China is not our Enemy

by Martin Siegel

In 1949 when the Communists gained control in China, then a country with an overwhelming peasant population, there was vitriol in the air, particularly from Republicans. In a stroke China was cast as the Red Menace, a partner with the Soviet Union bent on world conquest. Amid this hysteria, the reality was that the Soviet Union's biggest expense was the cost for putting millions of soldiers to guard their shared borders. So much for partnership!

In 1951, fears of China accelerated when thousands of troops were sent to aid North Korea over a border dispute involving the Yalu River. General Douglas MacArthur wanted to drop atomic bombs on China, but President Harry Truman negated the idea, fired MacArthur, and for that lost the election. Since the Korean armistice, China has honored it. Now, decades later, the Red Menace of yesteryear is looked upon as the savior for peace in the region.

During the Vietnam War, the phrase Red Menace was dropped for "the domino theory," then as prevalent as the recent "weapons of mass destruction." Yet, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, I have never read any informed article that states that Vietnam (or Cambodia or Laos) is a pawn of China. In parallel, Vietnam's yearly economic growth rate is second in Asia to China's nine percent.

Concerning the national debt, it was China that was asked to bankroll the deficit, not the other way around-this thanks to a policy of "supplementals" during the Bush Administration, which at the same time cut taxes. There is nothing more expensive than war and to cut taxes simultaneously is either the Mad Hatter come to life or the Peter Principle at its best.

Without doubt China is a power that is here to stay. A friend of mine who is fluent in Mandarin told me that a Chinese cabdriver offered his view that China will not only soon equal the United States but surpass it. National pride extends to every country, big and little alike.

In regard to the fears of China's growing military, I don't recall any recent Chinese "war games," even over Taiwan.

As for human rights, it is a noble goal. However, from a Chinese perspective and indeed from an American perspective, it rings hollow. Where are human rights here when people even in good neighborhoods are fearful of going out as night, where crime and violence seem everywhere and schools have become armed camps-all, I might add, to the delight and profit of television news.

The billions spent on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would be better spent finding answers to overcome the wars here. By comparison, China is no threat at all.

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Martin Siegel, born and educated in New York City, is a retired Marketing professor now living in Silver Lake, Ohio