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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Friday, September 23, 2005

China arising from its slumber

The always interesting Charles Krauthammer has a column on China's influence in the recent statement of principles on North Korea dismantling its nuclear program.

First Mr. Krauthammer brings up the analogy of 100 years ago when the US brokered the treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese war. That marked the beginning of US influence in world affairs. Did this week's events in Beijing mark the same for China?

If it holds -- the "if" is very large -- it will mark China's emergence from an economic and demographic dynamo to a major actor on the world stage, and serious rival to American dominance in the Pacific.

Why is the Beijing agreement different from the worthless "Agreed Framework" Bill Clinton signed in 1994 and North Korea violated (we now know) from the very first day? That agreement was bilateral. This one is six-party, but the major player is China.

China conspicuously made itself the locus of the conference and its host. Its vice foreign minister declared that "North Korea committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning at an early date to a nuclear nonproliferation treaty." If China can succeed where the United States failed miserably in solving the knottiest problem in the Pacific, China will have emerged. That means a lot for China. It has a large stake in this agreement.

Absolutely. If the North Korean nuclear agreement holds, the prestige China will gain from enabling it I think will be immeasurable on the world stage and more importantly in Asia. China's size and economic might already make them too formidable to ignore in the region.

Mr. Krauthammer goes on to ask why China's sudden involvement now. Some in the past have mentioned the instability North Korea causes in some Chinese provinces that border on the country. To a country as massive as China, I really think these are pinpricks. The third possible reason mentioned in this column is the one I feel is behind what China is doing.

Third and perhaps most important, this was less a crisis than an opportunity. China has spent the past decade trying to translate its economic power into geopolitical power to make itself the arbiter of Asian affairs. It has established several regional organizations with Asian neighbors (ASEAN Plus Three, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, East Asian Summit) that pointedly exclude the United States. Its major ambition is to displace America as the major Pacific power. At which point, specific and smaller objectives, such as the absorption of Taiwan and the extension of oil rights to waters claimed by weaker neighbors, become infinitely more possible.

I think these are China's goals. To establish their dominance in Asia, ultimately to re-gain Taiwan and to diminish US influence in the region. China has little concern for what happens outside of Asia, except where it concerns them. Their ultimate goal is to prod the US peacefully into voluntarily reducing its influence and interests there.

Mr. Krauthammer's final conclusion is absolutely on the mark. The US could stabilize the Korean situation as a result of what happened this week at the cost of China becoming a major player. Or as the column says, wake our one rival in the region from its slumber.

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