Jul 03

Chimerica – Reflecting on the State of the Relation between China and America this Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day

Written by Allen on Friday, July 3rd, 2009 at 5:52 pm
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Below is a video of a recent exchange between Niall Ferguson (of Harvard) and James Fallows (of the Atlantic) over the state of the relation between U.S. and China – and perhaps more importantly – over the future of that relationship (Aspen Ideas Festival).

Here is a copy of a NY Times Op-Ed by David Brooks summarizing that debate.

On July Fourth, we think about our country and its future. But these days it’s impossible to think about America and its future role in the world without also thinking about China. This was the subject of a combative discussion this week at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

The agent provocateur was Niall Ferguson of Harvard. China and the U.S., he argued, used to have a symbiotic relationship and formed a tightly integrated unit that he calls Chimerica.

In this unit, China did the making, and the United States did the buying. China did the saving, while the U.S. did the spending. Between 1995 and 2005, the U.S. savings rate declined from about 5 percent to zero, while the Chinese savings rate rose from 30 percent to nearly 45 percent.

This savings diversion allowed the Chinese to plow huge amounts of capital into the U.S. and dollar-denominated assets. Cheap Chinese labor kept American inflation low. Chinese efforts to keep the renminbi from appreciating against the dollar kept our currency strong and allowed us to borrow at low interest rates.

During the first few years of the 21st century, Chimerica worked great. This unit accounted for about a quarter of the world’s G.D.P. and for about half of global growth. But a marriage in which one partner does all the saving and the other partner does all the spending is not going to last.

The frictions are building and will lead to divorce, conflict and potential catastrophe. China, Ferguson argued, is now decoupling from the United States. Chinese business leaders assume that American consumers will never again go on a spending binge. The Chinese are developing an economy that relies more on internal consumption.

Chinese officials are also aware that the U.S. will never get its fiscal house in order. There may be theoretical plans to reduce the federal deficit and the national debt, but there is no politically practical way to get there. Depreciation is inevitable and the Chinese are working to end the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency.

Chinese nationalism is also on the rise. The Internet has made young Chinese more nationalistic. The Chinese are acquiring resources all around the world and with them, willy-nilly, an overseas empire that threatens U.S. interests. The Chinese are building their Navy, a historic precursor to expanded ambitions and global conflict.

Think of China, Ferguson concluded, as Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany in the years before World War I: a growing, aggressive, nationalistic power whose ambitions will tear through pre-existing commercial ties and historic friendships.

James Fallows of The Atlantic has lived in China for the past three years. He agreed with parts of Ferguson’s take on the economic fundamentals, but seemed to regard Ferguson’s analysis of the Chinese psychology as airy-fairy academic theorizing. At one point, while Fallows was defending Chinese intentions, Ferguson shot back: “You’ve been in China too long.” Fallows responded that there must be a happy medium between being in China too long and being in China too little.

Fallows pointed out that there is no one thing called “China” or “the Chinese,” and that many of the most anti-American statements from Chinese officials are made to blunt domestic anxiety and make further integration possible. That integration, Fallows continued, is deep and will get deeper. Many, many Chinese leaders were educated in the U.S. and admire or at least respect it. If you go to cities like Xian, you find American and European aviation firms fully integrated into the commercial fabric there.

Fallows’s main argument, though, was psychological. When he lived in Japan in the 1980s, he said, he sometimes felt that the Japanese had a chip-on-their-shoulder attitude in which their success was bound to U.S. decline. He says he rarely got that feeling in China. Instead, he has described officials who are thrilled to be integrated in the world. Their mothers had bound feet. They themselves plowed the fields in the Cultural Revolution. Now they get to join the world.

Some of the officials interviewed by Fallows believe the U.S. is following unsustainable fiscal policies that will lead to decline, but they view this with frustration, not joy. Fallows doesn’t know what the future will hold, but he believes that Chinese officials still see the dollar as their least risky investment. Domestically, China will not turn democratic, but individual liberties will expand. He agreed that China and the U.S. will dominate the 21st century, but he painted the picture of a more benign cooperation.

I came to the debate agreeing more with Fallows and left the same way, but I was impressed by how powerfully Ferguson made his case. And I was struck by their agreement about what to do. This conversation, like many conversations these days, gets back to America’s debt. Until the U.S. gets its fiscal house in order, relations with countries like China will be fundamentally insecure.

What do you think?  Does the future of U.S.-China relation rest predominantly on the ability of the U.S. to clean up its fiscal order? Does the U.S. have the power to unilaterally clean up is fiscal mess?

What are other important issues?

Does the future depend on the ability of the two countries to cooperate on big global issues such as climate change … or terrorism (let’s define terrorism simply as militant forces that threaten the core interests of each respective country)?

Does the future depend on the ability of the U.S. to respect China’s increasing sphere of influence around the world?   Does the future depend on both sides reconciling or at least respecting the respective ideologies on which each of these governments rely for their legitimacy?

P.S. “Chimerica” is a term coined by Niall Ferguson to describe the economic integration between U.S. and China over the last two decades (see, e.g., this Washington Post article).

Update 1: Please see this update from Fallows regarding the debate above.  We will update with full version of video of debate when it becomes availabe.

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60 Responses to “Chimerica – Reflecting on the State of the Relation between China and America this Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day”

  1. Otto Kerner Says:

    Chimerica is a mythical beast.

  2. Allen Says:

    I know chimera is a mythical beast: i.e. a fire-breathing female monster with a lion’s head and a goat’s body and a serpent’s tail – in mythology, daughter of Typhon.

    Maybe Chimerica is also a mythical beast…

  3. gyebaek Says:

    I think it’s perfectly plausible for the US to co-exist with China, but not if current trends don’t change. The problem here is whether or not China wants to co-operate with the world, or that they want to forge their own empire. The angry rhetoric coming out of China seems to suggest the latter, although its leaders seem much wiser than the angry nationalist youth. You can’t blame them for dreaming big, but you can’t blame someone for wanting to hold onto what they have.

  4. pug_ster Says:

    Someone else posted that US actually has more than 10 trillion dollars in debt but China has only has about 1 trillion. So I don’t think it is a big deal. Also, China is actually losing more of its holdings in US treasuries as they are selling them off in recent months.

  5. raventhorn4000 Says:

    If China was worried about the angry rhetorics of others, it would have never opened to reforms.

    Perhaps that is the current problem with US.

  6. Charles Liu Says:

    Ferguson seems to have mis-characterized China’s naval expansion. For example how many aircraft carrier does Chin have, something essential in projection of naval power? Is China’s current naval force “blue water” or “green water”? Are China’s naval exercises mostly single-ship or multiple-ship?

    These answers are self-evident that reality is China is just catching up with naval force necessary to guard its long coast line, as most recent additions are for coastal defenses. And it does not compare to US navy at all.

  7. Raj Says:


    China does not have aircraft carriers yet. There are a number of reasons for this, such as the fact that in previous decades the senior PLAN commanders loved submarines and their focus was more limited geographically. Now that China’s economy is larger and the PLAN has more money to play around with, they have the option of going after carriers.

    Also China did not have aircraft carrier plans and no one was willing to work with it on that/able to help for a long time. You’ve heard of Varyag, I’m sure. Now do you really buy the story that it’s going to be a floating casino? It’s been in refit/under engineering scrutiny for the best part of a decade and painted naval grey. There have also been Russian reports of China showing interesting in buying Su-33 fighters (those are for carrier operations). Although it’s quite possible Varyag can’t be made fully operational, it could be a very useful training platform.

    Coupled with statements from PLAN officers about China wanting carriers and the PLAN’s purchase of AAW destroyers, it suggests that China is moving towards a blue-water carrier navy. I think that’s where Ferguson’s coming from.

    In regards to the article, I’m more optimistic than Ferguson but agree that there is potential for relations to explode in one form or another. For China and the US to get on they need to both be assured that the other’s actions will not undermine its position in the world. There is a concern in the US that China doesn’t just tolerate but actively supports “anti-democracy” around the world. Even if that isn’t true, China may want to consider whether it can liaise with the US better before it makes a final decision in some cases. The US might disagree with China but it could understand its view better.

    For the US it could be more flexible in allowing Chinese investment in American firms. If there are allegations that China itself does not allow foreign investment, there could be an attempt to mutually open others’ markets and allow like-for-like deals.

  8. Charles Liu Says:

    Raj, the Varyag is already a floating casino.

    I’m gald you confirmed what I said, the destroyers equipped with Russian-made ultra-short range sunburn torpedo is aimed at coastal defense. But some detractor takes the irrational conclusion that China’s coastline is a treat to their sovereign properties such as US aircraft carrier.

    As to conjecture on ambition, that is entirely subject to coloring by politics, agenda.

    What are the facts? Aircraft carrier is conventional weapon ultimately for preservation of sovereignty and self-interest, and is not limited by international conventions. Also, 1) China is the only UNSC member without aircraft carrier; 2) China’s neighbors, large and small (India and Thailand), have aircraft carrier, but you or anyone would be hard pressed to find the same vitrol expressed toward their “ambition”?

    The fact is such conclusion is made not because fact of owning aircraft carrier, but the fact it is China. That, is the duplicity many of us in FM have noticed, and disagree with.

  9. Raj Says:

    Charles, Varyag is in dry dock. How can it be a floating casino?! How many guests has this casino received so far?

    Also I don’t think you know much about the PLAN’s status.

    the destroyers equipped with Russian-made ultra-short range sunburn torpedo is aimed at coastal defense

    You’re describing the Sovremenny-class destroyers fitted with medium/long-range “Sunburn” anti-ship missiles (not torpedoes and certainly not short-ranged). I was talking about the Luyang I and II classes of destroyer, fitted with 48 SA-N-12 and 48 HQ anti-air missiles respectively.

    By the way, are you now admitting that China wants an aircraft carrier, or are you still denying it? I’m not clear.

    Sure other countries have them, and I’m not saying it shouldn’t have them. However, China would be the first East Asian nation to get them – Japan would probably follow, as might South Korea. Thailand’s is a joke – they can’t even run it properly. Apart from that there’s India, but India is far less likely to get into conflict with the US than China. As for the other aircraft nations on the UNSC, Britain and France are members of NATO. Russia, for all its talk, is not a naval threat to the US – it can just about keep one carrier going as it is. So it’s no surprise the focus will be on China.

    Ferguson was passing comment on historical trends following large naval build-ups. If China wants to be the exception, great I hope that’s the case. But other people will be concerned until China and the US find a way to work together on all issues.

  10. raventhorn4000 Says:

    US national debt is actually about $11.5 Trillion. China has $1 trillion about in US dollars.

    China also has another $1 trillion in other major currencies, like Euro, Yen, etc.

    The real big deal is that US “revolving credit” debt alone is $0.931 Trillion.

    and US spends full 16% of its annual tax revenue on national debt interest payment.

    US national debt is increasing at 5X rate of increase of its GDP.

    I fully expect some guy 10 years down the line mouthing off “Well, we never saw the national debt problem coming.”

    *UK has US$3.2 Trillion in national debt. Considering that UK has only 1/5 of US population, UK is actually in a much worse condition than US.

    Of course, weakening of UK’s financial services sector will definitely not be good for the national debt of UK.

  11. Charles Liu Says:

    Raj, why don’t you take look at the facts:

    – The Varyag went to China without any operating systems, engine, not even a rudder.

    – Most recent dry dock move photo shows it is being moved by three tugs, again as a rudderless, empty barge where water line is way above where it should be.

    – The Varyag was purchased by a leisure company. While retired navy officers are involved, the conspiracy theory has never been proven.

    – Of course it’s going to take extensive amount of work to turn it into a casino, as the original sale was a “haul sale” only.

    – You are incorrect on the Sunburn. It is a short-range, sea-skimming anti-ship missile/torpedo with 120 km range. Definition of short-range is 1000 km or less, making the Sunburn ultra short range.

    And I’m not all saying China desires an aircraft carrier – there’s no indication she is in the process of getting one. What I am saying is, even if so, other Asian nations have already obtained aircraft carrier, yet there’s no concern – why should it be any different when it comes to China, other than “China is evil” irrationality?

    I disagree with your assessment of Thailand and India, which is without factual basis (if there is show me). If you are faulting China with the “Japan will have to”, why aren’t you faulting India with “China will have to”?

    This is precisely the kind of duplicity I and other FMers object to.

  12. Raj Says:


    I’m sorry, but I really have to correct you on this. You really are not knowledgeable on military affairs.

    I know full well that Varyag was not sold as a completed aircraft carrier. You can believe what you like but you will find it hard to come across someone who comments on military affairs who thinks that the main objective really is for Varyag to be turned into a casino. The PLAN may have thought that merely getting their hands on the unfinished ship could have helped them design their own. Whether they were foolish or not in bothering to try to make it work is another matter. But in any case, have a look at this website.


    Varyag arrived in the Dalian Shipyard in northern China in 2002 and has been stationed there under tight security since then. It has become clear that the ship would not become an entertainment centre. Instead the vessel was handed to the PLA Navy for research and restoration.

    You said that the Sunburn was a torpedo, not an anti-ship missile. It is certainly not both, as a torpedo goes under water! It is not short range for an anti-ship missile. See the following entry from Janes.


    Type – Medium-range anti-ship missile

    I disagree with your assessment of Thailand and India, which is without factual basis

    On the Thai Navy, if you trust Wikipedia there is a comment on the carrier’s article about problems they have with using it. If you don’t then you’ll have to get on to Janes and look there – you’ll need a subscription.

    As for India, it’s well known that America does not consider India a global competitor like China. That’s a matter of American opinion that may be based on facts but in the end it’s a decision people make according to their own views.

    why should it be any different when it comes to China, other than “China is evil” irrationality?


    You know there is a difference between “China is a competitor” and “China is evil”. Most people can understand that.

    If you are faulting China with the “Japan will have to”, why aren’t you faulting India with “China will have to”?

    Don’t put words in my mouth. I wasn’t faulting China, I was making a point about what the knock-on effects of China having carriers would be. You can blame India if you like, but China would have probably got one anyway because of the USN and a desire to be able to project its power towards its energy suppliers.

  13. TonyP4 Says:

    A tale of two countries.

    China, the banker.
    US, the spender, the world police (or bully depending on your POV).

    China, still poor in GNP per capita.

    US, still leading in technologies, entertainment…

    The list could be endless. Two countries of extremes. Middle grounds could be the best way both countries should pursue.

    What they have in common. Perfect trade partners (each have good stuffs to trade). Hopefully both will seek world peace in their own ways.

  14. S. Liu Says:

    I do not fault Raj for his comments. Like most Indians with certain level of education, his view on China is unfortunately biased and more close to those expressed by American neocons. Of course, 1962 war is the root course of that; just like sino-japanese war the cause of hostile attitude of Chinese towards Japanese.

    But if you or anyone believe China will be a superpower or even a great power in the world in the future, why do we even discuss about the naval expansion of China? Is that a natural development for any nation of 1.3 billion with a growing economy and expanding trade around the world? I would asume India would do the same if it were in that positon. Mr. Ferguson should take a look at what was the prevailing attitude among British elite when the US was pretty much in China’s shoes now. It did not lead to a conflcit between old guard and new kid in the block. WWI and WWII saw the US and Britain as close allies. The current paranoid about China has its dark root in racial prejudice. That is the reality. It does not matter if it were India or China. If China were still marred in the cultural revolution and india were in the same position as China is in now, the focus of anxiety would be on India, just as intensive.

  15. Wukailong Says:

    @S. Liu (#14): Raj is not Indian but British. Please refrain from making assumptions about people’s whereabouts or opinions based on their names. Also, from what I gathered, his opinions are quite different from a neocon.

  16. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “There is a concern in the US that China doesn’t just tolerate but actively supports “anti-democracy” around the world.”

    I think the world has more FACTUAL concerns about US supporting “anti-democracies” around the world. US has a long history of supporting friendly dictatorships all over the world, (UK also did its part).

    I think US and UK should account for the amount of money they spend on these activities, for “transparency”. (if indeed, they want “transparency” and “democracy”.)

  17. Charles Liu Says:

    Thank you Raven. I believe the facts presented prove the obvious about the “Chinese ambition” line of irrationality:

    – China has no aircraft carrier. Aircraft carrier, something not limited by international convention, is something China should be able to obtain without any international concern. Other Asian nations have obtained aircraft carrier without much concern, applying a different standard to China is duplicitus and colored by one’s own agenda not based on fact.

    The way Raj applys his “knock on effect” to China but not India pretty much proves my point.

    – China’s naval expansion is clearly aimed at coastal defenses, even considering it’s latest acquisition of a very few new ships, while it’s fleet is mostly green water vessels, as part of the PLA’s land-based strategy.

    I hope everyone sees the importance of debating with facts. Now we find out the fact the Sunburn as a sea-skimming torpedo/missile is only medium range *in terms of anti-ship*. This addition to PLAN is cleary a defensive weapon.

    What else Raj wasn’t telling is the Sunburn’s max flight time is just two minutes, and Clinton administration had reviewed and rejected the Russian offere.

    As long as warships do not go knocking on China’s doorstep in hostillity and get within the Sunburn’s 120km range, the weapon is nobody’s concern.

  18. CK Says:

    TonyP4 # 13

    China, the banker. US, the spender, the world police (or bully depending on your POV).
    China, still poor in GNP per capita.US, still leading in technologies,
    Hence….They have and always will be the bully…正所谓江山易改,….

    Well said S. Liu:”But if you or anyone believe China will be a superpower or even a great power in the world in the future, why do we even discuss about the naval expansion of China? [Isn’t] that a natural development for any nation of 1.3 billion with a growing economy and expanding trade around the world?”
    BTW, whether Raj is British or WKL is Swedish or Norwegian – again S.Liu is right on the money: “WWI and WWII saw the US and Britain as close allies. The current paranoid about China has its dark root in racial prejudice”

  19. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Obviously, the stated intent of the West is to allow China to become a “2nd rate” Superpower. Powerful enough to keep producing cheap stuff and lend money to the West, but weak enough that West can continue to bring pressure and influence on Chinese politics.

    Of course, there is a racist tinge to it.

    Notice, Japan’s only viable existence after WWII, was its complete renouncing of any military force (other than a small defense force). (That and Japan’s economy was so ruined it couldn’t really build up a military very quickly.)

    and Japan basically became a bank and a warehouse for US.

    But even then, threat of Japan’s economic power later became a paranoia for US.

    I frankly see no hope that US would get over its paranoid tendencies.

    Some Americans speak of “not Kowtowing to China” (a very racist term in my opinion).

    Yet, their solution is for China to “kowtow” to US influences permanently.

    I find this to be unacceptable as a form of “mutual understanding” and tolerance.


    PS. If I see 1 more Western media print the word “kowtow”, I would call on them to publicly apologize for that racist remark.

    It’s stereotypical and demeaning to all Asians, and mocks a traditional Asian ceremonial form of respect.

  20. Steve Says:

    Allen, great post and topic. I knew James Fallows was in Aspen but hadn’t come across this video before now.

    I’m much closer to Fallows than Ferguson on this subject. I think the US can unilaterally get its financial house in order. When GWB was elected, the US was posting rather large budget surpluses and its financial house was just fine. To say that it can’t get back to that status is shortsighted. If there is a will to do so, it can happen.

    The future depends on both countries coming to agreements on a variety of issues. Having carriers, offensive weapon systems, etc. aren’t issues if countries are allies and are issues if countries are not. There is no reason that China and the USA can’t eventually become allies.

    Climate change and terrorism are such different issues that I don’t think they can be lumped together. I believe both countries can work together on climate change. China is not willing to commit to hard numbers because it is still trying to grow its economy and that growth, for now, is more important than climate change. However, China is also unilaterally committed to solar, wind and battery technology in a far greater manner than is the USA. Their speed of implementation is because their government structure is centrally planned to a far greater degree.

    Terrorism isn’t really defined at militant forces threatening the core interests of each country, but asymmetrical warfare against a nation state by a non-territorial entity. International cooperation already exists once both nations agree that a particular organization is a “terrorist” entity. I’m sure this will continue.

    “Sphere of influence” is tricky, since China’s potential sphere would overlap with other large powers in the region. A true sphere of influence only exists when that sphere is welcomed on both sides. So which countries would be a part of this “sphere”? Mongolia is up for grabs between China and Russia but seems to learn towards China. North Korea and Myanmar are already within China’s sphere. South Korea, Japan and Vietnam would have to improve relations with China to a far greater degree than the current one before they would desire to come under China’s sphere. These are all out of US control but between China and the countries that surround her. If the USA interferes with China’s so-called sphere of influence, it is only with the permission and desire of those countries.

    China is becoming more nationalistic, which is no surprise. All countries become more nationalistic when they develop quickly. I was in Japan back in the “bubbling years” as they call them and they were pretty obnoxious, thinking they were going to become the #1 world power in a few years and they were inherently superior to everyone else, that “win/lose” attitude that Fallows describes. I didn’t encounter anything like that in China when I was there; in fact, I only seem to hear it from overseas Chinese these days. Frankly, I just don’t see China as the threat that some other countries were back in their growth periods. In summation, I think Ferguson is all wet.

    I’ve been reading Raj and Charles’ carrier debate with interest. I really don’t see why there’s an argument, though. It is to be expected that as China develops, she’ll also develop the ability to project power beyond littoral waters. And China has made no secret of her current military mission; to be able to pull Taiwan into the China orbit by diplomacy but if that fails, then by force. Most of her current military buildup is dedicated to that prospect, and not to just “coastal defenses” as Charles wrote. How can China project a military force across the Taiwan Strait without carrier protection? China’s aim is to move the US naval presence towards Guam and further away from the Taiwan and the mainland. This isn’t exactly a secret as China has been very forthright with Taiwan about their future relationship. So what is the solution? Obviously, a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan/China conflict. It’s a complex issue with no similar situation involving India or any other country you mentioned. That is why no one is very interested whether India acquires a carrier. Military force is only relevant in terms of potential political conflict.

    World War II saw the US and China as close allies. What does this have to do with anything? And sorry, I don’t buy the “racial prejudice” argument. Someone disagrees with a CCP position and they’re “racist” towards Chinese. Someone disagrees with an Israeli position and they’re “anti-Semitic”. Someone (like really smart Asian kids) disagrees with racial quotas and they’re “racist” towards African Americans.

    My wife has lived in this country for 30 years and has encountered zero racism. That’s my yardstick on racial prejudice towards Chinese. Just because someone might use the term “kowtow” (which R4K brought up on his own and then proceeded to complain about others using) or paranoia towards China ( again, something brought up by S. Liu on his own and then proceeded to complain about others using) doesn’t mean that is the prevailing attitude. In fact, this is a logical fallacy called the Spotlight fallacy. This line of “reasoning” has the following form:

    1. Xs with quality Q receive a great deal of attention or coverage in the media.
    2. Therefore all Xs have quality Q.

    This line of reasoning is fallacious since the mere fact that someone or something attracts the most attention or coverage in the media does not mean that it automatically represents the whole population. It is similar to the Hasty Generalization and Biased Sample fallacies.

    @ R4K: If you write the word “kowtow” one more time, I would call on you to publicly apologize for that racist remark. It’s stereotypical and demeaning to all Asians, and mocks a traditional Asian ceremonial form of respect.

  21. hongkonger Says:

    “All countries become more nationalistic when they develop quickly.”

    LOL. This is so true. Thousands of books, songs, poems Hollywood productions etc., can attest to that. Be proud, be ashame, be real I guess is a natural progress with any people.

    ” I don’t buy the “racial prejudice” argument. Someone disagrees with a CCP position and they’re “racist” towards Chinese. Someone disagrees with an Israeli position and they’re “anti-Semitic”. Someone (like really smart Asian kids) disagrees with racial quotas and they’re “racist” towards African Americans….My wife has lived in this country for 30 years and has encountered zero racism. That’s my yardstick on racial prejudice towards Chinese.”

    Correct me if I am wrong. I’d always thought “Racial prejudices” is natural, a necessary cautionary survival instinct. It is ubiquitous, while Racism is man-made and systematice- the effect and fruits of the divide-and-conquer tactic for the subjugation, enslavement, oppression and the exploitations of the deceived, the dispossessed, the captured, the defeated etc.
    Truth is, I face, suffer and also benefit from racial prejudices in my homeland – On the other hand, I ‘ve only experienced “racism” in Australia, served to me by one young Aussie. Just stating the facts here.
    You and your wife are truly blessed. I remember R4K stated that he was assaulted in his own country by expats. And as contradiction is the only absolute, while exceptions are not the rules, there are always exceptions to the rule.

  22. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve, I would qualify keeping Americans away from injecting ourselves into China’s civil war (again), as “coastal defense”.

    How their civil war, started 50 years ago, concludes, is for them to decide. I’d like to see it end peadefully between ROC and PRC, but the Chinese have the right to keep us away.

    And since China and India are “competitors” and have border conflict, the “knock-on/domino” effect dictates since India has a carrier, China will have to have one now.

  23. Wahaha Says:

    Is there anyone who believe the conflict between West society and China is actually culture conflict or cuz China is the only country on earth that challenges the West culture ?

  24. hongkonger Says:

    I doubt “cuz China is the only country on earth that challenges the West culture” is the right answer….Many parts of the world HATE Euro-America – and unfortunately many good Euro-Americans suffer as a result. But then, it’s like the common joke about seeing your friend with a blue eye and you feel all sorry for him, i.e. until you see what he’d done to the the other guy and his family.
    I’ve worked with expats and Chinese for a long time…. the cultural and language barrier junctures can get pretty volatile at times, and mostly over small misunderstandings.

  25. barny chan Says:

    …and many Americans hate Europeans far more than they hate Chinese and vice versa…

  26. hongkonger Says:

    “and many Americans hate Europeans”

    May be so…. but the Western leaders & organizations seem to get along just fine. They meet annually with their secret meetings – what the media dubbed as Bilderbergers – making plans for the world, and then really get down & party out at the Bohemian Groove. OH well, “Some folks have all the luck, some guys have all the fun.”

  27. barny chan Says:

    Bilderberg? Uh oh, we’re getting in to the realm of space lizard conspiracies…

  28. Steve Says:

    @ Hongkonger #21: For me, racial prejudice and racism are the same. I guess the racism you described in Australia would be labeled “overt racism”. That’s why I defined the Spotlight fallacy. Isolated incidents are not indications of a society’s overall tendencies. I also think incidents can be geographically based to some extent. Here in San Diego, our culture is very international with people from so many different countries living here and we all seem to get along pretty well. I actually met my wife in Phoenix and though you could call it the “Wonder bread” of American cities, she still had no problems there. To be honest, if I were a Chinese immigrant, I don’t think I’d want to live in a small town in Alabama or somewhere with an insular culture, but I think that rule would apply anywhere in the world. I doubt I’d care to live in a small town in Guizhou either.

    What you labeled as racism, I would call “colonialism”.

    @ Charles Liu #22: Civil war? How can it be a civil war when hundreds of thousands of Taiwan people live and work in China? Do you think there were Northerners living in Charleston in the Civil War, or Southerners living in Boston? The only “civil war” currently going on between China and Taiwan is on paper and diplomatically. When was the last time either of them fired a shot at one another? The civil war ended a long time ago and these days it’s all about economic and commercial integration.

    I would characterize “coastal defense” as being coastal defense, or defending your coast. Aircraft carriers do not fit that definition. They are ‘floating islands’ whose battle groups are designed to project power. Now, I would fully expect a country the size of China to build carriers, that’s their right. But playing games with the definition of words makes you sound like Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass:
    `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
    `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
    `The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master – – that’s all.

    China and India are not competitors at sea, only on land. If China wants to build carriers, they don’t need to use India as an excuse to do so. They have every right to build them, but naturally they ought to expect neighboring nations to respond in some way.

    @ Wahaha #23: I don’t think there’s a culture conflict between China and the “west”, except on this blog. In my experience, western culture has permeated China thoroughly. When I met people in China, the initial conversations weren’t typically about the political stuff this blog tends to get bogged down in, but about cultural subjects such as movies (actually Hollywood stars), music and culture in general. Though there is a quota on western movies shown in theaters, the DVDs were available everywhere. I was asked more about Britney Spears (whom I abhor) and the TV show Friends than I was about George W. Bush.

    I can’t speak about “western” cultural attitudes, only about attitudes in China regarding Americans. What I heard was that Chinese like Americans but didn’t like our government. Go to Europe and you’ll hear essentially the same story. What I heard from most Americans who have been to China is that they like the Chinese people but not the Chinese government. That doesn’t sound like a cultural clash to me.

    @ Hongkonger #26: If the meetings were truly secret, then you wouldn’t know about them, right? 😉

  29. Steve Says:

    James Fallows has written this follow up article on his debate with Niall Ferguson in today’s online Atlantic. Here is the article in full:

    More Chimerica, Ferguson, Fallows, Kaiser Wilhelm, etc

    Apparently it will still be a while until full videos of various Aspen Ideas Festival sessions go on line, as opposed to the selected clips now available (see the right side of this page). So because it may not be apparent from the short video of my discussion with Niall Ferguson, or from David Brooks’ very fair-minded column about the discussion, or from my previous item on it, here is a little more about what was discussed and where I think the differences lay.

    1. The main part of my “side” of the argument that was necessarily left out of a 750-word summary of a 90-minute discussion, but that I’ve tried to express in all the articles I’ve written from China over the past three years, is that anything is possible when it comes to developments inside China and also relations between China and the outside world.

    For instance, when one questioner asked for “scenarios” about China’s political evolution, Ferguson replied that “all my Chinese graduate students at Harvard” gave him the same scenario: that there was no huge appetite for a democratic shift in China now, economics came first, etc. I said that I could imagine countless possible scenarios: internal disaster because of environmental or other emergencies; another Tiananmen-like internal crackdown that alienated the outside world but reflected the government’s belief that domestic control mattered more than outside approval; a nationalistic backlash triggered by something like last year’s foreign protests against the Olympic torch relay; a Taiwan-related emergency; even rising middle-class pressure for democratic openings. Whatever. These are all conceivable. What seems to me most likely, however, is what we’ve seen since the early Clinton years: continued US-Chinese engagement in a deeply connected but often contentious way.

    This is in contrast to Ferguson’s argument that the “Chimerica” bloc had been the indispensable basis of the world economy until recently, but now was headed for inevitable breakup because of economic troubles inside the US and political developments inside China.

    2. The specific part of Ferguson’s view I most strongly resist is his assertion of close, cautionary parallels between Germany’s rise in the years leading up to World War I and China’s rise now.

    Historical patterns and analogies are obviously essential and instructive. But just as obviously, it’s crucial to recognize the differences as well as the similarities in different stages of history. This was the central argument of the wonderful “Lessons” of the Past: Uses and Misuses of History in American Foreign Policy, by Ernest May, a favorite professor of mine in college and afterwards who sadly died this year. Another valuable work by another Harvard professor is Richard Neustadt’s Thinking in Time: The Use of History by Decision-Makers. As May pointed out in his book, when LBJ and his confidants thought only of Munich, Chamberlain, and Hitler when hearing about Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh, they mis-assessed their adversaries and badly hurt themselves. We’ve seen the same mistake more recently in the pre-Iraq war assertions that because it was a mistake to delay a military confrontation with Hitler’s Germany, the same principle applied to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

    A systematic examination of the similarities and differences between the Kaiser’s Germany and Hu Jintao’s China would be an interesting exercise. As I run through them informally, it strikes me that for every similarity (relatively rising economy, naval-force expansion) you can think of at least ten differences (scale, overall stage of economic development, geographical points of tension with existing powers, religion and ideology, recent military history, environmental and other possible constraints on growth, etc).

    The real point is: The fact that Germany’s rise was followed by a disastrous-for-all-parties world war is worth remembering. But to assert that this means that China and America are necessarily or even probably headed for a showdown is just assertion.

    3. More than assertion, it is dangerous assertion. Even historians — or especially historians — recognize that world events are shaped in part by deep economic, demographic, and technical trends, but only in part. Real human beings make real decisions that have real effects. (Cf: LBJ in 1964, Bush-Cheney in 2001, JFK-khrushchev in 1962, etc.) If we recognize that a collision with China is possible, but only one of several possibilities, then we act so as to reduce that possibility and increase the probability of better outcomes. If we think breakup is inevitable, as Ferguson is arguing, then the odds of a colission in fact occuring become higher than they would otherwise be. (Because each side interprets the other’s moves in the darkest way and responds in kind.)

    4. As will be seen when the tape goes up, Ferguson’s opening remarks included repeated references to what “the Chinese think” and “the Chinese want” and “the Chinese will demand.” My opening comment was how treacherous it was to say that “the Chinese” do or think or want anything, since in practice the place often behaves like 20 separate countries and countless regional factions and many self-interested businesses and a billion-strong individuals. This is related to the previous point, in that any analysis that starts with the idea of one big, coherent Chinese entity is both more alarming than other understandings — and, in my view, less realistic.

    5. Although I didn’t address this part of Ferguson’s analysis directly, he pointed out — correctly — that China’s export machine has been profoundly affected by the collapse in surplus US demand. But Ferguson’s conclusion, that this means the end of “Chimerica,” seems to me far less convincing or nuanced than, say, the running analysis by Michael Pettis of Peking University. His web site is here; he was among the analysts I quoted in this article about what the economic downturn will mean for “Chimerica.”

    There’s more, but this will do till the tape appears!

  30. Raj Says:

    Charles (17)

    I’m not sure whether you’re admitting that China is working towards gaining an operational aircraft carrier or not. Can you clarify, please?

    It’s not surprising that there was no rush to get aircraft carriers in Asia from Thailand buying a small carrier that could only operate a handful of aircraft (which are not especially sophisticated). Thailand doesn’t even have the advanced escorts needed to protect an aircraft carrier on operations.

    In regards to India, as I pointed out few of the Asian states appear to be concerned with India having aircraft carriers. However, I made it crystal clear that I was not saying China cannot have aircraft carriers. It can if it wants to. But you’re kidding yourself if you think that Japan and South Korea won’t bat an eye-lid at that. Japan certainly sees China as a potential military competitor, not just a partner. Even if you don’t think a neighbour is going to use systems to attack you, Asia is not close enough such that there is no feeling one has to “keep up with the Joneses”.

    The Sunburn is not a torpedo, so I don’t know why you’re calling it a “torpedo/missile”. Is it because you don’t understand the difference (torpedoes travel underwater – the Sunburn does not) or that you’re being stubborn? If you want to refer to it again, just call it a missile.

    The Sunburn is medium-ranged for an anti-ship missile. Range terms like “short range”, “medium range” and “long range” are made according to the type of system. That’s why the North Korean missiles fired recently were described as being “short-range” despite the fact they travel further than the Sunburn missile. The flight-time of the missile is not relevant to the discussion in any way. The “limitation” of the range (some models have longer ranges) is also not related to whether it is a “defensive” missile or not, because they ships that they are on can move and can be fired regardless of whether the USN has hostile intentions.

    In any case, the Sunburn is a red-herring because when I described the new ships that the PLAN is getting I was not considering the destroyers they are mounted on. You merely confused yourself as it seems that you are not very aware of the PLAN’s ship-building programme. The purchase of the Sovremenny destroyers that the Sunburn would be fired from was well-publicised because they were seen as a threat to American aircraft carriers. China’s purchase of AAW destroyers was not covered to such an extent.

    You cannot say that China has only acquired a few new ships. Even if we only look at newer AAW destroyers (ignoring the older classes that only have limited anti-air capabilities), China has built six such vessels in the last five years. These are also not simple replacements, as China’s destroyer fleet has increased from 14 in 1990 to 26 this year (leaving aside the frigate fleet, which is even larger but not for fleet air protection). There have also been reports that China is building another set of destroyers to follow on from the latest class, though it may be another year or so before we can expect to see a completed ship.

    Whilst the majority of the PLAN is not blue-water, those destroyers that I mentioned are part of China’s future blue-water capability.

    Steve (20)

    The point I was making (if it’s not clear) was that China’s naval build-up is the sort that would have to happen in able to operate an aircraft carrier. Although China may be unsuccessful in building one in the near future, it’s procurement programme is geared towards developing a blue-water capability. That has no relation towards whether the build-up is permissible, of course. It’s simply an observation.

    However, I’m not sure about your comment concerning Japan during the economic miracle. You’re implying that Japan was nationalistic, but arrogance and pride don’t mean nationalism. They also don’t necessarily lead to a military threat. Japan may have been considered a cause for concern economically in the US, but it was certainly never a military threat to anyone.

    I think that there is arrogance and pride in China. The comments of “Chinese foreigners” (if you like) are not representative of the majority, but there is plenty of anger and a belief that China will be number 1/desire to see it happen. Angry online Chinese nationalists might not be a majority, but they’re vocal. When Japan offered help during the big quake, initially they were going to use ASDF aircraft (the Chinese government didn’t have a problem with that, and I believe there was even an announcement from an official to confirm it would happen). When those netizens found out they turned on the government in anger – they forced Beijing to change its mind and ask for civilian aircraft only. If you consider that was merely to do with the transportation of aid, how are these people going to push the government over something more serious, and would the Chinese government have the backbone to stand up to them?

    Also, and this is unfortunate, there are some issues like Tibet and Taiwan that “transform” far too many Chinese people from being fairly reasonable and open-minded to being blinkered and stubborn. It’s not just me, I have friends that have found the same thing. That’s one reason why Chinese nationalism in its current form may be unhealthy for China and Asia as a whole. There is no reason that will lead to blows between China and other countries, but I think the Chinese government needs to stop promoting nationalism and crack down on the unhealthy variety. Given that it cracks down on views that ask for political reform even if they are not hostile towards the government/ruling party, it could at least try.

  31. Allen Says:

    Steve #29,

    Thanks for following up on the full video…

    I was looking for it and couldn’t find it and thought maybe they were not going to provide it after all.

    I’ll keep a look out for it (let me know if I miss it though!) and post an update in this thread when that happens!

  32. Chalres Liu Says:

    Raj, do you agree your “knock on”, or “domino” effect, applys to India? Per your theory, it is natural and rightful for China to get into the carrier game, if nothing else, simply because India has one now.

    Also, the majority of China’s navy being “green water”, while very few recent additions (less than 10%) is a fact you can’t get away from. And I continue to assert China’s navy is still decades away from being comparable with ours.

    Steve, please show me when and where is the peace treaty betwen ROC and PRC? There may be a stalemate, but China’s civil war never officially ended. This is also a fact. The last time a shot ever fired? Probably yesterday from Jinmen.

  33. Steve Says:

    @ Raj #30: I agree with you that a carrier needs a support fleet. They’re just too easy to sink if not protected, and in the next (hopefully not) war they might end up being as easy to sink as the battleships in WWII. Only time will tell. In my opinion, to say that China has no blue water aspirations is naive.

    As far as my comments about Japan, I think we might be using two different definitions of nationalism. I don’t think of nationalism as being militaristic in and of itself. I’d call that “militant nationalism” where the government manipulates nationalism for militaristic purposes. That’s what happened to Japan in the early part of the last century but you are certainly correct that it was never an issue in the ’80s. I don’t see that happening in China anytime soon, but I do see nationalism building as the economy and military strengthen. I see this as a normal occurrence. As you suggest in your last paragraph, because nationalism is emotional and without a coherent philosophy, it can be controlled by a responsible government.

    I think the situation with Japan and the earthquake is particular to the China/Japan relationship. When I talked to people in China, the one comment I heard over and over again was about their antipathy towards Japan. Now I’ve watched Chinese TV and I have seen countless programs documenting the war so I knew it was ingrained to remember those days, but when talking to individuals about why they had such strong feelings, they didn’t talk about national history but about family history. The Japanese killed, raped and mistreated so many Chinese, especially around the Shanghai area, that it was unusual to find a family that hadn’t been personally affected in some way. Honestly, I believe if I were in their situation, I’d feel the same.

    @ Allen: Fallows said the full video would eventually be posted on the Atlantic website. I’ll keep my eye out for it and let you know when it’s posted.

    @ Charles Liu: No Charles, you are correct in that the civil war is not “officially” over. No papers have been signed. But as a “de facto” matter, the war has been over for quite awhile. Since my wife has a Taiwan passport and also a China document that lets her into the country without the need for a visa, I’d say that the war isn’t being prosecuted with much vigor. You don’t let the enemy into your country by the hundreds of thousands during a “stalemate”. Hey, they even let that blatant Taiwanese nationalist Allen into the country!! 😛

  34. Raj Says:

    Charles (32)

    I tell you what, I’ll answer your question re Indian aircraft carriers if you promise to subsequently put your cards on the table as to whether you think China is aiming for an aircraft carrier or not, regardless of whether you like my answer or not.

    The fact that the majority of China’s naval assets are not blue-water has no relation to whether China is aiming for and/or developing a blue water capability. You have to look at what it’s doing now. That’s basic logic.

    As for a peace treaty, the civil war was between the CCP and KMT, not the PRC and ROC (especially given that the PRC was only formed in 1949). If Hu Jintao and Ma Ying-jeou want to sign a peace treaty they should do so as heads of their parties, not heads of government.

  35. Raj Says:

    Steve (33)

    I remember talking to a retired member of the USN, who said that it would probably be a good thing for China to get carriers from their POV. Not because the US hopes China will become an ally but that it will sink $ billions into assets into single targets, rather than a range of things they’ll find harder to deal with. Any aircraft carrier is a target, but I think USN commanders (rightly) believe that their defence systems are significantly better than what the PLAN can and will be fielding for the foreseeable future, whereas a Chinese carrier group would be vulnerable to the Seawolf and Virginia classes, not to mention Harpoon Block II.

    As you say, hopefully there won’t be a war to test the hypothesis.

    Maybe we’re talking about the same thing. In any case I am concerned that the Chinese government is being far from responsible in the way it’s dealing with Chinese nationalism. Indeed it had a huge part to play in stoking it as an alternative to Communism, which was disappearing along with the social support mechanism that had accompanied it for so long. If or when it chooses to slam the breaks on the nationalist bandwagon may have important repercussions for Asia.

    Yeah, I have Chinese friends whose families suffered horribly at the hands of the Japanese. I can understand that they’d feel sick about it, but that doesn’t mean the feelings some Chinese display (and I stress the word “some”) are what China wants to nurture for the future. I link back to my previous point about government responsibility. As you say, there have been a lot of programmes on Chinese TV about the war. Now after the Deng-Zhao economic reforms but before Hu Jintao (maybe Jiang Zemin, I’m not sure) became president, I’ve been told that although Chinese people were less than enthusiastic about Japan they didn’t give them much thought.

    For some reason Chinese attitudes towards Japan became more hostile. I’ve heard excuses made about Yasukuni, but that place had the war criminals enshrined a long time before Sino-Japanese relations really soured. I do think the Chinese government had a part to play in this as the media, especially publications like People’s Daily, ran plenty of anti-Japanese articles and there was an increase in media time devoted to the war.

    A responsible government would have sought to calm things down when people like then PM Koizumi went to Yasukuni, saying that they would protest about it but that it couldn’t harm Sino-Japanese relations that were in the best interests of both countries, etc. Instead it seemed happy to have things remain somewhat tense and arguably got involved itself. It even initially permitted the anti-Japanese protests in 2005 (otherwise they would have been broken up at the start), only stopping them when the State was concerned it couldn’t control them.

    Things have improved since then, but is the genie already out of the bottle? Can the Chinese government deal with anti-Japanese feelings, or does it even want to? Maybe, whilst it promotes good relations in public, it’s happy to have Japan as a kind of “national enemy” to focus on if necessary. Certainly when new textbooks were proposed a few years ago that didn’t discuss Mao much, there was plenty of the same about the Japanese war. I’m still not convinced that the Chinese government is acting responsibly when it comes to Chinese nationalism. I think it still sees it as an asset to be used, even if it’s the unhealthy sort.

  36. JXie Says:

    I’ve heard excuses made about Yasukuni, but that place had the war criminals enshrined a long time before Sino-Japanese relations really soured. I do think the Chinese government had a part to play in this as the media, especially publications like People’s Daily, ran plenty of anti-Japanese articles and there was an increase in media time devoted to the war.

    Causality, my friend, causality. So that you know, the protest from South Korea had also got noticeably louder after 2001 when Koizumi made the shrine visit an annual ritual. The shrine was largely kept as private. Once in a while, a Japanese prime minister would visit the shrine, but at least knowing how China & South Korea would react, they (before Koizumi) would try to keep it a secret or stress the visit in their private capacity. Koizumi basically took a stand that it’s none of the Chinese’s (or Koreans’) business that he visits the shrine.

    Things have improved since then

    Since when? Since Koizumi left the office?

  37. JXie Says:

    Robinson Crusoe found himself estranged in a deserted island again, but only this time he was armed with modern economics trumpeted by the likes of Paul Krugman. Some years later, when he reconnected with the civilized world, people were surprised by how healthy and well-fed Crusoe was. “How did you keep yourself in such a fine shape with only yourself?” He was asked.

    — “Oh, I consumed.”

    Consumption-drive growth, in a nutshell, is a mirage.

  38. Raj Says:


    Once in a while, a Japanese prime minister would visit the shrine, but at least knowing how China & South Korea would react, they (before Koizumi) would try to keep it a secret or stress the visit in their private capacity. Koizumi basically took a stand that it’s none of the Chinese’s (or Koreans’) business that he visits the shrine.

    Koizumi said repeatedly he was visiting in his private capacity. I don’t believe he ever told Chinese or Koreans to mind their own business. Can you help me with some news articles that quote him saying something like that?

    Since when? Since Koizumi left the office?

    Since the Chinese government stopped sulking?

  39. JXie Says:

    Raj, after 1985 and before Koizumi, there were total 2 visits by Japanese prime ministers, and the one by Miyazawa was kept as a secret for years. And you don’t think Koizumi’s 6 visits were quite a bit out of ordinary? Look, you don’t have to agree with China’s viewpoints, but not being able to see the rationales behind them is quite something else — it speaks volume of your cognizant abilities.

    Since the Chinese government stopped sulking?

    Now that’s kind of cute…

  40. Steve Says:

    @ Raj #35: Your point about the carriers is well taken. Nationalism as a substitute for communism was definitely put into place. The reason for the party’s existence was to foment communism and create a communist economy. Once the capitalist economy was substituted in its place, the government’s primary reason for existence was gone so they replaced it with the government philosophy promoting and protecting China’s national interests. Nationalism was a natural outgrowth of that policy.

    I tend to agree with JXie that Koizumi ratcheted up the tension with his Yasukuni visits, but he did those for internal political reasons. Remember, the primary focus of any politician is to stay in power and accomplish his/her objectives. Koizumi wanted to institute whole-scale reforms and needed all his governing coalition allies including the nationalistic parties. To get them on his side, it was worth it to him to visit Yasukuni, even if it annoyed foreign governments.

    After he left office, the “old guard” fossils took over with no intention of continuing Koizumi’s reforms, so it was not necessary for them to continue the visits. For them, the benefits of good relations with China and S. Korea outweighed the continued wooing of Japan’s nationalistic parties.

    So far, the government has been able to control the anti-Japanese feeling pretty well. They seem to be able to raise and lower the temperature pretty quickly so I’m not worried at this time that it’ll get out of hand. Japan is their major and historic competitor when it comes to their sphere of influence in the region.

    I was working with a company in Beijing that represented a division of Panasonic there. They were notified before those “spontaneous” anti-Japanese protests in 2005 not to schedule any major meetings during that time and to cancel any visits from Panasonic headquarters personnel in Japan. The Chinese government didn’t want to upset Panasonic because they valued their business. I was told this directly from the company VP who is Chinese. Make of it what you will…

    @ JXie #37: If consumption driven growth is a mirage, wouldn’t export driven growth also be a mirage since it is reliant on consumption driven growth? Doesn’t that make all growth a mirage?

  41. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Japan should be more concerned about the Korea’s. North Koreans still hate Japan’s guts. South Koreans are not much less angry. (that’s about the only thing they agree on). Japan abused the Korean People much longer than they did with China, with far more atrocities (by percentage of population).

    South Korea was willing to go to naval confrontation with Japan over a tiny piece of rock not long ago.

    If China really want to hold a grudge against Japan, there wouldn’t just be protesters landing on Diaoyu Island. The whole island would be sealed off by sea mines at least 200 miles on the Japanese side.

  42. Steve Says:

    Back in the ’90s, my wife and I went to a dinner at a Monterey Park, CA restaurant held in honor of some guy from Taiwan who had swum from a fishing boat to one of the Diaoyu islands before the Japanese coast guard escorted him off. It seemed to be a big deal at the time. Sealing off the islands wouldn’t accomplish much. Their only worth is to establish fishing and oil rights around their territorial waters.

    I don’t think Japan is very worried about either of the Koreas or China. I think they’re more worried about their lousy economy.

  43. Raj Says:

    JXie, you’re moving the goalposts. First you said that the visit was done quietly (you can’t do it in secret, it’s a pubic area) or in a private capacity. Also you complained he told people mind their own business. Now you’re saying that he was visiting too often, after I pointed out he did say he was visiting in a private capacity and that I wasn’t aware of comments of the sort you alleged he made.

    I don’t find the visits out of the ordinary because I know the reason he went there was to fulfil a pledge he made before becoming head of the LDP. He went once a year as per his promise.

    Sorry, who is “China” in this respect? I know why Chinese people were upset. As for the Chinese government, it didn’t need to react in the way that it did. That it did in my view was because it wanted to milk the situation to improve its standing back home and use as leverage in discussions with Japan.

  44. raventhorn4000 Says:


    I did say sealing off “on the Japanese side”.

    Yes, Japan does have its lousy economy to worry about. Perhaps now they will be more cordial toward their neighbors, Koreas and China. Soon enough Japan will need the extra businesses from those countries.

    Well, let’s just say, IN case Japan get militant again, historically, Korea would be on the front line with Japan 1st. And this time, Both Koreas are quite ready and quite capable of beating Japan by themselves.

  45. Raj Says:

    Steve, actually Japanese people are very concerned about North Korea. They are not concerned about South Korea because they knew the ex-president was mostly posturing – the current president is much more reasonable and interested in good relations with Japan.

    RT4000, given North Korea has the worst economy in all of Asia I doubt it has anything to offer Japan. That said relations would be better if Pyongyang stopped threatening to kill everyone just because they won’t dance to its tune. As for relations with China and South Korea, Japan has been cordial for some time (it was arguably cordial even when the Chinese media was insulting the Japanese government and the Chinese government refusing high-level contacts).

    If Japan were to start a war, I doubt China, South Korea and probably the US would have much trouble dealing with it as team. However, you may be referring to suggestions that Japan will normalise its military, in which case South Korea would not see it as a massive problem.

  46. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “However, you may be referring to suggestions that Japan will normalise its military, in which case South Korea would not see it as a massive problem.”

    I think you are stretching the truth quite a bit on this one.

    South Koreans today are far more nationalistic than Chinese on the average, on the heel of their own economic growth.

  47. JXie Says:

    @Raj, #43

    It’s actually my bad. I over-estimated your knowledge to the topics you chose to debate, and made certain assumptions about it, without elaborating in my response. If time allows and I choose to debate with you from now on, I shall assume you know next to nothing.

    Out of the 2 visits after 1985 by Japanese prime ministers, Miyazawa was done quietly (not known to the public until years later) in 1992. Hashimoto who visited once in 1996 kept insisting it was a private visit. A few quotes by Koizumi:

    “Junichiro Koizumi, who is the prime minister, made a heartfelt visit. That’s all there is to it.” – LA Times

    ‘I think such a visit is only natural, as a Japanese citizen and the prime minister of Japan.” – New York Times

    “As for the Yasukuni issue, no Asian countries other than China and South Korea criticize my visits to Yasukuni.” – Japan Times

  48. Raj Says:

    RT4000 (46)

    When I said South Korea I meant the government – apologies if I did not make that clear. Citizens and the media may (or maybe “would”) react differently.

    JXie (47)

    That is an immature response. For the first and second quotes, saying he is the PM does not mean anything given we know he is the Prime Minister. As for the third quote, in 2001 he may have been right or wrong that only China and South Korea were protesting the visit, but it does not mean he was rudely telling people to mind their own business.

    Here are some other quotations for you.

    Koizumi said he made the trip as a private individual (CBC)

    But Mr Koizumi insists he is going as a private citizen and only wants to honour the millions of Japanese killed in the war and pray for peace. (BBC)

    Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visits the war-related Yasukuni Shrine as “a private citizen” rather than in an official capacity, Japanese government said in a statement Tuesday. (Xinhua)

    Not only were you cherry-picking, you failed to conduct your own research properly. Practice what you preach, my friend.

  49. JXie Says:


    Oh boy, I see where you missed the essence of the matter. First you ought to perk up your antenna much like in English detecting what “is” is when the likes of Clinton speak. There is a OBSCENITY DELETED of Clinton’s “is” in this double-speaking world — it’s even more humbling and frustrating in dealing with languages/cultures you are not familiar with. The key here is actually finding out what Koizumi said (straight from the horse’s mouth), not the Japanese diplomatic folks or the journalists interpreted what he said.

  50. Raj Says:


    First you base your position on statements that at best from your POV can be read more than one way. Now you’re implying that all three news articles are wrong (even Xinhua, which would not be saying anything in mitigation for him unless they were sure he said it) to report that he asserted he was going as a private citizen.

    If you have evidence of what he “actually” said and that it contradicts those reports, please provide it. Otherwise, put the spade down.

  51. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “When I said South Korea I meant the government – apologies if I did not make that clear. Citizens and the media may (or maybe “would”) react differently.”

    I can’t tell when you make such distinctions when it comes to China.

  52. JXie Says:

    Raj, allow me to try one last time. There are at least 3 positions:

    1. Koizumi visited the shrine as a private citizen, and as a Japanese prime minister.

    2. Koizumi visited the shrine as a private citizen. (but make no distinction if he is also a Japanese prime minister).

    3. Koizumi visited the shrine as a private citzen, not as a Japanese prime minister.
    3a. Koizumi visited the shrine exclusively as a private citizen.

    Position 1 and position 3 are mutually exclusive, but not position 1 and positive 2, or position 2 and position 3.

    Mr. Koizumi himself, whenever he spoke, often stuck with position 1. Sometimes he would speak in such a cryptic way that actually sounded like position 2, with some Japanese diplomatic folks glossing it over, and you have some journalists took it as position 3.

    When read news, pay special attention to the verbiage between the quote signs. Actually this is applicable in real life too: pay special attention to what people actually said, not what you think they said.

  53. Raj Says:

    JXie, I asked you to do a very simple thing, that if you disputed what all three of those news reports said you should go and find out what he did say on those occasions. Instead you’ve just said he “often” stuck with your first option, without indicating when he said that and what he said.

    If you refuse to believe that he said he was just visiting as a private citizen instead of officially, that’s your call. But I’m not going to accept that all three news reports (including Xinhua, given how the Chinese media was to Koizumi) are misinterpreting his views just on your say-so.

  54. Steve Says:

    @ JXie et all: I’m not a babysitter and I don’t care to monitor every post. You know the rules so if you continue to use obscenities, I’ll just delete your entire post. I don’t have the time or the patience to put up with this. There are certainly other ways to express your sentiments. Understood?

    I’m not trying to pick on you, JXie. Lately, this stuff has been starting to escalate. I’m sure there are plenty of others blogs that allow it so anyone who isn’t intelligent enough to write a blog post without cursing can go there.

  55. JXie Says:


    1. the word in question as of 2009 is OK on American radio and TV, unlike the f word. By that it’s arguably not an obscenity in the modern-day English.
    2. it wasn’t directed to a person in this case but rather a social phenomenon in general.
    3. I shall obey your ruling though I disagree with.

  56. Steve Says:

    @ JXie: Like I said, I wasn’t trying to pick on you but this stuff is beginning to get out of hand. I just spent a half hour on the Urumqi post reading through every post because of this nonsense. The purpose of the blog is to encourage dialogue and discussion, not to see how close you can come to the line on obscenity. You’re a smart person who writes well and certainly can clearly express yourself in other ways.

    Thanks for the “slightly qualified” support. 🙂

  57. JXie Says:


    For example, Xinhua only stated what the Japanese government said (without actually quoting the statements). Technically it’s not an endorsement of the interpretation that Koizumi’s visit was exclusively private. Furthermore, I can’t possibly trace back all of Koizumi’s statements around all of his visits. The burden of the proof on me is showing that at least once he said he visited the shrine as a Japanese prime minister.

  58. Steve Says:

    Here’s another update from James Fallows.

    To get the entire gist of the article, you need to go there since I can’t grab all of it to paste here.

  59. hongkonger Says:

    Barny chan Says:
    July 6th, 2009 at 10:14 am

    ” Uh oh, we’re getting in to the realm of space lizard conspiracies…”

    @BC, YOU are – Not “we are”…I certain am not…Go ahead knock yourself out on your lizard and UFO fantasies, I ‘ll wait for the Hollywood productions.

    “If the meetings were truly secret, then you wouldn’t know about them, right? ;)”

    The meetings are no secret – the plans and agenda however are secretive i.e. no free press on the meetings of the leaders of the “free world”


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