China: The Growing Enemy Within

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July 9, 2011: Last month, inflation went from 5.5 percent in May, to 6.4 percent. Food prices were increasing at the rate of over 14 percent. This causes more unrest, despite the fact that the economy is still expanding at the rate of 9.7 percent a year. This, combined with the corruption, has apparently driven the popular unrest to record levels. The government used to report the number of popular demonstrations (legal, or illegal gatherings of 50 or more people). In 2006 there were 60,000. The next year, that jumped to 80,000, and the government said this data would not be made public in the future. But the data for 2008 leaked, and you can see why, as there were 127,000 demonstrations. Thus, the number is likely close to 200,000 demonstrations a year. The largest demonstrations do make it into the news, like a recent one in Hong Kong, that brought out several hundred thousand people and led to 231 arrests. No wonder the government makes such a big deal about fighting corruption, and trying to control inflation. There are also fears that the corruption has created a huge number of bad bank loans, which could cause a banking crises.

The national leadership is ever mindful of Chinese history, and how corruption and economic problems have frequently produced widespread unrest, then revolution and a lot of former (and often dead) national leaders. Chinese believe history repeats itself, and just as China is becoming prosperous and mighty once more (as has happened frequently in the past), these joyous times often end in popular unrest and much violence because of corrupt and inept officials.  Thus, during the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party celebrations last week, much was made of the need to deal with the corruption. But according to Internet buzz, there's not much progress at all. Officials are going bad faster than they can be caught and prosecuted. If there is a revolution on the way, China's greatly expanded higher-education system is providing the leadership. There are 6.6 million new college grads each year, but not enough jobs. Thus the unemployment rate of college graduates is over 10 percent, compared to 4.1 percent for urban workers in general.

The communists justify perpetuating a police state in China by the need to maintain order and prosperity. Eliminating the communist economic restrictions over three decades allowed for enormous economic growth, but no political freedom. The Chinese communists believe that the Chinese people cannot handle democracy. More and more Chinese disagree with that, but not many want to risk a destructive revolution to prove the point.

As China becomes stronger economically and militarily, the persistence of communist rule causes other nations (worldwide, not just neighbors) to be nervous. That's because politicians who get into trouble tend to try and distract their angry citizens with real or imagined foreign threats. Chinese propaganda plays on this regularly, and Chinese diplomats are still surprised to find that their foreign counterparts are aware of this, and unhappy with this domestic saber rattling. Foreign nations are also disturbed by the Chinese tendency to assist other dictatorships (in return for economic benefits). Thus Chinese support for Libya, Iran, North Korea, Zimbabwe and others is looked down on, and Chinese diplomats have a hard time defending these relationships. Meanwhile, China is made to look more like a predatory monster because of it.

The predatory activity is more feared because China often does not even admit what it is doing. Officially, China is not engaged in Cyber War or Internet based espionage. But a growing pile of evidence says otherwise. Continued Chinese denials are not only annoying and frustrating, but have become the source of disdain for China in the world community. This does bother the Chinese, but if you want international respect, you have to at least try to play by the rules.

July 7, 2011:  Japan has grounded its entire fleet of 201 F-15 fighters, the day after one of them crashed into the East China Sea. The F-15s will stay grounded until it can be determined what caused the aircraft to go down, and be sure that it was not a problem common to all Japanese F-15s.

July 6, 2011: China and the Philippines have agreed to reduce tension over conflicting claims to islands in the South China Sea. This mostly depends on China, which has increasingly been using force (merchant and fishing ships getting in the way of oil exploration operations) or intimidation (over flights by warplanes, or warships coming real close) against nations that contest Chinese claims. American diplomats have been active in supporting talks between China and neighboring nations over these disputes. While the U.S. calls for peaceful resolution, this American participation makes it clear that U.S. diplomats are backed up by the U.S. military.

The Chinese claims in the South China Sea, and growing military threats directed at India, has caused many changes in military plans by Chinese neighbors. More weapons are being bought, to deal with China. Even Australia is revising its military plans, in order to direct more attention towards China.

The Chinese government has another media disaster on its hand. This time it's a one month effort to keep a major offshore oil spill out of the news. But the Internet and cell phones did what they always do, and the news go out, eventually to the point where the government had to openly deal with it

July 5, 2011: Japan officially opened its air base in Djibouti, the first overseas Japanese military base since World War II. This is part of the Japanese contribution to the international anti-piracy effort off Somalia. About 200 Japanese troops are staffing the base.

July 1, 2011:  The Chinese Army is going to make its new FPS (First Person Shooter) combat training game (Glorious Mission) available to the public. This is expected to repeat the success of the U.S. Army's "America's Army" nine years ago. The Chinese military has been following the use of combat simulations in the United States, and replicating them as quickly as it can. Making Glorious Mission available to the public is expected to help the army attract more qualified recruits, and improve the image of the military.

June 29, 2011:  Taiwan has held military and police drills, to test the ability to deal with nuclear, chemical or biological attacks by China. Taiwan is also going forward to improve its air and anti-missile defenses.

June 24, 2011: China has openly warned North Korea to not attack South Korea again. China is a (actually THE) major trading partner of North Korea, and the only major ally left. But even China admits that North Korea is out-of-control, and has frequently disobeyed direct orders from China. However, China has persuaded North Korea to allow Chinese trading and manufacturing operations to move into North Korea, to help implement Chinese style economic reforms. North Korea already has a corrupt government bureaucracy, and is desperately in need of some prosperity.

June 19, 2011:  The Chinese Navy exercises 2,000 kilometers south of Okinawa earlier this month revealed the first operational use of a UAV by Chinese warships. Japanese P-3 maritime reconnaissance aircraft spotted a fixed wing UAV taking off, using rockets from a destroyer , and landing in the water, being recovered via a net. This UAV has a 4-5 meter (12-15 foot) wingspan. Chinese firms have also developed helicopter UAVs, which the U.S. Navy is starting to use (in addition to fixed wing models). These naval exercises, in international waters, make Japan nervous, because the Chinese task force is operating far from China, and passing Okinawa on its way south to the training and live-fire area.

China and India have agreed to resume exchanges between their military officers. This was severed by India a year ago because of China renewing old claims on Indian territory.

 

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