“China Threat” Quiz (Less detail)

(Less detailed version)
Jeffrey Rudolph (September 2014, last update July 2016)

In terms of both economic and military power, the United States and China are the two most important countries in the world. While they are deeply connected, primarily by trade and investment, they also compete for power and influence. However, their mutually enriching interconnectedness, coupled with the lethality of modern weaponry, suggests that their rivalry will primarily focus on building coalitions of support.

Nevertheless, world stability requires that the US, the established power, and China, the emerging power, effectively work out their differences over issues such as navigation rights in the seas surrounding China and the political status of Taiwan. Perhaps the greatest danger to peace is that China may overestimate its power—thus leading to hubris and aggression—or that the US may overestimate the threat China poses—thus leading to unnecessary fear and confrontation.

The main purpose of the following Quiz is to examine China’s evolution into an important economic and military power, and to assess the extent of its threat to the US.


1. How many military bases does China have on foreign soil?

-“China is a rising power, but the government does not seem to be interested in building an empire. Unlike the United States, which has hundreds of military bases throughout the globe, China [did not have an agreement for one until 2015]. The Chinese government seems to be very focused on economic growth…” http://www.cepr.net/index.php/op-eds-&-columns/op-eds-&-columns/china-as-the-worlds-largest-economy-what-does-it-mean

-In 2015, China “signed a 10-year deal with the African nation Djibouti to build [its first] military base [on foreign soil]…Djibouti is a small country in East Africa, across from Yemen and on the Gulf of Aden…Djibouti also hosts about 4,000 US military service members at Camp Lemonnier, which…is a Navy-led establishment that supports and prepares ships, aircraft and other deployments for ‘regional and combatant command requirements.’…The new Chinese base would be a logistics hub…It would also allow China to improve its ability to gather intelligence in the region and beyond…China is Africa’s largest bilateral trading partner, with trade volume double that of US-Africa trade in 2013. http://www.ibtimes.com/china-open-first-military-base-africa-signs-deal-djibouti-us-general-says-2197965  (24 Nov. 2015)

-In 2010, the US had military personnel in over 140 countries and over 660 overseas bases. As at June 2014, “US military forces are in action or based in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Djibouti, the Philippines, Yemen, Somalia, Uganda, Central African Republic, Colombia, Kenya, Europe, South Korea, Japan – in fact, around the globe.” http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/sep/14/ron-paul/ron-paul-says-us-has-military-personnel-130-nation/ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38732.htm

-“When China had to evacuate 35,000 civilians from Libya in 2011, it had to rely completely on leased ships, ferries, and civilian aircraft from neighboring countries – as it did not have the air or naval capacity to deploy that far and did not possess military base arrangements in the Mediterranean region.” (David Shambaugh, China Goes Global: The Partial Power, Oxford University Press, New York: 2013, 270. Hereinafter referred to as “Shambaugh 2013.”)

-“If China really aspires to a stealth ‘String of Pearls [Bases]’ strategy, it will be very difficult to turn this into reality, because few countries will want to be seen taking sides. Every government in the region knows that, even with the huge investments China is making in its navy, the U.S. will have a superior fighting ability in the Indian Ocean for several decades to come. This means that a Chinese base on their territory would turn them into a highly vulnerable target in the first days of a conflict.” (Geoff Dyer, The Contest Of The Century: The New Era of Competition With China—And How America Can Win, Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 2014, 63-4. Hereinafter referred to as “Dyer 2014.”)

-For a more detailed version of this quiz, and for other quizzes, go to: https://detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com/

2. Which countries may be considered China’s allies?

-Hindering China’s rise to being a global power is the fact it possesses no real allies. “Even in China’s closest relationships – with Russia, Pakistan, and North Korea – strong elements of distrust percolate beneath the surface of seemingly harmonious state-to-state relations.” (Shambaugh 2013, 7)

-“When you start looking at the world through Chinese eyes, it is striking how deeply entrenched American influence begins to appear, and how difficult it will be for China to overturn it. America’s alliances are solid and its core political values still widely shared….The harder China pushes [its military and diplomatic power], the more likely it is that a coalition of neighbors will emerge, with the U.S. at the helm, to restrain its ambitions.” (Dyer 2014, 14-15)

3. What was the US’s defense spending in 2011? China’s?

-US: $700 billion; China: $91 billion. http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending#USMilitarySpending (Shambaugh 2013, 274)

-On average, China’s defense spending has been 1.4 percent of its GDP. The US “spends nearly 5 percent of its GDP on defense…” (Shambaugh 2013, 274)

-After considering China’s military power “the picture that emerges is not ominous.  China is an emerging regional power that is unlikely to ever match America in the main measures of military power unless dysfunctional political processes in Washington impair [its] economy and defenses.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2014/06/06/five-reasons-china-wont-be-a-big-threat-to-americas-global-power/

4. How many aircraft carriers does China have? The US?

-China: 1; US: 11. “In both practical and symbolic ways, the aircraft carrier has been the symbol of American power projection over the six decades during which it has dominated the Pacific. The credibility of U.S. defense guarantees for the region has been carried on the backs of America’s eleven carriers, with their decks each the size of three football fields filled with dozens of fighter aircraft.” (Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi, By All Means Necessary: How China’s Resource Quest Is Changing The World, Oxford University Press, New York: 2014, 171. Hereinafter referred to as “Levi 2014.”) (Dyer 2014, 114-5)

-“Like other great powers before it, China is building a navy to take to the high seas because it does not want to outsource the security of its economic lifelines to someone else.” History demonstrates that during wartime blocking access to trade and sea-lanes is a tool used by states to achieve victory. (Dyer 2014, 10)

5. Which element of China’s military is considered its most successful?

-“China’s missile forces…have been the shining success story in the Chinese military….[C]hina possesses a full range of short-range (SRBM), intermediate-range (IRBM), intercontinental-range (ICBM), and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM)….[O]nly the SLBMs and ICBMs carry nuclear warheads…” (Shambaugh 2013, 294-5)

-China’s “military buildup is designed to gradually change the calculations of American commanders, to dissuade them from considering military operations anywhere near China’s coast, and to push them slowly farther out into the Pacific.” For example, “China has invested heavily in a new generation of so-called carrier-killer missiles [which fly at a speed of 3800 mph, have a range of 930 miles, and are armed with maneuverable warheads], designed to destroy aircraft carriers at sea….The strategy [is] good economics. Each of its carrier-killer missiles cost around $11 million; a new aircraft carrier now costs $13.5 billion.” (Dyer 2014, 45, 47)

-To a Chinese observer, U.S. power is daunting. “U.S. military forces…[are] all around the Chinese rim….PACOM’s [U.S. Pacific Command’s] assets include about 325,000 military and civilian personnel, along with some 180 ships and 1,900 aircraft. To the west, PACOM gives way to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for an area stretching from Central Asia to Egypt….[W]ith the beginning of the ‘war on terror,’ CENTCOM placed tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan and gained extended access to an air base in Kyrgyzstan. The operational capabilities of U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific are magnified by bilateral defense treaties with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, and South Korea and cooperative arrangements with other partners. And to top it off, the United States possesses some 5,200 nuclear warheads deployed in an invulnerable sea, land, and air triad. Taken together, this U.S. defense posture creates…a ‘strategic ring of encirclement.’” http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/138009/andrew-j-nathan-and-andrew-scobell/how-china-sees-america (September/October 2012)

6. True or False: The US has a policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons.

-False. However, China has used “its participation in the…[Non-Proliferation Treaty] Review Conferences to lobby against states whose nuclear doctrines permit the first use of nuclear weapons (e.g., the United States)…” (Shambaugh 2013, 143)

-“[T]he best public information available suggests that China has about 250 [nuclear] warheads in its strategic arsenal, most of which can’t reach America; the U.S. has 4,600 nuclear warheads available for delivery by missile or plane, and an additional 2,700 in storage. Beijing’s decision to sustain only a modest…nuclear deterrent seems incompatible with the notion that it seeks to rival U.S. power.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2014/06/06/five-reasons-china-wont-be-a-big-threat-to-americas-global-power/

7. What issues does China treat as core national interests?

-China treats the following as core interests: Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, human rights, and its maritime territorial claims. While on other issues Chinese diplomacy “usually adopt[s] the safest and least controversial position,” on the named five core interests China is “hypervigilant and diplomatically active.” (Shambaugh 2013, 9, 46)

-The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) “came to power by staking its legitimacy on overturning the old order in which Western imperialists and Japanese ‘devils’ plundered, killed, exploited, humiliated, and carved up the Chinese nation. This period is described in Chinese Communist lore as the ‘century of shame and humiliation’ [1840s to 1949]. The CCP anchored its legitimacy on restoring the nation’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and its (inter)national dignity.” (Shambaugh 2013, 56)

8. What are China’s interests in the South China Sea?

-“To understand what is happening in the South and East China Seas, it is essential to disentangle the multiple motives drawing China and its neighbors to focus on the area: beyond natural resources [particularly oil and gas], sea lane security, national defense, and basic nationalism all drive Chinese actions.” The oil and gas is particularly attractive to China as it would “not require transport through the Straits of Hormuz or Malacca to reach Chinese consumers…” (Levi 2014, 139-40)

-The US Pivot to Asia is threatening to China. In reality, China is “surrounded and contained. Take a look at the conflicts between the US and China now. The conflicts are mostly over the seas near the China coast. The US wants to have free rights to send military vessels into those waters and China wants to control those waters. So that’s a confrontation. There’s no confrontation over the Caribbean or over the waters near California. That would be inconceivable. That tells you about the balance of power.” http://chomsky.info/interviews/20140319.htm

-“Five times – in 1970, 1971, 1978, 1980, and 1999 – Philippine armed forces took actions that have placed nine islands claimed by China under foreign occupation. Since occupying the islands, the Philippines has proceeded to build military installations and station some 1000 men on them. Beyond occupying the islands, Manila has for years taken actions highly provocative to China, including arresting and expelling Chinese fisherman fishing in the disputed area….In July 2011 a delegation of Philippine legislators landed on a Chinese-claimed island, declaring Philippine ‘sovereignty.’ Against this background, what [Americans] should find remarkable is… Beijing’s restraint.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/stephenharner/2014/06/22/the-nytimes-china-threat-myth-the-pivot-to-asia-and-obamas-foreign-policy-legacy/

-“China has said it will not accept a [July 2016] ruling against it in a key international legal case over strategic reefs and atolls that Beijing claims would give it control over disputed waters of the South China Sea. The judgment by an international tribunal in The Hague came down overwhelmingly in favour of claims by the Philippines and is likely to increase global diplomatic pressure on Beijing to scale back military expansion in the area. By depriving certain outcrops of territorial-generating status, the ruling from the permanent court of arbitration effectively punches holes in China’s all encompassing ‘nine-dash’ line that stretches deep into the South China Sea.” The ruling “declared large areas of the sea to be neutral international waters or the exclusive economic zones of other countries.”

9. What 2010 event was a key turning point that raised alarm among China’s neighbors?

-At the 2010 Asia-Pacific Summit, China’s representative, Yang Jiechi, “launched into a twenty-five minute diatribe” that included stating, “China is a big country…And you are all small countries. And that is a fact.” What led to Yang’s diatribe was that “U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had declared that the U.S. viewed the stability of the South China Sea as a fundamental U.S. interest – a pointed rebuke to China, which argues that the disputes in the area have nothing to do with Washington. After she sat down, representatives of [other Asian] nations, including the host, Vietnam, stood to issue similar statements, some of them with even more direct criticisms of China.” (Dyer 2014, 69)

-“From Vietnam to Mongolia, from Japan to Australia, China’s expanding military might and political confidence are now producing an existential crisis, the perennial angst of ‘small countries’ living alongside a ‘big country’ they do not quite trust.” (Dyer 2014, 70)

10. Based on a purchasing power parity basis, which country has the largest economy in the world?

-The World Bank ranks China as having the world’s largest gross domestic product. (Therefore, the US is no longer the world’s biggest producer of wealth as it had been since it overtook Britain in 1876.) http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/GDP-PPP-based-table

-By 2013, China had a GDP per capita (purchasing power parity basis) of $8,500. The US’s equivalent was $49,000. http://www.indexmundi.com/g/r.aspx?c=ch&v=67 (Evan Osnos, Age Of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York: 2014, 367. Hereinafter referred to as “Osnos 2014.”)

-One critical lesson the Chinese leadership learned from the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and Russia in the early 1990s “was the importance of economic growth.” (Shambaugh 2013, 51)

-“Lifting more than 200 million people out of absolute poverty over the past quarter century” has been a major accomplishment. China’s own goal is to become a “medium-level developed country by the mid-twenty-first century…” (Shambaugh 2013, 39, 132)

-“The difference in life expectancy and income between China’s wealthiest cities and its poorest provinces is the difference between New York and Ghana.” However, Chinese “cared most of all about the gap in opportunity,” due to obstacles such as corruption and the need for connections, which has led to “a strikingly low level of intergenerational mobility.” Frustration is reflected in “the number of strikes, riots, and other ‘mass incidents’ [which] had doubled in five years to 180,000 [in 2010]…” Essentially, “the first generation of assembly-line workers had been grateful just to be off the farm, but this generation compared themselves to wealthier peers [and felt disappointed].” (Osnos 2014, 4, 6, 268-9, 271-2)

11. Why was the 2008 financial crisis particularly important for conservative Chinese elites?

-For many Chinese, particularly conservative elites, there is “a strong sense of triumphalism…in the wake of the 2008-2010 global financial crisis. They feel the Chinese development model of mixed state capitalism and socialism has been vindicated, while the Western laissez-faire system has been vanquished.” (Shambaugh 2013, 33)

-“China was [primarily] able to respond so quickly to the crisis because of the control the state has over the big four banks, which are responsible for between a third and a half of new credit in the country.” (Dyer 2014, 244-5)

-“[T]he financial crisis…unleashed powerful demands within parts of the elite to begin taking on the U.S. [However, this does not imply a coming armed conflict.] Instead, Beijing [hopes] to gradually undermin[e] the foundations of American [military, political and economic] power…Chinese leaders understand the limitations that globalization places on them, and the benefits that thirty years of trading with the U.S. have brought, but they are also far more skeptical and resentful about American influence than most in Washington realize.” (Dyer 2014, 12)

12. Which country is the world’s largest exporter of manufactured goods?

-China. However, “its exports are still dominated by generally low-end consumer products [such as footwear, televisions and textiles]….It has few leading multinational corporations and poor brand presence in international markets.” (Shambaugh 2013, 157)

-Since “the late 1970s, China has been able to use the very openness of the U.S.-led order to promote its extraordinary growth. China has been allowed to insert itself into an international trading system which has clear and established rules, and it has been able to buy the oil, copper, and iron ore it needs on global markets….[However,] China now wishes to recast the military and political dynamic in the region to reflect its own traditional centrality.” (Dyer 2014, 22)

13. In 2013, what percentage of foreign-exchange trades was in US dollars? Chinese yuan?

-“[T]he Bank for International Settlements (BIS) reported…that the [US] dollar’s share in the world’s foreign-exchange trades [was] 87%…[The Chinese] yuan…account[ed] for only 2.2%…” http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2013/nov/22/us-dollar-status-fallen

-“[A]n important competitive advantage to American companies and banks [is] to do business in their own currency and avoid the vagaries of foreign-exchange markets. And [issuing the main reserve currency] allows the U.S. government to live beyond its means without facing the punishment that other governments inevitably suffer.” (Dyer 2014, 230)

-China’s version of “state capitalism is…the main obstacle to China’s developing a major global currency….Although China is now the biggest exporter of manufactured goods in the world, the reason few people use the renminbi to settle trade transactions is that Beijing maintains a high wall of capital controls that protect its economy from the fickleness of international financial markets.” (“Renminbi” is the official name of China’s currency. “Yuan” is the name of a unit of the renminbi currency.) “If China were to allow capital to flow more easily in and out of the country, it would have to adopt a much more flexible exchange rate…That means it would become much harder for Beijing to depress the value of its currency artificially to help its exporters – [an important] element of [its] economic model…” (Dyer 2014, 245, 247)

-“The supposed leverage that China derives from its dollar holdings is something of a myth…[I]f China were to try and sell a substantial chunk of its U.S. bond holdings, it would send the market into a tailspin, and bond prices – including China’s own investments – would plummet. Such actions would also force down the value of the U.S. dollar, making China’s exports less competitive and threatening hundreds of thousands of factory jobs.” (Dyer 2014, 235)

14. In 2010, how many Chinese companies were on the Fortune Global 500 list?

-61. “[F]orty-nine are [state-owned enterprises]. China now ranks third on the global list, only slightly behind Japan.” However, “When one examines the assets and operations of these [61] Chinese corporations it becomes clear that the vast majority operate almost exclusively domestically. In other words, [many of them] cannot be considered real multinationals…Haier, Huawei, and the national oil companies Sinopec, CNOOC, and CNPC are really the only ones that have truly global capital, operations, and sales.” (Shambaugh 2013, 184-6)

15. True or False: The US National Security Agency tampered with routers and servers manufactured by Cisco to direct large amounts of Internet traffic back to the NSA from Cisco’s customers.

-True. “[W]hile American companies were being warned away from supposedly untrustworthy Chinese routers, foreign organizations would have been well advised to beware of American-made ones.” “Warning the world about Chinese surveillance could have been one of the motives behind the US government’s claims that Chinese devices cannot be trusted. But an equally important motive seems to have been preventing Chinese devices from supplanting American-made ones, which would have limited NSA’s own reach.” (Glenn Greenwald, No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA, and The U.S. Surveillance State, Signal, Canada: 2014, 148, 151.)

-“Huawei is one of the few Chinese firms to have successfully gone [truly] global…and it is thus considered by many to be China’s most successful multinational corporation. In 2012 [it] became the world’s largest manufacturer of telecom equipment…” (Shambaugh 2013, 193)

16. True or False: Most overseas Chinese oil production is reserved for China.

-False. The western fear of China “locking up” oil is unwarranted. “Most overseas Chinese oil production…is actually sold onto world markets rather than shipped back home.” (Levi 2014, 43)

-“[T]he vast majority of [China’s] imported minerals and metals (90 percent plus) comes from direct purchases from suppliers or from international commodity markets. Its share of, and control over, global production resources (e.g., mines) is really minuscule compared to those of national governments and leading international corporations….[Hence,] the often-heard accusation that China is trying to lock up international mineral production is far from accurate.” (Shambaugh 2013, 172-3)

-“Chinese companies are no different from Japanese and U.S. companies before them in investing in overseas supplies. Their performance on environment, labor, and corruption, many claim, is entirely within the mainstream, particularly when it is measured against that of firms from other developing countries.” (Levi 2014, 6-7)

17. Even if the US greatly reduces its reliance on Persian Gulf oil, why will it not reduce its influence over the Persian Gulf?

-Some analysts argue that as America reduces its reliance on Persian Gulf oil, the Gulf’s “oil supply will soon become irrelevant [to the US and, therefore,] the region will lose its relevance to US foreign policy.” This argument is flawed on three main grounds: (i) “[A]ny instability in oil supplies from the Persian Gulf region affects oil prices throughout the world. Thus, it follows that the world’s economy, including that of the US, is affected, regardless of where the US purchases or produces its oil.” (ii) The US protects “the interests of other capitalist nations that are strategically important to them, especially Japan and the EU. For example, about 87 percent of Japanese crude oil imports come from the Persian Gulf region. For the global capitalist system to thrive, no single power must be allowed to gain control of the Middle East region. The emergence of a dominant state in the Middle East could potentially disrupt oil supplies to the rest of the world.” (iii) By maintaining a strong military and economic presence in the Persian Gulf region, the US “would…be sitting in a chokehold position next to China’s energy lifeline” which would provide the US with leverage if relations with China become particularly strained. (Seyed Hossein Mousavian and Shahir ShahidSaless, Iran And The United States: An Insider’s View on the Failed Past and the Road to Peace, Bloomsbury, New York: 2014, 89.) (Vali Nasr, The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat, Doubleday, New York: 2013, 245. Hereinafter referred to as “Nasr 2013.”)

-“In the run-up to World War II America, Britain, and the Netherlands did deny energy- and resource-poor Japan access to oil, rubber, and iron shipments from Southeast Asia and the Dutch East Indies. This is a lesson that is not lost on China’s strategic decision makers….Access to energy, and therefore the Middle East, will be at the heart of the next global rivalry.” “President Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia’ policy is at its core a policy of containing China – it is a ‘forward-deployed diplomacy to face China in its backyard.’…But it would be folly for America to build its new strategy thinking that the Middle East has nothing to do with China.” (Nasr 2013, 229, 215-6)

18. Which country in the 1950s and 1960s experienced growth rates similar to China’s, and was likewise castigated for its “disrupting” approach to commerce?

-“In the 1950s and 1960s, as Japan emerged from World War II, the country consistently posted growth rates similar to those seen more recently in China….Japanese oil imports accounted for a considerably larger part of the world market than Chinese imports do today….And, as is the case today with China, there was widespread concern about the methods and goals that the Japanese pursued….[Japanese companies,] through powerful business organizations, worked far more closely with government than U.S. companies did….[However,] three decades later no one would claim that Japan fundamentally altered how global oil and mineral markets function.” (Levi 2014, 2-5)

19. Can capitalists become members of the Chinese Communist Party?

-Yes. http://studiesonasia.illinoisstate.edu/seriesIII/Vol%202%20No%201/3_2_1Coble.pdf

-As the Party expected, “the economically most active [are] not demand[ing] political liberalization. The reason is simple[:] they are using the existing system for even greater improvement of their…life conditions. Moreover, those who are benefiting most from this are often…members of the Party or [people who] have connections…with those who have [power].” http://cenaa.org/analysis/the-china-threat-theory-revisited-chinese-changing-society-and-future-development/

-The Party considers that continuing to improve the economic condition of the Chinese people is its best “guarantee for internal stability” and preventing aggressive demands for political democratization. “Therefore, the government will try to prevent any threat to the development of the economy. This may be one of the arguments supporting the peaceful outlook of Chinese foreign policy.” http://cenaa.org/analysis/the-china-threat-theory-revisited-chinese-changing-society-and-future-development/

-The Chinese Communist Party has over 80 million members and it has “no organized opposition. It [has] Party cells inside even the most Westernized technology companies and hedge funds. China [is] a high-functioning…dictatorship without a dictator. The government answered to the Party; the Party appointed CEOs and Catholic bishops and newspaper editors. It advised judges how to decide sensitive court cases, and it directed the nation’s military generals. At the lowest levels, the Party felt like a professional network.” However, “civil society is no longer dormant. Beijing continues to define the rules of economic development at home, but the media, nongovernmental organizations, and the general public now act as watchdogs, holding local officials and business leaders accountable for their actions…” (Osnos 2014, 26) (Levi 2014, 100)

-“After the quixotic disasters of the Mao era, the Communist Party has gone out of its way to reduce the space for another all-powerful leader. The party now has a fixed retirement age, and an entrenched process of leadership transitions…Over the last decade, China has seen a fracturing of power among the elite [with factions in the military, local governments, and state-owned companies].” (Dyer 2014, 36)

-“China’s global expansion did not occur by happenstance. It grew directly out of Communist Party…policies launched [in] December 1978…” And, in “case people wondered what would happen in the absence of the Party, the People’s Daily painted a dire picture. After the fall of the Soviet Union, it said, Russians discovered that their ‘GDP fell by half…; their ships aged and rusted…; oligarchs emerged to plunder state assets; Russians lined up on the sidewalk to face supply shortages; war veterans had to sell their medals in order to buy bread.’” (Shambaugh 2013, 5) (Osnos 2014, 365)

20. True or False: While Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was in office (2003-2013), his family amassed $2.7 billion in assets.

-True. “[I]t was becoming clear that China, on the one hundredth anniversary of the end of the last dynasty, was returning to a form of aristocracy.” (Osnos 2014, 260)

-“In June 2012, Bloomberg News used corporate documents and interviews to calculate that the extended family of China’s incoming president, Xi Jinping, had accumulated assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars. That wealth was hard for the Party to explain, so it decided not to try…” (Osnos 2014, 258-9)

-The “Communist Party’s authority rested on the notion that even if local bureaucrats were corrupt, its top leaders so exemplified wisdom, justice, and meritocracy that dissent and direct elections were superfluous and obsolete….When the government was seen to be violating the principle of ‘rule by virtue,’ public reaction could be intense: in the eighties, the uprising at Tiananmen Square was fed in large part by an upswell in corruption.” (Osnos 2014, 258)

-Corruption began to grow significantly in the early 1990s “when the government began to open up the distribution of land and factories for private ownership…” (Osnos 2014, 249)

-“Because the Communist Party monopolizes power in China, there is little opportunity for fundamental reform of the political system. Party officials at all levels routinely leverage that monopoly to engage in epic corruption.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2014/06/06/five-reasons-china-wont-be-a-big-threat-to-americas-global-power/

-“In most countries, the long-term effects of kleptocracy are easy to predict: [falling economic growth]. (Think Haiti under Francois Duvalier or Zaire under Mobutu.) But the exceptions are important. In Japan and [South] Korea, corruption accompanied each nation’s rise, not its collapse.” “[U]nlike Zaire, China punished many people for [corruption]; in a five-year stretch, China punished 668,000 Party members for bribery, graft, and embezzlement; it handed down 350 death sentences for corruption…” “When an economy thrives, citizens can tolerate even flagrant corruption. But when it slows, that same level of corruption can become intolerable.” (Osnos 2014, 261-3)

21. What right did Britain assert as a pretext for the first Opium War with China?

-“The real cause of the first Opium War (1839–1842)…was Chinese resistance to Britain’s free-trade demands and practices, of which the unrestricted trade in opium was only the most controversial example. Seeking to end high Chinese import duties and other restrictions on foreign trading, the British found a pretext for war when China prohibited the importation of the drug and then confiscated a British shipment of opium.” http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Opium_Wars.aspx

-“The Communist Party has faced a slow-burning threat to its legitimacy ever since it dumped Marx for the market and dropped the Mao cult of personality, a threat that was only exacerbated after it turned the army on its own people in Tiananmen [in 1989]….The emphasis on humiliation [– from, for example, past invasions –] has helped the Communist Party create a sense of unity that had been fracturing, and to define a Chinese identity fundamentally at odds with American modernity. This strand of nationalism has become an important part of its claim to maintaining a monopoly of political power, a deliberate project to mold the historical instincts of young Chinese.” (Dyer 2014, 152)

22. Why are Europe-China relations far less strained than US-China relations?

-Once the Cold War ended, Europe’s relationship with China “could finally begin to develop on its own, free of the shadow and influence of the U.S.-Soviet rivalry. Importantly, there is hardly any Taiwan lobby in Europe (as there is in the United States) to influence the public and politicians, and there is no ‘Taiwan issue’ between European governments and China, as all faithfully subscribe to the ‘One China Principle.’ Moreover, Europe has no military presence and few security interests in East Asia (unlike the United States), thus not causing security tensions with China.” (Shambaugh 2013, 89)

-The China-Europe relationship “is anchored in commerce.” Europe is China’s “number one global trading partner, although China ranks second for Europe….Europe has also become the largest source of technology and equipment transfer to China…” (Shambaugh 2013, 86)

23. Is Taiwan a democracy?

-Yes. During the “1995-96 standoff over Taiwan’s election,” the US “sent two aircraft-carrier groups into the region as a demonstration of force [after] China launched several missiles into Taiwanese waters in order to intimidate voters…” Taiwan was thus able to hold “its election without further threats.” Fair elections continue to be held in Taiwan. (Dyer 2014, 114)

-China’s official position is that China has “sovereignty over Taiwan,” and “the PRC [People’s Republic of China] is the sole legitimate government of China.” http://www.china.org.cn/english/taiwan/7956.htm

24. Why is Tibet critical to the Chinese Communist Party?

-Tibet is deeply rooted in China’s “framework of national humiliation. One of the flip sides of modern China’s victim mentality is a ferocious defense of its sovereignty, which was impugned by foreign powers in the nineteenth century…Control over Tibet is tightly linked to the urge to restore national pride. It is that mindset that can turn a dispute between Han Chinese and one of the country’s ethnic minorities into a struggle against imperialism….For Beijing to recognize deep political problems in Tibet or among other ethnic groups would be to undermine the narrative of China as a victim of outside interference.” (Dyer 2014, 169-70)

-Sudan notwithstanding, China “is particularly allergic to any move that endorses the breakup of multiethnic countries. Beijing fears that such campaigns could encourage similar demands from its own ethnic regions, such as Tibet and the heavily Muslim Uighur population in Xinjiang, as well as encouraging an independence push by Taiwan. When Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, China refused to recognize the new state.” (Dyer 2014, 218-9)

25. Why does China provide considerable political and economic support to North Korea?

-“Ever since Mao ordered his troops to fight in the Korean War [(1950-53), in which several hundred thousand Chinese died in brutal fighting], China has seen North Korea as a sort of buffer…that keeps the U.S. military presence at a distance from its borders….During a period when China was looking to try and push back against U.S. influence in the region, the last thing Beijing wanted was the end of the North Korean regime and its replacement by an America-friendly, united Korea.” However, “By giving so much support to [North Korea], Beijing was actually doing some of Washington’s own diplomatic work. South Korea’s unease about the American military presence [on its soil] has not ended, but the alliance between the two countries has been reinforced.” (Dyer 2014, 87-8)

-“China’s strategy for building ties with South Korea has both an economic motive and a strategic dimension. In the early 1990s, Chinese strategists concluded that China would have little leverage in shaping the eventual outcome of the divided Korean Peninsula if it did not enjoy strong ties with South Korea. Improved ties would also offset any potential threat to China from the U.S.-South Korean alliance and presence of U.S. forces on the peninsula….[T]he bourgeoning relationship [– for example, China is South Korea’s largest trading partner –] has greatly benefited both countries and become a central element in the evolving balance of power in Northeast Asia.” (Shambaugh 2013, 100-1)

26. True or False: Vietnam is a military dictatorship led by a communist party that is seeking closer ties with the US.

-True. “However much the Vietnamese detested French colonialism, and however many millions had died in the war with the U.S., these had in many ways been but passing episodes in a much longer history of defending the country’s sovereignty. In that longer story, the principal antagonist was China.” (Dyer 2014, 102-3)

-“Behind Vietnam’s fervent diplomacy is a fierce desire to avoid being pulled into a Chinese sphere of influence. Yet the Vietnamese regard the U.S. purely as a balancing power, not as an ally, or as a nation they want to see dominate the region, or as a partner in containing China. [For China’s neighbors like Vietnam, Burma and Australia,] the endgame is not to circumvent China and its booming economy, but to find ways to deal with China on their own terms.” (Dyer 2014, 108-9)

27. What percentage of Australia’s exports go to China?

-“[O]ne-quarter of Australia’s exports now go to China, its biggest market….Australia has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of China’s growth. The economy has grown every year for the last two decades, even during the financial crisis…a record that no other developed economy has matched over the same period….With the possible exception of South Korea, no country is now more dependent on the Chinese economy.” (Dyer 2014, 98)

-While many pundits have been “concerned that countries which depend on Chinese economic dynamism for their livelihood will start to bend to the political prerogatives of Beijing, [the] very opposite has happened. Trade with China has boomed, investment from China has boomed, the Australian economy has boomed, yet Australia has not only decided to maintain its ties with the U.S., it has actually strengthened them.” (Dyer 2014, 99)

28. What is the foundation of China-Russia diplomatic cooperation?

-“China and Russia…see eye-to-eye on a series of regional and global issues, and they have forged a geostrategic axis and voting bloc in the UN Security Council. The heart of this axis is anti-Americanism and anti-interventionism. Beijing and Moscow jointly vetoed Security Council resolutions on Syria in 2012 and regularly water down numerous U.S. diplomatic initiatives and sanctions on Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, and other sensitive international issues. What the two sides term ‘strategic coordination’ has become a diplomatic headache for Washington.” (Shambaugh 2013, 83)

-Despite their common interests, China and Russia “have a long history filled with suspicions and latent animosity.” “A China that behaves more and more like an ambitious great power is likely to be seen by Russia as being as much a rival as a partner. Moscow is already worried about the political and economic inroads that Beijing is making into Central Asia, about Chinese migration into eastern Siberia, and about Chinese naval intentions in the northern-Pacific Arctic region….During the Cold War, Washington was so intent on opposing communism around the globe that it ignored the emerging split in the Sino-Soviet relationship throughout the 1960s, until Richard Nixon finally exploited the opportunity when he met Mao in 1972.” (Dyer 2014, 211-2) (Shambaugh 2013, 86)

29. What is the main impediment to stronger China-India relations?

-“The Tibet issue and the fact that the Dalai Lama and his government in exile reside in India is a…complicating factor [for closer relations]. Competition for energy security and secure sea lines of communication (SLOCs) is increasingly sensitive….Perhaps the greatest impediment [to closer ties] remains China’s ‘all weather friend’ Pakistan. Beijing and Islamabad have maintained a close alignment (indeed an alliance) since the early 1950s. China has backed Pakistan on virtually all disputes with India over the decades, has been the principal supplier of military equipment to Pakistan, and has not been responsive to Delhi’s concerns on Kashmir and other sensitive issues.” (Shambaugh 2013, 103-4)

30. Why does China support Iran?

-“From Beijing’s perspective, relations with Tehran meet several priorities. First, Iran is seen to be a major – if not the major – regional power in the Middle East. This fits into China’s desire to build a ‘multipolar world.’ Second, Iran is implacably opposed to the United States and keeps Washington preoccupied and away from China. Third, Iran has become China’s second-largest regional supplier of oil and the largest supplier of natural gas. Over the past ten years, 13 percent of China’s imported oil has come from Iran…” (“China is Iran’s largest trading partner (an estimated $25 billion in 2009)…”) (Shambaugh 2013, 107)

-“Diplomatically, Beijing maintains sound bilateral ties with all the nations in the [Middle East] region, including Israel.” (Shambaugh 2013, 107)

31. In what region of the world is China most popular?

-“Public opinion polling in Africa shows the most positive perceptions of China anywhere in the world.” (Shambaugh 2013, 111)

-“[N]early half of China’s worldwide aid disbursements go to Africa….Much of this aid is commendable (particularly in the areas of anti-malarial and public health work, tertiary education, and agricultural assistance)…Much of China’s aid comes in the form of hard infrastructure: roads, rails, buildings, stadiums, etc. Even though these do have a positive impact on the recipient country in the end, they are normally built entirely with imported Chinese labor by Chinese construction companies with contracts from the Chinese government.” (Shambaugh 2013, 110)

-“Everywhere you go in the world, the beliefs about the scale of Chinese investments are greatly out of line with reality. Highly informed people in Africa are convinced that China is the top investor in the continent – in reality it is No. 4.” (The Montreal Gazette, 21 March 2014, A17)

32. True or False: China holds permanent observer status in the Organization of American States (OAS).

-True. China is active “in a range of organizations in [Latin America]. In 2008 China became a full member of the Inter-American Development Bank, it joined the Caribbean Development Bank in 1997, and it has held permanent observer status in the…OAS since 2004.” (Shambaugh 2013, 114-5)

-“Commerce is by far the most important dimension of China’s presence in Latin America. Trade has been growing almost exponentially, reaching $242 billion in 2011.…China is now the No. 1 trading partner of many Latin nations, having supplanted the United States.” (Shambaugh 2013, 116-7)

-Like China’s “ties in Africa and the Middle East, the Latin American region represents China’s solidarity with developing countries as well as its desire to foster a multipolar world…Brazil is a key actor in both respects for Beijing…The rise to power of leftist governments in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Venezuela in recent years also helped cement Beijing’s ties to the region.” (Shambaugh 2013, 113-4)

-Washington views Latin America “as its ‘backyard’ and keeps a close eye on China’s multidimensional thrust into the region. Beijing is aware of this and has gone out of its way not to establish [any kind of] military presence in the region or draw too close to certain regimes. [It] has not been directly involved in supporting insurgencies, socialist movements, or far-left-leaning governments [and it] has maintained a very low level of arms sales in the region…” (Shambaugh 2013, 119)

33. What is the main driving force of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization?

-“Beijing has sought to tightly integrate Central Asia into its economic orbit…This has also meant allying with Iran and Russia – the other key players in [Central Asia] – to limit American presence in the region. The Chinese-founded…Shanghai Cooperation Organization – a rival to American power wrapped as a counterweight to NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council – reflects this approach.” (Nasr 2013, 235-6)

34. Is China currently a part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?

-“It is hard to make the case that the U.S. is pushing regional trade integration when” China, India and many ASEAN members are not part of the TPP process. The U.S. will need to supplement the TPP so that it “does not give the impression that it is dividing up the region.” (Dyer 2014, 128)

-“As well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership,…the U.S. is also negotiating a trade agreement with the European Union which would unite into one economic zone 40 percent of the world’s GDP. The two negotiations have a powerful theme in common: they are partly designed to take on Chinese state capitalism.” (Dyer 2014, 271)


Jeffrey Rudolph, a Montreal college professor, was the Quebec representative of the East Timor Alert Network and presented a paper on its behalf at the United Nations. He was awarded the prestigious Cheryl Rosa Teresa Doran Prize upon graduation from McGill University’s faculty of law; has worked at one of the world’s largest public accounting firms; and, has taught at McGill University. He has prepared widely-distributed quizzes on Israel-Palestine, Iran, Hamas, Terrorism, Saudi Arabia, US Inequality, the US Christian Right, Hezbollah, the Israeli Ultra-Orthodox, Qatar, and China. These quizzes are available at, https://detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com/

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