Henry C K Liu

Part 1: Myths and realities about China

This article appeared in AToL on June 13, 2003

Aaron L Friedberg, a 47-year-old professor of politics and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, joined US Vice President Dick Cheney's staff as a deputy national security advisor and director of policy planning on June 1 for a term of one year, taking a public-service leave from the WWS. The appointment has renewed speculation about neo-conservative cooption of US foreign policy in general and China policy in particular.

Friedberg had been at the WWS since 1987, and was the director of the School's Center of International Studies at the time of his departure for Washington. He has authored two books, one on US Cold War strategy and a prize-winning book on Britain's decline at the beginning of the 20th century. His areas of expertise include international relations, international security, foreign policy and defense policy. Friedberg has been a fellow at the Smithsonian Institution's Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Norwegian Nobel Institute, and Harvard University's Center for International Affairs, and he has served as a consultant to several agencies of the US government. From 2001-02 he was the first holder of the Henry Alfred Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the US Library of Congress.

Ideas that have harmed mankind include racism, imperialism, militarism, chauvinism, fanaticism, extremism, intolerance and hubris. These ideas have of late enjoyed resurgence in the form of pugnacious catch phrases such as Francis Fukuyama's "The End of History" and Samuel P Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations". Now, the distortion of A J P Taylor's "Struggle for Mastery", a book title that would have been more accurately phrased as "The Penalty for the Struggle for Mastery", has joined the growing lexicon of neo-conservatism.

In an article in the November 2000 issue of Commentary, an influential neo-conservative monthly, titled "The Struggle for Mastery in Asia", Friedberg put forth the proposition that "the United States will find itself engaged in an open and intense geopolitical rivalry with the People's Republic of China (PRC)", and that "there are reasons to believe it is already under way". This article was written at the time of the presidential election of 2000, and the victory of George W Bush since has given it policy significance. While the article was written almost a year before the attacks of September 11, 2001, the US response to which has affected its subsequent tactical posture toward China, the neo-conservative theme of China being a strategic competitor to US hegemony remains operative for long-range policy. Friedberg's appointment to Cheney's staff after the second war in Iraq as deputy national security advisor and director of policy planning reinforces this view.

Friedberg's proposition is based on his openly stated assumption that the United States, while seeking to satisfy China's legitimate ambitions, will not be willing to abandon its own present position of preponderance in Asia or to surrender pride of place to China. To permit a potentially hostile power to dominate East Asia would not only be out of line with current US policy, it would also mark a deviation from the fundamental pattern of the United States' grand strategy since at least the latter part of the 19th century. These are the necessary preconditions of a "struggle for mastery" in Asia, Friedberg concludes.

Friedberg adopted the phrase "struggle for mastery" from the title of a book by British revisionist historian A J P Taylor, The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848-1918, notwithstanding Taylor's theme that it was the failure to prevent a struggle for mastery in Europe that had led to World War I. Taylor's concept of a struggle for mastery in Europe describes a world of a century ago. It is questionable whether the concept of mastery can remain operational in the contemporary world where slavery is, or at least should be, an anachronism. Responsible nations no longer quest for mastery of any kind. In the 21st century, civilized nations struggle for harmony. Therein lies the fundamental fallacy of Friedberg's analysis.

It is predictable that neo-conservatives would appreciate Taylor, who, like many neo-cons, came out of radical left roots. While a student at Oxford, Taylor was an active supporter of the Communist Party of Great Britain. In the summer of 1925, Taylor, together with his mother and her political protege Henry Sara (a founding member of the Communist Party of Great Britain), visited the Soviet Union in the midst of its New Economic Policy phase. Taylor saw Lenin, heard Grigori Zinoviev speak, and met Lev Kamenev and Maxim Litvinov. Back in Oxford, however, Taylor's involvement with communism ended because of his disillusionment with the party's inaction in the General Strike of 1926. Taylor also provided some famous quotes, including "Freedom does not always win."

Taylor's The Origins of the Second World War, written between 1957 and 1961, challenged the then-accepted view that Adolf Hitler had been a uniquely evil plotter of war by presenting a view of Hitler as an opportunist who had enjoyed much popular support in Germany and Austria. Hitler pushed for reform of the Versailles Treaty to secure concessions that would placate Germanic sentiment. The unraveling of the absurdities of the Versailles Treaty could have been managed rationally, as in the early stages of British and French appeasement over the Rhineland and Germany's anschluss of Austria. After Munich, in 1938, having appeased Berlin over more contestable territorial issues over the Sudetenland, the British changed their stance and decided to fight over Danzig and the Polish Corridor, where the German case for revision was stronger. Great Britain and France had up to that point vacillated between policies of appeasement and resistance. The result, Taylor maintained, was a war in Europe that nobody wanted and that personally dismayed Hitler. World War II began simply as an accident. Hitler never imagined that the democracies would actually go to war over Poland, especially because London and Paris could do almost nothing to defend the Poles. And in 1773 Poland had been the first nation in the European system to be partitioned out of existence without a war, a source of great satisfaction to the participating powers: Russia, Austria and Prussia.

Taylor separated the Third Reich's racist monstrosity from its geopolitical maneuvering. His statement "in principle and doctrine, Hitler was no more wicked and unscrupulous than many a contemporary statesman" outraged many in the liberal community who thought state racism implemented with death camps as being monstrously evil. Taylor did, however, say of Hitler: "In wicked acts he outdid them all." During the Cold War, Taylor advocated an alliance between Britain and the Soviet Union. "Anyone who claims to learn from history," he wrote with breathtaking assurance in 1967, "should devote himself to promoting an Anglo-Soviet alliance, the most harmless and pacific of all possible combinations."

Taylor argued that war was not caused by rival ideologies of fascism and communism and liberalism, nor righteous ideals vs evil Hitler, nor any blueprint for world conquest by Hitler the megalomaniac. Rather, war was the result of blunders, opportunism and failure of balance-of-power realpolitik. Taylor believed "human blunders shape history more than human wickedness". Hitler was a "traditional European statesman" seeking to restore Germany. He "simply leaned on the door hoping to gain entrance and the whole house fell in". Hitler's anti-Semitism might have been excessive but it was not unique; he merely took advantage of the prevalent mood throughout Europe and the United States.

Germany, growing and expanding since Otto von Bismarck in the 1870s, had been the dynamic element in European geopolitics. Article 231 of The Covenant of the League of Nations reads like a victor's hymn: "The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies." Showing his British bias, Taylor thought Article 231 correct to blame Germany for World War I. Yet he observed accurately that Hitler's revanchism had much popular support in Germany. Hitler and Benito Mussolini reacted to the postwar actions of the other victorious powers. There was no mastery control; there was no global plot. France and England pursued their own separate national interests. Poland was weak, corrupt, elitist, and an artificial re-creation of the Big Four at Versailles.

The United States was predominantly isolationist and abrogated its responsibility of Article 10, which states: "The Members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League. In case of any such aggression or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled." The US did not enter World War II until after Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor and declared war on Germany on the ground on the Axis alliance and not because of German hostility toward the United States. Once in the war, despite the indignity suffered unexpectedly at the hand of allegedly inferior Japan, the US naturally took care of Europe first, a fact that Asians have not forgotten.

The Taylor thesis is deterministic that the Second World War was inevitably caused by peace settlements of the First World War, with German nationalism as the driving force.

Notwithstanding that Taylor's views fit poorly the neo-conservative penchant for preemptive strikes against a convenient "axis of evil", Friedberg sees the struggle for mastery in Asia as one between the United States, a morally narcissistic established superpower, and China, a rising power with alleged moral defects. Friedberg predicts "a period of gradual deterioration punctuated by one or a series of crises (like the one that followed the accidental American bombing of the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999), no one of which might seem in itself to be of overwhelming importance but which, taken together, could culminate in a much more contentious relationship".

Friedberg challenges the belief that trade leads to peace and that mutual economic exchange forges a shared interest in good relations and a powerful disincentive to conflict. He proposes a fallback strategy in the event "engagement" with the PRC through international trade and investment to fuel economic growth does not speed democratization in China to make it less likely to use force or threats against other democracies, including the United States. In that event, the United States will be faced with a challenge with which it has not had to cope in more than a century: a strategic rival that is economically and technologically dynamic, is deeply engaged in the world economy, and whose total output may come eventually to approach America's own.

Friedberg notes that China has placed heavy emphasis on the development and deployment of missiles: short-, intermediate-, and long-range, nuclear and conventional, cruise and ballistic. He acknowledges that China's interest in missiles may be due in part to the fact that, as opposed to manned long-range aircraft, submarines, or surface naval vessels such as carrier task forces, they are relatively cheap, comparatively simple, and potentially very effective. While the Chinese air force and navy continue to work at acquiring and improving conventional military systems, missiles are the sole credible long-range firepower projection assets China can deploy. Yet Friedberg ignores the obvious fact that as China subscribes to the no-first-use doctrine, its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) function only as deterrence against US first strikes. No serious strategic analyst has suggested that Chinese strategic missile capability is offensive in nature. Moreover, rocketry had been originally invented in China long before the West copied from China the secret of gunpowder. Wernher von Braun did not invent it and the United States can hardly claim a monopoly on it.

The United States has been developing and moving toward the deployment of both national and theater ballistic-missile defense systems (NMD and TMD), driven by technological imperative, with the excuse of countering first a Soviet threat, then threats from "rogue" states, and now as defense against Chinese missiles. Experts have characterized such systems as a technological solution looking for a geopolitical problem. Chinese strategists have no option except to assume that US missile-defense programs are designed to neutralize Chinese deterrence against US first strikes. Friedberg suggests that a TMD system deployed on or around Taiwan could blunt missiles, China's most potent threat against the island, perhaps opening the way for moves toward formal Taiwan independence. No Chinese government will use a nuclear weapon on Chinese soil on Chinese citizens, including Taiwan. Nevertheless, China has repeatedly made clear that a move by Taiwan toward independence will trigger a decisive and immediate military response regardless of cost, but it will not be a nuclear option. The Kuomingtang (KMT) on Taiwan is also opposed to independence and there is every expectation that a runaway independence movement fanned by US extremists would bring about a third round of cooperation between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party to stop it with force. If the US 7th Fleet intervened under such conditions, its combat effectiveness would be neutralized by Chinese asymmetrical means that focus on disrupting its communication capabilities.

All through the Cold War, US military strategy was based on deploying its power-projection superiority for defensive purposes to support containment of global communist expansion. After the Cold War, as the sole remaining superpower, the United States has restructured its military as an offensive force to support hegemonic aims around the world. Friedberg observes that in Asia, the US today is able to project conventional air and naval power virtually unimpeded anywhere in the western Pacific, including all along China's eastern seaboard and, conceivably, hundreds of kilometers inland. Its strategic nuclear reach covers the entire globe. This Friedberg acknowledges as obvious. What Friedberg misses is that China does not view such power-projection capability as a direct threat, for the simple reason that the US still lacks any credible capability to prevail in a land war in Asia, short of massive nuclear attacks to massacre one-fifth of the world's population.

Friedberg warns that at present and for the foreseeable future, the ability of the United States to sustain air and naval operations in the western Pacific depends heavily on access to a small number of facilities in Japan and South Korea. If these (plus a handful of others in Singapore, Australia, and perhaps in the Philippines and Guam) can be destroyed militarily or rendered unusable diplomatically, America's ability to project power will fall precipitously. The difficulties experienced during the second war on Iraq in the use of US bases on foreign territories for the support of US war plans are causing new worries in the Pentagon.

Friedberg observes that China can acquire weapons to sink US surface ships, and especially the aircraft carriers on which the United States now relies so heavily. In most conflicts involving US and Chinese forces, these vessels would have to operate at the far western edge of the Pacific and might therefore be especially vulnerable to attacks by enemy cruise missiles, torpedoes, and intelligent mines. Such anti-ship weapons could be unleashed in large numbers from swarms of relatively inexpensive platforms, including small submarines and surface ships, and remotely piloted aerial vehicles. Anti-carrier attacks by land-based ballistic missiles are another possibility.

More challenging than sinking carriers but of potentially even greater battle impact would be the capacity to disable US intelligence, communications, and navigation satellites and to disrupt its information systems, both in the region and beyond. In contrast to China, which in conflicts close to home would enjoy the benefits of interior lines of communication, the United States would have to control its forces at great distances from home and across a vast theater of operations. Even temporary disruptions in communication could have devastating and potentially disastrous consequences in modern war. Friedberg thinks this is something that has not escaped the attention of Chinese planners. US reliance on communications, reconnaissance, and navigation satellites is a potential Achilles' heel, highly vulnerable to ground-based lasers, jammers, and kinetic kill vehicles. In other word, Friedberg sees a technological imperative in US-China conflict.

Friedberg forgets that for China, defeating US power projection in Asia means defending Chinese territory against airborne attack by US forces, not a strategy for invasion of the US homeland. Toward this end, China has apparently been devoting considerable resources to developing a nationwide air-defense system capable of locating, tracking, and intercepting aircraft and cruise missiles, including those with stealthy characteristics. Improved coastal defenses, perhaps including antisubmarine-warfare ships, attack submarines and aircraft, could also force US cruise-missile-launching submarines to operate at greater distances from China's shores, thereby reducing the array of targets they could cover. Yet all these threats to US force projection presuppose US initiation of hostilities against China. China will rely on asymmetrical warfare as a defense strategy against the US attack. China has no offensive war plan against the United States. This fact appears to have escaped Friedberg.

US containment policy against China during the Cold War was executed through defense alliances with Asian allies against potential attack by China. Until very recently, the United States enjoyed the comfort of virtual immunity from direct Chinese attack on US soil. Thus the cost to the US in taking on China to defend US allies never struck home. The development of Chinese long-range strike capabilities and, in particular, a visible and substantial increase in China's ability to hit the continental United States with nuclear weapons could raise profound questions in Asia about the continuing utility of the US nuclear "umbrella" for its allies. Would the US risk Los Angles to save Tokyo? Would US bases in Japan enhance Japanese security or risk it if such bases were used by the US to attack China?

During the Cold War, US forward bases were protected by deterrence threats on Soviet forward bases. China has no forward bases outside of China to perform such a function, thus exposing US forward bases on ally soil to the political vulnerability of uncertain US willingness to risk attacks on the US homeland to protect them.

Without a national missile-defense system in the United States, the deployment by China of a fairly limited number of sea- and land-based mobile missiles will effectively guarantee it a secure second-strike capability. As things now stand, the small Chinese ICBM force would take hours to make ready for launch, and it could conceivably be destroyed in a preemptive attack by the US, perhaps one involving only the use of precision conventional weapons. A larger, more diverse, and more mobile force of solid-fueled rockets would be far less vulnerable. Such a force could conceivably also be used to conduct limited attacks on US military targets rather than simply lobbing a few large and inaccurate warheads at a handful of US cities, Friedberg warns.

Friedberg sees a potential Chinese threat as having a similarity with anticipated Soviet development of intercontinental bombers and ballistic missiles in the early phase of the Cold War. US policymakers were long preoccupied with convincing their North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, the Soviets, and perhaps themselves that the United States would indeed intervene in a European war even if in doing so it risked nuclear attack on its own soil. Just as much as what the United States did in Europe was motivated by the desire to strengthen deterrence in the face of increasing Soviet intercontinental-strike capabilities, the US now faces the same challenge in Asia. China might try to use doubts about US resolve on the part of its allies as a way of undermining the United States' position in Asia.

Friedberg reminds readers that in 1995, a high-ranking Chinese official was widely quoted as having told a visitor that the United States would not come to Taiwan's rescue because, in the end, Americans cared more about Los Angeles than Taipei. More recently, during the run-up to the March 2000 Taiwanese presidential election, China's official armed-forces newspaper warned that, unlike Iraq or Yugoslavia, China is "a country that has certain abilities of launching strategic counterattack and the capacity of launching a long-distance strike ... It is not a wise move to be at war with a country such as China, a point which the US policymakers know fairly well also."

Friedberg acknowledges that these threats were evidently intended to give pause to anyone contemplating possible conventional strikes on Chinese forces or territory in the context of military conflict over Taiwan. Yet he speculates that in the future, Chinese strategists might issue more generalized warnings, perhaps suggesting that the growth in their striking power means that the United States will have to contemplate sacrificing Washington to save Tokyo, or Seoul, or Sydney, or Manila, or Singapore. Such comments would be directed more at Asian than at US audiences, and their aim would be not so much to deter the United States as to raise questions about its ability to deter China. The ultimate aim would be to raise doubts in the minds of Asian observers as to the continuing value of US security commitments.

Yet Friedberg needs to allow that security analysts of US allies are not children. They have long contemplated the logic of this issue without any suggestion from China. Such doubts exist on their own logic, and not as a result of Chinese psychological warfare. There is no rational basis to contemplate a Chinese invasion of Japan, Korea, Australia, the Philippines or any other nation. China has not declared those who are not with it are against it. US bases in these countries would be subject to Chinese attack only if the US attacked China from these bases.

What Friedberg misses in this line of thinking is that Chinese reunification of Taiwan is of a fundamentally different character from the fantastic prospect of China attacking Japan. Taiwan is an internal affair of China, a leftover issue of a civil war that remains unresolved only because of US interference. None of the Asian allies of the United States is prepared to risk a war with China over Taiwan. On this issue, even official US policy is ambiguous, with commitment only to help Taiwan defend itself, stopping short of direct US intervention. Chinese action on Taiwan is not an act of international aggression.

Outside of the Taiwan issue and US fantasy about regime change in China, military rivalry between the United States and China falls into the category of idle speculation. Even in its most radical, belligerent phase, China never contemplated any role in bringing about regime change in the United States. That is an issue for US voters to decide. The same cannot be said of US policy toward China or other nations. Thus the whole world knows who is the belligerent party in US-China relations.

Friedberg sees the political or diplomatic realm as the third dimension of a possible future struggle in Asia between the US and China and the central issue of this particular contest would be the making and breaking of alliances. As in the military arena, Friedberg sees the United States as starting with a number of very considerable advantages: it enjoys good relations with most countries in East Asia and has alliance ties or other security connections with many of them, including most of the wealthiest and most powerful. China, on the other hand, is seen as having problematic relationships with a number of major players in both East and South Asia and its closest collaborators (North Korea, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Russia) as suffering from profound domestic liabilities.

Friedberg exaggerates the political affinity between the US and its Asian allies. Such "good relations" were imposed by Cold War geopolitics through US interference in the internal affairs of many Asian nations in the name of anti-communism. The United States is a non-Asian culture with alien values that most Asians find strange and intrusive. The US position in Japan remains that of victor in war, and the United States has inherited much of the European colonial system throughout Asia in the name of free markets. General Douglas MacArthur, acting as de facto occupation emperor, created the postwar Japanese one-party political system. Real democracy was aborted early during the US occupation to prevent the rise of socialism in Japan. The remnants of the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), which was disbanded in 1977, cannot be resurrected easily from a defunct anti-communist alliance into an anti-China alliance.

Friedberg sees the United States as also benefiting from what is, for the moment at least, a major geopolitical advantage: the possible threat posed by the sheer magnitude of its material power is offset to a degree by its remoteness from the heart of Asia. Because it is far away, the US is less menacing than China, which is nearby and thus potentially overwhelming. Indeed, as China's capabilities grow, there may be a strong tendency on the part of the other Asian states to draw closer to one another, and to the United States, in order to counterbalance Chinese power and preserve their own independence, Friedberg hopes.

But experience has taught Asian nations that distance has not prevented US hegemony in the region in the decades after World War II. Distance only keeps US doctrinal policymaking in Washington from being tampered with in appreciation of the reality of the region. The reason the United States feels welcome in Asia is because many regimes friendly to it have been installed through US hegemonic interference. Since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which caused the fall of several Asian governments, the US system has found itself on the defensive from Japan to Indonesia and from South Korea to Malaysia. More and more nations in Asia are viewing the Chinese model as a potential for strong growth and independence.

Friedberg thinks power-balancing is not automatic and inevitable. Thus the United States cannot afford to sit back and let nature take its course on his theory of natural centrifugal force against China. He warns that the societies of Northeast and Southeast Asia also have long historical experience with Chinese preponderance, and they could choose to live with it again in the future. This is especially likely if the only alternative appeared to be a period of protracted and dangerous rivalry between China and the United States. Moreover, if the United States appears weak and vacillating, or if its withdrawal from the region begins to seem inevitable, these countries may conclude that they have little choice but to cut the best deal they can with China.

Friedberg concludes that the aim of Chinese diplomatic strategy, therefore, will be to turn America's geographical remoteness from an advantage to a disadvantage, weakening existing US relationships and preventing the formation of new ones, feeding doubts about US resolve and staying power, and making China's rise seem both as inevitable, and as unthreatening, as possible.

China's strategy is not well understood by US analysts, including Friedberg, who are frequently fixated exclusively on US perspectives. For example, the view that China wants the United States out of Asia is totally unfounded. If anything, Chinese strategy expects and accepts a perpetual US involvement in Asia as long as it does not predispose itself as inherently hostile toward China. This posture parallels those of other Asian nations that would not like to see their friendly relations with the United States as incurring a price of collateral hostility toward China and consequently soliciting reactive Chinese hostility toward them. Thus no Asian nation, including Japan and South Korea and China itself, sees benefits in US-China conflict.

The United States would pose itself as a threat to the security of Asian nations if its presence should invoke Chinese hostility on host nations. A cordial relationship with China is indispensable to US claims on its legitimate national interest in Asia. The US system has many positives and also many faults. The same is true with the Chinese system. But that is no reason to let moral imperialism raise its ugly head to preempt the prospect of regional harmony and world peace.

Friedberg discerns that Chinese leaders could transform their country's long-standing but largely rhetorical opposition to bilateral military alliances into a central feature of their foreign policy. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Chinese were willing to accept that America's Asian alliances served the useful purpose of countering Soviet "hegemonism". During the 1990s, China preferred that Japan continue under US tutelage rather than being left free to expand its power and pursue its own objectives. But, as has already begun to happen, deteriorating US-PRC relations and stepped-up efforts at US-Japan security cooperation will cause Chinese strategists to re-examine their permissive position and ultimately to take a much tougher, anti-alliance stance. At the same time, deterioration in US-China relations creates uneasiness in Japan, South Korea, and even Australia.

The campaign against US hegemony and US cultural and economic neo-imperialism is by no means exclusively Chinese. Seeking friends among those in Asia (and beyond) who feel they have suffered at the hands of US corporations, US-led international institutions, and/or US efforts to enforce conformity with US views on political liberties and human rights, has become an easy task worldwide because the adverse effects of US-led globalization are by now undeniable. At the same time that it seeks to gain the benefits of greater integration into the world economy, China has yet to emerge as a leading critic of the ills of globalization and a leading proponent of various kinds of regional (as opposed to global and hence US-dominated) institutions.

Friedberg even suggests that Chinese policy might even take on a racial aspect, perhaps appealing to those who share ethnic and cultural characteristics across East Asia or, more generally, making the case against "the West" and for "Asia for the Asians". Friedberg must realize that very few Asians need convincing that the United States is a racist culture, for without exception, all Asians who have had personal experience in the West, including the US, have experienced incidents of overt prejudice. China is highly sensitive to the danger of "big-nationism", (daguo zhuyi), and the presence of Americans in Asia will defuse anti-Chinese sentiments. The principal theme behind Chinese foreign policy has always been that all countries, big or small, are sovereign equals in the community of nation states. Asia for Asians can include Americans if Americans consider themselves Asians. The opposite of Asia for Asians does not translate into Asia for Americans.

Friedberg anticipates that China will no doubt become an even more engaging participant in multilateral security dialogues and other forums in Asia, using them to convey the image of a good international citizen and an open, unthreatening power. Active Chinese participation will naturally want to ensure that multilateral mechanisms cannot be used against the PRC's interests. It is a puzzle why Friedberg feels this is a threat to the United States. Friedberg thinks China might also begin to advocate new institutions that will exclude "non-Asian" powers and seek "local" solutions to regional economic, environmental, and security problems. But this is a threat to US interest only if the US considers itself a non-Asian nation because of its traditional Eurocentric fixation. For the United States to protect its interests in Asia, it must begin to see itself as a bi-coastal country facing both the Atlantic as well as the Pacific and act accordingly. The US is not a European nation, but it has an Asian presence physically. In this respect, both the US and Australia have the same problem of being foreigners in their own region.

Friedberg thinks that China's strictures against bilateral alliances notwithstanding, China will also attempt to develop its own "strategic partnerships", both in Asia and beyond. In some cases (as in its current dealings with Russia, Israel, and a number of European countries), China's goal will be to obtain military hardware and advanced technology. In others (as, most likely, with Pakistan), the PRC will be supporting the enemy of an enemy (India). Yet bilateral alliance is not required for arms purchase, only money. To underwrite the cost of armaments, most arms-producing nations will sell arms to all comers except specific direct enemies. As for China's relationship to Pakistan and India, the matter is much more complex than a simplistic "enemy of my enemy is my friend" calculation, involving the policies of the US and Russia.

Friedberg suggests that in order to circumvent US efforts to apply economic sanctions or technology controls, China may hope to cultivate a much closer relationship with a more independent and perhaps openly anti-American European Union. In the Persian Gulf region, it may align itself more openly with Iran as a way of deflecting US attention and scarce military resources from East Asia, and in order to ensure its own access to oil. In continental Southeast Asia (especially Myanmar and Thailand), it may use threats and inducements to gain access to facilities for its own military forces or to deny access to the forces of its rivals. In Central Asia, it may work to establish client regimes that will protect oil pipelines and control Islamic groups that might otherwise foment discontent among China's own non-Han minorities. Yet all these options are made necessary only by US hostility toward China, not intrinsically China's own doing. At any rate, from the perspective of all the nations mentioned above, China is only a peripheral issue when it comes to their own relations with the United States.

Finally, Friedberg suggests that while China will probably continue to shun any pretension to global power, it may provide assistance to states or non-state actors around the world that see themselves as being opposed to the United States. Like the Soviet Union before it, albeit more for geopolitical than for ideological reasons, China could become a low-key but important supporter of rebel movements, "rogue states", and terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Central and Latin America. This suggestion borders on the lunatic fringe. While the United States has been engaged in all manner of covert destabilization schemes around the world, some of which have turned around to bite the hand that fed them, China's record on rejecting terrorism is immaculate. As for the sale of missile technology to states that temporarily suffer disapproval from the US, logic would suggest that while the United States continue to supply arms to Taiwan, it loses all credibility in its demand on China to stopping selling arms to anybody.

But it is in East Asia that Friedberg thinks Chinese strategists will most want to focus attention, aiming first to secure their continental "rear areas". Toward this end, China will work hard to maintain a good relationship with Russia and to avoid being drawn into debilitating conflicts in Central Asia. In South Asia, although China will probably opt to continue its present policy of supporting Pakistan to distract India, it could also try to take India out of the larger strategic equation by offering a spheres-of-influence arrangement that would leave India dominant on the subcontinent in exchange for its continued nonalignment. These observations by Friedberg, while not particularly profound, have all been made inoperative by events after September 11, 2001.

Next: Imagined danger