- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2001

China and India, the two most populated states in the world, comprise one-fourth of humanity, dominate South Asia, the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The Indian population comes close to that of China, which is more than 1 billion. The two oldest civilizations of the East, centers of culture, philosophy and military, were dominated politically and militarily by foreign powers between 1700 and 1950. Both have been successful in emerging from colonial rule and seeking independence, which makes them among the three most significant states in Asia and the Pacific along with Japan.
An American policy toward China and India must be oriented for the long run. Each must be treated differently. India is a democracy awakening from the failed Nehru family Congress Party rule that advocated neutralism and Third Worldism, a policy that only strengthened the Soviet Union. China is a totalitarian state. In 1949, it ended a long history of foreign domination and has become a state mired in false Leninist-Stalinist-Maoist ideology. It is still a one-party rule regime.
While India is searching for accommodation and closer relationships with the United States and the West that could match its new economic power, China is still belligerent and, as the recent spy plane incident demonstrates, aggressive and, when it comes to its neighbors,expansionist. China is undergoing a process of economic and military modernization at the expense of the economy. China is one of the worlds leading violators of human rights and a suppressor of internal opposition. While India is a multiparty democratic state and an open society, China is still a closed Stalinist state. India faces internal opposition, most of which comes from pro-Pakistani, anti-Indian,fundamentalist Muslims. Americas China apologists tell us that the regime is a benign totalitarianism and that economic modernization leads to democracy and pluralism. This is historically untrue and intellectually dishonest.
China is in flux. The political and international implications are that China could go in two contradictory directions since its political system in the future is still unpredictable. It may go backward into greater oppression, more xenophobic nationalism, and militaristic threats; or it may become more reasonable. This, however, cannot be achieved without America playing a serious role in the Pacific and China. We must adopt a policy of containment that is linked to a controlled free trade arrangement. We must monitor whether free trade means greater militarization or real economic development.
The big picture is how to continue the management of U.S.-China relations. The Bush administration must take the position, in contradistinction to the former administration, that totalitarian acts of aggression are unacceptable. To fulfill such a policy, we must mix force and diplomacy in a measured balance. We must mix cooperation with containment, at least in the area of trade.
But the onus of preserving the relationship must be laid at the feet of the present Chinese leadership. The most recent and ongoing negotiations over the last incident clearly demonstrates that the political leadership in China is paralyzed by an internal struggle and the processes of ossification of one-party rule threatens to crack the Stalinist control.
The Jiang Zemin regime is reminiscent of Leonid Brezhnevs and his successors before the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union. There is no Gorbachev on Chinas horizon. The present regime is trying to maintain a status quo while the party,military, and state political elites are in conflict. Those who argue that we could intervene on behalf of the more moderate forces should learn the lesson of the Soviet Union. We never had an iota of leverage in the inner struggles of the Politburo and Central Committee of the Soviet Union. In the case of China, an attempt to intervene would be an exercise in futility, and at best counterproductive.
What is required on the part of American foreign policy-makers on China is to pay greater attention to the role of its military. Willy Wo-Lap Lam, one of the leading recognized authorities on China and especially its military, contends in his book, "The Era 0f Jiang Zemin" (1999), that Mr. Jiang is committed to giving more power to the PLA, which already wields more power than its military strength would suggest.
Under Jiang Zemin, the importance of the PLA stems from the fact that it supported his faction after Deng Xiao-pings death, which enabled Mr. Jiang to elbow aside his political challengers. Mr. Jiang is politically in debt to his generals. The PLA has been emboldened under his regime. Therefore, the American-Chinese investigative committee cannot succeed because the Chinese military will not apologize or accept responsibility for the spy plane incident under any conditions.
According to Mr. Lam, Mr. Jiang supports Quansha, or Chinese-style Machiavellianism: he banned the military business empire while simultaneously raising the PLA budget compensating what is called "army business" (bingshang). This encourages corruption and hurts army morale.
India, on the other hand, should become one of our closest allies along with Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. We should make serious efforts to beef up and modernize the Indian army and openly condemn Chinas role in the support of Pakistans nuclear development. The Cold War is over and Pakistan is no longer an ally. It is a Taleban fundamentalist oriented state, which runs against our values and interests.
The containment of China must be linked to a policy of support for India. An independent, democratic, pro-American India clearly serves our national interest. We must end our obsessive, non-productive, non-proliferation attitude toward India. The stakes are too high in view of the emergence of an expansionist China. We need allies that share our interests and values.


Amos Perlmutter is a professor of political science and sociology at American University and editor of the Journal of Strategic Studies.


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