Hawks Versus Doves

by Juan L. Mercado

His name doesn’t ring a bell for many here. Friends scratch their heads and mutter:.. “Kishore  – who?”

Kishore Mahbubani is  dean at National University of Singapore’ school of public policy. He served as ambassador to the UN  What he writes  about China’s doves versus hawks will affect our grandchildren.   Excerpts:

In just three decades, China emerged as second world economic power. “It did so, without  disrupting the world order. .Suddenly, this sustained  careful management of  external challenges have been upset  by three years of assertive, occasionally, reckless actions…It’s  on the verge of destroying a geopolitical miracle.”

The hawks are mostly People’s Liberation Army young officers. Beijing  should confront those who  question it’s claim’s to most of  the China sea,they insist.

“They’re taking control of strategy, as did young officers in Japan in the 1930s,”  recalls  Prof. Huang Jing at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy  “They are thinking what they can do, not what they should do. This is very dangerous.”

A surge of anti-China opinion stokes the hawks’ claim that there is a “containment conspiracy” by the West.  Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaopeng  paid scant attention to public opinion. Both made concessions when they settled border disputes with Russia and Vietnam. “Today, not even President Xi Jinping, can make unilateral concessions of that kind.”

The  “doves”  use the current criticism to underscore rising anxieties of Asian neighbors. China’s 2012 decision to block a joint statement on the South China Sea  alienated the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Asean represents 600 million people and is now wary.

Deng’s advice was: Adopt a low profile as China emerges as a world power, the doves recall.  It can afford to be patient while power grows  China’s leaders, in fact,  spend perhaps 90 percent of their time focused on internal issues.

The need to shrink state-owned enterprises is a major concern.  Chinese university graduates yearly crest at seven million a year. Many  cannot find work. “This is a far bigger issue leaders than sovereignty over barren rocks in nearby seas”, reflected  in Beijing’s defense of  the “nine-dash line” map of  territorial claims.

As the world’s largest trading power, China has larger interests in maintaining open seas globally.  Instead, China’s behavior unleashed a “tiger” of anti-China sentiment. “That will be difficult to cage again.”

“As long as it breaks the law,, that tiger will find it hard to escape the iron cage.”,  President Xi said. He meant the arrest of the feared  security chief  Zhou Yongkang.

Over the past 35 years, there’s  been an unwritten pact that those arriving at the top do not attack those departing. wrote BBC’s Beijing correspondent  Carrie Gracie This would  avoid Mao Ze Dong’s era of bloodbaths.

Xi tore up that rulebook. “China’s politics moves into uncharted territory”. For years, senior officials plundered billions. Many hid fortunes in offshore accounts and foreign assets “It is impossible to exaggerate public cynicism about China’s political class. And the figures involved are staggering.

Critics accuse Xi of hypocrisy. Some in his own family have got rich in these years, they charge  But his drive to cage “the tigers as well as the flies” has won the president public popularity

Zhou’s downfall came in a  terse one line statement on the official news agency. It  does not repair  tattered reputation of the Party. However, it  underscores  “how  little Chinese public or the world are permitted to know about the internal politics of the world’s second-largest economy.”

President  Xi’s anti corruption drive is hampered by factional struggles within the Communist Party’s highest circles. Senior army figures “may be stoking external tensions to save themselves from internal investigations Corruption is the one force that could ruin legitimacy of the Party”.  Success is far from guaranteed.

In 2014, prosecutors accused Lt. Gen. Gu Junshan of a litany of crimes, including bribery,  embezzlement and abuse of power, New York Times reported. It exposed widespread  graft corroding the Chinese armed forces.

Gu is charged with  presiding over a land development racket that hoarded kickbacks, bought promotions. These enabled him and family to “amass dozens of expensive residences, including places where investigators found stockpiles of high-end liquor, gold bullion and cash.”

President Xi’s  goal, is to transform a service larded with pet projects and patronage networks into a leaner fighting force That’d be more adept at projecting power abroad while buttressing party rule at home. It  cements his authority over the military.

Unlike his immediate predecessors, Xi  took over both the  military and  party in November 2012. He hefts  strong  credentials. After university, he served as  aide to a top military official. His father was a revolutionary guerrilla commander. His wife was a star in the P.L.A.’s song-and-dance troupe.

While his predecessors struggled to manage the military, Xi regards it as a bastion of support and  embraces his vision of China as a robust power, the Times adds.

In an internal speech, he blamed  the Soviet Union’s collapse  in part, on Mikhail Gorbachev’s losing control of the military.  “His implication was: ‘I’m taking  charge…. I’m not going to be like the past  administrations, putting up as you bumble around,’ ”an aide explained

Chinese leaders want to focus on domestic problems?, “The world should let it”,  Mahbubhani counsels. “The international community has a clear interest in the doves winning out over the hawks. What can we do to help the doves?

E-mail: juanlmercado@gmail.com

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