I think a significant part of the divide between people who view China as a threat and those who do not come down to their interaction pattern with Chinese and Chinese institutions. Let me give you a simple breakdown. Security broadly defined had a broad cross section 1/n
Of people very worried about China. From human rights/security to national and cyber security people see an enormous threat from China. What is important to note is how they interact with China. They deal much more tangibly with the results of Chinese behavior and only 2/n
Minimally with Chinese military, hackers, or human rights violators. When they do interact with those actors, it it's typically very arrogant with Chinese actors student defending their actions. This frames this sides conclusions about the threat China poses. Now take 3/n
Academics, think tanks, and business. They have much broader direct engagement with Chinese but they have much less direct engagement on the impact or results of Chinese behavior. By that i mean, academics and think tanks only deal with Chinese theft and aggressiveness in 4/n
Theoretical or second hand manner. Complicating this is their personal interaction. Many people may have contacts or relationships that color their dispassionate analytical ability. Whether they went to grad school with someone or worked with them frequently in a business 5/n
Environment, they frame China through a different lens. Complicating this further is that many Chinese when talking to foreigners in any environment will talk openly like any global liberal but when places within a Chinese context will act like any other CCP table banging 6/n
Xi loving nationalist. Consequently, they return from multi day conferences having little dealing with the impact but renewing relationships where they are assured of the ascendancy of the Chinese liberal and not grasping the real complexities of the formation of their views 7/n
Personally, i don't believe in the fabled Chinese liberal not because they don't exist but because i can't tell who is who. Almost everyone when talking to a foreigner will proclaim things like the importance of democracy and other nice sounding global chatter. 8/n
At the same time, they will join the Party, say Xi is brilliant, and defend Xinjiang. Conversely, CCP members will join just as a career move and send the family abroad to get out. The complexity and reality simply doesn't match the non-hawkush view. I've come to judge 9/m
Based upon behavior and risk or cost assumed. Inside China, many pay easy lip service to many things whether it is sorry for Xi or liberal democracy. Words are cheap. Behavior that incurs costs or risks is the only way to judge what someone actually believe. This matters 10/n
Because to much weight is given to costless or riskless words by weekend academics and thinkers in their interactions. We need to judge based upon actions not costless and riskless words that are immediately violated. Done.
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