David T. Chien, Former Senator, R.O.C. (Taiwan)
The initiation of American "freedom of navigation" patrols in the South China Sea is a clear provocation directed at China. In these patrols US warships pass within the 12 nautical-mile waters of Chinese civil and military facilities. As China grows to become a true rival to American power, the United States is pushing back with a show of naval force.
China's extraordinary growth in recent years has led to increasing discussion of Chinese matters in major international media outlets and other forums. However, the great majority of scholars participating in these debates have been Westerners. Chinese scholars' participation in these forums is rare. This leads to serious misunderstandings of China.
China's sudden growth may have left Chinese specialists relatively unprepared for active participation in such debates. Nevertheless, this situation will be changing greatly in the next four to five years. As a matter of fact, in past two years we have seen an amazing rise in involvement by China in international affairs.
Moreover, China's passive participation in international affairs has been transformed into a leading role in several fields very quickly--the establishment of the Asian Development Bank is just a striking example.
Chinese scholars' international participation in international affairs discussions is to be welcomed because the comments of Western scholars often lack accuracy. They easily become lost amid great piles of statistics and seem unable to arrive at accurate assessments -- largely because they don't understand China and Chinese people.
The performances of American scholars in international forums is often quite confusing. They seem to share one special trait: they are great experts of foreign countries' crises, but remain completely blind to their own.
For example, the famous American economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman gained his fame by accurately predicting the Asian financial crisis. But in 2008, the year he gained his Nobel prize, he had not a word of warning about this much greater crisis that was set off by the Lehman Brothers collapse--a financial tsunami which engulfed the U.S. and the entire world.
Similarly, the Wall Street Journal published an article by renowned China expert David Shambaugh in March entitled, "The Coming Chinese Crackup". This article appeared as a big surprise to the whole world, especially since Shambaugh had been a long-term friend to China government. Nobody expected that he would come up with such a harsh criticism of Chinese authority.
Definitely China has all sorts of problem that it has been dealing with for a long time. But the assertion that China will collapse in the near future has no basis in reality. Most observers of China would agree that China with its continuously growing economy is still marching forward even with stronger confidence and better stability.
On the other hand, what if we turn back from China to see if U.S. has its own problems? The U.S. has a continuously weak economy, soaring national debt, descending sovereign ratings, and threats from international and domestic terrorism. So today the question being asked by the whole world is: who will collapse first, the U.S. or China?
Driven by concerns that China with its rapid growth may take over the U.S.'s dominant power position, the U.S. started its "Pivot to Asia" policy in 2010. But this is a very dangerous policy, as China may use this policy reversely to trigger U.S.'s crisis.
The U.S. government made a serious mistake when executing its "Pivot to Asia" policy: right after Japan claimed the sovereignty on Senkakus Islands, the U.S. government then announced U.S. would not take sides on the Senkakus' sovereignty, but if any country tried to grab the Senkakus by military action the U.S. would help Japan protect them based on its "Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan".
If China launches a foray with superior air and naval power to take the Senkakus Islands under control during August or September 2016, this military action will immediately put Japan and the U.S. deep in very difficult situation that both of them need to confront two tough decisions: Firstly, should they declare war against China? Secondly, can they continue to execute the oncoming elections? The U.S. elections will be next November and Japan's congress re-election will be next December.
Hilary Clinton, the presumed Democratic Party candidate, dedicated many pages in her book Hard Choices to the significance of the U.S. "Pivot to Asia," using it to demonstrate her courage and wisdom. Moreover, she even claimed that in the interaction between U.S. and China, the U.S. government used a combination of "hard power" and "soft power" to develop a new course called "smart power."
Among Chinese commentators, the so-called "smart power" is nothing but a gamble that bets on the calculation that China dare not declare war against U.S. and Japan. However, if China chooses a key timing to launch military action on the Senkakus Islands to take them back, Clinton's "smart power" will be actually proved to be "stupid power."