This analysis of the February 2013 PF debate topic, "On balance, the rise of China is beneficial to the interests of the United States." begins here with definitions.
IntroductionThe Con position may be preferred by many debaters since there seems to be an undercurrent of distrust and suspicion of Chinese intentions. Much of this was exploited during the recent U.S. presidential campaigns as politicians called for tough stands against perceived unfair practices or threats from China. The Pro team in this debate will be trying to reverse that perception. To be sure, Pro does have a substantial burden since they must prove the benefits resulting from the rise of China outweigh the harms. Personally, I can see huge advantages for the Con if they can project the idea that even the slightest chance for disastrous consequences may result. Such a threat, if it is significant enough, will tend to discourage judge enthusiasm for the Pro position. Therefore, while I will discuss particular contentions and present some good arguments and evidence, I would also like to talk about...
Con StrategiesThe Con side does not have to show any direct harms arising for the US relationship with China in the status-quo, even though I am certain there is evidence for many. If the Con can show there is potential for harms to US interests it is sufficient to meet the Con burden. Con must take care nevertheless. The threats or harms or whatever basis Con chooses to demonstrate a lack of beneficial results need to be a direct result of the rise of China and not merely a difference in political ideologies. I think, Con must define the term "beneficial". What exactly does beneficial mean and how is it measured? Perhaps Con does not need to prove any harms whatsoever if they can prove the rise of China is basically neutral to US interests according to how one interprets "beneficial". Pro will likely make some attempt to convince the judge that the rise of China is a win-win situation which basically claims that both sides benefit. But Con can gain leverage by framing mutual cooperation as a zero-sum game in which one's gains represents the other's loss and the sum of gains and losses is zero. This is not hard to do considering that much of the dispute between the US and China which threatens stability will center around the world's limited resources. When it comes to consuming resources there is no win-win.
Con PositionsCon researchers will have little problem deriving contentions and finding evidence to support them. Below are just a few at your disposal.
The Strategic Threat
There are many possible threats and disadvantages which can be realized in the rise of China (or any country for that matter). China's geographic location gives it particular advantage over other possible contenders for world dominance. As I have stated in previous parts of the analysis, control of the waters and shipping lanes in the South China Sea are critical to the continued survival of the Chinese economy. Therefore, China is taking steps to secure the region for its own advantage. However, since a huge percentage of the world's resources also depend on those shipping lanes, the United States, European Union and allies all have a strategic interest in ensuring the continued flow of goods and will not tolerate the possibility that a local powerhouse like China may threaten world commerce.
Cronin et al (2012):
China is impelled forward from its continental land mass out into the South China Sea by geography, history, resources and a clear desire to control its own vital SLOCs – sea lines that are subject to major vulnerability in the narrow Malacca Strait, as well as in the other South China Sea chokepoints of the Lombok, Makassar and Sunda Straits. In fact, if the Malacca Strait were closed for just one day, the disruption in energy supplies might cause social unrest in China, according to a well-placed officer of the People’s Liberation Army. The vulnerability of the Malacca Strait to disruption makes China interested in alternative land routes for transporting energy and other goods.
China’s rapid rise to the point where a blue-water navy is becoming possible is creating tremendous uncertainty about future order in East Asia. America’s strategy going back to World War I, and especially during the Cold War, focused on preventing any single power from dominating the Eurasian land mass. However, as economic and military power has shifted from the western to the eastern extremity of Eurasia – witness the Euro crisis and the implosion of European defense budgets – a more formidable China will inevitably seek to express its nationalism, historic rights and economic and resource needs through growing naval power. China’s naval power, in turn, can easily be clustered in the South China Sea, at the confluence of the Pacific and Indian oceans. China is also fixated on building a blue-water navy to help safeguard its SLOCs all the way around the navigable seaboard of Eurasia to the Horn of Africa. It will be impossible to separate China’s desire to achieve sea control over the SLOCs from a threat to open navigation.
[SLOC = Sea Lines of Communication]
China's claims in the South China Sea are expansionist
Cronin et al (2012):
Different states justify their claims to maritime rights in different ways. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei assert their claims from their coasts. Indonesia asserts maritime rights from Natuna Island. China, however, bases its maritime rights on its claims to sovereignty over disputed island groups, such as the Spratlys, in addition to the coast of the Chinese mainland. Yet most (but not all) of the features in the Spratlys would not qualify as islands under Article 121(3) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and thus cannot serve as the basis for a claim to an EEZ or extended continental shelf. As a result, many observers view China’s EEZ claim as expansive because it covers a larger area of maritime rights than other littoral states and as illegitimate because part of the claim appears to be based on land features that would not qualify as islands under Article 121(3). Moreover, the “nine-dashed line” that appears on Chinese maps of the region creates further ambiguity because, as Ian Storey argues elsewhere in this volume, the Chinese government has never defined what this line represents.
[littoral = a zone which borders the sea or water]
[EEZ = exclusive economic zone]
Intellectual Property Theft
The theft of intellectual property rights has long been a problem and is not necessarily unique to the rise of China. However, evidence will show that since the rise of China, IPR theft has risen sharply. IPR theft poses a serious economic threat to U.S. interests by depriving corporations, artists, entrepreneurs, and inventors compensation they deserve and expect. One level, this involves corporate espionage and reverse engineering. Hackers, who steal corporate secrets and intellectual property have been directly traced to sources inside China or stolen technology and know-how eventually finds a home in China. This also takes the form of counterfeiting products such as recordings, luxury goods, clothing, phones, and a myriad of technological items.
IPR Center (2011):
...Offenders in China pose the greatest threat to United States interests in terms of the variety of products infringed, the types of threats posed (economic, health and safety, and national security), and the volume of infringing goods produced there. The majority of infringing goods seized by CBP and ICE originated in China. Offenders in China are also the primary foreign threat for theft of trade secrets from United States rights holders.
China‘s push for domestic innovation in science and technology appears to be fueling greater appropriation of other country‘s IP. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (China Commission) has cautioned that China‘s approach to faster development of sophisticated technology has included the ―aggressive use of industrial espionage.‖ As the globalization and growth of multinational corporations and organizations blurs the distinction between government and commerce, it is difficult to distinguish between foreign-based corporate spying and state-sponsored espionage. Although most observers consider China‘s laws generally adequate for protection of IPR, they believe China‘s enforcement efforts are inadequate. Despite some evidence of improvement in this regard, the threat continues unabated.
United States CBP and ICE seizure statistics consistently indicate China is the source country for the majority of goods seized. In 2010, 66 percent of the domestic value of CBP and ICE‘s seizures involved goods that originated in China...Of the counterfeit goods posing a health and safety risk seized by CBP and ICE in 2009, 62 percent were shipped to the United States from China.343 Offenders in China, along with India, produce the overwhelming majority of the counterfeit drugs manufactured worldwide each year. Based on domestic value, 60 percent of the counterfeit pharmaceuticals CBP and ICE seized in 2009 originated from China. This percentage may be larger because some pharmaceuticals are shipped to India, where intermediaries may label or repackage the products before shipping them to consumers in the United States...IIPA estimated 90 percent of the music and movie copies in China are pirated. It further estimated losses from physical music piracy in 2009 in China were $466.3 million. There is a thriving trade in counterfeit optical discs, which most often are sold in small retail shops. The RIAA estimates plants in China have the capacity to produce 4.8 billion CDs a year.
According to the IIPA, in 2009 United States software publishers suffered nearly $3.1 billion in trade losses from piracy in China. BSA estimates approximately 79 percent of the business software used in China is pirated.
And related to IPR theft is the potential threat posed by certain high-tech devices made in China.
American companies should avoid doing business with China's two leading technology firms because they pose a national security threat to the United States, the House Intelligence Committee is warning in a report to be issued Monday.
The panel says U.S. regulators should block mergers and acquisitions in this country by Huawei Technologies and ZTE, among the world's leading suppliers of telecommunications gear and mobile phones.
Reflecting U.S. concern over cyber-attacks traced to China, the report also recommends that U.S. government computer systems not include any components from the two firms because that could pose an espionage risk.
"China has the means, opportunity, and motive to use telecommunications companies for malicious purposes," the report says...In justifying its scrutiny of the Chinese companies, the committee contended that Chinese intelligence services, as well as private companies and other entities, often recruit those with direct access to corporate networks to steal trade secrets and other sensitive proprietary data.
It warned that malicious hardware or software implants in Chinese-manufactured telecommunications components and systems headed for U.S. customers could allow Beijing to shut down or degrade critical national security systems in a time of crisis or war.
The Soft-Power Threat
Unlike hard-power which is seen in the form of weapons and armies and such; soft-power is another tool for expanding a nation's hegemony through influence. For some time, China has been building alliances with nations in the developing world by investing in infrastructure and development projects. These developing nations view China's investments and interest favorably which allows China opportunity to leverage its position under terms favorable to China. This expanding influence undermines US presence in the developing world.
Chinese soft-power may be its path to regional dominance.
Cronin et al (2012):
Few believe that China seeks conflict. Indeed, the opposite appears to be the case. China probably prefers an indirect approach and may wish for influence without ever resorting to brute force. If China can tip the balance of power in its favor, it can increasingly dominate its smaller neighbors while incrementally nudging the U.S. Navy further and further out behind the Western Pacific’s first island chain. Experts on the region describe this as Finlandization. This term is defined by its ambiguity: The Soviet Union’s dominance of Finland’s foreign policy during the Cold War was generally not overt. Yet Finland knew there were lines it could not cross, and thus its sovereignty was demonstrably compromised. This is exactly what Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines fear. Taiwan, at the South China Sea’s northern extremity, may already be in stages of Finlandization, with 1,500 short-range ballistic missiles focused on it from the Chinese mainland, even as hundreds of commercial flights per week link it with China.
Now the world’s second largest economy, China is on the move in Africa, employing a wide range of soft power initiatives to secure inf luence, trade, and—most critically—the energy and mineral resources the Communist Party needs to continue the astonishing economic growth that undergirds its legitimacy. Awash with cash, the Chinese are investing in extensive infrastructure projects; spending billions on oil, copper, and cocoa-secured loans to African nations; contributing to peacekeeping operations6 in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, and Liberia; and spreading Chinese culture across the continent. Although Beijing’s African courtship is not new, the intensity of its recent drive is, which raises the question: are China’s soft power offensive and its scramble for natural resources in sub-Saharan Africa a threat to U.S. interests?...China poses a genuine threat to U.S. interests in Africa. Business displacement, worker abuse, environmental degradation, and attempts to secure Africa’s resource wealth while the benefits related to those resources fail to reach local populations are potentially destabilizing and a cause for concern. China’s penchant for dealing with often-corrupt governmental elites while ensuring preferential resources-for-infrastructure exchanges can undermine Western attempts to leverage aid to promote governmental reform, democratic principles, and human rights. Such contracts can also increase competition for the oil and minerals the United States needs by taking these resources out of the transparent bidding process and tying them to China for the duration of the long-term contracts Beijing typically employs. Political agreements that supersede the market—including accusations that China is not above substantial bribery to secure favorable contracts or taking deliberate losses on resource investments in order to ensure access—make U.S. firms less competitive and diminish U.S. influence. Further, the fact that the head of China’s influential Shanghai Institute for Strategic Studies has recommended that China work with African nations to lead a new world order to counter "some powerful nations [that] continue to dominate the world" sounds alarm bells in Western ears. Even more sobering is China’s pragmatic and tone-deaf proclivity for bedding down with the world’s most deeply distasteful regimes.
As mentioned, hard-power is typically manifest in the form of military might. But, money is also an effective weapon and the power of money and the strength of a nation's economy is seen as hard-power. Recently, China has threatened to use its economic power to take down the Japanese economy. Granted, the US economy is substantially bigger than Japan's but so is China's share in the US economy. The mere fact that China would consider such tactics reveals an underlying willingness to use any means at its disposal to achieve its goals.
A senior advisor to the Chinese government has called for an attack on the Japanese bond market to precipitate a funding crisis and bring the country to its knees, unless Tokyo reverses its decision to nationalise the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. Jin Baisong from the Chinese Academy of International Trade – a branch of the commerce ministry – said China should use its power as Japan’s biggest creditor with $230bn (£141bn) of bonds to “impose sanctions on Japan in the most effective manner” and bring Tokyo’s festering fiscal crisis to a head...Separately, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported that China is drawing up plans to cut off Japan’s supplies of rare earth metals needed for hi-tech industry..Fitch Ratings threatened to downgrade a clutch of Japanese exporters if the clash drags on. It warned that Nissan is heavily at risk with 26pc of its global car sales in China, followed by Honda with 20pc. Sharp and Panasonic both have major exposure. Japan’s exports to China were $74bn in the first half of this year. Bilateral trade reached $345bn last year. Mr Jin said China can afford to sacrifice its “low-value-added” exports to Japan at a small cost. By contrast, Japan relies on Chinese demand to keep its economy afloat and stave off “irreversible” decline.
The consensus view has long been that China wouldn’t take the chance of wholesale selling off its position in U.S. bonds, since it would drive up rates and hurt the value of its remaining position. Still, the fact that this is being raised as an issue shows that such a move is in fact on the table in a dispute.
This matters for the United States because China holds $1.15 trillion of our debt, according to the most recent U.S. Treasury data, which means that it holds more than 20% of all U.S. debt held overseas. This recent article in the Telegraph shows that in any future disputes with the United States, China might not be afraid to engage in saber-rattling with its most dangerous weapon: its influence over U.S. interest rates.
Right now, China’s talk is just that — talk. But the way China handles this situation could provide a clue regarding the extent to which it plans to wield its economic power in the years ahead.
Cooperation from Strength The United States, China and the South China Sea
Maritime Security in the South China Sea and the Competition over Maritime Rights, Center for New American Strategy, January 2012
Patrick M. Cronin and Robert D. Kaplan, et al
Intellectual Property Rights Violations: A Report on Threats to United States Interests at Home and Abroad
National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center
U.S. panel: China tech giants pose security threat
MATTHEW PENNINGTON, Associated Press October 8, 2012
What Does China’s Threat of a ‘Bond Attack’ on Japan Mean for the U.S.?
The island dispute provides insight into China's thinking
Sep 20, 2012
Daniel Putnam, InvestorPlace Contributor
Beijing hints at bond attack on Japan, The Telegraph, 21 January 2012
"Going Out": Is China’s Skillful Use of Soft Power in Sub-Saharan Africa a Threat to U.S. Interests?, Joint Force Quarterly 64 (1st Quarter, January 2012)