Wednesday, June 29, 2005

China's two-pronged offensive

Asia Times

Last week, China flexed its muscles in the economic and military spheres, setting off a flurry of reactions in Washington that threaten to complicate Sino-American relations and reveal long-term risks for the globalization process.

China's stepped-up assertiveness on the world stage came in the form of bids by Chinese businesses to acquire US appliance manufacturer Maytag and oil company Unocal, as well as Beijing's test firing of its most advanced and longest-range intercontinental missile, the JL-2. Those moves spurred protests in the US Congress that, in turn, were met by ambivalent responses from the George W Bush administration, which is cross-pressured by conflicting interests.

Following the acquisition in May of IBM's personal computer business by China's Lenovo Group, the bid for Maytag by Haier America Trading - the US arm of appliance giant Haier - and the move to acquire Unocal by China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) mark a new stage in Beijing's export-driven strategy of economic development that is geared to make China an "all-round" great power with state-of-the-art industries in all strategic sectors over the next 20 years.

The test of the JL-2 missile, which has a 6,000 mile (9,656 kilometer) range, advances toward Beijing's aim of enhancing China's military capabilities in order to make the country the dominant power in East and Southeast Asia, gradually eroding US influence.

Both the economic and military moves show that Beijing's geostrategy is firmly in place and that the Chinese political class is confident the strategy is working.

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