Ross Terrill on China

Posted by Martyn

Ross Terrill, author of The New Chinese Empire, in this article argues that China’s rise is not to be feared, that a balance should be preserved between China and Japan and that China could be easily brought to heel by America and her Asian allies should the need ever arise:

A middle-class push for property rights, rural discontent, use of the internet, 150 million wanderers hovering between village and city, a suddenly ageing population bringing financial and social strains, all dramatise some contradictions of “market Leninism”. Travelling one road in economics and another in politics makes it difficult to arrive at a set destination.

The expansionist claims of Beijing are transparent and unique among today’s powers. But the Beijing regime, while a dictatorship, is a rational dictatorship. It can count the numbers. It is often patient in fulfilling its goals.

This major power seems to know it has major problems. If faced with a countervailing equilibrium it will probably act prudently. It surely realises that others – US, Japan, Russia, India – have a variety of reasons for denying China the opportunity to be a 21st century Middle Kingdom. In Beijing and Shanghai and Xian, I find less talk of China being near to eclipsing the US than I find at Harvard and the Australian National University. China may not be the new colossus it seems to either its enemies or its distant worshippers.

The Discussion: 4 Comments

Nice article, thanks.

Ross Terrill is always worth reading. I loved his New Chinese Empire book. Probably too much truth for the ccp to take in that single volume. It must be banned in China surely?

You know, ROss Terrill isn’t just some random hack, he was one of the Australian diplomatic service China specialists who, just before 1972, paved the way for Nixon’s famous trip to China.

However, like all of China’s friends, the ccp eventually turned on him and banned him from setting foot in China.

Can anyone remember why? I’ve forgotten.

September 19, 2005 @ 1:05 pm | Comment

I think they charged him with being a spy of some sort steven.

But you’re right, Ross Terrill was part of the Oz team that paved the way for Nixon’s famous visit in ’72.

I also enjoyed The New Chinese Empire.

The Chinese language copy of the book is available in Taiwan as I bought several copies to bring back to China.

September 19, 2005 @ 6:37 pm | Comment

I understand that Ross Terrill and Chen Shui Bian are good mates.

One of the times he visited Chen when I happened to be in Taipei, the press reported him as telling Chen not to worry about China’s numerous threats as China would inevitably either collapse or democracize.

I’m not convinced about either. The sun will rise at mid-day before China democratizes.

September 20, 2005 @ 2:57 am | Comment

Agree that people are making too much of China. Take the “evil empire” thing we’ve donned on Russia before… What nuclear threat? Just because we are armed to the brim with nukes doesn’t mean they are ready to pull a hair trigger on us.

Rather, I submit, it’s our own guilty feelings doing a number on our collective national psyche:

“Perhaps your anxiety about “marginal improvements” to China’s missile force would recede as you learned that China’s 18 ICBMs, sitting unfueled in their silos, their nuclear warheads in storage, are essentially the same as they were the day China began deploying them in 1981.”

September 20, 2005 @ 1:21 pm | Comment

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