China and International Relations
in the New Millennium
"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
(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
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
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
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.
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
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!