Thursday, November 25, 2010

China, The World's Second Largest Economy, Needs to Act as Such

Communist Party officials cry out “American intrusion” when the US sends warships into Asian waters in the Pacific.  “In history, foreign invaders repeatedly took the Yellow Sea as an entrance to enter the heartland of Beijing and Tianjin," said Chinese Major General Luo Yuan.  "The [Navy] drill area selected by the United States and South Korea is only 500 kilometers away from Beijing...We will never allow others to keep snoring beside our beds.”  Despite these harsh words and lofty ambitions, China has yet to act as the stabilizing regional power, opening the door for others assume this role.  In its own backyard, China watched from the sidelines as its neighbor North Korea tested nuclear weapons and as South Korean lost a naval ship after a torpedo attack.  When President Hu Jintao cowards away from confrontation, China’s void begs for American intervention.

North Korea's Kim Jong-il (left) and
China's Premier Wen Jiabao (right)
With North Korea’s provocative behavior paired with an insistence on developing nuclear power, China needs to take the reigns and pressure Kim Jong-il.  China accounts for almost 60% of North Korea’s exports and more than 40% of its imports. According to The Guardian, China provides North Korea with close to half of its food and 90% of its energy.  China has strong economic influence in North Korea.  Conversely, North Korea’s insignificant impact on the Chinese economy doesn’t even account for 0.03% of commerce (Yes, that decimal is correct – that’s three one-hundredths of a percent).  North Korea’s $3 billion of trade with China is inconsequential to China’s overall GDP of $8.7 trillion.  

President Hu Jintao has the economic might (accompanied by minimal potential economic hazard) to pressure North Korea – the type of economic threat that Obama lacks.  But Jintao refuses to strong-arm its turbulent neighbor into obedience with forceful economic diplomacy.  Party officials in the red state abstain from acknowledging North Korean hostility.  After Kim Jong-il tested atomic missiles, paraded scientists around nuclear facilities, torpedoed foreign vessels, and now attacked a small island; unaffected Chinese officials have yet to condemn North Korea aggression and at best comment on the rogue state ambiguously.

The USS George Washington is
expected to arrive at the Korea
Peninsula on Sunday.
When Japan fought with China over maritime borders in September, China showed the world it wanted to control the East China Sea.  China forcefully restricted rare earth exports to Japan until The Land of the Rising Sun caved into Sino demands.  Now, the world’s second largest economy needs to fully assume its duty as a power of this magnitude and become a leading Asian authority.  If China can’t stand up to dangerously volatile, attention-seeking countries like North Korea, they invite traditional forces to bring warships into the region to establish stability.

For further reading on North Korean aggression, read B.R. Myer's "North Korea Will Never Play Nice."