1.8.05

YELLOW MAN, por André Bandeira


The Last Man standing will be Chinese; short legs make smaller targets.

One should watch the last cartoon-like narrative on the ‘yellow man”. First you may find it funny, than you’ll find it fond and, finally, you’ll think you know all about it.

Speaking to the Press, Donald Rumsfeld got himself quoted, on behalf of his monthly five seconds of zapping TV relevance, as saying: China wants to join the world, wants to take part in the international market, is trying to open-up. So, there is no ‘yellow danger”, there is only a ‘yellow bid”. More than his words, his gesturing were soothing (Rumsfeld has been, lately, deviating his eyes from the Camera - which he never liked very much to engage - slightly shrugging the shoulders has if he had been caught in the limelight and suddenly cutting the incoming air as a Kung-fu fighter would never do. That normally leaves a crisped mouth behind the words and inflates roaming eyes as if he wasn’t sure of the audience’s reaction). But, this time he raised both arms in a square right angle and showed both palms of his big hands as if saying “ Calm down! China is not the enemy.” Then, he breathed out. Some journalists, too, since we’re having enough of unsolved conflicts.

The report, pursuing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2000 – five years ago, just after Macao had “returned to the Motherland” -- basically states that China is moving from a regional actor’s seat to one with global aspirations. But China’s aspirations come -- according to the document – from a specific region: the emerging East Asia, not from the “Middle Kingdom”. One tends to forget how Indonesia, before 1997, would have been one of the largest economies in 2020, and how it came stumbling down, in the meantime, to be a terrorist’s nest and a tsunami waterfront not even equipped with an alarm network against calamities.

Asia, East-Asia…West Asia should be Pakistan and Afghanistan. But Asia is such an encompassing entity that even Europe, sooner or later, will be called “Northwestern Asia” ( how shall we call America..? Eastern Pacific rim-land or “Western” North?). Big settings have blurred linings.

But let’s go down to numbers: the PLA is accelerating the modernization of its forces since 95; has its most sophisticated weapons systems facing Taiwan, where 650-730 short-range ballistic missiles are deployed and widening at the pace of a hundred a year; the bulk (2/3) of the Chinese navy force is located in the south and east China Sea; China is streamlining its force of men in arms to 3,2 million but could always count on more than 10 million militiamen.

China is preparing for local wars, with high intensity, may be in the Chinese periphery, under conditions of informalization. Despite the wordiness, the document says that China prepares to a time when the straits turn to red and, Taiwan -- “notwithstanding the fact of having a democratically elected government” and going on without the recognition of Beijing -- pulls the string.

The future is amber. There is one and only positive scenario, the one of a more assertive foreign and security policy but profiled against the backdrop of four spots: Economic, Stagnation, Downturn or Internal Unrest and Territorial Disputes. Of course, it is the first, the one standing out against such a dull backdrop.

At a certain point, the document does an enquiry, stealing a spice of Chinese erudition, in which the square concepts of Chinese strategy, as the one of shi, come outlined. The text delineates the topic: some say shi is “an alignment of forces, others, a ‘propensity of things”. But they had one in the West, called Heisenberg, who basically told once that seeing the structure of matter, whether in waves or in corpuscles, that’s the problem of who is seeing it. Once, a Historian of Chinese stock, Anne Cheng, told that Chinese Logic never strived for formal rules. It is a logical Logic: whatever I say of the world doesn’t save me of spinning round with it.

Master Su told many centuries ago that one does not need to be warlike, to speak wisely about war. I say: I do not need to be strategist, to act strategically (what else would you expect since, nowadays, ‘strategy” is being used for everything, especially in world of dead dreams?). In the following, the Document speaks about Deng and his ’24 character strategy”. It comes as an enigma. The document refines itself on the subject as stating that the expression ‘make some contributions’ was added to the ’24 characters”, afterwards. Finally, all is unveiled as an archaeological inscription and it is forgotten that ‘the contributions are being made by an entire and vibrant society which is ten times industrious for each time that the West stays narrative.

In the end, the narrator, in the Document leads pragmatically the reader, to the point where China got frightened with what happened to Iraq and, as a consequence, began to actively prepare for a contingency of fighting high intensive, informatically supplied, close wars. In a few words: China is full of ambitions but…now, coming down to earth, it still has a foothold on its very neck, Taiwan. So, do not worry, if you are not Taiwanese. Be calm.

At a certain point, it comes a quotation of Mao “ You fight your way. I fight my way’. As you know, nowadays you may find any quotation from a famous source, for every occasion. What does that mean? Whatever the fighting style, one fights and that is the problem. China still has many fights to fight that a ‘narrative West” doesn’t even dream about.

In the meantime, we have a strategic move. The Yuan has been slightly released. That is no sign of collapse. May be China will be also resorting to cheaper loans in American Banks, to buy and import more American products to their Yangshas/stores. American credit will get cheaper, abroad. The money supply will diminish. We may end up getting a stronger US dollar. A strong currency remains a national asset. If one looks very much for our money it may well be the case that a portrait of our Economy is being used, around the world, for a rainy day. It says that our economy is reliable. And do not kick out of the door, Chinese bidders. Their Army may have small arms and short legs. But hard work makes any man look smaller, just any man.