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Eric Margolis

MAKING CHINA GREAT AGAIN

“China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world.” Napoleon Bonaparte France’s future emperor never saw China, but he was wise enough to understand its immense latent strength and future importance. Two centuries after making this prediction, China has proved the Corsican correct. Last week, China feted the 70th anniversary of the Communist takeover of the mainland. It was a gala demonstration of the nation’s military and social power. I recall watching the 60th anniversary celebration in Hong Kong and wondering at how amazingly far China had come since I first went there in the early 1980’s. At that time, China was a vastness filled with poverty, suffering and primitive conditions. Red Guards were on the rampage; everything was grim, dusty and backwards. Today, the ‘Great Leap Forward’ predicted by Chairman Mao Zedong and engineered by the equally great Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai has transformed China into the world’s second economic power and a first rate military force. Over a decade ago, I wrote in my book, `War at the top of the World,’ that America’s greatest geopolitical challenge would be to negotiate a peaceful withdrawal from the mainland of North Asia. China, I predicted, would never allow the US to continue its total domination of the western Pacific. The Koreas, Japan and the chain of islands stretching south would become the key battlegrounds between the US and China. I also foresaw a major land conflict between India and China over parts of the Himalayas and Burma (today Myanmar). China showed last week that it has serious offensive military power. Gone are the Korean War days of vast infantry armies launching human wave attacks with bugles and burp guns. Today, China’s ground forces look hi-tech and effective. More important, China’s military aviation looks deadly and very modern, though one can never really judge effectiveness until war is joined. This is particularly true of China’s rapidly expanding blue-water navy which will one day challenge the mighty and highly proficient US Navy. In naval warfare, experience and tradition are of paramount importance. Even the courageous, well-trained Imperial Japanese Navy was totally defeated by the US Navy in titanic battles across the Pacific. China’s ...

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