China – The Middle Kingdom

Jun 5, 2023
Terrestrial globe showing Asia.

The Chinese character for China, denotes China as the middle kingdom and understandably so:

It borders 14 sovereign states.

  • To the north- Russia, Mongolia and Korea (since there is no formal separation of North and South Korea).
  • To the west – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan
  • To the south west – Pakistan, Afghanistan
  • To the south – Nepal, Bhutan, India, Myanmar
  • To the south-east Laos, Cambodia. Vietnam
  • To the east – the south China Sea and Japan but China and Japan have ancient historical ties. It is a love hate relationship. They share the same script, or much of it. Chinese and Japanese people can read each other’s newspapers, and they share a religion: While not all Chinese are Buddhists nor are all Japanese Buddhists, a large proportion of both populations is and Japanese Buddhism derives from Chinese Buddhism. However, China has been invaded by Japan twice, and these invasions have not been peaceful. The Nanjing massacre and the invasion of Manchuria were brutal. It is not by accident that Japan (according to the official Chinese dynastic twenty-four histories) is among the so-called Dongyi (“Eastern Barbarians”).

Through regional Groupings, China has good relations with:

  • other Central Asian Republics through a summit of central Asian countries held recently;
  • other south east Asian countries Malaysia, Thailand Philippines, Singapore, and Indonesia; there is also a very large Chinese diaspora in each of these countries.

Other regional countries via other regional groupings of which it is a member.

Many countries in eastern Europe through traditional solidarity

BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, South Africa and India (also a neighbour}.

Middle Eastern countries enhanced by their recent brokering of a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran

A host of developing countries throughout the world through south-south collaboration

China, really is in the middle of the world, and beyond the ubiquitous neighbourhood disputes, is on good terms with all its neighbours (even fractious India).

It also has strong commercial ties with most counties in the European Union and the European Union and the Union itself (as demonstrated by vaunted delegations from France, Germany and Netherlands).

In fact, it is difficult to think of a country that it does not have good relations with except in recent years with Anglo nations, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia who incidentally also have large diaspora populations (except the U.K). Although it has to be said that India and Japan are ambivalent. But despite India’s difference with China (mostly Jealousy) these differences are insufficient to have it engage in a war certainly not one in the South China Sea.

According to CIA figures reported in Wikipedia, China is the largest trading partner with many countries. It is the largest partner by exports (exporting to) 25 countries, and by imports (importing from) some 60 countries. Its total exports with the world amount to 6,300 billion dollars and imports to 3600 billion dollars.

There are two other factors which one has to consider whether war with China was likely:

  • The American business lobby. So far them military lobby seems to have the upper hand, but that could change very quickly. Biden has proven to be more Trump than Trump. That became clear when his spokesman stated that they didn’t disagree with Trump, only how he went about doing them. Biden then proceeded to forget promises made on the campaign trail: reversing Trump imposed tariffs and re-entering JPOA. Admittedly There is no one obvious on the radar at the moment. But the octogenarians are not going to live forever. Some-one more progressive could emerge.
  • The United States becoming distracted by American internal matters. We have seen that Occur where Biden was forced to cancel his QUAD meeting because of debt ceiling negotiations. Soon he will need to start campaigning if he is really going to seek re-election. If he decides not to then a more progressive substitute may emerge.

And regarding trade, it has total trade with Taiwan of 320 billion dollars annually. Importing $156 billion more than it exports demonstrating that political relations do not affect commercial relations (or for that matter personal exchanges). The political relations are likely to change with the elections next year.

Let us not forget that it holds 840-billion dollars in US Government bonds although it is slowly winding down these reserves.

Is Australia really going down the road of being a spear carrier for the United States while it wages a proxy war against China (on its own turf) such as Ukraine is for US/ NATO in its war with Russia. No Government in their right mind would contemplate this.

The only reasonable point of contention that the United States might have with China is the South China Sea. As Daniel Yergin points out in his book “The New Map”, unproven resources in the South China Sea are likely to be an insignificant addition to world oil reserves, in other words not worth fighting a war over. Freedom of navigation is a reasonable point of contention although most traffic is to and from China (but South Korea and Japan are major users of this waterway). China might request in return for free navigation, cessation of war games in its backyard. Possibly, there is room for an agreement.

Peter Varghese in Pearls and Irritations (20th May, 2023) made a good point. That we do not want to trade one “big kid on the block” for another. Australia should use its good graces with the United States to convince them that a co-operative arrangement with China would be beneficial to both parties and to the world in general. From my reading of the situation, I believe China is willing. In the interim Australia should notify the United States that they will not be involved in the foolhardy venture of warring with China.

Share and Enjoy !

Subscribe to John Menadue's Newsletter
Subscribe to John Menadue's Newsletter


Thank you for subscribing!