Why Do So Many Chinese Expect War? -- Julian Snelder, National Interest
A professor of classical music in Beijing startled me in 2010 when he said, “When I look at my students, I fear we are headed for war within five years.”
“War with whom?,” I enquired.
His students don't seem like fenqing (“angry youth”). They are in a musical conservatory, after all, not a military academy. Many have overseas connections. But they are also ambitious, emotional, fiercely nationalist and for them war – any war – would be a gratifying affirmation of their country's ascendance. Like the 2008 Olympic Games but with real explosions, not fireworks. These kids lap up PLA propaganda films like Silent Contest even as they dream of Juilliard. My professor friend worries they just haven't thought things through, that their various aspirations are totally misaligned.
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My Comment: I worked and lived in China in the 1980s, and I have been back and forth at least 30 times since then. I am lucky to have scores of friends and associates in China, and we are always drinking, eating, talking and debating everything .... politics, economics, the international situation, and (of course) how to make money. As to the possibility of future wars and conflicts .... that is where the discussions have recently gotten interesting. To put it bluntly .... I have seen this change in the mindset of the Chinese over the past three decades .... especially in the past few years. The reason why is simple .... Chinese nationalism has become dominant .... and it has replaced Mao's interpretation of Communism the bind that keeps the country together. Unfortunately .... this rise in nationalism and the coverage and promotion of it is creating an atmosphere where everyone in China is now expecting a war or conflict .... and that China should do everything in its power to not only be prepared for it .... but to even instigate it to enforce their territorial and strategic security concerns. To say that this is a worrisome development is an understatement .... but understandable when viewed from a historical perspective. Asian wars and conflicts have been ongoing since the beginning of time .... and it was (and is) never a question of "if" the next war happens .... but when.
Update: On a side note .... regular reader and commentator James sent me this great post on the "Chinese Century" .... China's Century? Not if We Don't Give It Away (The Diplomad 2.0).