Category Archives: National Security

Chinese Communism at 90

This week, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) celebrates its 90th anniversary, a milestone their Soviet counterpart never achieved. There will be parades with smiling children and banners exalting the virtues of Chinese Communism. Their success at building the world’s second largest economy will be trumpeted and their pride in one of the largest economic growth rates will be proudly hailed. Indeed the Chinese Communists will be celebrating what appears to be not only a successful past, but a bright future. This will be the narrative of the main stream media, yet as is often the case it will be disingenuously selective in its perspective.

Poster Celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party

Buried deep in the coverage will be mention of how the Chinese Communist Party has held on to power when its older siblings in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe are now on the ash pile of history. The true nature of the Chinese Communists was demonstrated in June 1989, the same time when European Communism was falling. The Soviets under Mikhail Gorbachev when faced with massive popular unrest reacted by implementing democratic reform and learned a truism of history, when people are given freedom they will seek more. In two years the Soviet Union was a failed chapter in the history books. The CCP did not emulate their European comrade’s mistake and reacted to the prodemocracy protests with the traditional tools of totalitarian dictatorships, they sent in the tanks.

Pro-Democracy Protesters in Tiananmen Square Surround the Goddess of Democracy in May 1989

Few of us who are old enough to have lived through that day will forget the images of the tanks arriving in Tiananmen Square where hundreds of thousands of protestors had gathered since April of that year to peacefully demand democratic reforms for the Chinese People. Today’s celebrations in that very Square are certain not to contain the 10 meter tall Goddess of Democracy created from wire, foam and paper mache by student which came to symbolize their desire for freedom. It is unlikely we will ever know how many people died that day, official government numbers were 241 and said to be mostly soldiers supposedly killed by those dangerous unarmed student protesters. The Red Cross initially reported 2,600 dead and countless wounded. Graphic video surfaced showing the effects tank tracks can have on unarmed protesters. While the Chinese Communist Party will flood the streets with protesters chanting of the greatness of modern China; the real symbol of the strength of the Chinese people is a single solitary man, who had been walking home with a bag in one hand and a packsack in the other who stepped out onto the streets alone and simply stood before the advancing tanks, moving when they move, and stopped them. He was later identified as 19 year old Wang Weilin whose fate has never been determined with certainty, however it has been reported he was executed 14 days later.

Lone Chinese Man Faces Down Advancing Communist Tank Column in Tiananmen Square June 1989

Lone Chinese Man Faces Down Advancing Communist Tank Column in Tiananmen Square June 1989

Twenty years later we are bombarded by the media’s message of a Chinese economic miracle and the inevitability of China emerging as the largest economy in the world. Indeed the west has been a willing participant in china’s development with massive technology transfers by companies like General Electric who just this January contributed its global avionics business into a joint venture with a Chinese state controlled firm (GE’s Chairman Jeffrey Immelt is also Chairman of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board). In doing so GE is working to build the Chinese aerospace industry in the naive hope of securing short term sales in china, a goal western firms are finding increasingly difficult. One can only imagine how much of the avionics technical knowhow being given to the Chinese Communists will ultimately find its way to the new Chengdu J-20 Fifth Generation Tactical Fighter which according to reports from the CIA rivals the performance of our own F22 Raptor. Yet much of the credit for China’s economic miracle has to go to the everyday westerner who enjoys the $600 iPad without consideration to the Chinese workers who live in near prison conditions in factory towns to produce cheap export goods fueling China’s economy. Maybe it is time for individual western citizens and corporations to take a look at how their own actions are impacting others in the world.

It is far from clear what the future holds for Chinese Communism and the impact it will ultimately have not only on the Chinese people but on the world. Those maps of China on the parade floats today show the island of Taiwan as part of China, something the people of that free island reject out of hand and should China attempt to impose communist rule on Taiwan by force the free world would be obliged to stop any communist aggression. At that point western technology transfers will seem even less well considered than they do today. Yet perhaps the biggest challenge to the rule of the Chinese Communist Party comes from the aspirations of the Chinese people themselves. Once a nation tastes the fruits of economic freedom, the aspirations for political freedom are hard to contain. What the Communists do not understand is that free markets go hand in hand with individual and political freedoms and are over time inseparable. History has shown us that once a people taste freedom, no totalitarian regime can deny them for long.

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Filed under China, Communism, Democracy, Foreign Policy, National Security, Obama Administration, Politics

Outsourcing Space to China? Not So Fast

Watching the Space Shuttle Endeavour launch this morning on the second last flight of the Shuttle Program was somewhat bittersweet. The shuttle has had an amazing 30 year run but its time has come and gone. Yet thanks to the Obama Administration decision to cancel the Constellation Program the US is left paying the Russians to take us to the International Space Station, a complex the US paid more than 80 percent of the cost. Recently the White House science advisor John Holdren suggested that we may invite China to join in the ISS. Well not so fast, Rep Frank Wolf (R-VA) chairman of the house appropriations sub-committee which oversees NASA’s budget see’s the Chinese as rivals, not partners. Rep Wolf recently inserted a clause in the budget which to prevent NASA or OSTP from using federal funds “to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company”.

The Future of China in Space - Note the Space Shuttle Without US Markings

So why not cooperate with china as we have with other nations? First we need to look at the history of such cooperation on space where, like the ISS the cooperation often takes the form of US funding of other nations projects. However China has built its entire space program on acquired technology. In the 1990’s they reached agreement with the cash strapped Russians to acquire manned spaceflight technology based on the tried and tested Soyuz spacecraft. While they Chinese claimed to have only used that as the basis for their own development, apparently they forgot to change the Russian text on some of the control panels used in their first manned space flight when the pictures were initially released. They did show competent use of Photoshop technology when they revised subsequent releases to show only Chinese.

The US government investment in space flight has been a recognition not only of the economic impact and the need for national leadership in such new technologies and exploration. Space has been seen by strategic planners for decades as the high ground in any future conflict. It has been seen as imperative that the US maintain its leadership in this area.

To now bring China into the ISS or any future space program would simply to invite the theft of more strategic technology. Better yet why take American technology when the Obama administration is prepared to give it away? True to course for the Obama Administration they have taken the view that Rep. Wolf’s amendment does not apply to scientific interactions, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visited China last October and virtually opened the door to the Chinese with no regard to national security or the Wolf Amendment. It is imperative that congress stop all contact between NASA and the Chinese until The Obama administration is retired January 20, 2013. Given administrator Bolden’s performance on China, and following congressional direction on Constellation and the Heavy launch Vehicle, it may be time to consider his removal from office.

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Filed under American Leadership, Barak Obama, Budget, China, Congress, Foreign Policy, NASA, National Security, Politics, Space Flight, The White House