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6. Conclusion

The situation inside China in 1999 may be similar to the situation inside China in 1949. According to Professor Chen Jian of the University of Southern Illinois, after reading an early draft of this essay:

There certainly are some similarities between China today and some 50 years ago,

when Beijing decided to send Chinese troops to Korea. China now and then is

(was) under the reign of the same Communist regime, which always has a great

concern over creating and maintaining its legitimacy. 50 years ago China entered

the Korean War, in the final analysis, for the purpose of enhancing the revolutionary regime=s legitimacy; today the regime is facing a profound legitimacy crisis. (77)

The situation between the United States and China in 1999 may be similar to the situation between the United States and Japan in 1940. Confrontation or war is not inevitable. Professor Chen Jian also said A...I am still somewhat optimistic about China=s relations with the outside world. China in 1950 was a highly isolated revolutionary country...China today has maintained extensive connections with the outside world...@ (77 again) But professor Thomas Chan of Hong Kong Polytechnic University writes, after reading this essay: AI do hope that confrontation, not [just] military but even political and economic, could be avoided, but realistically I do not think it could.@ (78) His view was echoed by French President Jacques Chirac on November 6 when he warned A...that tension between China and the United States could grow because of Washington=t foreign policy and the US Congress= >isolationist tendencies.=@ (79) While Chirac=s view leaves out the context (China=s fundamentally unreasonable irridentist policies and Taiwan=s deliberate attempt to force a change in the theoretical status quo), it is true that neither the official policy of engagement almost to the point of appeasement nor the policy advocated by Congress of deterrence by massive increases in arms sales (to Taiwan) combined with resolutions are helpful at this point. It is probably too late to bet on deterrence by planning for increased arms sales: such a course might only move up the date of a Chinese attack. Since it also is an explicit violation of formal US agreement with China not to increase, but rather to decrease arms sales to Taiwan, it would also be further cause for China not to trust even official US policy commitments. On the other hand, it is most unwise for the United States to be training the Chinese military technically, logistically and operationally. That planned training activities for 1999 are an all time record should be a political scandal. The decoupling of human rights from political and economic issues has also demonstrably failed. China=s window of opportunity for serious reform may be closing: only by serious dialog, combined with policy incentives and disincentives, has any chance of encouraging China=s leaders to make the hard choices which might work.

There is more at stake than the fate of Taiwan. More than a quarter of all the maritime cargo of the entire world passes through the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. It is a vital strategic interest of the United States, of Japan, and of South Korea that this shipping lane not be closed by war or by Chinese political decisions (such as conducting Amilitary exercises@).

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias