Stone Lecture Focuses on China

By Carolyn Stransky

The annual Ivan and Janice Stone memorial lecture took place on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

The lecture opened with Elizabeth Brewer, director of the Office of International Education, honoring the Stones. Ivan Stone was a professor at Beloit, and was also the Dean of the College for some time. He was devoted to the idea of study abroad and started the World Outlook Program, known today as the Office of International Education. Janice Stone was also an advocate for international studies and led some of the first study abroad programs at the college. When they retired, they made a fund for Symposium Day, a special lecture on that day and scholarships for students pursuing international opportunities.

Brewer passed the microphone off to Daniel Youd, associate professor of Chinese language and literature, to introduce this year’s speaker, Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, China Advisor and North East Asia Project Director from the International Crisis Group. She flew here from Beijing, China, where she is based, for just 24 hours to make this presentation.

Kleine-Ahlbrandt started her lecture with the discussion of what is driving China and their new-found assertiveness. She shared examples, such as China’s conflict with Google and Obama’s “embarrassing” visit to China in 2009.

China is telling foreign businesses to hand over their technology and take a minority share, and they have decided to not hide behind Russia anymore as a minority themselves. A Chinese representative was reported saying, “China is a big country, other countries are small countries, and that is just a fact.” This is a clear demonstration of the mindset of modern China.

China’s new status is acquired from the Global Financial Crisis. During that time, China saw the West, especially the United States, as humble, weakened and fragile like never before. There was a transition from China needing the West to the West needing China.

“China behaves as a major power with a minor power mindset,” Kleine-Ahlbrandt said. They are focused more on their domestic situation than international issues. Kleine-Ahlbrandt believes that there are two main coalitions driving this: control and performance – the irony is that everyone else in the world is focusing on China’s larger presence, while China is completely focused on internal threats.

Kleine-Ahlbrandt showed an image of a flow chart on China’s foreign policy making, showing that the Politburo, the top nine people in the country who make the decisions, contains no foreign affairs voice. Her next image was of China’s Maritime law enforcement, showing all the forces driving China’s decisions.

Kleine-Ahlbrandt concluded with a final question, “If you had a choice, would you rather have a China  with the foreign policy workers looking out only for their own parochial issues or an all aggressive China power system?”

The international response to China has been increasingly effective, and this has helped the U.S. strengthen alliances with surrounding countries such as Japan to balance the Chinese power. It’s a very delicate force, and Kleine-Ahlbrandt claims she does not make predictions.

China’s North Korea policy was not discussed until a question at the end of the presentation addressed it. According to Kleine-Ahlbrandt, the top priority of the Chinese policy is maintaining stability in North  Korea. China would prefer that North Korea gives up their nuclear weapons, but the Chinese know that that’s not likely. Pushing North Korea away would destabilize the country, and realistically North Korea  will not give up their nuclear power. If North Korea doesn’t give up their weapons, they will be out of the international system, but if they do, they will be vulnerable.

For more information on Kleine-Ahlbrandt and her other fieldwork and published writing, visit the website for the International Crisis Group.



No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: