Communist China is quickly becoming the biggest economy on Earth. When that happens, will it seek to impose communism on the rest of us? It might well try, if it can convert economic might into military power.

That in turn would depend on its ability to keep up with technological advances in the rest of the world, for the rate of invention in China is exceptionally low (see graph,right).

From the late 1940s to the late 1990s the more advanced democracies maintained an agreed list of military and “dual-use technologies” that were not to be exported to the communist Soviet Union or its allies.

The list was kept up to date by an international organization called the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (CoCom).

CoCom played a decisive role in the eventual emergence of a single, uncontested superpower, the United States of America. 

Great scientists and inventors are markedly individualist. Communists,  however, seek unity of thought, and look on individualists with suspicion. During the 1930s the Soviet communists put about 10% of their citizens out of action, either by execution or life-long imprisonment. Most would have been the more independent-minded – the very types who would otherwise have been inventive.

 It was probably because of this basic weakness in Soviet culture that CoCom succeeded. By and large, the participating nations followed the agreed rules for holding back key exports. The Soviets ended up lagging behind – until eventually they gave up.

Would another CoCom be as effective against China? In fact, the Chinese might be even more vulnerable to this tactic. Both cultures impose conformity, but the trait runs deeper in the Chinese. Hard work and strict obedience are most highly valued. And this culture has been ingrained for thousands of years.

Thus the degree of conformism in China appears to exceed that in  Russia by a wide margin. Some 15% of the population have been executed there –  considerably more than in the Soviet Union. And the Chinese labor camps are more strict. It is China, after all, which presented the world with the concept of “brainwashing.”

No matter how large their economy, Chinese military strength will probably long depend on keeping up with Western technology. The inflow of high-tech inventions will still be needed. How big or small that inflow should be is largely up to the Western nations to decide. If they continue to be liberal in their transfer of advanced technology to China, the latter is likely to impose communism on the world when its economy becomes largest.

But if the Western nations hold back, they can probably remain free.

CoCom II

The Western nations could defend their independence with a new CoCom. The old one, aimed at the Soviet Union, was disbanded in 1994. The controls on weapons export in place today are relatively ineffective, as they were worked out during the quiet interval in the last years of the 20th century, when the Soviets were giving up their experiment with communism and before the economic growth of communist China had reached such dangerous proportions.

What is really needed is something at least as strong as the first CoCom. The purpose should be to block exports of secret technology with military potential. If possible, there should be supplemental programs dealing with international high-tech investment; the aim would be to channel it away from dictatorships and into free countries. More resources should go into counter-intelligence. And funds for international bribery should  perhaps be increased to match the Chinese level.

Membership in CoCom II should be limited to the most advanced nations. These might be identified, for example, on the basis of numbers of Nobel prizes in science in proportion to the population. Full members would be distinguished from associate members on the basis of political history; they might for example be those without any home-grown dictatorship in the previous 100 years.

Some of the proposed member countries may drag their feet on starting  CoCom II, particularly the ones with large business interests in China – the  US for instance, or France. But the businessmen involved need to be vividly reminded of the ghastly persecution of people like themselves in all countries taken over by communists. In Cambodia, the latest such country, about 25% of the population were eliminated. If you could read, you were suspect. Do our businessmen have some reason to hope they will survive?

Other proposed member countries may welcome the proposal more strongly, particularly those that are already starting to feel the force of Chinese power.  Israel, for example, facing a developing nuclear threat in Iran, must find ways to weaken Chinese support for that nation. Because of its need for oil, China blocks concerted action by other nations to end the Iranian threat (just as it has long been doing for North Korea).
Per capita, the Jews are the most inventive people in the world. Averaging about .5% of the world’s population, they have taken about 23% of Nobel prizes in science during the twentieth century (see graph, above).

The sooner CoCom II starts, the better. The Chinese economy is advancing fast; it may equal the American in the next 10 years. Within another decade it could be twice as big.
Bible students may recall that during Armageddon (Revelation 16:16), one of the armies opposing Jerusalem will be made up of 200,000,000 men (Revelation 9:16) from the east (Revelation 16:12). Modern China is the only nation capable of fielding such a vast army.

Will the world let it? 

The author is an international economic consultant with 20 years experience in Washington, D.C. working for national and international agencies in such areas as exchange rates, petroleum prices and NATO economics. He was intimately involved with the development of the Marshall Plan after World War II.
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