Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Beware of State Power [Bangkok Post/Noam Chomsky web)


Chomsky weighs in on the China debate in 2007 –

Chomsky: China does not pose a military threat. In fact, of all the major powers, China has probably been the most restrained in building up its military forces. China poses a very serious threat because it cannot be intimidated [by the US].

– – –

Beware of State Power
Noam Chomsky interviewed by George McLeod
Bangkok Post, April 1, 2007
Source – Noam Chomsky web

McLeod: Turning to China, you mentioned that China is becoming a major competitor to US power in Asia, and even that the US is “frightened by China”. How does China pose a threat to US interests in Asia?

Chomsky: China does not pose a military threat. In fact, of all the major powers, China has probably been the most restrained in building up its military forces. China poses a very serious threat because it cannot be intimidated [by the US].

Take for example Iran and Iraq. The US wants the world to boycott Iran in pursuit of US policies. Europe sort of shakes its fist, but Europe pretty much backs off. So when the US warns countries not to invest in Iran, European investors – banks and so on – tend to pull out, not entirely, they find some ways to get around it, but they do pretty much pull out.

But China on the other hand doesn’t pay any attention. They just go ahead and do what they want to do – they have been there for 3000 years…The idea that there is a potentially powerful state that cannot easily be intimidated is very threatening to people want to rule the rule the world.

[The US] is a little bit like the mafia. The Godfather does not tolerate disobedience, even in a small storekeeper, let alone somebody that matters, so that’s a threat.

However, the US relationship with China is also very ambivalent. On one hand, from the point of view of state power, China is threatening because it follows its own course.

On the other hand, powerful business interests in the US are of course highly influential in determining state policy. These businesses have a real stake in China – it is a wonderful platform for cheap exports and it’s a potential market. They want relations with China to be strong, but there is an internal conflict in the US.

Remember that China has enormous financial reserves that surpass Japan – it is the leading holder of foreign reserves – it is keeping the US economy afloat. So it’s a pretty tricky, complex relationship.

McLeod: Does Asia have much to worry about from China’s rising power and influence?

Chomsky: Anytime a big power is developing, everybody has to worry including the Chinese people.

Concentrations of power are dangerous. There is plenty of history about that.

How much does it have to worry? Well, that depends on how things progress. So closer relations between India and China, which are now developing, could be beneficial to Asia. It’s much better than having them muscle their neighbours.

McLeod: In your writings and speeches, you have said that the Asian Energy Security Grid is an issue of major importance, even though it hasn’t received much attention in the media. Could you describe what the energy grid is and how it is important?

Chomsky: There are actually two parallel organisations. One is the Asian Energy Security Grid, and the other is the Shanghai Cooperation Council (SCC). Both are pretty much based in China — Russia is part of the Energy Security Grid.

The US applied for observer status to the SCC and was turned down, which was a blow. The central Asian states are part of it, Iran has observer status, India and Pakistan will probably join and Russia is a part of it. Russia of course – Eastern Siberia – is considered by India, China and Russia to be a growing part of this Asian Energy Security System.

The SCC is taking the form of a kind of a kind of a counterpart to NATO, and this is a large part of the conflict in the Middle East and in Central Asia. The question is – which way do the pipelines flow and who is going to invest?

And you are right that it’s not talked about much here… (US Vice-President) Cheney, not long ago, gave a speech in Lithuania where he said that control over energy resources and pipelines can’t be used as tools of intimidation and bribery — I think was his phrase. Now he was referring to control of resources in the hands of others. Remember that others see exactly the same with the energy resources that are in the control of the US and that conflict is very real. You can see just by looking at the direction of the pipelines go.

They just opened a pipeline through Azerbaijan to the Mediterranean and it carefully snakes its way so that it avoided Iran and Russia. It goes through very conflicting regions of the Caucuses.

Control of energy is a major problem, China and Russia and India understand very well that if there is going to be anything like what is sometimes called an Asian century, they are going to have to control their energy resources.

North Korea itself has no economic resources to speak of, but it is the natural place for pipelines to go from the Siberian energy resources into South Korea and then through to Japan. Also, the Trans Siberian railroad might extend thru there, so there is some geo-strategic significance as part of this very dynamic northeast Asian economic group.

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Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Economics, Foreign aid, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Nationalism, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S.

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