October 3rd, 2011
01:00 PM ET

Where do the GOP candidates stand on China’s rise?

Editor's Note: Dr. James M. Lindsay is a Senior Vice President at the Council on Foreign Relations and co-author of America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy. Visit his blog here and follow him on Twitter

By James M. LindsayCFR.org

China’s rise presents perhaps the most significant challenge to American foreign policy over the next decade. Here’s one concern: China’s growing force of long-range precision missiles could eventually push the U.S. Navy out of the Western Pacific, thereby endangering an alliance system that Washington has led for more than six decades. You wouldn’t know that, however, from following the GOP presidential race. The candidates don’t talk much about how to respond to China’s increased military might.

Yes, Mitt Romney has called China an “economic threat” and proposes sanctioning it for  “unfair trade practices.” All the foreign policy section of his website says about China, however, is that "China is emerging". Jon Huntsman often starts his campaign events by speaking Mandarin, presumably to remind his audience that as a former U.S. ambassador to China he has foreign policy experience. But he has gone no further than Romney in setting forth a strategy for dealing with Beijing. (Huntsman has said that he would sign legislation to punish China for currency manipulation while in the next breath saying that China would “rebut” the penalties with “commensurate tariffs” that could trigger a trade war we don’t want.) The rest of the field has been similarly quiet. This

collective silence prompts a suggestion to the Washington Post and Bloomberg, the co-sponsors of the next GOP debate on October 11 at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Please don’t use the fifteen minutes you allot to foreign policy in the debate to flit from topic to topic. Instead, devote the entire segment to asking the candidates how they propose to respond to China’s military rise. We might learn something, and you might break some news.

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Topics: 2012 Election • China • Military

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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. friendsofindia

    How wonderful that the US is now going to invade China, the only large country that can ever rival India. As the world's greatest democracy and its only super duper power, India should join the US in this invasion, for this is the only chance that the invasion can ever succeed.

    On the one hand, the US has plenty of experience of invading other countries, with the skills honed in the invasion of Panama, Greennada, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, that India lacks. On the other, India has resources and ways and means to manage large dalit populations. We can send 100 million of our dalit armies, that completely overwhelm all the population in China. We can make all the Chinese girls to be married to our dalit soldiers, that will instantly solve our problem of too few girls, and at the same time all the next generation of them will be our content India dalits instead of Chinese who are constantly a pain on India's butt. As for the rest of the Chinese men, they will either all be vaporized in their unholy and futile so called resistance, or that they can all migrate to Russia to co-habit with their fellow Ruskies.

    This will completely change the geostrategic situation in Asia, it will make India the strongest nation in the world, and enhancing our world's greatest and largest and duperest super power status. And in fact, that should turn it around immediately to make the USA our vassal state because of our immediate control of Iranian oil and gas and our chokehold on the Eurasia land mass.

    Submit to your fate under our Hindu Colossus, beg our 5 rupee meal middle classes, bow to our super powers.

    Pray for India. Jai Hind!

    October 3, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Reply
    • That'snotTrue:[

      Wow! War monger much? And America's barely winning those invasions, the ten year war, hello!
      And why does India have to do with China Go back to your cave or whatever... if you haven't noticed it's India that needs to catch up not China, if it WEREN'T for being one of many of the US's pets, they wouldn't talk about war.
      One last thing, isn't hindu a peaceful religon? So you should be called friendly hypocrite?

      October 3, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    Despite China’s growing force of long-range precision missiles, they might pose a threat to the U.S. Navy in the Western Pacific. I doubt if China would use them.

    October 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Reply
    • Rz

      Agreed, and the Chinese seem to have enough self-respect to more or less mind their own business, stick to themselves, and solve their own problems internally versus the alternative of invasion/war. But let's not be so hasty as to dismiss all of history, human nature, and the fact that China has more recently stepped somewhat into the global limelight. So, as long as no one willfully makes life more difficult for this giant, hopefully it will stay gentle.

      October 3, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Reply
  3. Kailim

    Waging wars abroad and developing the most advanced weapons for the last 6 decades had already dragged the US economy down to a miserable level. China will not be that stupid to follow the steps of the US into self-destruction fiscally. So keep on developing your aldeady first rated weapons of mass destruction, Americans with any execuses you van figured out. But is it good for you?

    October 4, 2011 at 2:34 am | Reply
    • vokoyo

      China boundary settlements with other countries –

      Western and Indian analysts and journalists frequently accuse China of having a new-found self-confidence, call on Obama to "burst Beijing's bubble", call its statements "harangue" and its behaviour "hubris", and accuse it of possessing an increased "assertiveness" (Almost everyone!).

      Even a 2005 Pentagon report on Chinese military power expressed concern that “conflicts to enforce China territorial claims could erupt in the future with wide regional repercussions."

      J. Mohan Malik, an expert in Asian Geopolitics and Proliferation, proclaims, "Having wrested substantial territorial concessions from Russia, Vietnam, and Tajikistan in their land border disputes with China, Beijing is now expecting the same from India."

      Although a thorough analysis of China border disputes merits a separate blog post, only a summary is sufficient here to put things in perspective.

      China has had land border disputes with every country which it bordered. However, it has resolved 12 out of the 14 disputes quite remarkably, giving remarkable concessions in each of them.

      In its border negotiations with different countries, China has pursued compromise and offered concessions in most of these conflicts. China compromises have often been substantial, as it has usually offered to accept less than half of the contested territory in any final settlement. It has also not reiterated its claims on a majority of the territory which was seized from it by the so-called unequal treaties.

      According to M.Taylor.Fravel, a premier expert on China border disputes,

      "Contrary to scholars of offensive realism, ......China has rarely exploited its military superiority to bargain hard for the territory that it claims or to seize it through force. China has likewise not become increasingly assertive in its territorial disputes as its relative power has grown in the past two decades. Contrary to others who emphasize the violent effects of nationalism, which would suggest inflexibility in conflicts over national sovereignty, China has been quite willing to offer territorial concessions despite historical legacies of external victimization and territorial dismemberment under the Qing."

      ".....China has not issued demands for large tracts of territory that were part of the Qing dynasty......"

      "China only contested roughly 7 percent of the territory that was part of the Qing dynasty at its height"
      In the adjoining map, the grey area was part of the Qing dynasty during 1820, claims that China did not pursue.

      China land border negotiations with neighbouring countries offer a startling revelation. Portions of the total disputed territories that China received as part of its boundary negotiations with 12 of its 14 neighbours are as follows:

      Afghanistan – 0%
      Tajikistan – 4%
      Nepal – 6%
      Burma – 18%
      Kazakhstan – 22%
      Mongolia – 29%
      Kyrgyzstan – 32%
      North Korea – 40%
      Laos – 50%
      Vietnam – 50%
      Russia – 50%
      Pakistan – 54%

      Pakistan was a special case in which China received 60% of the disputed land but transferred 1942 square kilometers of separate land to Pakistan. In Tajikistan’s case, the figure refers to the 28000 sq.km of the disputed Pamir mountain range, other sectors were divided evenly. In the case of Vietnam, in addition to this settlement, China transferred, apparently without any strings attached, the White Dragon Tail Island to (North) Vietnam in 1957.

      According to Fravel, "Analysis of China dispute behavior bears directly on the future of peace and stability in East Asia. Behavior in territorial disputes is a fundamental indicator of whether a state is pursuing status quo or revisionist foreign policies, an issue of increasing importance in light of China rising power."

      October 5, 2011 at 1:28 am | Reply
  4. Sam

    Let's call everyone who doesn't bow to us a threat, and drop bombs on them! But, because I have studied history, I know that the Chinese will not budge. In the 50's we fought a war with the Chinese in Korea but didn't win. We had nuclear bombs and the airplanes that could drop them on Beijing, the Chinese had AK47. I am glad that we didn't act like cold blooded animals.

    October 5, 2011 at 12:05 am | Reply

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