Tuesday, November 23, 2010

ALERT: North Korea attacks South Korea

Uh-oh. Not good news, not good news at all.

Keep your eyes peeled, kids. America will be involved, either way....

Spencer

11 comments:

Jonas said...

Let's pray that North Korean regime collapses soon... Unfortunately it doesn't seem that's gonna happen, not as long as China keeps supporting it. I just can't understand why the other countries of the world keep cuddling with China despite their support of regimes like those of North Korea and Burma, not to mention how they treat their own people...

The Warrior said...

Couldn't agree with you more, Jonas (for once, lol!).

The answer, I'm afraid, is as old as Croesus: money.

Jonas said...

Right you are! When China was a totalitarian communist state terrorizing its own population and countries beyond, we could condemn them. But when it's equally totalitarian and brutal - but capitalist! - we welcome them into our embrace...

The People's Will said...

The deeper answer is that the world is in the process of returning to its historical norm, in which China will once again be far and away the most economically powerful state on earth and the major regional military power. Its relationships with North Korea and Burma are much the same as its relationships with the other countries of southeast Asia; what is notable is not China's relationships with these two countries but Western nations' lack of relations with them. China, as it has done trhoughout history, is creating a network of economic interdependence in Asia with itself at the centre, much like its imperial 'tribute' system. Unlike the USA and, to a slightly lesser extent, other major Western powers, it doesn't have a universalist moral agenda but rather confines international relations to economic matters and regional stability. China does not want war on its doorstep, yet it also does not want the North Korean regime to collapse, because either possibilty creates the prospect of millions of North Korean refugees flooding into the northeast. Hence it must tread very carefully. I highly doubt (re your other post on this) that China would openly support the North in a conflict. It is true that the USA is econmically dependent on China, but China is on the USA too, and North Korea is not Taiwan. Even though the potential economic damage China could deal to the USA is probably greater than vice-versa, that is not a good basis on which to cut off their largest trading partner.

I could also say a lot on their treatment of their own people but I fear it would detract from the main point.

The Warrior said...

Jonas: Well, I actually don't agree with that statement entirely (despite the ruse of capitalism and even some of the freer markets in recent years, I still see China as a communist, totalitarian state) but we at least agree with the real issue here, and that's a good thing.

TPW: Interesting analysis, thank you. It's very true that China will survive. They've been around for a very long time. During the time of Rome, the Han dynasty's empire was as big as Rome's! (I understand that the Chinese still call themselves "Han ren", or, "Han people".) So they'll stick around, that's for sure; I just would love to see them drop a few pegs.

I really appreciate your comment on this; thanks, man!

Spencer

Jonas said...

Spencer: Well, I'd still say China of today is more capitalistic than communistic, and neither of those two economical systems - of course - have much to do with whether a country is free and democratic or not. Actually one might even say there was never much of communism in China, in the truest sense of the word, since that would mean an equal society with people working together to build their society, and well, the China of Mao wasn't that either, with that authoritarian leadership... But now I'm getting out into the blue :P

The People's Will said...

Glad you appreciate the input. Here's some more that you'll no doubt disagree with.

1. China is not a communist state. The only thing commmunist about it is the name of the Party. It is not capitalist either. Actually its current economic structure is most similar to that of imperial times, and (extremely irritatingly for economists) does not neatly fit in to Western economic categories (like capitalist or communist) nor, more importantly, always obey the laws (principles) of Western economics. Just about every aspect of the Party has changed since the death of Mao (who obviously was a communist, albeit a rather unusual one).

2. China is not a totalitarian state. It in now way exercises the kind of control over its people typical of real totalitarian regimes (Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia, Mao's China, North Korea) and does not cultivate near-religious worship of the state.
It is undemocratic and the government exerts what may be called a totalizing authority, but it is by no means a police state and for the most part people are free to go about their everyday lives. You can quite freely criticize and complain about the government, as long as you don't put it in writing or appear to be mobilizing an opposition movement. In this respect, again, the current Chinese government behaves in a very similar way to many of the great emperors of its past (Kangxi and Qianlong immediately spring to mind, though the latter was considerably more paranoid about opposition to the point that he banned the writing of characters used in his name). The government also enjoys genuine popular support, and whilst many people will complain about corruption and failures of local government (which in practice has varying degrees of autonomy), very few would believe that the system needs changing. It may not be perfect, but it is the best type of government for the nation (which is why the imperial system it so closely resembles lasted for two thousand years and when democracy arrived it failed magnificently).

A little bit of casual research I did a while ago led me to discover the following. When one takes the murder rate in China and factors in the number of executions the Chinese government carries out per year (based on human rights group estimates, often around two or three times the official figures), the total rate of murder is around half that of the USA. As such, in the democratic United States an individual is twice as likely to have their right to life violated than in undemocratic China. Just a thought to help keep everything in perspective.

The People's Will said...

Now, to argue that the current Chinese government is equally as brutal as Mao's is frankly ludicrous. Mao's autocratic rule resulted in the deaths of at least 30 million people and massive cultural destruction and suppressed religion, replacing it with a deified Mao. It caused the greatest famine in history and the execution of political enemies was routine. The post-Mao government has and continues to crack down violently on political opposition, and in certain incidences this has resulted in deaths (Tiananmen Square, for example). The Chinese government executes between two and six thousand people per year for a variety of crimes including murder, corruption, fraud and drug trafficking (though it is currently reviewing the number of crimes unishable by death). Political opponents are closely monitored and often imprisoned or beaten, but not (at least, in general) executed. However, the policies of the post-mao government have lifted 300 million people out of poverty, the most successful anti-poverty campaign in history. The Chinese government was notably massively more responsive to the Sichuan earthquake than the Bush administration was to Hurricane Katrina. Its central control allows it to direct development as needed and this continues to result in major improvements in people's lives. It recognizes five religions (Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism) to which it grants significant autonomy (though far less so in the case of the Catholic church) and does little against popular religion (a syncretic mixture of Buddhism, Daoism, ancestor worship, Confucian philosophy and local deities) other than label it as superstitious. To view teh current Chinese government as nothing but a self-interested ogre is unfair and inaccurate. The real picture, as ever, is far more complicated.

What is most important, however, is the huge cultural gulf which separates China from the West. This is what needs to be addressed, or rather, accepted, in order for the two civilizations to coexist peacefully in the future. China does not, I believe, have anti-Western ambitions. The desire to convert and control the world is, historically, common only to Western and Islamic civilization (plus, for its brief existence, the Mongol empire). We need not fear China, provided we accept that they think differently and let them do so.

Finally, regarding China lasting, you are indeed right about the Han Empire, and that the Chinese do indeed call themselves Hanren. Tangren is also used occasionally, in reference to the later and far greater Tang dynasty. The Chinese place great value on historical knowledge, and unlike many Anglo-American politicians of recent years tend to learn from mistakes of the past. As much as you may wish them taken down a few pegs, China will continue to rise and will eclipse the West to the point that we will never be able to catch up (the Chinese are, after all, a fifth of humanity and the Western world a modest seventh or so, depending how you define it). That does not mean they threaten us.

I shall get off my box now, and if you stuck with it for the whole thing then I greatly appreciate it :)

The Warrior said...

Whups, blogger flagged this last comment as spam. Just found it...blogger has a spam box? Hmm....

And yes, I read it. Thanks again for the deep discussion, it's always good. While I don't agree 100% on everything there, I do appreciate your opening up to the discussion. (I especially appreciated your remarks about Islam and politicians. Ha!)

Spencer

The People's Will said...

Just noticed you got the other half. Apologies for going on a bit :P. Actually it has inspired me to get blogging again, and I've posted an adapted version on my new page.

Again, glad you appreciate it, and it's always fun to have people to disagree with!

:)

The Warrior said...

No reason to apologize; it was all good fun my friend!