Elaine Meinel Supkis
The US/China relations have constant difficulties due to the fall of the US empire and the rise of Chinese hegemonic powers. The spat over the Kitty Hawk is a classic example. The US need to try to throw its weight around in Asia to convince China that we are still a power to fear. Of course, they charge us interest on loans we have to sell to Tokyo in order to do this. There is some sort of nasty joke embedded in all this. Time to revist futile US international saber rattling diplomacy and check out the Chinese counter strikes carefully.
"This is perplexing," said U.S. Navy Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, which is responsible for all U.S. military activities in the Pacific region.
"It's not helpful. It is not in our view conduct that is indicative of a country who understands its obligations as a responsible nation," he told reporters in Washington by videolink from Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii.
China has not explained its decision to block U.S. access to that port, said Keating and Adm. Gary Roughead, the U.S. chief of naval operations.
The British used to go on and on about the rule of law and civilization as they ruthlessly looted and acted like pirates across the planet. The Japanese began their march to power by claiming they were bringing law and order to China after it fell apart under the repeated assaults by European powers, above all, British attacks. The US roams the planet, attacking nations after getting the UN to disarm them and then we turn around and lecture everyone about sovereignty and being responsible.
Since no one hits us on the head with a hammer when we do this, we think they agree with us. Instead, I would strongly suggest they are accumulating a feeling of contempt and annoyance as we, the Golden Goose step our way through international interactions. The US has always destained subtlety and finesse when it came to interacting with other nations. We like the image of the rip-roaring cowboy whooping it up and slapping everyone literally on the back. We don't notice that people grit their teeth and allow this so long as they can pick our pockets while we act uncivilized.
What is civilization, anyway? Civilized people can be very cruel and even demonic. But they also know how to interact, when not killing someone, in a way that doesn't ruffle feathers. Eating with the mouth closed instead of spraying food all over as Bush has done at international dinners, for example. Learning how to salute people and show deference or care is part of this. In older times, people carried swords on a daily basis and this included kings. And if someone made the wrong gesture or jostled someone, they could and were impaled. The peasants were not armed and they were very careful about deferring to the ruling elites for this reason.
In Japan, if a samurai was not deferred to properly, he would slice the head off of the offender. And if two samurais were interacting, they had this long-learned, carefully rehearsed, often slow motion ballet of showing intentions and recognizing status. They had various facial expressions as well as words and hand movements that each expressed the appropriate status and communicated future intentions.
Just moving the feet the wrong way by taking a 'battle' stance could lead to a flash of swords. In France, when the rapier evolved, so did 'courtesy'. The knights practiced courtesy earlier but the hyper-elaborate courtesy of the rapier era was serious and very deadly. The flourishes, bows, cock of the head, squint of the eye, the movement of wrists or fingers was instantly analyzed and responded to and woe betide anyone who made a mistake!
Fencing masters in Japan or Italy or France all conducted classes not just in the way one thrust or parried with a sword but lessons in respect, honor and courtesy were the major part of the lessons. This is why non-ruling elites who tried to fob themselves off as courtiers often failed. Unless they were adopted by someone of the upper echelons, it was a hopeless task. Two courtiers from different languages could meet and interact safely simply by gesture and stance thanks to the development of this system of controlling the violence of personal contact. The age of duelling in these nations are the foundation of all global diplomacy.
This is why our own is in collapse. The mythology is that we are good-hearted John Wayne/Rambo clones who are self-depreciating while also quick to violence, torture and super-human cruelty based on a sense of justice and political correctness. This desire to be crude which leads Bush to grab and maul other world leaders, how many times have we seen him grab someone inappropriately? This is coupled with our wish to be cultural leaders which is why we go after other nations for torturing prisoners or not caring for the disabled or ethnic cleansing. While supporting or doing these very things, ourselves.
Right now, we are in the middle of trying to show China and Russia, we are one tough hombre. This, alas, is the tough hombre who goes to the bank and bursts into tears, demanding the bank extend him more credit. One of the arts perfected by the ancient regime in Europe was to retain haughtiness while expecting loans to be extended. This was because they could kill the bankers. The US rulers can kill bankers too, but not the ones in China. They have nuclear bombs.
After WWII, the US was in an ideological battle with the communist revolutionaries across the planet. We won that struggle but the price we paid was for our nation to give up economic ground to our 'allies' especially the ones on the front ranks facing Russia and China. Namely, Germany and Japan. To this day, we keep on giving them both advantages they no longer need since Japan is the world's #2 economy and Germany just this year gave ground to China for the #3 slot. The tension caused by China's swift rise should be handled the same way the courtiers of the ancient regime handled encounters: with finesse and greatest care. The main thing is, we dare not lose face. Losing face makes everything much, much harder.
China denied permission for a United States aircraft carrier battle group and other American warships to visit Hong Kong last week because of the Bush administration’s proposal to sell upgrades to Patriot antimissile batteries to Taiwan, Chinese state media said today.
Beijing also said today that Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi had not told President Bush in a meeting Wednesday that the decisions to deny the ship visits were a “misunderstanding,” as the White House had reported after the talks.
“Reports that Foreign Minister Yang said in the United States that it was a misunderstanding do not accord with the facts,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said in Beijing today, adding that China had “grave concern” over United States weapons sales to Taiwan.
First off, the Foreign Minister Yang, not Hu, spoke to Bush. Insult #1. Insult #2, this lower level minister openly said Bush was a liar. Slap on the face #3 is the warning as to why the ship was not allowed to anchor. But there are more insults delivered with an interesting twist!
A Chinese warship arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday on the first such port call since World War Two, the latest sign of warming ties between the Asian neighbors and former foes.
The two countries had agreed to reciprocal warship visits in 2000, but China cancelled a planned port call in 2002 after then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Yasukuni Shrine, seen in China as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.
Note how China uses these decorative moments to deliver diplomatic warnings. The orchestrated moves of this nation are carefully gaged and the reason why China is very enthusiastic about setting up all sorts of 'events' is it gives them a chance to communicate various initiatives without doing things like yelling on TV or something. So they are now engaging Japan in this elaborate dance which the Japanese absolutely love. For they do this too! The pavane requires both sides say the right things and make the right gestures and they study each other's eyes and examine where the feet move. Shifts in the center of gravity are responded to by turning the shoulders or moving the hand to the left where the sword is riding on the hip. Notice, also, how the Japanese slide sideways and try to get China and America to accept their defeat only China won't let them. Every time a minister in Japan tries to sneak off to the Yasukuni Shrine, the Chinese swiftly retaliate. But not the US. We have stood stupidly by as Japan repeatedly slaps all of us in the face. This is done to Mr. Rambo Flightsuit himself. And he thinks the leaders of Japan who are openly insulting our nation are his good friends!
So the same week the Chinese give us a smart slap with the gauntlet, the Japanese roll out the red carpet for the Chinese navy! The deeper meaning of all this is pure speculation. But here is my own take: the Japanese are triangulating. They already know they can slap the US right across the nose and we will think this is a sign, they love us. They can play any sort of financial game with us and we think they are our best buddies. In this case, our lack of appropriate response has bred contempt. It really isn't much fun, poking at someone this dense, this out of touch with reality. But when Japan pokes at China, the response is very swift and forces the Japanese to think of new ways of insulting or poking at China and China loves playing as if they want to be good friends but really want to smack them around and I suspect this gives both parties lots of intellectual and emotional fun. They go into back rooms and relive the encounters and plan new ones.
We, on the other hand, believe in friendship and love that means never having to take a bath, stop picking our noses and talking with our mouths full of food, things that Bush has done to foreign heads of state.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao announced here Thursday.
Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi and U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will co-chair the meeting as special representatives of state leaders of the two countries.
Ministers and other senior officials from related departments of the two governments will also attend the dialogue, Liu added.
All this is a prologue to the real negotiations. The US threw in the towel over the North Korean issues and handed it to a gloating Dragon who quickly resolved many issues that no one could do in the past. I will note here that the one bugaboo for Japan was NOT addressed by China in these negotiations and this was quite deliberate. Namely, the issue of the kidnapped girls. Many hot editorials and demands from Japanese diplomats haven't moved China one inch on this matter. The dispute over the Japanese kidnapping Korean and Chinese girls and turning them into sex slaves has not been resolved by Japan nor will Japan resolve this. Japan wants to champion this similar issue but isolate it from paying reparations to the sex slaves who are still alive. Japan won't pay them because Japan won't even admit, they enslaved these women during WWII.
The Chinese continue to dance around all these issues, slowly moving Japan into a corner. The US refuses to do this despite the crimes Japan has committed in the past. Just like we didn't stop them from insulting us at the Yakusuni Shrine. In the case of the economic negotiations, the Chinese will NOT demand the US raise the value of the yen vis a vis all other currencies. They figure, the government knows what is going on and simply is refusing to do this or if they don't know what is going on, then they are too stupid for words and should be looked down upon and pitied as well as pushed around.
In other words, we lose face. Astonishingly, if we openly discuss with China international realities and our plans for the future, if we express a desire for harmony, peace and stability and recognize China's majesty, they will retaliate by flattering us back and assuring us, they could be our best friends but we must first join them in scolding Japan over the sex slave issue and discussions about WWII will have to now commence.
But this won't happen. The US will come, loudly proclaiming how we will force China to strengthen the yuan and threatening them with retaliatory trade sanctions. We will blunder about, snapping orders or laughing like idiots. I saw pictures of Paulson at a previous meeting in China where he looked obviously drunk. There is a trick to drinking while negotiating. It takes practice. One has to learn how to keep one's wits while enjoying booze. And the Japanese as well as the Chinese do like to see if they can get us drunk and trip us up this way.
The 10th China-EU Leaders' Meeting was held here Wednesday, and leaders from both China and the European Union (EU) outlined their future strategic partnership while discussing pragmatic issues.
Over the past decade the China-EU ties have witnessed the fastest development in history and mutually beneficial cooperation has produced rich results and the ties now have reached an unprecedented level in width and depth, Wen said during the meeting.
From the Renminbi exchange rate issue, trade imbalance to climate change and energy cooperation, both sides touched upon all the core issues in the China-EU relations in a pragmatic and open attitude.
The Europeans approached China the same way the US does this: frontally and loudly declaiming what their goals are and shouting threats, etc. The Chinese then roll out the red carpet and say soothing things and then begin to turn things around in an expert way. For example, right before this big visit, the Chinese bought a bunch of Airbus jets! This kind of killed the outrage. The Chinese can now look at the Europeans straight in the face and say, 'Would you like to sell us another 150 Airbuses next year? Or do you want us to cut back trade?' Waiting until the very last second to sign the contracts was probably a deliberate move. And we should heed this. Learning to read what one's opponents are up to is a skill that is life and death in the world of armed courtiers prone to dueling.
One proposal is the two sides should improve the structure of trade, expand trade volume and properly handle the problems in bilateral trade.
Wen proposed to maintain close high-level contacts and have prompt exchanges on bilateral and global issues, making full use of current dialogue mechanism.
He said the two sides should speed up negotiations on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which was started last January and aimed at replacing the outdated 1985 Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement.
Wen also proposed to make common working plan on China-EU sci-tech cooperation and sign educational exchanges and cooperation agreement as soon as possible, implement the working plan on cultural dialogue and cooperation, and strengthen practical cooperation in the fields of climate change, energy and environmental protection.
I highlighted the important sentence here. China used various things to drive the Europeans into desiring a better platform for future trade and diplomacy. Europe isn't offering this, this is a Chinese dish prepared in the Hu kitchen. He knows that being nice is useless unless first, people fear the sword. Then the courtly flourishes lead to mutual respect tinged with a bit of fear. Putin struggles to gain this sort of fine-tuned diplomacy. I truly am in awe of Hu's leadership in this regard. Whatever his shortcomings as a national leader, his ability to play international games is unsurpassed at this point.
The euro's strength against the yuan is stirring trade tensions but for small Chinese consumer goods makers it also offers a chance to shore up sales as they struggle with rising costs and the weak U.S. dollar.
In southeastern Zhejiang province, Zhejiang Enchant Cosmetic Co Ltd expects 30 percent growth in shipments to Europe this year, offsetting flat sales to the United States.
"The strong euro is giving Europeans more purchasing power and we are targeting Europe for sales growth," says Ran Jing, a manager at the firm.
[The yuan's fall against the euro] contrasts with its 9 percent rise against the dollar, which, on top of mounting labour and raw material costs and cuts in export tax rebates, is squeezing Chinese manufacturers' profit margins, particularly in the highly competitive U.S. market.
The strength of the euro and the British pound helped boost China's exports to Europe by 37 percent in the first nine months of this year to $176 billion, for the first time exceeding exports to the United States, which grew 16 percent to $170 billion.
In October, China's trade surplus with the European Union hit $13.9 billion, nearing its $15.4 billion surplus with the United States.
China's trade with Europe is now nearly equal to the US, eh? This is a big change and yet another shift in power and another case of triangulation which is the name of the game when a major empire weakens. All former allies will profess love and devotion but will rush to the new power and begin dancing with them, too. The US should be more aware of this and realize, WE should be triangulating! WE need to treat all allies as just so many trade rivals. And WE must figure out that we must be wittier and warier than we currently are. Rambo in real life would not have survived for 5 minutes, fighting the Vietnamese.