China is increasingly labeled America’s “pacing threat” by US national security leaders. That makes it more important than ever to understand China with an appropriate degree of nuance. How do politics and military capability overlay on one another in China? How does Beijing view the US-China relationship? How do things like history and military culture factor into Chinese strategy and capabilities?
This episode tackles those questions and more, and it features a conversation with Larry Wortzel. He is a retired US Army officer and a scholar who has spent much of his career, both in uniform and since retiring, studying China. He shares insights on a range of China-related subjects, drawing on his deep experience with the country that began when he was a foreign area officer working in China more than three decades ago.
You can listen to the full episode below. And if you aren’t already subscribed to the MWI Podcast, be sure to find it on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app so you don’t miss an episode. While you’re there, please take just a moment to leave the podcast a rating or give it a review!
Image credit: Sgt. Amber I. Smith, US Army
It is important that we not see China in isolation.
Rather, I suggest, we must come to see China as being a part of a larger U.S./Western domestic and foreign policy/problem set, as described below:
a. The central underlying FEATURE of U.S./Western domestic and foreign policies; this is that both of these such policies are designed and undertaken so as to achieve such political, economic, social and/or value changes in the world (to include here at home) as are considered necessary; this, so that the U.S./the West might, thereby, be made to better provide for, and to better benefit from, such things as capitalism, globalization and the global economy.
b. The central underlying PROBLEM — related to these such domestic and foreign policies — this is that they are essentially "revolutionary" in nature; that is, they are essentially anti-status quo, anti-conservative and thus anti-stability in nature.
If you look closely at the three quoted items I provide below, you can easily see this exact such U.S./Western domestic and foreign policy/problem set at work:
First, from Robert Gilpin's 2000 book "The Challenge of Global Capitalism: The World Economy in the 21st Century" (therein, see the "Introduction" chapter):
“Capitalism is the most successful wealth-creating economic system that the world has ever known; no other system, as the distinguished economist Joseph Schumpeter pointed out, has benefited ‘the common people’ as much. Capitalism, he observed, creates wealth through advancing continuously to every higher levels of productivity and technological sophistication; this process requires that the ‘old’ be destroyed before the ‘new’ can take over. … This process of ‘creative destruction,’ to use Schumpeter’s term, produces many winners but also many losers, at least in the short term, and poses a serious threat to traditional social values, beliefs, and institutions.”
Next, from the famous 1968 book "Political Order in Changing Societies" by Samuel P. Huntington (therein, see Page 41):
“The apparent relationship between poverty and backwardness, on the one hand, and instability and violence, on the other, is a spurious one. It is not the absence of modernity but the efforts to achieve it which produce political disorder. If poor countries appear to be unstable, it is not because they are poor, but because they are trying to become rich. A purely traditional society would be ignorant, poor, and stable.”
Last, from our very own Joint Publication 3-22, “Foreign Internal Defense,” dated 17 August 2018 (therein, see Chapter II, “Internal Defense and Development”):
a. An IDAD program integrates security force and civilian actions into a coherent, comprehensive effort. Security force actions provide a level of internal security that permits and supports growth through balanced development. This development requires that change to meet the needs of vulnerable groups of people. This change may, in turn, promote unrest in the society. The strategy, therefore, includes measures to maintain conditions under which orderly development can take place."
Bottom Line Question — Based on the Above:
Such nations as China and Russia today, countries in the Greater Middle East and many other parts of the world, and even parts of our own countries here at home in the U.S./the West (in all such regards, think of the more-conservative/the more-status quo-oriented elements of same); ALL these folks feel threatened by the U.S./the West's political, economic, social and/or value "change" policies and initiatives — which, as is noted above, often lead to instability. (Even our very own JP 3-22 agrees with this such suggestion.)
Thus, might we agree, it is in this much more holistic "resistance to change" way that we might come to see China (etc., etc., etc.) today?