Thursday, July 28, 2011
Love and Hate
What I find na'chalek today is actually the rhetoric over China and how in an effort to try to cover as many possible economic bases as possible, business and political leaders find themselves purposely contradicting themselves. The United States has the ultimate love and hate relationship with China, and Guam is right smack in the middle of that.
The report below from PNC News about the recent trip of members of the Guam Chamber of Commerce Armed Forces Committee is a perfect example of this. These members of Guam's economic elite had many meetings with Washington officials, and at each meeting according to them, the message was the same, Guam is strategically important, Guam needs to be built up militarily and the reason why is because of CHINA. China is growing in power both economically and militarily and has plenty of disposable income which it is spreading around the world to places where it both have current interests and has potential future interests (whether resource based or strategy based). So on the one hand, these titans of local industry head to Washington with prophecies of possible doom in the Asia-Pacific region with the rise of the Kraken that is China, being unleashed across the world. They argue in the most polite terms possible (which is characteristic of American ambivalence towards China) that China is dangerous and must be kept in check and Guam is the best place to do the checking from.
So according to the first face of Janus, China is a gathering threat to the United States and Guam can play a key role in keeping it from becoming too threatening.
Yet at the same time as representatives of Guam spell doom and gloom for the Pacific over China, they are also going to Washington talking about getting Visa Waivers for guess which country? It certainly wouldn't be China since as we all know, China is such a huge threat to the United States and cannot be trusted and Guam has to be built up in order to contain China. Oh, wait, lana, maleffa yu', it is China!
That's right, such is the life on the tip of the spear, where your economic engines are in their essence contradictory. Guam as a strategic military location needs to be kept secure, it needs to have its points of entry carefully checked and watched to ensure that whatever strategic assets that are placed here not unnecessarily put at risk. But Guam is also a tourist hub, and tourism actually does generate more money than military spending on Guam, but there are moments where the business of militarization conflicts with the business of tourism. The Guam Visitor's Bureau's report on how the military buildup will affect tourism argued that there will be a further decline because of the perception of Guam being too military, and that is something which already hurts Okinawa's tourism from mainland Japan, and so it would also be a stigma that Guam would end up shouldering as well. For the tourism industry you need markets and you need people who want to come to Guam and who will have money in their pockets to spend when they get here. China is the prize which everyone lusts after, with it's emerging middle class who are all looking for ways to spend their money overseas.
Ti sina un chule' todu malago-mu, is how I translate the famous line from the Rolling Stones song, "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Although Guam is a place where it constantly feels like it gets things both ways, both in good and bad senses, this may be a point where those desires to have more military and to have more tourism may not work out. The more that China does become a threat, the more likely Guam is to get more military from the US. But the greater a threat China is to the US, the less likely it is that they would approve a Guam only Visa Waiver since that would leave Guam open to an incredible amount of security risks.
Although I don't see it wrong that Guam attempts both arguments, but I just think it's hysterical to see both issues, the love of China and the hate of China being pushed on this island by our political and economic leaders.