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World News and Trends: The Growing Danger of China and Russia

by John Ross Schroeder, Scott Ashley Estimated reading time: 2 minutes. Posted on 15-Oct-1999
American network television anchorman Dan Rather soberly reminded newspaper readers recently that "the world remains a tough, dangerous neighborhood" and that big trouble may be brewing for the West in China and Russia.

He concluded his article in The Houston Chronicle with a comment the two nations bear close watching, especially in the near future.

This year the news out of Beijing has not been good for the West. For instance, President Jiang Zenin asserts that socialism will defeat capitalism and China will continue its path under Marxism. The Chinese government frequently makes threatening noises against Taiwan, which the Western press used to refer to as Nationalist China. Beijing thinks in terms of “one China” and has sold Western countries on this concept. Even so, the West does not want Chinese unity with Taiwan if it involves military force from the mainland.

The disturbing news that China has the technology to build a neutron bomb greatly concerns Western nations. This type of nuclear weapon is designed to kill many people with deadly radiation while leaving inanimate objects—buildings, bridges, roads, etc.—intact. Beijing is supposedly making “final preparations to test-fire a new mobile intercontinental ballistic missile that the CIA believes will incorporate stolen U.S. missile and warhead secrets.” And we thought the Cold War was over.

The Russian danger is similar. Consider a recent report from The Times (London): “American officials believe that Russia may have stolen some of the nation’s most sensitive military secrets, including weapons guidance systems and naval intelligence codes, in a concerted espionage offensive that investigators have called operation Moonlight Maze.”

Spying in cyberspace apparently is the means. American experts talk of a “digital Pearl Harbor.” Hackers have entered U.S. systems from an overseas site. A White House official said, “It is impossible to overstate the seriousness of this problem. The president is very concerned about it.”

Another cause for Western concern is the political, social and economic sickness plaguing the Russian state. Cabinet members are changed and exchanged like a pair of gloves. Public health is in crisis, and the national economy is in tatters. The West fears severe economic pressures will tempt some to sell nuclear technology to unsavory nations and terrorist groups. Russia looks like fertile ground for more intrigue or worse.

Mr. Rather pointed out that both China and Russia “may not be headed for a new alliance against the West,” but “vigilance in the West is needed more than ever, along with a willingness to consider the unthinkable.” (Sources: The Houston Chronicle; The Washington Times; The Los Angeles Times; The Times [London], The Express [London].)

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