China is a very ancient culture. Its leaders have access to a great deal of cultural experience, and while the West can look down its nose at their human rights values and their ecological values, the fact is the Chinese are very patient (don't really make sudden aggressive moves) and like to work through surrogates.
Lets look at this a little more closely. The two major aggressive moves of the Chinese in the 20th Century were the invasion of Tibet (about which nobody could do anything), and the incursion into Korea (both about the same time). In each event the either shored up their borders (North Korea, a dictatorship, is a buffer zone between China and and the democracy in South Korea), or gained mineral resources (Tibet).
It is well understood that they have been making serious moves for the last couple of decades in the energy markets, because they know that if they can maintain their current growth (by access to cheap energy sources), their economy will shortly be outperforming the West, their banks will own a lot of our debt, and they will become the next dominating economic power in the world.
The financial elites in the West have known this for some time, and the best move they could come up with was to let the neo-cons go forward with their imperial ambitions that sought to exert a kind of control over the main oil producing region of the world (the middle East) by the use of American military power. This policy was so ineptly applied by the Bush II administration and its cronies (for some reason Bush has never put people in positions of power on the basis of their abilities, but only on the basis of their loyalty), that the adventure in Iraq has failed, and the hoped for regional dominance and permanent military presence has become impossible (upwards of a dozen permanent bases have been build in Iraq, which it appears will all have to be abandoned as the war winds down).
Meanwhile a very interesting game was played out internationally, seemingly guided by Iran, hardly noticed at all by our idiotic press - a game on which this writer sees Chinese fingerprints. It was too clever by far for the Iranians, yet it gives Iranians the appearance of a nice victory and all the more reason to sell a lot of their oil to China (which also was just awarded Iraqi oil contracts).
Here's the game....
Bush has been playing dangerous games in Iran, by running special operations there using our best trained military guys (like the Unit TV show), where we send in people to find out military intelligence of all kinds. We also recently (about five or six weeks ago) attempted to kidnap high level Iranian military intelligence people, who were in Iraq with the permission of the Iraqi government, in the north among the Kurds for a meeting on that region and on matters of mutual border security. That is, our idiots in the administration authorized an operation to kidnap (apparently for intelligence purposes) Iranian officers in Iraq with the permission of the Iraqi government.
This move failed, although we apparently did achieve the useless and clumsy effect of kidnapping five lower level Iranians, who were part of the same discussion group. Only a few know of this, and the American public was certainly not informed of yet another stupid intelligence screw-up. There was also another kidnapped Iranian, from further in the past (over a couple of months), who has been released as part of this, and about which the Iraqi government has just denied any linkage with what comes next.
What is interesting is what happens next (this was so subtle and carried out so well, that it clearly is far beyond the usual equally clumsy moves of the Iranians, and for this reason I suspect the whole thing was designed by the Chinese.
The Iranians grab a dozen or more British military (seaman and marines) in disputed territorial waters (they've done this before). While the Press and the administration spokes-people are saying the usual b.s., a week or more after this grab someone in the British government leaks a story to the international press about the stupid move of the Americans described above. We have to ask: Why the leak? If we do this, we soon realize this is the quid pro quo for the Iranians to later release the British sailors. Nothing is said up front, and the two events are hard to relate to each other (a kidnapping and a 10 day later leak to the press making the Americans out to be the fools they are).
Who wins? While the British get their people back right away, everyone in the world lets out a sigh of relief, because it looked like the whole thing might give an excuse to Bush to widen the war. The Iranians look real smart (smarter than they are), and nobody in the press links the two events. While at the same time in the international press, the administration once more looks idiotic, and their ongoing dangerous incursions into Iranian territory get exposed (as they should be). And, in another quarter, a few days after the British get their people back, its announced that China gets some of the newly released Iraqi oil.
Now that is adult diplomatic activity (what the Chinese seem to have done), and both the Americans and the Iranians are still acting like children. What a strange strange world.
Not quite sure about this. Just to make things plain... The U.S. and the Iranian governments are at each other with all kinds of violence threats, like a couple of strutting bullies in a school yard. Meanwhile, the Chinese, without any fake blustering, get to make the Americans once more look stupid, gain face with the Iranians, get access to more oil and nobody notices (except perhaps a few serious old hands at all this, but they never talk to the press anyway).
Recently the Chinese made another very smart move, one with the same subtlety. Here's the context. The U.S. government has been aggressively arming our near earth orbital satellites (nobody speaks of this either, but only fools - which the Chinese are certainly not - believes all those space missions by NASA are about unarmed satellites). This is not good from the point of view of the Chinese, because orbit is a serious high ground and a weapon launched from orbit takes only about five or six minutes to hit its target.
So what do the Chinese do? They shoot a missile at one of their own satellites. This has several effects (very subtle thinkers these Chinese). One, it gets everyone talking about earth based anti-satellite weapons. Two, it reminds everyone that near-space is suppose to be free of weapons (there are treaties, but does anyone really believe they are being followed). Three, it shows the Chinese can hit a satellite. And fourth, and this is really clever (this story comes out weeks later and no one seems to connect it to the blowing up of the satellite), the debris from the destroyed satellite becomes a danger to other satellites (its as if the Chinese had created a minefield in orbit from junk). There is then, by this fact, nothing to keep the Chinese from seeding near-earth orbits with satellites that don't seem to work (oh gosh, it failed, how sad), but in reality are just space mines sitting there for the time when it becomes necessary to wipe out huge levels of military and commercial satellites, without having to actually fire a missile that can directly hit one!
The mind boggles.