, including problems of

         integrating  Hong Kong and Macao into China's system of "communist



          These  significant  internal forces suggest that China could turn towards "critical introspection" in an effort to deal with its tremendous social,   political, demographic, and  ecomomic, and ecological  crises - as  opposed  to  reaching outward - unless  the  leadership  chooses to deflect domestic criticism by  pointing  to  "enemies"  abroad.  At the same time, however, the apparent  lack  of  significant  military  and/or political-economic countervailing pressures  (from Russia, India, or Japan) appears to provide Beijing with  an  "Open  Door"  of  its  own making for Beijing to pursue its "vaulting  ambitions." This appears true despite the possible long-term consequences and  risks, that  is,  if  Chinese actions do prove provocative to China's immediate and overseas neighbors.


       While  the  PRC's claims to what the Portuguese called "Formosa" are not  entirely  unprecedented  in  historical terms, the absorption of the island could result in an overextension of China's outreach from its more traditional  continental  interests,  as argued above. As was the case in  the  Qing  era,  it  is questionable whether China could sustain Taiwan's long-term development as well as its significant international investment  finance  under  a  system  of "communist prebendalism." The absorption of Taiwan,  in  addition to potentially alienating the Taiwanese population, could possibly backfire, in terms of China's own long-term interests.


U.S. Policy


       As  Taiwan  is  presently  under  an  American protectorate somewhat  reminiscent  to  that  of  Dutch  hegemony  in the 17th century, only the  United  States  possesses  the  military  power  capable of deterring the  People's  Republic  from using military force to "unify" the country, but Washington  may  not  possess  the  stamina  in  the long term to prevent Beijing  from  achieving  its  goals.  Nor does it appear that Washington  possesses  the  necessary  vision  to  forge new relations with China and  China's neighbors in order to convince Beijing not to go down the path of  confrontation.


       At  present,  domestic  American  elites are split between those who  support   "engagement"   versus   those  who  support  "neo-containment."  Concurrently,    seeking   to   compromise   between   "engagement"   and  "neo-containment," the American Congress has thus far sought to implement  a  "sweet  and  sour"  approach,  but  one  that could easily backfire in spiraling  tensions.  On the one hand, Congress seeks to develop Taiwan's  military  capability and establish closer U.S.-Chinese military relations  through   the  Taiwan  Security  Enhancement  Act,  while  simultaneously  offering  China  membership in the World Trade Organization.[IHT Feb.3, 2000: 5] In  effect,  Congress  seeks  to  nudge  China  toward  becoming  a "responsible" maritime "trading state" as opposed to letting Beijing seek   triphibious  land, sea, and air status which would permit China to assert its regional, and increasingly, global interests. These groups argue that  any  effort  to cut China from the world economy will backfire, causing a  xenophobic backlash.


     At  the  same  time,  more  ominous schools of foreign policy thinking appear to be brewing for the near future: those who propose "appeasement"  versus  those  who support total "isolation" (the so-called "blue team").[IHT Feb.23, 2000:3]  These  two  groups  argue  that  middle  of the road policies will prove  ineffective  and  will  not  resolve the continuing crisis. Tensions will continue  to  spiral  unless more decisive steps are taken one way or the  other.  In  effect,  both  schools  argue  that the U.S. must abandon its  policy of "strategic ambiguity" in regard to Taiwan; the U.S. must either affirm its support for Taiwanese independence or else "appease" Beijing's  goals of unification under "one country-two systems."


       On  the  one  hand,  "appeasers"  are  willing to give in to China's  demands  over  Taiwan  so  as  to  prevent  an  even  closer Sino-Russian  alignment,  and  thus  attempt  to turn China against Russia (or at least  "neutralize"  Beijing).  (Does "appeasement" at least partially suggest a historical  analogy  to the seizure of Taiwan by the Qing dynasty against  its Ming rivals? Perhaps backed this time by a reversal of American policy in which the Americans now play the  role of the Dutch, but in very different geo-historical circumstances?)


     On  the  other hand, those who seek China's total isolation argue that  Beijing  has  become  permanently hostile to U.S. and Japanese interests.  From  their perspective, confrontation thus appears inevitable unless the United  States  and Japan take a tougher approach. This group argues that  the  United  States must assert its interests forcibly by isolating China from  world  economy  as  "punishment" - by  removing  China from the U.S. Most Favored  Nation  (MFN) status  and  by  blocking China's membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), among other measures. 


     By  contrast,  China  appears to be upping the ante in the expectation that  the  United  States will not risk confrontation and will ultimately accept "appeasement." China appears to be playing its own "Game of Go" by purchasing  sophisticated  weapons  technology,  cruisers, and submarines  from  Moscow,  at  the  same  time  that  it develops an intercontinental  ballistic  missile  capability  to  counter  the nuclear predominance of the United States. Concurrently,  China  argues  that  it  has made greater concessions than  India  in  its  efforts  to  join the WTO. [Hsiung 2000: 2 of 3] Here, Chinese hardliners (unless their attention is diverted by domestic  or  regional crises) may continue to press their demands rather than seek compromise.  Chinese  strategy  may  involve an effort to wear the "West"  down over time - as the relevance of "time" (in terms of quick victory) and  of  "winning"  (in  terms  of  precise  and clearly-defined objectives in  decisive  battles)  do  not  necessarily possess the same connotations in  Chinese  strategic  thinking  (after  Sun  Zi)  as  in  western strategic  thought.


     The  pathos  of the U.S. relationship with China is best characterized  by  the admission of the U.S. ambassador to China, retired Admiral Joseph Prueher,  who had commanded American naval forces in the Pacific in 1996. At  that  time,  China  conducted  military  exercises  and fired unarmed  missiles  into Taiwanese waters during Taipei's preparation for its first presidential  election.  Admiral  Joseph  Prueher was quoted as saying "I didn't  know  anybody in China to talk to." [IHT Feb.14, 2000: 3]



Toward an Alternative U.S. Strategy


     In  mid-February  2000  (prior  to  the March 18 Taiwanese elections), Beijing  issued a "White Paper on Taiwan" that clearly warned Taipei that Beijing may be forced to adopt all possible "drastic measures," including  the  use force, if Taiwanese authorities indefinitely refuse to peacefully  settle  the  re-unification issue. Similar warnings had preceded the 1996 Taiwanese  elections,  as  noted  above,  but for the first time, Beijing explicitly linked the warning to reunification talks. The primary purpose of the warning was thus to define the Taiwanese presidential elections as a  "local"  election from Beijing's perspective, and to warn Taiwan's new leadership  that  the  re-unification  issue  must be dealt with as a top priority. [Chou 2000]  At  the  root  of the crisis is the fact that the Beijing leadership has staked its legitimacy on bringing Taiwan under its control.


       In  order  to  prevent  the  possibility  of  war  (assuming Beijing continues  to  press  for  unification  and Taipei for independence), the development of a concerted U.S.-European-Russian-Japanese-Indian strategy in  regard to Beijing should be considered as a serious policy option for  the  not-so-long  term.  The  possible  resolution of the Taiwan question could  perhaps  involve  finding compromise between the PRC's demands for "one  China-two  systems"  (a  formulation  implying  "unification" under  Beijing's  hegemony) and Taiwanese demands for a special "state-to-state" dialogue  (as the latter formulation could implicitly recognize Taiwanese   independence).  A  possible  compromise  could accordingly revolve around  conceptualizing  Taiwan  as part of a greater Chinese "confederation" but  one    that    guarantees    Taiwan    strong    political-military   and   political-economic autonomy. (A similar confederation could be sought out  in regard to Tibet.)


       If  both  sides  would  ultimately agree to approach the negotiating  table,  the  possibility of a looser PRC-Taiwan confederation (guaranteed  by  the  United States, the European Union, Russia and Japan) may thus be  one  option to consider. Such an option intended to reassure both Beijing and Taipei and to eliminate perceptions of mutual threat should lessen the risk of confrontation, and the risk of China’s potential overextension in new circumstances in which Beijing has only recently acquired, but not entirely absorbed, Hong Kong and Macao. A  confederal model would, in effect, represent a new synthesis of past and present trends; it would permit Beijing to more resolutely focus  on  resolving  its  significant and complex domestic political and  economic  problems, perhaps with greater financial support and investment

from Taipei.


       The  establishment  of  long-term positive relations among China and  its  neighbors in the new millennium can perhaps best be achieved through  a  concerted dialogue among China and the major powers. The key actors of  Russia,  Japan  and  India  should be involved in the process, implying a  much  more flexible American policy in regard to both Russia and India in particular. To accomplish this, Washington needs to draw Moscow away from a tighter embrace with Beijing (possibly by bringing Russia into NATO). [Russet & Stam 1997] While Russia is presently assisting Chinese military development, the rise of China’s power potential, combined with Beijing’s continued claim to territories lost to the « unequal treaties » with Tsarist Russia, could, however, ultimately impel Moscow to look closer to the United States, EU and NATO. Moscow and  Tokyo would concurrently need to finally work toward a  resolution  of  the  Kurile  islands/northern  territories  dispute. Here Washington,  Tokyo,  Moscow,  and  New  Delhi  (as well as the EU) should  engage  jointly  in  a  more  positive dialogue with Beijing covering the issues  of  Central  Asia,  the  two  Koreas,  and  Taiwan,  but  without  "isolating"  and  "encircling"  the  People's  Republic. [Gardner 1997: 121-134]


     In  many  ways,  the general crisis in Asia (which is deeper that that confronting  Taiwan alone) suggests a historical analogy to the period before  the 1894-95 Sino-Japanese war, or even to the roots of U.S. conflict with  Japan  before  World  War  II (with China reversing roles in both cases).[Gardner 1998: 57 & 68n3] At the same time, the crisis is, at least in part, a result of a largely  ahistorical approach to contemporary international diplomacy as practiced by  the  United  States  and  other  major  powers.  It  appears blithely  forgotten  at  the  "end  of  the  Cold War" and at the so-called "end of History"  that  World  War  II  never  came  to a formal end in Asia, and   neither has the Cold War, for that matter.


       For  Hegel,  as  for Marx, China had largely stood outside of "World  History"  (meaning  the  history of the predominant European powers). Yet  the  combination  of  the  entrance of China's prebendal "Asiatic mode of  production"  into  the  world  economy,  plus its continental and growing  global  position  and  status  in the post-World War II "Game of Go," has  meant  that  China  has finally entered "World History" as a major actor. World  History is thus no longer the domain of the European powers alone. The  latter  have  shaped and continue to shape that History, but are now  likewise  shaped  in  turn  by  that  History. At the same time, China no longer  entirely represents the "Middle Kingdom" in its traditional sense because  its  actions continue to affect not only the immediate region of  Asia,  but also the interests of global actors, a fact that Beijing should  increasingly recognize.


       Whatever the future beholds, the new millennium can only take a spin  for  the  worse, if  the  world's newest predominant power and the world's  oldest  and  now  the  fastest  growing  power  cannot sustain a positive  dialogue and seek meaningful compromise over either the historical or the  contemporary disputes that continue to divide them.









Chaliand, Gerard. Ed. 1994. The Art of War in World  History.  Berkeley: University of California



Chou, Shi-hsiung. 2000. "Scholar Interprets Beijing's White    Paper   on   Taiwan,"   Federation   

                              of American   Scientists, http://www.fas.ord/news/taiwan/2000/e-02-22-00-

                              114.htm. [See analysis by Chou.]


Edward, Jane Kate. 1984. Wei Yuan and China’s Discovery of the Maritime World.

                             Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.


Gardner, Hall. 1997. Dangerous Crossroads: Europe, Russia, and the Future of NATO. Westport,

                                 CT: Praeger. [ Bringing first Russia, and then China, into NATO as part of   

                                 an overarching global system of  cooperative/collective  security  should 

                                 work  to guarantee Taiwan's security as well.]


__________. 1998. « NATO, Russia and Eastern Europe: Beyond the Interwar Analogy, » in

                                 NATO Looks East. Westport, CT: Praeger. [Much  as  U.S. policy

                                 inadvertently cut off trade with Japan before World War  II,  Congressional

                                 refusal to grant China MFN status in contemporary circumstances   could 

                                 similarly  militarize  Beijing  into  becoming  an expansionist  triphibious

                                 power. Thus far, however, the U.S. Congress has renewed Beijing's MFN

                                 status but only after having ritually threatened to revoke it.]


Hsiung, James. Feb.22, 2000 "50 years of Communism in China" New York Times Round table 

                        discussion,  page 2 of 3. http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/asia/china-index-

                          roundtable-text2.html. [For an interesting debate, see comments by Hsiung.]


IHT-International Herald  Tribune,  February 3,  2000, 5. [President Clinton will most likely

                          veto the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act.]


IHT-International Herald Tribune, February 23, 2000. [See for « blue team » explanation.]


IHT-International Herald Tribune, February 14, 2000.


Lattimore, Owen. 1962. Studies  in  Frontier History. London: Oxford Univesity Press.


Mancall, Mark. 1984. China at the Center: 300 years of Foreign Policy. New York: The Free



McNeill, William H. 1982. The Pursuit of Power. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 


_______________. 1982. Ibid. [McNeill emphasizes the burden of Vietnam in analogy to U.S.

                                 involvement during the Cold War.]


Russet, Bruce, and Allan Stam. 1997. Russia, NATO, and the Future of U.S-Chinese Relations

                            Committee on Eastern Europe and Russia in NATO; Federation of American

                            Scientists, http://www.fas.org/man/nato/ceern/nato-final_vs.htm. [Should   

                            Russia enter NATO, or forge a compromise with NATO,   the  intent  is  not  to 

                            forge  a  NATO-Russian  alliance  against China (although Beijing could

                            misinterpret NATO-Russian intentions). As Bruce Russet and Allan Stam have

                            argued, Chinese threats to Taiwan would probably continue, but a NATO-

                           Russian alliance would work to deny China additional resources to pursue its

                           goals in the region and versus Taiwan. China could furthermore react to a

                           NATO-Russian alliance in one of three ways: (1) by « balancing », by looking to

                           an alliance with India and/or Japan; (2) by pursuing an « isolationist » policy; (3)

                           by « bandwagoning ». Russett and Stam argue that the first two options are not

                           in Chinese interests. The optimistic third scenario would be for  China  "to 

                           bandwagon,  or to join the growing alliance and bind its security interests with

                           those of former adversaries. . . . Until China is also  ready  to  join  (NATO), it is

                           important that NATO not gratuitously threaten  Chinese  security.  The Chinese

                           leaders should be encouraged to see  their  security  vested  in  a  policy  of 

                           increasing political and economic  openness." ]


Spence, Jonathan D. 1990. The Search for Modern China. New York: W.W. Norton.


Shang  Yang  "The  Book of Lord Shang" in The Art of War in World  History, Ed.  Gerard  

                       Chaliand. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.


Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1974. The Modern World System, I. New York: Academic   

                                     Press. [Wallerstein provides rich bibliographical research on a

                                     number of these points.]


Wolf, Eric. 1969. Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century. New York: Harper and Row.




[i] In addition to comparisons between Mao and Qin, the Communist regime has ironically compared its revolutionary movement with the essentially peasant-based movement of the Taiping revolution. The latter was led by Hong Xiuquan (Hung Hsiu-ch’uan), who believed himself to be the brother of Christ. In their respective efforts to merge Western and Chinese thought, Maoist ideology looked to the thought of Karl Marx; the Taiping looked to Jesus.

[ii] There are strong continuities with the Confucian prebendal past. As Eric Wolf put it: « The new Chinese state claims to an offspring of the Taiping rather than that of Confucian scholars. Yet there are also continuities. The traditional concept of the ruling elite as a nonhereditary and open class recruited by examination has much in common with the Communist concept of a party recruited from the population at large. Similarly, with its great tradition of hydraulic management and public works, the state always saw itself as the primary and ultimate source of decisions. Finally, the state was not only a political entity, but the bearer of a moral order, expressed in rituals and ceremonies. »  Eric Wolf, Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century (New York: Harper and Row, 1969), p. 154.

[iii] At a roundtable discussion at The John Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in the Fall of 1989 after the events at Tiananmen, Zbigniew Brzezinski told me that the term  the « China card » was a Soviet fabrication - as if Henry Kissinger didn’t use the term in a more open and honest fashion!