Ten Questions for Coming Leaders China-USA
EDITORIAL, 21 February 2012
#205 | Johan Galtung
From Kyoto, Japan
Japanese media make it look as if China attacked Japan in the 1930s-1940s, massacred a major city, with a concentration camp beating Auschwitz in cruelty. And, Japan fears a repetition. Well, Japan fears something, probably what Western aggressors fear too: Of course, we never did anything wrong, but one day they may come and treat us the way we treated them.
In 2012 the power will/may change in both superpowers, and we have a right to know how the power-wielders look at some basic issues. David Shambaugh, director of the China Policy Program in the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, put “Ten Questions for China’s heir presumptive (International Herald Tribune 11-12 Feb 2012), ahead of the coming president Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington. Nothing wrong in doing that, the questions are all relevant, designed to find out whether Xi “embraces and shapes positive changes for China at home and abroad or is he another risk-adverse apparatchik”. Let us design similar questions to US presidential candidates about US problems. A little economic background: in 1980 China was the world No. 11 in GDP, in 1986 No. 8, in 2002 No. 6, in 2010 No. 2. In 2012?
Question No. 1: Will Xi return to a politically reformist path for the Chinese Communist Party? Can Xi stand up to the state security apparatus, the military, the party propaganda system and large state-owned enterprises-or be beholden to them? Can Obama-Romney stand up to their agencies and military, to US mainstream media propaganda and to corporate enterprises, like those running the US Federal Reserve bank? To Goldman-Sachs?
No. 2: Can Xi turn the rhetoric of economic ‘rebalancing’ into reality? Away from exports from coastal areas to domestic consumption and to the interior? (Many will say this is not only rhetoric, though). Will Obama-Romney turn the rhetoric of job-creation into reality, or be beholden to the finance economy?
No. 3: Will Xi be able to devise a more humane policy toward Tibet and Xinjiang? Will Obama-Romney devise a humane policy toward Hawaiians yearning for sovereignty in their lands annexed in 1898, and toward the First Nations yearning for dignity in lands conquered from 1607 in Virginia and 1620 in Massachusetts?
No. 4: Can Xi and the party apparatus reign in the nationalism that is pushing the government to take extreme positions on territorial disputes with China’s neighbors, to “stand up” to the United States and behave aggressively internationally? True, China’s views clashes with neighbors’ over some islands/islets, but major issues with Russia have been settled, as opposed to the rather major USA-Mexico issue over the 1846-48 war; they are probably not even conscious of it. Will Obama-Romney reign in the planned deployment of much of the 300-ship strong US Navy to the Pacific to “stand up” to China, or will they prefer to invite a similar Chinese deployment off the US West Coast for balance? And, will they stop aggressive behavior internationally, not only major wars with invasion and occupation, but also drones and special ops in many countries, unknown even to their own governments, with extra-judicial killings?
No. 5: Will Xi be sufficiently confident to call the relaxation of tightened control of mainstream media, social media, the Internet, and educational institutions?
Will Obama-Romney be sufficiently confident to prohibit three major arms industry corporations to exercise control of the three major mainstream TV channels, CNN-ABC-NBC? Forbid CIA-FBI and credit card companies from spying-controlling social media? To withdraw FBI agents deployed to US university campuses?
No. 6: Can Xi reign in the military, which has demonstrated a worrisome tendency in recent years to undertake actions that provoke China’s neighbors–independently of civilian control? Can Obama-Romney stop the US military, not from provoking, but from killing millions all over the world, overtly under the Pentagon and covertly under the CIA and other agencies? Partly independently of any civilian control under the War Powers Act, partly with Congress support–except for one honorable lady representative?
No. 7: Will Xi authorize a foreign policy that is more substance than rhetoric? Will Obama-Romney authorize a foreign policy that is more rhetoric than substance? The world has had enough US foreign policy substance; rhetoric does not kill.
No. 8: How will Xi handle the growing discontent across Africa, the Middle East and Latin America over China’s rapacious and mercantilist energy, aid and trade policies? How will Obama-Romney handle it? If not, they will suffer the consequences.
No. 9: Will Xi take a more active, supportive, less obstructionist role in global governance? Will Obama-Romney stop crippling the UN, using the Security Council for US purposes, being sensitive to needs and voices from other regions?
No. 10: Will Xi have the strategic foresight to invest in the advancement of the relationship with the United States? Whereas China learns much from the US, will Obama-Romney have the strategic foresight to learn how to lift the bottom up, economic distribution, and green technology from China, thereby advancing the relation?
Questions should not be asked of Chinese leaders without having similar questions answered about the USA first, and vice versa. China has as a principle not to confront the USA, and has attacked neither Japan nor the US; the latter are the ones that attacked China. Hence, a little et tu Brute, watch yourself, may be useful in identifying key world problems.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 21 February 2012.
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