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Any are the national educational radio network presents special of the week from the series called background produced by WU Alam at the University of Michigan. Tom Rickey talks with Alexander Eckstein director of the University of Michigan Center for Chinese studies and an expert on Chinese economic problems. The topic of their conversation is what the next decade holds for mainland China and the world. Professor Eckstein What in your opinion does the next decade have in store for relations between China and the United States. I think this is a very difficult question because Dan so many imponderables and uncertainties the main are perhaps the most important imponderable I would say is mounds longit longevity. How long is he going to live. He's now well into his late 70s and there have been reports about his health not being very good.
And it's a situation where he could die and tomorrow could live another 10 years. Even when I should say when he dies because I have no doubt that he will die. When he dies. That is almost certainly bound to be some kind of a power struggle got us whether we are openly conscious of it and not as a matter of fact one could say that this power struggle has already begun and that the extreme manifestations of the culture of pollution of the last two years can in a sense be viewed as manifestations of this power struggle. It then depends really who will be his successors were by being as ideologically extreme and committed as Mao is or will die being leaders. Would they be leaders who are more pragmatic technocratic the audience did or
would I believe those who still it would be of the dynamism of the Chinese Communist Revolution. It is very difficult to say. If I had to make a bet if I were pushed to making a bet. I would say that the probabilities I Paul are some of the crap that the successes if not immediately in time will be people. Who will not look at the world in just the same way as my hour has done. For one thing I would not have the same leadership standing that Maoists had them for and I would not be in a position to carry out just by virtue of that fact their kind of policies which Mao has attempted to carry out. For all of these reasons I would tend to suggest that probably or perhaps. New leadership the successes were
in some sense a time to pursue a policy which will be somewhat less emotional and perhaps somewhat more pragmatic not necessarily more friendly. That's very hard to say about that the small pragmatic you don't I take it for see any dramatic changes in relations between China and United States in the next 10 years. Well I wouldn't go as far as that and I couldn't visit a situation where and I'd say if Mao dies within the next two or three years and if the Vietnam wall is settled I could see a situation amounting way him a number of countries Japan Italy and Canada have already started these moves. Then perhaps Japan. If these three countries recognize communist China as situation and could be created easily that actually is where the majority in the United
Nations Assembly would vote perhaps even not just as majority it would vote to have made China into the United Nations. Certainly a majority could be obtained for the question whether it is an important procedural question that can be decided by majority the majority decided that is only a procedural question that all you need in this assembly is a majority to seat the commis time so that in effect I think if a majority favors it it could be China could be seated and it seems to me that it may very well be that the next year yes. If the Chinese pursue more reasonable policies if the Vietnam War is over then this will happen and then it is very possible that United States might also be picked out to seek some kind of accommodation with China. Let's revert to the present a little more. And I'd also like to discuss briefly the condition of the people in China. The economic condition of the
people in China do you think their condition is improving. Within the country. Well I don't think that one can answer this question in yes or no in terms of the situation in this respect has varied a great deal over the last 20 years. These Now almost 20 years since the newage dream has come to power. In the first thing the AS which the communists themselves called the ten the Great. Yes. In this first decade now we have a vigorous that economy moved ahead very rapidly. It was a period of very of happy good economic growth rapid increases in production and even some increases in standards of living. Then came a very profound economic crisis with drastic declines in levels of food consumption attrition. Almost famine like like situations and in different provinces
and Pownce of China. This was in the early 60s. Since that time the situation has improved considerably and probably it is now back to some where I went with May I may have been the standard of living maybe back to somewhere we may have been in the middle 50s. So that means that on a per capita basis that probably has been no significant improvement. But also no significant deterioration as the leadership in China. Tempted specifically to deal with economic problems or in times other than Crisis do they usually pay significant attention to the economic problems. Oh yes very much so industrialization is a very important objective of the Chinese Communist regime. For one and I very clearly recognize that industrialization is an essential precondition for military power and am for international
power. However if one can debate the question off what priority their economic objectives have as compared to let's say political of evolutionary objectives. What I am referring to is that. Mao in particular is as much interested in having and purer revolutionary China and China which is committed to the communist revolution to communist ideals to a communist society as he interprets of visualize it. He is as much committed to creating a communist model man as he is interested in the US ization. And in a certain sense he would consider these as mutually reinforcing. He would consider my other communist man as an essential precondition for indices ation about in fact it might be to some extent
and can not contradiction but. I mean retarding factor although it might hamper their advance to us in the US ization of following the ways that they could model a communist man has to be a man or should be a man who has total capacity for 7:05 negation self-sacrifice who doesn't demand any improvement in material standards. But who is willing to work very hard to devote everything to the revolution and to indices ation was not demanding anything in return. But this policy has broken down time and time again. When he breaks down then the policy shifts and there is a tendency then to improve material incentives to liberalize I will bet in terms of the peasant plot private plots to improve present prices. But when this happens then Mauer get swatted. What this means revisionism. These means undermining of the economic controls these means loss of political momentum and it means
really that maybe their roots and will gradually be sacrificed ideas of their own. And I think if Mao is pushed to the wall that he has to choose between industrialization and the ideas of the revolution ideas of the revolution being defined I would say this creation of model communist man. That he will choose the latter. Other than the former. Well these are would not be true for many of his colleagues and I think this is one of the reasons for their leadership struggles that we have become conscious of in the last few years. Let's say that Mao's ideals revolutionary ideals did not hold the sway they do today in the next few years what did China do to improve her situation economically. Well it seems to me that first of all I could change the internal economic policies. And I have thought that on this I would in the early 60s but this has been reversed since 66 by the
Cultural Revolution. Specifically these with what I could do is like in the early 60s pay more attention to agricultural development. Kid Ben I mean incentives for the finest sort of the finest have a stake in agricultural improvement. Once again a constant improvement has taken place. And expand further agricultural exports. And the culture improvement provides moma tearless for consumer goods industries takes time Dusty's food processing. It provides more material for export with which you can import capital goods. So in that one range of measures that I can take is to improve agricultural development and to create policies which are conducive to that. I think this would be one very important range of measures that I could and I would think probably take one smile
passes from the scene and the range of measures that I could take is to improve the generally international climate of relations between China and the rest of the world which would perhaps create conditions under which China could more easily obtain following loans. China has a cousin the fifth is updating large scale loans from the Soviet Union but it was the deterioration of sinusoids relations as if the most dramatically just was the last week by the clashes on the border in the Maritime Provinces in Asia. Of course the Soviet lending has seized in the late 50s and the Soviet assistance has ceased as of 1960. Since then China has had some front on commercial loans from Canada and Australia for the grain imports. She has had some five year commercial loans from some
European and one Japanese company for the importation of complete plants but she has not had any along to lodge loans from anyone since the late 50s and this of course is a factor that tends to hamper those slow down economic development. Is it necessary do you think that China be the ledger and perhaps involved in wars of liberation throughout the world. Is it necessary for them economically to be involved in those things. No I I don't think that the motivation for that is and the way economic. It is good that some people who feel that the reason why the Chinese I'm interested in Vietnam for instance is because I want to control politically Vietnam so as to have access to the ice ball ball and I don't have any sources of Southeast Asia. I personally have always been very skeptical of this hypothesis
because it seems to me that the Chinese cannot Thain these goods from sciences Asia on at least as good times to normal processes of trade then so conquest as a matter of fact. So conquest I would have to try to obtain these goods through confiscation and I have had enough difficulties up to me and go through confiscation from their own peasantry much less from the peasantry of a nation that I would be occupying or conquering So I just don't see really this as a prime motive for. For China's interest in national a violation was I think the interest I put the go. That is I think time is interested in having at least on her borders for states which are friendly to her so as to have a buffer zone of protection I want her I think it's these type of cost the nation security considerations that motivated Chinese concern about national liberation was about that then I can I mean
you talked about the relationship between industrialization and the military advancement. Is China's economy affected as definitely as that of the United States and the Soviet Union and other countries by military spending and development. Very much so. I actually it is interesting you asked this question because we have a research project here at the Center for China's study is financed by the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and in which we tied to power. They examined this question. We look at in this in this recess project we have time to study broadly the resource competition the competition for resources in China in the Chinese economy between minute requirements and civilian development requirements. That is we are both of these speaking asking the question. To an extent the military out lies and interfere with its development with economic was doing that
perhaps actually encourage economic growth. Can I make some estimates or calculations if you want to divert so many million dollars from the military to a development. While it would be the economic effect of this is the question with time to get it. Well in we haven't completed these studies yet about one of the things that is quite clear is that the Chinese do indeed allocate a large portion of quite sizeable portion of the obvious sources to military requirements. This has been been particulate too in recent years. Where is that rapid expansion of the atomic energy program to which to have devoted a lot resources and we estimate our Fred that about 10 percent of China's national product which is a very high percentage is devoted to military which is about as high or perhaps
live to higher percentage than we devote to meet it in the United States. Perhaps not quite this high bluff about the same as you and I. States. Well this is a time in the US but not the China's economy because of course the United States can afford this much better than the Chinese economy because we are infinitely richer economies. There's been some talk about what will be done in this country to reorder economic priorities when the war is over. For instance if relations better had among countries especially in relation to China would China have difficulty restructuring our economy. Well I think that it may be a month if accounts then in the United States because I'm very sizeable portion of the Chinese military I would like to go into the Tomic energy program and I doubt that even with the improvement in the international climate. That the Chinese would want would want to give up
pushing ahead with this program because this is a program which is really directed to a bigger than China building some protection but also building at the image of a powerful China with China which is a great power. And I doubt that the Chinese would give this up. I might reduce somewhat the conventional outlets for conventional means but that room for a moment as to how far I can going reducing that I think is really open to question the Chinese do not really meant Thane and very large in relation to the size of the country and the size of the population. The Chinese as have only about 3 million men under arms which is not a very large standing army for a country of that size. So I think there is some room for reduction. There is a certain percentage wise that
was as the Chinese economy go was perhaps a smaller percentage of the national product can be devoted to arms than is now being devoted but I think it will be a gradual tapering off process while the US suddenly. All these factors are very much into related in a complex manner. What you seem to indicate is that things are going to have to get better generally in all kinds of relations between countries before things can get better economically for China both inside and outside the country. Then at this pont dictu I wouldn't want to push that through. That is it seems to me there's a great deal of that the Chinese can do. Themselves with international help. In improving the economic situation particularly if they change that economic policies if they change somewhat with this. If that isn't also if there is a more rational administration of economic policies
if you don't have this. Kind of weather god activities and the disruptions resulting from God activities. If there is more public predictability in economic administration if the sudden changes in policies and so on so I think that's great that can be done along that line to improve the situation. And as the domestic economic situation improves China's exports capacity will improve and I'm less some further restrict of measures imposed on Chinese trade in the future I should imagine the next decade. Slowly Chrysler and gradually trade between China and the rest of the world will grow. Now this whole process of improvement cannot rationally be accelerated and facilitated if in addition to this China we have to able to get foreign loans. But for this this I think would only be possible if there is a marked improvement in Peru to go relations between China but I wouldn't want to say
that without that marked improvement there would be no economic improvement at all I would just say that was that the improvement they cannot make improvement would be exile if it was the United States government indirectly do anything to help improve China's economic posture. Well I am ponces just the opposite. Policy is officially and has been now for ever since the Korean was to try to do everything we can to it or to harm or to interfere. When China's economic development on the theory that a strong China we didn't affect it to the detriment of the United States. And so we have an embargo a total and complete them by go on all trade transactions on all payment terms actions you can't import anything from China. You can't export anything just to China. You can't
can't translate the dollars or any other. Dollar instruments to China so that we we are really in a sense our policy is that of economic warfare with China. Now it is ineffective because everything that China wants she can get from other countries so that the United States has not really been able to do very much damage to the Chinese economy its most most of what we have done some damage to our businessman who instead of businessmen could trade with China as it is now time to China. Trade is up 10 by our competitors in other countries by the businessmen of France England Japan and Western Europe and so on but I don't think that we are just kidding ourselves if we think we are inflicting damage on the Chinese economy. We're the only country in. Prague we are the only county in the wars who has a total embargo on all trade of course that is just to chanson trade was all common
this country is that I maintain not just by United States but all of our NATO allies. There's this thread on strategic materials that this fissionable materials atomic materials as weapons and so on. Control I don't think that anybody would take issue with that type of trade restrictions. And that's of course the Chinese cannot get from other countries some countries from which they get the kindest and they bought not legally there's any aid flow the other way. Is China able to help economically any of the developing countries. Yes John definitely has a foreign aid program has had a foreign aid program now for at least 10 years over 10 years. Initially this foreign aid program was laundry directed to us either communist countries North Korea North Vietnam and Albania. For large recipients of Chinese
find aid. Also Outer Mongolia. And. These were the main recipients but then in recent years certainly in the sixties the Chinese have become fairly active in Africa. I have been active in Yemen Tanzania decree and Africa. I also know that the Chinese have been well I think these are actually the main Yemen and Africa are the main areas in which the have really been active in foreign aid. Just enjoying the time for that time is conscious I mentioned. Yes it's extension of political ideology. Sometimes a company the foreign aid from China that probably does from any country and I think that created this foreign aid. Particularly it with developing countries is that non communist countries is not to put the remote that is the Chinese are trying to
build some positions of influence in this countries now this doesn't necessarily mean that tied to communist countries but rather to create situations where the governments of these countries may be friended to China or may permit China to develop some basis for political propaganda for trade relations for economic interest cause and generally for building China's influence including possibly eventually subversion about the. Signs of this to some extent in Tanzania and also in some of the other African countries. Is China able or does she even tried to practice some of the same economic embargoes against the United States that the United States does against China. Well in a sense yes that is the Chinese of course refused to have any relations of any kind with the United States. Operationally there's no significant I mean I've gone through since
even if the Chinese wanted to trade with us we would refuse to trade with them and we were the ones who originally took the initiative on this so it's very hard to test the proposition the proposition you can't test is that the Chinese are unwilling to admit American journalists to it and the exchanges that I was interested in doing this in 55 when the secretary then Secretary of State Dulles rebuffed them. And I think this opportunity was tragically lost at the time in recent years we have been interested in trying to reopen this but the Chinese have not been willing to reopen it. There is no way really to officially exchange information in the normal ways between the two countries. No it's I was not no nor official right ever changing information. We do of course get the Chinese get a lot of information from us and vice versa. We know that they subscribe to a large number of our
newspapers periodicals scientific and technical journalists and scientific and technical publications. We do the same thing. We monitor Chinese broadcasts both national and provincial broadcasts. We tried we tried to procure as many newspapers and periodicals and other materials from China. Most of this pertains to regular commercial channels through Hong Kong. So book they allow us. And this is about is about the size of it so the speak that is there is no official exchange of information of any kind this has and how can our information about China do you think really be called accurate in all cases. A much guesswork is involved or there is inevitably a great deal of guesswork involved. Our information about China is very inadequate. We have a great deal of information in a sense that the
number one that we receive daily is very very loud. We probably receive as much material. From China as perhaps we do from many more probably than for many many other countries. Much of this however is whether you can cope with the information or not is another question. You have to grosser tremendous amount of material to read a column about something that could be considered as how the information and then you are never quite sure how to evaluate how to interpret that tremendous range of uncertainty because you have problems of a few cation you can't go there you can't observe it firsthand you can validate some of your guesses. So there is inevitably a greater range of uncertainty about than knowledge and judgments concerning developments in China. Perhaps that's the first step in improving relations between the two countries in the next 10 years or so. Communications absolutely communications at all levels commercial
communication trade. Information Communication that is so media through journalists to people to people contacts. I think this is this is very very essential now and it will be interesting to see in the next decade as to what comes first through diplomatic relations come first and then people to people contacts or do these conflicts come first and then diplomatic relations. Thank you Professor I very much thank you Professor Alexander Eckstein director of the University of Michigan Center for Chinese studies and an expert on Chinese economic affairs talking with Tom Reeky NPR's special of the week. Thanks wu wei I'm at the University of Michigan producer of this weekly program called back route. This is an E.R. of the national educational radio network.
Special of the week
Issue 15-1969
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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