China's strategic vulnerabilities


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The tone of Bates Gill's article might be uncomfortable to many, but it wasn't far from truth.

The '90 was a decade when the US-China relationship was quite tense; for many Chinese it was filled with constant humiliation and even, desperation. The decade started with arm embargo against China by all the western countries due to the 1989 incident, then came the 1993 YinHe Incident, followed by the '95-'96 Taiwan Strait crisis, culminated at the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999. If you stretch the decade a little bit, you can also count the 2001 Hainan Island Incident.

The US and the West probably cared about China as a large developing country politically and diplomatically, and certainly economically for its market potential, but did not consider it a security threat or competitor. It was treated probably something like today's India, with more ideological hostility and condescension. In short, China was not a great power.

This 1999 Foreign Affairs article by
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, a renowned British strategic thinker, captured the mood of the time regarding China. Unfortunately, Segal died shortly after this article was published at the tender age of 46. It would be interesting to seek his opinion about this article if he were still alive today.


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Does China matter? No, it is not a silly question -- merely one that is not asked often enough. Odd as it may seem, the country that is home to a fifth of humankind is overrated as a market, a power, and a source of ideas. At best, China is a second-rank middle power that has mastered the art of diplomatic theater: it has us willingly suspending our disbelief in its strength. In fact, China is better understood as a theoretical power -- a country that has promised to deliver for much of the last 150 years but has consistently disappointed. After 50 years of Mao's revolution and 20 years of reform, it is time to leave the theater and see China for what it is. Only when we finally understand how little China matters will we be able to craft a sensible policy toward it.

Looking at articles like these, its really incredible how far China has come


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This Gordon Chang is some piece of work. Never miss a minute to take a pop shot at China.

I mean, if you want to hate on China, you need to do it well. Start a YouTube channel, sell anti-China merchandise, write multiple books, charge ridiculous consulting and engagement fees for speaking engagements... instead of droning on and on about China :D you can turn yourself into a multi millionaire


Senior Member
Gordon Chang made a ton of money for bashing China. His audience wanted to hear any bad thing about China and he delivered it.