Australian optimist Arthur Chrenkoff looks northward toward China and reads the tea leaves to see if future conflict with America is really a foregone conclusion. Chrenkoff gathers disparate threads from the news that demonstrate China’s ambition to control East and Central Asia (military buildups, diplomatic overtures, business deals), but then throws in an interesting wild card I hadn’t thought much about recently: the rise of Christianity in Chinese culture, especially among that society’s elites.
But I wonder … whatever happened to China’s secretive Assassin’s Mace program? It sure has dropped from sight in the news, but that doesn’t mean a doggone thing. Anybody have any news about it?
One other wild card comes to mind: capitalism (see Dinocrat’s related post). If free market economics continue to make inroads into Chinese society, can China long remain a communist nation? If it does become some sort of democracy or republic, then it would be much less likely to clash militarily with America. After all, democracies don’t attack each other.
Definitely something to ponder.
UPDATE: More China blogging from Why are all the good names gone …
From Reuters, we have “U.S. Warns Iran Over Missiles, Punishes Chinese Firms.” Since the release of Seymour Hersh’s article on Monday, MSM sources have turned an increasingly sharp eye toward anything involving Iranian friction with the U.S.
Oddly, no official announcement of the sanctions was made, leading me to wonder if this is because the United States has no desire to highlight disagreements with China over Iran. Considering U.S. efforts to highlight Iran’s intransigence, I would have otherwise expected this to receive more play from the administration:
The most indepth coverage was provided in the Times. I found the end of the article to be the most informative. China is a high-growth country with ever-expanding energy needs. Considering the fact that U.S. interest in the Middle East stems largely from a desire to meet its own energy needs, our position on the “moral high ground” regarding the spread of WMD is based primarily on the same sort of realistic calculations China has made in seeking to secure its own national interests:
The article suggests that Chinese nonproliferation efforts are taken more as an economic step (to avoid U.S. sanctions) than out of genuine concern for the spread of WMD and delivery system technology:
Talk of China and its expanding role in regions such as the Middle East reminds me of the recently waged debate within the EU regarding an end to the current arms embargo levied on China.
I’ve discussed the idea of political realism outweighing the notion of “shared values” here and here. Steps by some members of the EU (most specifically France) to court China as a strategic balancing point to U.S. influence serve as a reminder that national interests often take precedence over shared values.
Interesting Iranian/French angle. It can be maddening, trying to keep everyone’s hidden agendas straight in one’s mind.
Want to get really complex? Throw into the mix Colin Powell’s recent statements revising America’s stance on the “One China” policy, which appear to leave Taiwan twisting in the wind (presumably in exchange for an as-yet-unmentioned something from China). I wonder what Condi Rice will have to say about this (if anything)?
UPDATE 2: Finally! The shipping lane map I’ve been hoping for! Great find by Little Red Blog, along with more good analysis on the EU-China arms connection.
UPDATE 3: This post has merged at high speed into today’s Beltway Traffic Jam.
Vox Apologia I is up, with ten posts on what apologetics means to today’s Christian church.
In a survey published on Friday, Cornell University called 715 Americans on the phone and asked them their attitudes toward Muslims. Some of the respondents indicated a willingness to impose certain restrictions on Muslims in America, but even more respondents opposed any restrictions on civil rights at all.
In all, about 44 percent said they believe that some curtailment of civil liberties is necessary for Muslim Americans.
Conversely, 48 percent of respondents nationally said they do not believe that civil liberties for Muslim Americans should be restricted.
When you see headlines in the next few days bemoaning the news that “nearly half” of Americans favor “curtailing the civil rights of Muslims”, try to remember that even more Americans do not favor any restrictions at all. By a 4% margin. In a poll with a margin of error of 3.6%. Got that?
The survey also examined the relation of religiosity to perceptions of Islam and Islamic countries among Christian respondents. Sixty-five percent of self-described highly religious people queried said they view Islam as encouraging violence more than other religions do; in comparison, 42 percent of the respondents who said they were not highly religious saw Islam as encouraging violence. In addition, highly religious respondents also were more likely to describe Islamic countries as violent (64 percent), fanatical (61 percent) and dangerous (64 percent). Fewer of the respondents who said they were not highly religious described Islamic countries as violent (49 percent), fanatical (46 percent) and dangerous (44 percent). But 80 percent of all respondents said they see Islamic countries as being oppressive toward women.
This isn’t surprising. I’d bet a pile of cash that if you do a survey of people who seriously practice Religion A, and ask them about their perceptions of serious believers in Religion B, there’s going to be a marked difference in perception as compared to the general non-religious population. By definition, serious believers think that they’ve found the truth. It’s no shock that they’d have misgivings about serious believers in a different religion, especially if the two groups make mutually exclusive claims about topics essential to one or both belief systems.
[James Shanahan, Cornell associate professor of communication and a principal investigator in the study] notes: “Most Americans understand that balancing political freedoms with security can sometimes be difficult. Nevertheless, while a majority of Americans support civil liberties even in these difficult times, and while more discussion about civil liberties is always warranted, our findings highlight that personal religiosity as well as exposure to news media are two important correlates of support for restrictions. We need to explore why these two very important channels of discourse may nurture fear rather than understanding.”
If you’re convinced that Jesus is the unique Son of God, if you think Muhammad was no prophet, and if you pay attention to news reports of beheadings and suicide bombings carried out by self-professed followers of Muhammad, you’re probably going to feel some trepidation about Islam. Plus there’s that whole 9/11 thing, which probably matters to an American or two.
Next week, Cornell will report on the inexplicable correlation between committed belief in Judaism, knowledge of 20th Century history, and fear of fascism.
Little Green Footballs