As China continues to become economically and militarily dominant there is a tendency in Washington to act as though it all could have been prevented. But could China have been stopped? On this episode, China specialist and AEI fellow Zack Cooper walks us through how and why China failed to be incorporated into the international order as well as the futility of Trump’s tariff regime in changing Chinese behavior today.

Zack Cooper is a research fellow here at AEI, where he studies US defense strategy in Asia and US-China competition.

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  1. colleenb Member
    colleenb Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I always ‘feel’ that freedom is better and the scientists, economists, other idea people will do better in a free society. I also ‘think’ that maybe a totalitarian state will succeed without freedom some day. Will the Chinese be the ones?

    • #1
    • January 11, 2019, at 11:25 AM PST
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  2. Tedley Member

    The famous phrase “who lost China?” started during the Truman admin around 1949. The Chinese Communists had just won the Chinese civil war, defeating the Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek. The Soviets had just detonated their first nuclear weapon, and in tandem with the charge of communists infiltrating the State Department, the victory of the Chinese Communists made it look like communism was taking a definitive lead against the democracies of the West. The complaint was that Truman had squandered the opportunity to prevent China from going red, and it was being used as a political hammer by republicans were politically entirely out of power. Truthfully, it is unlikely that we could have prevented China from becoming communist. For over 100 years, they had put up with unequal treaties, unfavorable treatment, and the treaty ports forced on them by Western nations. Mao and the rest of the Chinese Communists had a mindset that was not favorable to working with any Western country. 

    As for the present situation, the assertiveness we’re seeing from China is happening primarily under President Xi. While previous Chinese presidents prepared the policies which have given them economic advantages, this president is strongly pushing a nationalist agenda and taking sole power within the Politburo. I don’t think the West could have forecast it, it’s just taken a long time to recognize that Xi is serious about making China #1. China building those artificial islands in the South China Sea has probably done more to make the West notice how assertive China has become. 

    • #2
    • January 13, 2019, at 2:41 AM PST
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