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The Hundred-Year Marathon: China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower Audio CD – Audiobook, April 1, 2015
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First, let me state the strong point. This book is great for being able to read key quotes from primary Chinese documents and sources. Most reviews are overwhelmingly positive, so I want to focus my review on the underwhelming parts of this book.
Pillsbury is upfront about the fact that he used to be a duped fool and had poor analysis. He claims that he learned from it and has now changed his views to be more wary.
To me, it seems, he is still falling into the same trap of being naive. The enemy is still a couple steps ahead of Pillsbury.
His coverage of Golitsyn, a Russian defector from 1961, which opens up the book, is terrible.
He dismisses Golitsyn by saying he was a "conspiracy theorist and would later claim that British prime minister Harold Wilson was a KGB informant." That's quite a claim by Pillsbury!
In December of 1962, the pro-America labor party leader Gaitskell went to Russia. In January of 1963 he died of sickness at age 56. Harold Wilson took over the labor party and became Prime Minister. This is a guy who in the 1940s had been traveling to Russia.
Okay so Golitsyn, who defected in 1961, says that Wilson is a KGB agent... So how does Wilson rule? By keep close ties to KGB agents and handing out jobs to KGB agents.
Then Pillsbury goes on to imply Golitsyn was a Russian plant, notwithstanding the fact that Golitsyn helped catch Philby.
Pillsbury says the real truth teller was Nosenko. This was a guy who defected right after Oswald killed JFK to say that he had special information showing the KGB was not behind Oswald. He even claimed that, though Oswald had been a marine, operated sensitive radar tech in Japan, and lived in Russia, the KGB had never tried to recruit him.
I mean, give me a break! His take on Golitsyn and Nosenko is so silly it's hard for me to trust him.
A couple more critiques on the China parts of his book...
He frames China as being run by the "war hawks." But China is officially run by Communists. Xi sure seems like a Communist. But Pillsbury talks very little, or not at all, about their Communist ideology. A rather striking and bizarre omission.
Another problem, his views on Assassin's Mace are myopic. He never talks about the possibility that North Korea itself if their Mace. Further, despite the fact that he repeatedly quotes Chinese manuals which explicitly talk about using electromagnetic weapons--"The side with electromagnetic combat superiority will make full use of that Assassin's Mace weapon to win naval victory"--he will only very briefly refers euphemistically to an "EMP generation" to attack us... Little or no mention of nuclear EMP attack. He keeps honing in on laser threats, or missiles to destroy our satellites, when it would take just a single nuclear EMP strike to achieve all the things that China says it wants to achieve w Assassin Mace.
The US has a very open, trusting and helping culture, which separates this country from any other in the world and makes me proud to be an American (or at least it used to, but I believe we'll make it back). And China is taking serious advantage of that culture; compounded by the useless, bi-partisan bickering of our politics, both of which are playing right into their hands. Like a magician that distracts our attention from what is really going on. But this is not for entertainment, it is to build China in its Politburo's (not people's no less) interest, at the expense of severely, and potentially irreparably diminishing the United States. I pray to God the country wakes up in time to save ourselves or our children, who already are, will pay en even more tremendous price.
Top international reviews
China’s Hawks are far more numerous and influential than were previously thought, and even mainstream politicians are not as moderate as they appear
The US fundamentally does not grasp Chinese strategic thinking. China’s strategy is extremely patient, very far sighted, and relies on exploiting externalities and weaknesses, and most of all, relies upon deception
The Sino-Soviet Split was never fully understood, and warnings from the Soviets were not fully heeded
The initial 1971 opening to China by Nixon was largely a Chinese initiative, not an American one as commonly believed
The tone of Pillsbury’s book is not so much that we have been caught unawares, but rather that the signs are there, but many have chosen to ignore them through sheer idealism and wishful thinking. The nature of China’s intent is quite clear, an analogy is a Chinese artist and special effects maestro blowing up a Christmas Tree on the National Mall, China has signalled it’s contempt to the international order and it’s willingness to overturn it, only it is playing the long game because time is on it’s side.
Pillsbury has highlighted how the Chinese are extremely patient, and very well disciplined, and have rigorously followed stratagems from both the Warring States period and are applying it to the present day. The key concepts are Shi, essentially the order of things, the momentum in the world, Wuwei, the exploitation of energy and getting others to do one’s work for you (eg the US depleting the USSR in the Cold War), and Shashoubian, The Assassin’s Mace, essentially aysmetric warfare or weapons that strike at an Achilles Heel.
Pillsbury contends that a China centric world order is not coming around any time soon, essentially not until 2049, and if the GDP of China’s is triple that of the US, then China wins by default, however Pillsbury believes that the future need not be so bleak.
Pillsbury has illustrated a long running narrative of national grievances toward China, wherein China is the victim and it’s rightful place in the world has been denied. Additionally, a completely fictional narrative wherein every President since John Tyler (a forgotten President in the West, but the first to sign a Treaty with China) has sought to contain and undermine China.
As someone who has lived in China for 6 years, and have conversed and interacted with Chinese throughout the country, it can clearly be felt that such narratives and demonizations of the United States are very widespread, and widely believed.
As China has had very little tolerance for any kind of vocal dissent from the party line, this hostility toward free expression is being internationalized, with websites critical of China being attacked, and denying visas to journalists and other critics of China, a sanction the author himself was subject to, but was rescinded in the hopes of changing his views.
Pillsbury contends that we should be less afraid to be critical of China, as accomodation of China’s thin-skinned sensibilities decreases any chance of behavioral change and paves the way for a future wherein we all, or at least those of us who care about free expression, lose.
Pillsbury’s book is eye opening, and as a China resident, I am unable to refute most of what he says about Chinese narratives, propaganda, or strategic thinking. For many, this book is a wake up call, for others such as myself, it confirmed and exacerbated previously held views.
In short, a truly compelling account.
- the views presented by the author although may be correct and deeply researched (the Chinese are likely to have a plan which is enabled through an undemocratic yet more consistent political system in that they dont live from tweet to tweet as US politicians do nowadays) however are in no way balanced. When he refers to stolen technology by the US from the British in the 19th century, it is in the context of this is how the Chinese have analysed the US's path to development. It could be less biased and more apologetic by comparing China's policies to US ones in the 19th Century
- nowhere does he 'excuse' the Chinese for viewing the US as a global hegemon that uses economic tools and the USD post war institutional infrastructure to unilaterally impose punishment on its enemies as well as its military power to again act as a hegemon
In summary, he is a US hawk who is responsible for partly developing Trump's China policy. Nowhere is it explained that the US population enjoyed cheap imports and its labour and businesses could focus on higher value added products and technology. Nevertheless, a good book to read to understand how current US thinking towards China is shaped.
MP seems sour grapes for the US has been outsmarted and outmanoeuvred by the Chinese.
I am not competent to judge the authenticity of these claims. Pillsbury certainly has the credentials. And unlike other anti-China hawks in American power circles, he does not appear to be a nut job (e.g. Peter Navarro, the demented advisor to President Trump on international trade, or Gen. Michael Flynn, the briefly national security advisor). I await with interest the reviews and analysis by scholars and experts in this field. Unless and until debunked, however, this book is recommended to anyone interested in understanding current international political and economic affairs.
- wai ru, nei fa (on the outside, be benevolent; on the inside, be ruthless)...
- better to see once than to hear a hundred times...
- attributed to Confucius, one that fits nicely with the Darwinian concepts: “There cannot be two suns in the sky”...
Another lesson from the Warring States period is that success requires extreme patience, way longer than that can be measured in normal human life-spans. Consequently, it’s not uncommon for today’s Chinese leaders, who automatically serve two ten-year terms, to make plans that span generations and to set goals that will not be achieved for a half century or more. Now, contrast this with the prevailing western patience-levels and associated socio-economic behavioural models...
and on and on and on it keeps on going on.... no matter whom you listen to or what you read...
- If you are surprised, then you don’t read | think | reflect | analyse | know or care enough or your know is regrettably sourced from modern day marvels like Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp.... if so, then good wishes and Godspeed...
- If you do know, but continue to live grudgingly, self-preserving along the way, generally well meaning - bookish efforts, then you are like me, a member of the know-some | risk nothing | do little - silent majority; who die like moths after nearly unremarkable-uneventful and production-line marking of time | life; that the perfect specimen, that Darwinian super-race depend on to mass extract, exploit and thrive....
- if you are leveraging your know single-mindedly to further self-interest without any burden of conscious or those abhorrent overhangs like empathy or remorse, then you are likely that rarified 1 %er, that Darwinian super-race, that alpha male or queen bee; where, the silent majority, also known as cattle-class | hapless-middle of the road herd-majority, that always hopeful but forever gutless; covets you, your successes, trophies and possessions in private, celebrates you in public but genuinely desires and look forward to your undoing.... if you are self-aware and honest, this ought to be no surprise...
Is China or Chinese unique in misaligning with theoretical | idealistic notion of “Freedom and Universal Brotherhood”, regularly referred to and eloquently argued on behalf of, throughout human history yet, routinely ignored? What about Russia, UK, Turkey, any of the Stans, USA, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Fiji, Iraq.... need more?
We, the primordials are driven by fear of and for self; and until we break-away, we will continue to miss out on the godliness of love, fragrance of fellowship and joys of abundance....
I have been Satya Chari
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