When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

October 19, 2004

Learning to Speak Chinese

Bravo Romeo Delta

Ponder this statement:

"Arms are the instruments of evil which the sage does not use unless he must. The noble rulers and wise ministers of old did not dissipate the strength of the people by deeds of arms. This was a far-sighted policy.... Your minister hopes that your majesty... would not indulge in military pursuits nor glorify the sending of expeditions to distant countries. Abandon the barren lands abroad and give the people of [your nation] a respite so that they could devote themselves to husbandry and the schools. Thus there would be no wars and suffering on the frontier and no murmuring in the villages, the commanders would not seek fame and the soldiers would not sacrifice their lives abroad, the people from afar would voluntarily submit and distant lands would come into our fold, and our dynasty would last for 10,000 generations."

Care to guess the country in question and the year it was written?

This was written in 1426 as part of a memorial written in China by Fan Chi.

Prior to about 1500, China was, by far and away, the most dominant world power and pretty much had everything going for it. In 1436 Cheng Ho was sailing ships of 1,500 tons around the Indian Ocean conducting trade, while Vasco da Gama had to be content with 300 ton vessels. In 1403-05 Cheng Ho was conducting his first forays into the Indian Ocean about a century before the Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit the region.

In 1420, the Ming navy comprised no less than 3,800 ships, of which 1,350 were combat vessels, including 400 especially large floating fortresses, and 250 massive treasure ships.

This rate of naval expansion could have very well resulted in a Chinese Columbus finding the Americas at least 50 years before Columbus, certainly they Chinese had ships capable of making the voyage,

But in 1433 the Chinese government forbade any expeditions from entering the Indian Ocean. By 1436, a decree was issued forbidding the construction of any new oceangoing ships. It wasn't until 1567 that full ocean-going trade resumed.

Now consider that this lag continued to hold back Chinese development, until the point during the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing, China was forced to cede parts of its territory in perpetuity to Great Britain. Later, China fought the Opium Wars in which China was forced, by military action, to continue allowing foreign powers to keep their profitable opium trade in place. By 1911, the entire Confucian edifice crumbled, ending a governing philosophy that had guided China for millennia.

By way of comparison, consider that the last man to walk on the surface of another heavenly body was in 1972. Since then, China has become only the third country - and the only non-Superpower to put a man in orbit by themselves. Consider also, the American trade deficit with China.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at October 19, 2004 09:25 PM

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