Bully in a China Shop  

Posted by CK in , ,

It is a historical fact that Empires never last. The Egyptian Empire, the Hellenists, the Romans, the Incas and the Mayans, the Mongols, Napoleon, the British, the National-Socialists of Germany and well, that’s just the major ones that everyone knows about. Every country has their own history of countless smaller kingdoms and feudal chiefs who strove to conquer as much land as possible in order to make a name for themselves and expand the borders of their countries to span vast distances. Examples include Indian empires like the Maurya, the Kalinga, Carthage and Troy of antiquity, the Persians, the Zulu kingdom in the 1800s amongst others. History is rife with examples of the same.

The thing is even though some of these people, the Generals who head these campaigns are students of history and military tactics of old, for instance, Napoleon studied Alexander the Great and the Carthaginian general Hannibal in great detail and used some of their tactics on the battlefield, everyone seems to overlook the teeny fact that none of these empires exist anymore or many of them didn’t last much past the conqueror’s lifetime. The strong exceptions are, of course, the Greeks, Romans, Mongols and the British. They had Empires that lasted centuries. However, they all came crashing gloriously down taken down by a variety of things, like barbaric hordes, disease, dissension, popular revolts, etc.

Let’s just look at two modern day empires. The Americans and the Soviets. We, of course, don’t refer to them as empires anymore. We call them “Superpowers”. The Soviets, despite being a technologically advanced nation, lasted from 1917 and the Russian revolution to the fall of the BerlinthChina, IndiaBrazil come into their own and are becoming more influential in the world stage. wall and the collapse of communism, a mere 20 years ago. (The day before yesterday was the 20 anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall). The power of the Americans is quickly waning as well. The economic stranglehold that the West had over the world is loosening as countries like and

Despite all these facts, people still try to conquer (militarily or economically) other nations and people in the misguided attempt to impose their will on others. Take China, for example. They have become a force to reckon with in this day and age. Here’s just some data, courtesy of Wikipedia (Long live WIKI!)

GDP US$4.32 trillion (nominal; ranked 3rd; 2008)
$7.8 trillion (ranked 2nd)

GDP growth 9.1% (2008; official data)
Inflation -1.2% (Jan-Aug 2009 average)
Population below poverty line 10% (2004)
Labour force 807.7 million (2008)

That just pure numbers but let’s translate that into facts. They have over 80% of their population working and only 1 in 10 people are below the poverty line. Their inflation is negative and also, they are one of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world. What about their military. Well, this is where Wiki puts them:

Active personnel approximately 3,440,000 (ranked 1st)
Reserve personnel 1,200,000

Its regular forces consist of 2.3 million personnel, with an additional 800,000 personnel in reserve, making it the largest active standing army in the world, and second largest in terms of army personnel. Currently 40% of the ground force divisions and brigades are either armoured or mechanized to deal with potential threats. The PLA Ground Forces has and continues to undergo rapid major upgrades and re-structuring to deal with future land warfare, with front line troops, special forces, and marines given priority in receiving newer modern weapon systems

PLA Navy

Size 250,000 personnel
58 submarines
77 principal surface combatants
84 amphibious warfare ships
~387 coastal warfare vessels
~31 mine warfare vessels
~370-480 landing craft
~150 auxiliary/support vessels

This is a “developing nation”. I wouldn’t want to look at it when it’s developed.

And the beauty is they’ve done it under the rule of communism which the west said was a decadent, completely corrupt and impractical system of governance. According to most people, about a decade ago, China’s runaway population would be it’s biggest concern as they’d have to figure out what they’d have to do with, meaning, feeding them, clothing them, training them, etc.

And what did China do, it arrested growth and then turned practically its entire population towards one goal, making the country a power house economically. Every company in the world wants to do business in China because of the huge potential market that’s sitting there, ripe for the picking.

Now, when a country gets that big and that powerful, that fast, it kind of goes to their head. And when it goes to their head, they do stuff like Tienanmen Square with absolutely no fear of repercussions. Not that other countries don’t do the same. India has its Godhra, Cambodia has the Khmer Rouge, etc. But China is so capable of turning tyrant with no checks and balances, so easily that it’s scary.

When a massacre or some such tragedy occurs in any country, the people rise in revolt or outrage and hopefully bring the guilty to trial. But what do you when the government is a supposed democracy with a one-party system and no opposition. The military is the agent of the single party and applies their decrees with swift and brutal precision.

Recently, China’s been making a nuisance of itself to India and its neighbours. There have been border skirmishes. Now, do I mean, they stealthily and under cover of darkness, crept into India and left? Oh, no, no… Chinese troops and trucks rolled over the border in bright daylight, some 5 kilometers into Indian territory, scribbled their names on some rocks, took pictures and left.

Globe and Mail - Oct 21, 2009

But then, can India anger this behemoth to its left while having to deal a terrorist haven on its western border? That’s honestly asking to be between a rock and battering ram. But India should be decisive and bold in its actions; otherwise, it becomes a door mat for the Ajmal Amirs of Pakistan and Chinese cross-border soirees.

The reason I bring this up is that China is at the cusp of becoming the next superpower (read Empire) that will truly be one the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since Alexander. They have a massive economy to the tune of a few trillion dollars with which to wage war (metaphorically, of course). And if they actually do wage war, it would be World War III, and it would be a sight to behold.

Only a strong, tempered yet bold position in the face of China’s little indiscretions will halt the Dragon from assuming that it can do anything and get away with it. Now, India’s no slouch in the world economy at this time. As the headline above indicates, India and China while growling at each other over Tibet and the Dalai Lama or over disputed border territories would ever make the mistake of angering the other side so much so as to affect trade. There’s just way too much of the other that each country wants, be it business, exports or expertise.

So, India, you have the chance to make a stand here and now against the rumblings of the Chinese. They do not take well to subtlety. If they don’t see a measured response, trust me, they will push all your buttons until you have no choice but to act.

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 12, 2009 at Thursday, November 12, 2009 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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