Tuesday, February 2, 2010

China be Trollin'

Pardon my turn of internet forum phrase, but I find it so useful to describe a great deal of real people's decision making processes. If you are not privy to its nuance go ahead and reference the almighty Wikipedia:

I am referencing to a couple things regarding China that have been in the news. The U.S. quadrennial security review, U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan, and the Japan-China Joint History Research Committee running up against the Nanjing question (namely the death toll, possibly the most absurd thing to be stuck on and thus the most politically useful). Although no one reads this, and I keep it mainly to maintain some writing on occasion, I do not want anyone reading this to think I like going around giving China credit when it isn't warranted, holding double-standards, or just straight-up bashing. I judge some of these decisions the same way I would criticize the U.S. for doing things simply because it has the clout to get away with it.

The title probably refers to the Nanjing issue more so than US-Taiwan-China issues. This casualty issue has been beaten so far into the ground that everyone should just walk away from it and keep it buried. Not to say we should forget that a lot of people died in a terrible way, but because it is a bastardization to reduce the issue to a statistic for political manipulation. I do not think I could ever look into this issue with any real seriousness because the truth is not what people are concerned with. Both the Japanese and Chinese side can take some of the blame in this regard, but when taking into consideration the greater incentive of Chinese scholars (and others) to keep a higher number I have to err to the side of common sense.

The most glaringly questionable statement by Japanese scholars in the English version of the Yomiuri was placing some blame on the Chinese military for higher casualty numbers. Not because the Chinese military itself was somehow engaged in activities exacerbating the killing, but because a "failure by the Chinese military to perform its duty of providing enough protection for civilians". Wait, what? Am I just misreading this statement or is the argument "Maybe we wouldn't have raped so many people if you would have protected citizens better!". Yeah, or maybe the military shouldn't have been raping women and killing civilians in the first place. Just a thought.

I would like to rely on the idealistic dictum of 'don't feed the troll' but that is probably impossible and not really effective. Instead of doing a joint research project on a historical issue where exact fact is perhaps unattainable it would probably be more efficacious to dawn a collective thinking cap in hopes of finding ways to mitigate historically difficult issues in hopes of a more fruitful future.


The quadrennial defense review, while I have not looked into it deeply, does not appear to be saying much new if you take a look into the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC). China is probably more upset because they like to think of the USCC as simply an annoying review commission, not really the mainstream thought or accepted stance of the administration (which they are not technically). But, coming from the DOD, China is probably taking this more seriously.

I am not an expert on Chinese military development and transparency, but I do know a few things. Namely development of next generation jet fighters and massive maritime build up. The only 'domestic' purpose of this buildup would be Taiwan. Which is just mixed messaging considering the much more effective ways to improve ties with Taiwan that exist and work. Saying the build-up is for non-domestic purposes is simply not acceptable to the Pacific community. It is only natural the U.S. DOD would say things like this considering they are more conservative in its view of China. It seems to be the job of the CCP and quite frankly a lot of government bodies to take an obvious response and put on an overzealous display of shock and appall. Compound the fact that there is a lot of evidence of cyber and traditional espionage coming from China directed at U.S. defense systems the U.S. DOD is not going to give you high marks.

This brings me to Taiwan arms sales. Basically a case of China wanting to have its cake and eat it too (which would be great, but is not great policy). China knows the U.S. stance on Taiwan and a military buildup that is basically aimed at Taiwan is going to have a response in kind. I or someone else can criticize the U.S. for a variety of military buildups, but the PRC doing it is nominal at best. When international positioning and behavior mirrors 15 year old teenagers racking up their post-count it makes me want to face-palm.

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