19 May 2020

Time for Western Countries to Decouple Their Economies From China

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Chinese Navy amphibious transport ship Changbai Shan (989) leaving the Port of Rotterdam.

Brian Stewart argues in favor of Cold War now in order to avoid Hot War later.

The fatal mistake of yesterday was to believe (or at least to pretend) that China’s rise could be safely accommodated without exposing the liberal order to immense risk. The fatal mistake of today, it would appear, is to imagine that America can prevail without a vigorous strategy and capable allies over such a dynamic and formidable revisionist power. The last time liberal civilization faced such a determined adversary it was the Soviet Union. It is common to regard the peaceful end of the Cold War as inevitable, but in truth its outcome was shaped by a series of decisions and policies that were by no means predetermined. Many of the global institutions of the liberal order played their part in the struggle against various forms of communist totalitarianism, but it was the strategic foresight of Washington and the global deployment of American power that made the difference.

Despite the profound differences with Soviet communism, the challenge posed by the authoritarian ideology of the People’s Republic of China is redolent of the long twilight struggle that marked the second half of the 20th century. Nonetheless, prominent voices today allege that a cold war with China would be “unnecessary” and “destructive.” But compared to what? The prospect of a shooting war, or even intense competition, is invoked to incapacitate prudent measures to contain Chinese power and deter Chinese aggression. For those who believe in liberal ideals and principles, it is the prospect of Chinese hegemony under the writ of the CCP that presents a more truly unnecessary and destructive scenario.

In the years ahead, the potential for armed conflict between the United States and the People’s Republic is by no means trivial. But as the first cold war largely demonstrated, great power conflict is not inevitable. Beyond capitulation to the CCP’s strategic imperatives—allowing Beijing to quash the freedom of Hong Kong, annex Taiwan, and bully other free peoples into submission—the surest way to avoid war is by adopting a robust strategy to counter China’s expansionism. This would entail acting in concert with like-minded nations to divest and decouple from China’s economy while deploying and, if necessary, wielding military force to establish what Dean Acheson once referred to as “situations of strength” in the Far East.

Such a strategy would be premised on observing a distinction once made by Michael Ignatieff—that adversaries whose designs “you want to defeat” are not necessarily enemies whose existence “you have to destroy.” It can no longer be credibly denied that China is an adversary of the United States. If it is not treated accordingly, it may prove impossible to prevent it from becoming a full-fledged enemy.


I think his postion is inarguable. The Free World Democracies cannot keep enriching China as a trading partner if China remains determined upon combining domestic tyranny and brutality with adversarial foreign aggression.

2 Feedbacks on "Time for Western Countries to Decouple Their Economies From China"


I don’t disagree with this but China is going to be belligerent no matter what you do and likely even more belligerent if you give them the cold shoulder. China will likely become more aggressive with Taiwan and the South China Sea and even with nations and islands in the South Pacific. They will likely increase their spying and interference in the U.S. and Europe and will continue their inroads in Africa and South America.

When all of this happens China will take advantage of any perceived weakness or inattention to take control of assets and strategic locations. In other words the transition to a cold war will only encourage China to become more aggressive, more militaristic, more belligerent which will ultimately lead to a hot war.

Fusil Darne

There are 1.5 billion Chinese that need to be fed. China cannot do that, alone. Belligerent behavior will not see to the feeding of that monster. Further, the Chinese have history on perceived weakness, see “Rape of Nanking”, “Pearl Harbor”, or “Little Boy” and/or “Fat Man” for example.
The Soviets were terrified of the Chinese, and used to tell their soldiers “If we successfully kill a million a day, every day, it will take us 37 years to get them all”.
They didn’t mention that, at any one time, almost all of that population was, or was quite near, starvation.


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