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"New Analogy: America, China & the Pax Britannica" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian12 May 2022 6:26 p.m. PST

There is more than one way to think about modern U.S.–China relations, but one would never know it from the historical analogy most commonly applied: the Anglo-German relationship from the early 20th century. Thinkers ponder the early 1900s and see the liberal dominant power in relative decline, a rising autocratic power hungering for influence and status, the intertwining of those two powers' commercial relations amid economic competition, and a naval rivalry that seems to be both a cause and a consequence of the bilateral relationship's overall direction.1 By implication, what happened in 1914 will happen again…

Proceedings: link

Grelber12 May 2022 8:04 p.m. PST

Interesting article, Bill. Certainly, since the 1990s we have known that China would play a major role in the 21st Century: we just haven't figured out how best to deal with them. The ideas presented might have something to be said for them. I realize China is building aircraft carriers, but I'm not sure how much they really want to be a dominant naval power.


Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP12 May 2022 8:14 p.m. PST

I don't think this analogy matches up with US/China today as the article seems to think.

France never came close to matching Britain's industrial capacity during the ironclad era. It's ships took too long to build, were sometimes obsolete before they were launched. The back and forth contest between bigger guns and more armor strained Frances capacity to keep up despite innovations like the steel used in Redoubtable, or the interrupted screw breech. The very conservative Admiralty still managed to make sure,the British could always out match its next two rivals combined. This meant Italy in the Med as well as France.

There was no real global rivalry, and no significant threats of war between these powers throughout the warship transition era. It was sometimes a competitive building era, navy-wise, but in the end the British really gave birth to the modern warship, developing progressively bigger and better designs which became the dreadnought.

France was left far behind and it's days as a major naval power came to an end.
But France, did give the world some of the oddest looking vessels ever designed.

Augustus13 May 2022 2:36 p.m. PST

Thing is, population is a key difference. China's massive population means a destablizing effect even without aggression.

On the other hand, economists are now looking at China potentially being at the beginning of a massive economic crash in slow motion as they do not have enough youth population to carry the elder, which, in the gross overexaggeration of scale means there is little hope that unless China does something really profound or hyper-aggressive to counter, they will eventually collapse simply because their economy cannot hold up the massed numbers without a constant increase in economic power.

Of course, this theory does not have a whole lot of backing, but that doesn't mean it hasn't any weight.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2022 5:56 p.m. PST

China has plenty of problems, this is one of them. It's hard to know how good their military is, no modern track record. But it is large. They have a ways to go with their navy, I am guessing. It takes time to build a world class carrier fleet, the US is far ahead of everyone for now.

arthur181515 May 2022 3:32 a.m. PST

Seems to me China has succeeded in destroying manufacturing industries in many other countries by mass producing cheaper goods, which western companies have been foolish to purchase in the name of quick profits. When I took the family to Disneyland, Florida, many years ago even the souvenir plush Mickey Mouse toy had 'Made in China' on its label.

Here in the UK, Hornby trains are now actually produced in China. It seems the only things we still make here are metal wargame figures.

Murvihill15 May 2022 4:51 a.m. PST

There are land powers and sea powers. What makes a country a land power is not how much ocean it fronts but how big a threat adjacent countries present. In China's case it borders Russia (an historically aggressive, land-hungry power) and India (not as aggressive but huge). So China will always be a land power, despite the size of its Navy. This is not the first time China had a huge navy, but that navy faded away without detriment to China and this one could too.
The USA is in an odd position because, although it has huge land borders the neighbors have never presented much of a threat to the US (thank you Canada for being so nice), so the US becomes a sea power by default. If Mexico suddenly produced a million-man army the US would have to adjust its defense spending accordingly.
Other land powers include Russia, Germany and France, and Sea powers include UK, Japan and Indonesia.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2022 5:12 a.m. PST

You have read your Mahan, Murvill. A huge competitive navy for China is not very vital to them, but it likely means Pacific expansion and protection for their long oceanic trade routes. But it is overkill to match the US, provocative and expensive. Despite what you hear about US navy decommissioning ships, it is not the number of ships vs China's number of ships that will matter.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2022 5:34 a.m. PST

Arthur is this not global free trade though? During the last admin, Ivanka Trump acquired 15 Chinese patents, trademarks, etc. Most American businesses and many political figures have financial ties to China. Chinese businesses use their profits to acquire assets in the US and elsewhere. Capitalism is our system of choice, it is profit driven and apolitical. It is not foolish by these standards to buy Chinese, just better business, so we abandoned our own costly manufacturing. It may be that quality suffers sometimes, and I don't like it anymore than you. But it's about money first.

SBminisguy15 May 2022 8:54 a.m. PST

China might be in the process of collapse.

YouTube link

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2022 9:10 a.m. PST

Yes, SB, as I keep saying here! I got it from Peter Zeihan though. The lockdown is a nightmare there but that's not the whole story. The economy was already in trouble on a couple of fronts, the food shortage is based on the diseased pork herds that were culled. Down the road there is demographic change, a lot of old people and not enough young people for the military and the factories as their own birth rate regs were so medieval.
I imagine the invasion of Taiwan is on hold.

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