Is Chinaâ€™s reaction to last week’s announced US arms sale to Taiwan really all that more strident than in the past? Should America be worried? To read some of the recent American news reporting, citing the usual ragbag of US-based â€œChina expertsâ€, you might conclude so.
I donâ€™t buy it. China is not set, contrary to such reports, firmly on a course to antagonize America. It is, however, a great power with legitimate national interests to assert and protect. Sometimes those will clash with Americaâ€™s national interests. But, the bilateral relationship also has a root system of common goals and shared admiration.Â
I also donâ€™t buy the line by American â€œChina expertsâ€ about rising Chinese â€œtriumphalismâ€ , due to continued strength of Chinese economy. Chinaâ€™s economy has been outgrowing the US by eight to ten percentage points just about every year for the last 30 years. Same was true in 2009. The only difference: China grew by 8% while the US economy shrunk by over 5%. A similar net result as in the past, but one that highlighted a dramatic lessening of China’s economic dependence on the US.Â
Do Chinese officials realize they now can maintain high economic growth without single-minded focus on exports to US, but look to domestic market instead? Yes. But, as youâ€™ve also read, from Premier Wen Jiabao on down, thereâ€™s frequent public declarations on all the many problems and inefficiencies in Chinaâ€™s economy.Â
Yes, China is getting stronger every year in every respect. But, is the tone now on arms sales to Taiwan really all that different? I donâ€™t see it, and wonder how much others here see it, or whether itâ€™s just the usual conventional US wisdom on China, a cousin of the â€œChina expertâ€ analysis that Chinese economic growth is a fraud, only resulting from cooked gdp numbers.Â
China is mainly busy being China, just as America, most of the time is also mainly busy being America. Â Both are continental powers with huge populations and vast domestic markets. Both also have a long history of being more inward- than outward-looking, quite patriotic, even occasionally xenophobic.
They often view the world with a similar sense of aloof distrust. There will always be points of friction between the US and China. But, time is gradually wearing down those points of friction, not sharpening them, as much of the US press would have us believe.