Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Why China’s Growing Naval Presence Is To Be Expected

Question: Is China leading an effort to build a nuclear submarine fleet to rival that of the United States?

Wesley Clark:  We don’t know exactly what the aim of the Chinese shipbuilding program is, but they are building a Navy.  And they do have commerce and it’s a very natural thing.  

China is now a major economic power.  I was in China several years ago, I talked to a young man who is a private citizen in China, but he’s very close to the Chinese leadership.  He was the head of their youth movement for several years, and so he would occasionally sit in on top meetings and so forth.  And he put it this way to me.  He says: “China... For 200 years, China was attacked and exploited and dismembered by its neighbors.”  He says: “I don’t mean the United States, I mean the neighboring countries.”  He says: “Now China is a great power.  This will never happen again.”  And he meant it.  And he’s obviously speaking the way with some voice of authority in this matter, and it’s the way the Chinese see the world.  

They see China as the middle of humanity, the middle kingdom.  It’s the... and if you go back historically, it really is.  It’s where the bulk of humanity has been.  It was the origin for most of the inventions of mankind from everything from the lode stone to gunpowder to paper to bureaucracy to promotion by examination proved by merit, proved by examination.  All of that came from thousands of years of Chinese civilization.  

And for 200 or 300 years, they lost their lead.  Jared Diamond’s, book, "Guns, Germs and Steel" is—which many of you have probably have read—is one attempt to account for, why was these relative barbarians in the West suddenly take over the world?  And from the Chinese perspective, civilization is starting to look more normal again.  They’re putting their economic team together; they’ve got a huge middle class.  They’re middle class now in China is larger than the population of the United States of America.  They’ve got over 300 million people in their middle class.  They’ve got another 950 million people who want to be in the middle class, at least and who are struggling to have jobs and education and come to the cities and China’s leaders are working with this and trying to make something happen.  They are very heavily focused domestically.  

But to feed that economic expansion they need energy and they need resources that China doesn’t have.  Some of that energy and some of those resources will come from their Asian neighbors, overland.  They’re working with Kazakhstan, a lot of Chinese are living over the border in the former Soviet Far East, and people in the region say, “I wonder how long Russia’s gonna hang on to its eastern provinces because the Chinese keep coming in?”  But a lot of those resources have to be brought in by sea, so it’s a very natural thing that China would want to expand its naval power.  

Why?  Well look, there’s pirates off the coast of Africa, for goodness sake.  There have always been pirates in the Straits of Malacca, around Thailand and Singapore and Malaysia, in that area.  And that’s the main shipping channel.  And every day super-tankers pass through that area worth tens of millions of dollars, and they’re vulnerable.  So the United States Navy, really as the British Navy pulled back in the mid-20th century, and after World War II, the United States Navy took up the role of... We were the guarantors of the sea lanes.  And we occupied the western Pacific after World War II.  We have our base structure that was completely set up.  In fact, we, you know, wanted to be in China with the defeat of the nationalist Chinese, then we moved offshore and we supported Taiwan which was called China for a long, long time.  And we still have our troops in Korea, we have bases in Japan, we’re in Okinawa, we’re in Guam and we have at least one aircraft carrier, sometimes two or more that are in the Western Pacific.  Those aircraft carriers can strike hundreds of miles away, they’re accompanied by defensive submarines.  We probably have missile submarines, but we never know about that, and where they are.  

And so, if you were China, you would say, "Why would these aircraft carriers be coming, you know, 100, 200 miles off the coast of China.  Why does the United States need to do this?  Why can’t we take care of ourselves?"  And if you put the shoe on the other foot and you look at this as an American, you say, "What if the Chinese said to the United States, 'We’re worried about your border with Mexico.  You seem to be really uncomfortable with Mexico and you seem to be talking to their government and sometimes in nice ways and sometimes in tough ways, there’s some violence along your border.  Would it help if we Chinese put a couple of aircraft carriers off the coast of San Diego just to show the world that we, China, are very interested in the peaceful resolution of  these border issues between the United States and Mexico.'"  And of course America would be offended.  We’d be outraged.  We’d say, "Oh no, no.  You can’t do this we don’t want to see…" you know, it would be like; it would be like a red flag in our face.  We wouldn’t like it.  

And yet, we’ve done this for years to China.  So some of the pushback is to be expected.  And on the other hand, when you look at it, you can’t quite get a clear understanding of what China’s goals are.  It’s clear there’s some pushing and shoving going on in the South China Sea associated with the Spratly Islands around the Philippines, a lot of different nations claim sections of this because there’s a lot of oil down there. And there’s still some of these territorial issues that result in some problems.  

China and Japan recently had a naval incident.  There’s a naval incident between North and South Korea where a South Korean ship was torpedoed and we’re asking China to do something and it’s not clear what China’s view on this is, but they don’t seem to want to condemn North Korea exactly the way we want to condemn North Korea.  So different nations have different perspectives.  

And so as we look at the China shipbuilding program, and we look at the other aspects of Chinese technology; they bought a lot of Soviet equipment, Russian equipment, early on, they copied it, they probably enhanced it.  They certainly got high-tech capabilities; they’re proving that every day in the economy.  It’s natural that there be some concern about where China’s military power is going.  

And in the military business we always used to say, “It’s really more about capabilities than it is about intent.”  You have to look at capabilities because intent can change with the incumbencies of leaders or suddenly overnight with different events, whereas capabilities don’t change so fast.  So you look at the emergence of these capabilities and you say, “Hmm, what does this mean?  What could this mean to us?”  

So, clearly we’re watching the emergence of increased military capabilities in China and we’re asking, "What does this mean?"

Recorded September 23, 2010
Interviewed by Andrew Dermont

"Clearly we’re watching the emergence of increased military capabilities in China" says General Clark. What does this mean?

Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?

Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?

Videos
  • From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
  • "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
  • Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.

COVID-19 brain study to explore long-term effects of the virus

A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.

Coronavirus
  • The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
  • Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Keep reading Show less

Neom, Saudi Arabia's $500 billion megacity, reaches its next phase

Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.

Credit: Neom
Technology & Innovation
  • The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
  • The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
  • It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
Keep reading Show less

Better reskilling can future-proof jobs in the age of automation. Enter SkillUp's new coalition.

Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.

Image: metamorworks / Shutterstock
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
  • More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
  • SkillUp brings together technology and service providers, education and training providers, hiring employers, worker outreach, and philanthropies to help people land in-demand jobs in high-growth industries.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast