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Briefing & Update


To give "equal time" to both America's and China's perspectives, I'm listing some crucial documents promulgated recently by each country.

To make things interesting, the Chinese items are given first, in their official English-translation versions (that is, as translated by China).

Two notes of caution in reading these items:

In the realms of domestic policy and national defense, what China means by a word is often very different than what Americans usually mean by that same word. For instance, currently to Beijing "democracy" means that people express their concerns and suggestions upwards through proper channels to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and then in due time the CCP decides what (if any) responses and actions are called for. As another example, "local free elections" are more like what we'd consider primaries, as the People's Republic is very much a one-party totalitarian regime. (A token handful of closely-monitored alternative parties all together get maybe 1% of the vote.) The real reason Beijing allows different candidates to freely stand for local elected office in these primaries is to root out corruption by a grassroots mobilization of "the people." The premise here is sound: Locals know best who's honest and who's not in their own communities, and can be counted on to vote for candidates, familiar to them, whom they feel sure they can trust. Reducing corruption is one of Beijing's major objectives in the drive to maintain strong economic growth. This in turn furthers the legitimacy of CCP centralized authority, and fuels the continued strengthening of the Chinese military machine. (Some of this Byzantine/Machiavellian double-speak will become clearer if you read the recommendations in this Newsletter's "Book Picks," especially CHINESE NATIONALISM IN THE GLOBAL ERA by Christopher R. Hughes.)

The other note of caution is that all published government documents, in any country, are inevitably influenced during the drafting stage by "back room" factors, some of them intangible, related to national politics, foreign relations, and also internicine factionalization within the entity preparing the draft.

Lastly, the URLs provided here functioned at the time I printed hard-copies of each of these documents. If the given URL doesn't work for you now, then please search for the exact title of the document using any good search engine.

  • 1. "CHINA'S PEACEFUL DEVELOPMENT ROAD". 11 pages. Put out by People's Daily, one of Beijing's official media organs. Extremely wordy and repetitious, but worth struggling through. A fine example of what I call China's "dual-use phraseology." Repeated reference is made to "harmony" and to "a harmonious world." What this really means is that everyone should (or will be forced to) agree with the latest thinking and ideology of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo. http:/english.people.com.cn/200512/22/print20051222_230059.html

  • 2. "CHINA'S NATIONAL DEFENSE IN 2004". Subsections total about 40 pages. Put out by the Chinese Central Government. This is a Defense White Paper updated every two years. The 2004 version is the most recent one available. (The next edition is due around December, 2006 and is well worth watching for.) Very interesting reading, especially if you read between the lines. A thought-provoking mix of what China really thinks, what they want America to think, and what they want America to think they think. http://english1.people.com.cn/whitepaper/defense2004forward.html
  • This prints only the Forward of the document. Then you need to separately print /defense2004(1).html through /defense2004(10).html to get each chapter, and then /defense2004/appendix(1).html through /defense2004/appendix(7).html to get the rest of it. Worth the effort!

  • 3. "2006 QUADRENNIAL DEFENSE REVIEW REPORT". Publication date February 6, 2006. 91 pages plus brief appendices. A public document produced by law every four years by the United States Department of Defense. Discusses latest Pentagon thinking, planning, and projected requirements on many military issues. China's rise as a potentially serious "peer competitor" gets a lot of attention. http://www.defenselink.mil/qdr/report/Report20060203.pdf


    Published by the Office of the Secretary of Defense in May, 2006. 50 pages. The title is self explanatory. Includes many excellent maps, tables, and sidebar commentaries. Simply put, a must read. http://www.cfr.org/publication/10767/annual_report_to_congress.html

  • 5. "EFFECT OF U.S.-CHINA TRADE ON THE DEFENSE INDUSTRIAL BASE." Testimony before the U.S.-China Commission by James A. Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 23, 2005. 10 pages. A superb and concise overview of the interplay of national economic growth, international trade policy, the health of the defense contractor industry, and the strength of current and future national defense. http://www.csis.org
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