Specialist sites yesterday reported that the PLA General Fan Changlong will be hosted by the US military, taken around sensitive military installations and weapons platforms for a week, including the CVN USS Ronald Reagan, Naval Station North Island, the recruiting centre of the US Marine Corps, Fort Hood, notionally HQrs of the US 1st Cavalry Div and 1st and 2nd Armrd Divs, but better known as the testing ground for all of US army’s latest weaponry, and the Boeing factory in Seattle, possibly the P-8 and F-15 production lines.
Where China is concerned, there’s no such thing as innocuous visits. Expert in picking up pointers on how to do their own things better, Gen Fan and his team will be absorbing what they see and are told.
If the idea is to win trust, such visits won’t do it. In fact, nothing will, because ultimately every little thing that’s learned will be turned against what the Chinese plainly regard as a manipulable and gullible adversary. But this sort of open-ness is a specifically American characteristic. Recall what Lenin said in 1920-21 about the industrialist Armand Hammer seeking to sell all kinds of things, from lead pencils to high technologies to the then young revolutionary Soviet Union in the process of implementing its NEP (New Economic Policy)? The capitalists will sell you the rope to hang them, Lenin had then observed, even as he bought all that Hammer had to offer!
In the present situation, the US is trying desperately to court China in the hope it will get on the duopoly track implicit in Xi Jinping’s new paradigm for “big power relations”. Except the age when a single or a two power-tandem could run the world is long gone. Beijing seems no more to understand this than Washington.