It takes vigilence for a free people to keep an eye on all the undercurrents in world affairs that matter. A Quillnews plume to Bill Rice of Dawn's Early Light for his timely and provocative post recently about China's recent moves in Panama (!). DEL is definitely on to something here. Bill's post appeared before a similar series of stories in the Wash Times about China in Latin America. These overtures by China are utterly in line with their long term geopolitical interests and something that the US will have to manage in the years ahead. The last time China moved into the traditional US orbit occured during the Cnooc attempt to take over Unocal, and the US reaction showed that the US political community had not adequately thought through the world in which the US and China will have to cooperate. (QN, QN2) At the moment, I don’t see China’s development of relations in Lat Am as hostile to the US – at all. No more so that the long standing US relations with, say, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and a host of other East Asian nations, the emerging countries of Central Asia - like Mongolia or Kazakstan, or the new long term committments between the US and its allies in South Asia, most particulary India! Having the China also establish links with the resource rich countries in the Americas makes perfect sense for them, too. Rather than fear these overtures, the US should welcome the opportunity to get along with China here and to build the trusting positive relations in the Americas that can be leveraged to improve relations in East and South Asia – where we already have vital interests and where our cooperation with China is critical to peace and prosperity. (SD1, SD2, SD3, SD4)
Having said that, the fact that China will be developing strategic relations in Lat Am will be provocative – and be used by Chavez, Castro and other Lat Am hard cases to leverage their own hostility toward the US and its interests. (Summit, SD, Venezuela) Said another way: China will have to be very careful not to be used by the anti-US forces in Lat Am in their own political games. This is going to be a big challenge to China’s diplomats because you can guarantee that Chavez and his ilk will try to use China against the US – whether China likes it or not. The US is on track with China – trade development, lack of military hostility, cooperation on North Korea, emphasis on political and legal transparency and reform. But China is the ball game. This is 20% of humanity, and they have a 5,000 year old civilization and they are on the move in the wider world. The strategy for free people:
- Plan A: be friends and get along
- Plan B: be prepared to win a fight with them.
The challenge for the US will be to ready for both the whole time and have no illusions about the nature of humanity.