China can learn from US big picture strategy

Por • 7 nov, 2011 • Sección: Internacionales

Qiao Liang (乔良)

Editor’s Note:
China’s development and the relative decline of the US has become the prevailing narrative of the past decade. But is China powerful enough to throw its weight around? What advantages does the US still have over China? Phoenix Weekly (PW) talked to Chinese Air Force Major General Qiao Liang (Qiao), a professor at the Air Command College, on these issues.


PW: Some analysts hold that China has enjoyed peaceful development, while the strategic blunders of the US mired it in war in the Middle East. Do you agree?

Qiao: No. This analysis seemingly believes it was a single wrong decision that put the US where it is today. However, the 9/11 attacks were unexpected but the Iraq War was inevitable.

The US war against Iraq didn’t start because Iraq possibly had weapons of mass destruction, but because Saddam Hussein ended the settlement of the oil trade in dollars.

Why is the US so keen on controlling oil? It is not merely for huge profits, but to sustain the global dominance of the dollar.

Oil is indispensable to any country’s development, and as long as the global oil trade is settled in dollars, the hegemonic position of the US is unshakable. That’s why the US urged the new Iraqi government to return to dollar settlement in the oil trade after it occupied the country.

The outbreak of 9/11 attacks intensified conflicts between the US and the Islamic world. Islamism is considered incompatible to the Western world. The US waged war against Afghanistan and Iraq to eliminate the West’s ideological enemies, but the basic goal was to maintain its control of global wealth transfer.

The Iraqi War demonstrates that the US can still control the world through the military and the dollar, but it also accelerated US decline. However, the US decline is a result of its unsustainable system. The US is in heavy debt, an overly large number of Americans work in the financial and financial service sectors, and even its daily necessities are produced abroad. How can a country develop under such a situation?

PW: Is the US shifting its strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region?

Qiao: The US has partly focused its strategic attention on the Asia-Pacific region, but more importantly, it still keeps a close eye on Europe. The transfer of power includes many aspects. The international economic and political order and regulations prevailing today are jointly settled by the US and Europe, the European Economic Area is still the biggest economic area and the value system created by the US and Europe has been accepted by most people in the world.

Although China has done well these years in economic development, this is far from enough to replace the US. If the US fell, its successor could never be China, but Europe. So the US strategic focus will not totally shift to the Asia-Pacific region, though China’s development has driven the US to step into the region again.

PW: What’s the role of the South China Sea in US strategy?

Qiao: Compared with maintaining dollar hegemony, weakening the euro and gaining more capital, the US is in no hurry to contest with China in the South China Sea. So it is not a major battlefield between China and the US.

The US is busy with anti-terrorism and guarding against Europe, though of course, it will not watch China’s development with folded arms. So it uses China’s neighboring countries such as Japan and the Philippines as its «agents.»

How to solve the South China Sea disputes? Some suggest military means, blaming China for being weak and timid in the face of provocations, but I can’t agree.

China made decisive decisions to safeguard its national interests by using military means in the first 20 years after the new China was established in 1949. But now, as China has become heavily interdependent with others, it has to be very cautious about whether military means should be used.

The US and the West are waiting for China to make mistakes. Although it is legitimate for China to use military means to safeguard its interests, we have to consider these countries’ reactions once an armed conflict really happens.

Timing is important to solve territorial disputes. To solve the South China Sea disputes, we must have strategic patience and wait for the right time.

Certainly, we must impose military, diplomatic and economic pressure on those who provoke us when waiting.

Using war to solve disputes and worsening relations with neighbors are stupid. China should learn to use its economic advantages. China has become the engine of the world economy. We should make our neighboring countries depend on our economy and let them see the benefits and prospects of cooperating with China.

PW: Why is the US more active in criticizing China than vice-versa?

Qiao: GDP growth is not the only important thing, China should change its mind as soon as possible. A big power should value both commercial investment and strategic investment.

The former can bring national wealth, while the latter can change the world. China has done well economically, but it is still not a world power. Why? Because we don’t have a strategic vision and plan, and can’t get strategic returns. In this aspect, we should learn from the US.

Global Times | November 07

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