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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Yellow Peril Redux

The Bush administration could not leave office, of course, without one final salvo against the mounting military threat from China. How long ago it seems that China, the presumptive “peer competitor,” was its top national security priority. Mr. Wolfowitz, who chairs the official group that produced this latest report, is a tenacious and persistent man. As to China’s ambitions in military spending and modernization, the report is probably not far off the mark; as to its aims vis à vis the United States, well, this is a different question and depends as much on what the USA and its regional allies, namely Japan and Taiwan, seek as on China’s own rather predictable desires for regional supremacy.

The question is less one of an inevitable or even likely clash than it is one of cost-benefit. How high a price will the United States and the others pay to “contain” China, or even give the impression of doing so? How high a price will China pay to thwart its adversaries, both real and imagined?

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