February 24th 2018


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Weatherill demand places Murray-Darling in jeopardy

EDITORIAL China completes island building in South China Sea

CANBERRA OBSERVED Greens: wouldn't know a cowardly act if they did one

REDEFINITION OF MARRIAGE Government forms say it is fluid gender marriage

FREEDOM AND LAW Gender and anti-discrimination: wedges between you and freedom

HISTORY A look back at B.A. Santamaria gives us a forward impulse

GENDER POLITICS Transgenderism: A state-sponsored religion

LAW AND SOCIETY Protecting freedom of religion in Australia

HISTORY Hungary, 62 years on from the anti-Soviet uprising

MUSIC Reel to real: Johann Johannsson, RIP

CINEMA Sweet Country: Sour taste of bush justice

HUMOUR

BOOK REVIEW Lessons from the UK front of the GFC

BOOK REVIEW The dragon has woken and rumbled

BOOK REVIEW Recovery manual for morals and culture

LETTERS

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BOOK REVIEW
The dragon has woken and rumbled




News Weekly, February 24, 2018

BULLY OF ASIA: Why China’s Dream Is the New Threat to World Order

by Steven W. Mosher

Regnery Publishing, Washington DC

Hardcover: 256 pages
Price: AUD$39.25

Reviewed by Jeffry Babb

Steven Mosher sees China in the context of its history. China is the world’s oldest continuing civilisation. Over the 5,000 years that China has grown from a small kingdom in the centre of the Chinese landmass, certain things have remained constant.

Despite what you might be told, Zhong Guo (meaning the Middle Kingdom) does not mean that China is midway between heaven and earth. China developed in Henan Province, around the ancient capitals Louyang and Sian, which are in the middle of China. The terracotta warriors represent the power of the Qin Emperor, the first ruler of a unified China. Since then, certain guiding political concepts have remained the same, as Mosher points out. Prime among these concepts are Tian Xia, or the Great Commonwealth under Heaven, and Datong, or Grand Unification.

Chiang Kai-shek said: “The Japanese are like a disease of the skin but the communists are like a disease of the heart.” History proved him right. As Mosher points out, the Japanese simply didn’t have the men or resources to control the vast landmass of China, but the “patriotic” communists could place their cadres in every village in China. Chiang could retreat to Taiwan, which remains a vigorous democracy free of communist control; while in mainland China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), an organisation some 89 million strong, retains China in its iron grip.

Probably the most pertinent question Mosher raises is: will China and the United States face off in a military showdown? The “Thucydides Trap” proposes an almost inevitable test of strength when a rising power confronts the hegemonic power, as when Athens challenged Sparta in the Peloponnesian Wars. The rise of China rests on the CCP’s ability to mobilise its citizens to undertake tasks that enhance the power and strategic reach of China, as in the fortification of the South China Sea.

The relationship between China the United States since President Richard Nixon and his adviser Henry Kissinger engineered a reconciliation with the ailing Mao Zedong is based on a grand strategic wager: that by opening the U.S. to Chinese products, the U.S. would not only lift hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty (which it did) but that they would clamour for democracy (which they didn’t). One could cite the Tiananmen Incident (1989) as an indicator of the hunger for change among China’s youth, but nothing has emerged since.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is the most dominant leader since Mao. Xi is Secretary-General of the CCP, Chairman of the Central Military Commission and President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Being President of the PRC is more or less window dressing for foreign consumption, as the PRC Government is under control of the CCP. Xi has purged the CCP of his enemies and stacked the Standing Committee of the Politburo, the most powerful political body in China, with his placemen. At the 19th National Congress of the CCP, held in late 2017, Xi did not name a successor, which has led China watchers to speculate that Xi will rule until a time of his choosing.

This will naturally lead to a comparison between Xi and Deng Xiaoping, the man who rescued China from poverty and put China on the road to prosperity.

As Mosher says, it is incorrect to think that Deng was some sort of covert capitalist, but he was different. For one thing, Deng had actually been a worker – he tended a blast furnace in a steelworks while resident in France. Unlike Mao, who left China only with great reluctance, Deng was almost cosmopolitan.

Deng directed negotiations over Hong Kong with Britain’s “Iron Lady”, giving UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher a hard lesson in how China would act as hegemon. Deng wanted to make China great, but he understood well how to motivate the Chinese people. He survived purges and humiliations before he became leader of all China.

What can we expect of a rising China? Mosher is a realist: he does not believe that diplomacy can solve all our issues with China: “Refusing to characterise the Chinese party-state as a threat does not make it any less threatening, nor does mislabeling China’s aggressiveness as mere assertiveness make it any less belligerent. It only weakens our resolve to prepare for, and to prevail in, the coming confrontation that China is openly, obviously, and actively seeking (p262).

China has strategic objectives that have endured for millennia. We would have to say that America’s bet – that a prosperous China would be a malleable China – has not paid off.


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