52 Bomber.(Reuters / DarrenStaples)

B52轰炸机(图片:路透社/ DarrenStaples)

You may think what you want,but the latest US diplomacy response to send two B-52 Bombers over China’s new‘East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone’, unannounced and uninvited,doesn’t exactly give much respect to China’s Ministry of Defense.


Aboutdeep sea oil and national spirit


The flights took place over thedisputed Senkaku/Diaoyutai islands, a pile of uninhabited rocks pounded byrough seas. The territory is claimed by both Japan and China. It’s about deepsea oil, some economists say, but it’s much more about national spirit. Sowhich side is right?


Tokyo evidently started a chainreaction last year by acquiring the islands from a private owner. Beijing,which had previously mentally shelved the dispute, immediately retaliated withthe greatest national boycott of Japan since then Prime Minister Koizumivisited the Yasukuni War Shrine in September 2012. Truth be told, the isletsare of little value. It’s the surrounding sea which matters: it’s China’seastern passage to the Pacific Ocean, which Japan would love to govern.


B-52Bombers - frightening hulks of metal


Meanwhile the US, which stilloccupies Japan, has almost 50,000 troop stationed on Okinawa and elsewhere.Washington saw the necessity to remind all its semi-colonies and satellitestates in East and South Asia that it is still the world’s strongman.


In the future, the mere mentionof any national defense airspace will encourage the US military to fly rightthrough it. (We are seeing this with US drones in Pakistan and Iran.) And incase you haven’t seen one, these bombers are truly frightening hulks of metal.Japan still remembers the older B-29 model, two of which dropped atomic bombson Nagasaki and Hiroshima.


The story may even have thepotential to inspire a new internet meme: The US might want to dispatch unarmedbombers for Christmas over protests in Xinjiang or Tibet.


Chinaversus the USA


What does all this travesty ofpower mean? Most analysts agree that China is going to overtake the UnitedStates in terms of economic might this decade or the next. That shift,commentators predict, is going to be very dramatic; it’s like losing your job,your status, your self-confidence. Some worry that the US Empire is going downin Hollywood fashion, with a few more explosions here and there.


Already degraded to its newrole as the antagonist in history (China now being the protagonist), Washingtonstill thinks it possesses a time machine called ‘pre-emptive action’: some USpoliticians wish to change the future by preemptively striking out at China now– while it’s still somewhat fragile and weak.


That’s understandable, evenjustifiable. From an ethical point of view, however, there is probably only oneway to go about a benign competition: China as the new contender has the moralobligation to challenge the current world champion and, if it can, replace theUS as the world’s leading superpower. If not, well, we’d still admire itscourage. And the US, vice versa, has the moral obligation to accept thechallenge and deliver a fair fight and no dirty tricks.


The world is watching. Ifeither China or the US fails its moral obligations, few nations are going torespect them in the future.


Oldchamp keeps plugging away belligerently


With more than 178 wars andmilitary interventions on its record, the United States is the experienced old imperialistthat has everything to lose. Naturally, it fears China. No one in China,however, fears the US. That’s why, perhaps, the US feels it has to parade itsmilitary capacity to bomb China.


What signals doesbomber-diplomacy send to Russia, Iran, India, Japan, China, and Europe?Everyone feels that the US, like most empires before it, has grown arrogant andabusive: torture in Guantanamo, drones in Pakistan, wars in the Middle East,surveillance of the human race. Now it’s bombers over China.


Game theorists may compare itto a game of ‘Go’. You may have heard about Go, the famed strategic board gamewith its black and white pieces: the US champion and its allies continue tosurround China’s pieces and, move by move, they seek to force the challengerinward and into resignation.


Forthe sake of our humanity


Some fans of the ‘AncientChina’ theory claim that China has a Confucius-proven long term strategy (theGo game was invented in China) while the US, they assert, is just ashort-sighted cowboy. Both sides will undoubtedly bring their fineststrategists to the table. But consider this: what makes the Go game socompetitive, just like chess, is that it is inherently a zero-sum game. Itmeans that if one side wins, the other loses. So for the sake of humanity, it’sbetter to not play this island game with bombers at all.


Thorsten Pattberg is a Germanwriter, scholar, and cultural critic. He is a former research fellow at TheInstitute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Peking University and the authorof ‘The East-West Dichotomy’.

本文作者Thorsten Pattberg(中文名裴德思),德国作家、学者、文化评论员,曾任北京大学高等人文研究院研究员,著有《东西二元论》。


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