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Return of the Dragon

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After nearly two centuries of decline, China is emerging as Asia's new epicenter of industry, trade and military power. With the world's largest army, and ambitions for greatness, China is poised to claim a position of world dominance. Its resurgence will have ominous consequences for the West.

After nearly two centuries of humiliation and decline, the imperial Chinese Dragon is stirring again and moving purposefully toward the center of the world stage. China, once termed "a slumbering giant" and the "sick man of Asia," is rapidly emerging as the new epicenter of Asian industry, trade, finance—and military power! As the most populous nation on earth with the world's largest army, newly assertive China is generating concern throughout East Asia and beyond. This ancient and cunning "dragon" is determined to reclaim a position of dominance in the 21st century that she believes is rightfully hers. The appearance of an ambitious and militant superpower in the Far East is extremely significant and will have ominous consequences for America and the West.

Napoleon once predicted that "when China wakes, it will shake the world." Those words are about to come true! Yet China, the rising nation known as the "Red Dragon," occupies only the eastern portion of Eurasia—the globe's largest and most conflicted landmass. This critical piece of geography is a "cauldron of civilizations" that is beginning to boil across its entire surface with the resurgence of intense and combative nationalism. Bible prophecy indicates that just before the return of Jesus Christ, the entire Eurasian continent will explode with the most dramatic and devastating confrontation of nations the world has ever seen. At present, we appear to be witnessing the opening rounds of that cataclysmic event! Secular commentators sense danger ahead, but they simply do not grasp the profound prophetic significance of the return of the Dragon. You need to understand what China is doing; because astonishing events just ahead are going to affect your life!

A Proud Past

China's current quest for international prominence may seem audacious and presumptuous, but "what is usual for China is unusual for the West" ("China: A World Power Again," Kaplan, Atlantic Monthly, August 1999, p. 16). For most of her long history, China has been a powerful state. The Chinese "have the oldest continuous civilization in the world… and also the oldest centralized state" (The Heart of the Dragon, Clayre, 1985, p. 1). While the empires of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece and Rome rose and fell, the Chinese Empire continued to grow in size and splendor. The Chinese called their country "the Middle Kingdom because they believed it was at the center, or middle, of the earth" (The Eagle and the Dragon, Lawson, 1985, p. 32). From the Dragon Throne the Emperor ruled "everything under heaven." The central government was hierarchical and authoritarian. The Chinese historically have regarded foreigners as barbarians—not as equals.

The Chinese invented and used paper, printing, moveable type, gunpowder, the magnetic compass, crossbow and porcelain "long before they were known in Europe" (China Today, Shanor & Shanor, 1995, p. 78). Marco Polo recorded splendors of China that sounded unbelievable to European ears. In the early 1400s the Ming Emperor sent a fleet of treasure ships—some of the largest wooden ships ever built—to Indonesia, India and Africa to establish trade and impress other nations with China's greatness (When China Ruled the Seas, Levathes, 1994, p. 21).

China's glorious past is "looked upon by most Chinese as a source of great pride" (Understanding China, Starr, 1997, p. 56). Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor to former President Carter, notes that "to be Chinese meant to be cultured, and for that reason, the rest of the world owed China its due deference" (The Grand Chessboard, 1997, pp. 13-14). Chinese civilization has long cultivated a "strongly felt and deeply ingrained sense of cultural superiority" (Ibid. p. 13). This has made China suspicious and unreceptive to outside ideas and often difficult to get along with. These are critical factors that motivate China's behavior and her quest to regain a dominant position in the world.

A Hundred Humiliations

Deep scars from the Opium Wars also drive China's ambitions. During the 1840s, the British fought and defeated the Chinese on several occasions to protect their lucrative and illegal opium trade in China. Britain gained Hong Kong and extensive trading rights in China through unequal treaty agreements. Other Western powers—Portugal, America, Germany and Russia—extracted similar concessions from the weak and corrupt Manchu government that forced China to open its doors to the outside world. Christian missionaries often arrived on ships that carried opium, and their efforts to convert the "heathen" were perceived as attacks on the Chinese way of life. This seemed evil and hypocritical to the Chinese. When, with the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, the Chinese attempted to end ruthless exploitation of their country by "foreign devils," they were again defeated by the Western powers. This period of humiliation is "something the Chinese would not soon forget" (Lawson, p. 42).

The exploitation of China by outside powers has "generated the profound sense of cultural humiliation that has motivated the Chinese throughout the twentieth century, a humiliation all the more intense because of the collision between their ingrained sense of cultural superiority and the demeaning realities of postimperial China" (Brzezinski, p. 15). Brzezinski continues, "From that perspective, China's fall from greatness—the last 150 years of China's humiliation—is an aberration, a desecration of China's special quality, and a personal insult to every individual Chinese. It must be erased, and its perpetrators [Britain, America, Russia and Japan] deserve due punishment" (Ibid. p. 158). A Chinese general has stated [concerning the United States]: "for a relatively long time it will be absolutely necessary that we quietly nurse our sense of vengeance… We must conceal our abilities and bide our time" (The Coming Conflict with China, Bernstein & Munro, 1997, p. 3). China is determined to avenge past offenses.

Return of the Dragon

In 1949, after a "century of shame," the Chinese Communists established the People's Republic of China in "the most massive revolution in world history" ("China's Communist Revolution: A Half-Century Perspective," Current History, Sept. 1999, p. 243). Their goals were to unite China and eliminate foreign encroachments. In spite of setbacks and self-inflicted hardships, "significant improvements were made in diet, welfare, health care and education" (Ibid. p. 246). In the last 25 years, China's opening to Western ideas accelerated its development and made its economy the third largest in the world. America and other Western nations aided China's economic and military development during those years, to "counter-balance" the Russian influence in Asia. However, with the sudden implosion of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, China emerged—almost overnight—as the foremost power in Asia.

China's burgeoning economy and growing position of power have rekindled national pride, fanned self-confidence and stirred long-suppressed imperial ambitions. President Jiang Zemin has vowed to "unite China and make it powerful again" (Newsweek, Oct. 11, 1999, p. 49). Government-controlled publications boast that the return of Hong Kong and Macao "prove China's strength" and make all Chinese "extremely proud of Asia's glory in the 20th century" ("Macao: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," Fugen, China Today, Dec. 1999, p. 34). China is described as "a big country of ancient origins" that has "made outstanding contributions to mankind" (Ibid. p. 7). Modern China appears "like a dragon, soaring toward the 21st century" (Ibid.). China is on the rebound and is intent on resuming its prominent place in the world. The long-expected awakening has occurred. But where will it lead?

The Great Game

Indicators of China's future direction are readily available in the history, geography and philosophy of Asia, and in the statements of Chinese leaders. For centuries China has been a participant, spectator and victim of power struggles on the Eurasian continent. In the 19th century, the race for empire in central Asia between Czarist Russia and Victorian Britain was called "the Great Game" and spawned the "grandiose theory that control of the Eurasian 'Heartland' would assure mastery of the world" (Tournament of Shadows, Meyer & Brysac, 1999, pp. xviii, 569).

China is located on the eastern rim of the historic Eurasian "heartland" and has serious intentions of becoming a major player in the "Great Game." China took over Tibet "because control of Tibet gives the Chinese the high ground from which they can threaten all of South Asia" (Red Dragon Rising, Timperlake & Triplett, 1999, p. 57). Supplying arms to Burma and Pakistan is China's attempt to encircle and neutralize its populous rival, India. China has forged treaties with three Central Asian states and established a new "strategic partnership" with Russia ("China's Search for a Global Role," Yahunda, Current History, Sept. 1999, p. 269). China is moving to control the Eurasian "heartland." One of China's high ranking generals states, "since the early 1990s, we have been adjusting and preparing for the world strategy of supremacy and power politics" (Timperlake & Triplett, p. 145).

Chinese philosophy also influences China's foreign policy. Mao Tse Tung's famous comment "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun" is still followed. The People's Republic of China "is now engaged in one of the most extensive and rapid military buildups in the world" ("The Coming Conflict with China," Bernstein & Munro, Foreign Affairs, Mar.-Apr. 1997, p. 25). Sun Tzu, the Chinese military sage wrote that "the essence of warfare is deception" and "the army is established by deceit" (The Complete Art of War, Sawyer, 1996, p. 24). China is thus, "largely in secret, building a vast war machine based on the most modern weapons and tactics" (Timperlake & Triplett, p. 14). This philosophy also explains why China often denies and conceals its true intentions. Sun Tzu's instruction about "gaining the advantages of the earth" is reflected in China's strategic moves to occupy islands in the South China Sea that sit astride critical sea lanes, and to acquire key ports at both ends of the Panama Canal. These actions can threaten economic lifelines of Japan and America.

The most sobering aspect of China's military buildup involves high-tech weaponry and computerized information warfare. This includes the use of long-range precision strike weapons and also jamming or manipulating enemy computers to disrupt communications and air-traffic control, block electric power grids, snarl traffic signals, drain bank accounts and contaminate water supplies. The People's Liberation Army has developed "the world's largest information warfare program after the United States" (Timperlake & Triplett, p. 123). Western strategists, who label China's military "the greatest junkyard army in the world" and smile at comparing Chinese and American forces, miss the point. Chinese strategists are not interested in merely duplicating American equipment, but are eager to "develop entirely new weapons systems" that "could render entire categories of traditional weapons obsolete" (see The American Spectator, Jan. 2000, p. 69; Commentary, July-August 1999, p. 32). This coincides with Sun Tzu's approach that the highest goal in warfare is to vanquish the enemy without actually fighting, and to use "unorthodox" methods. But what does this mean for America?

America and China in Prophecy

Experts in international relations recognize that America and the West are entering a very critical period—but they only see part of the picture. Today America is the world's undisputed superpower, and Western nations have, for the last 200 years, dominated the globe. This is about to change. As Harvard's Samuel Huntington and other historians have pointed out, "the expansion of the West" has ended, and "the revolt against the West" has begun (The Clash of Civilizations, 1996, p. 53). The major challengers to the West are Islamic and Asian civilizations—especially China. According to Huntington, the East Asian economic boom has been "one of the most significant developments in the world in the second half of the 20th century" (Ibid. p. 103). Many Asians attribute this "to the superiority of their culture and the decadence of the West" and believe it is time for Asia to "talk back" to the West (p. 107-108).

Anti-Americanism is also rising in Asia—especially in China. China's President Zemin told People's Liberation Army generals in 1995: "I am aware of the fact that the West [the United States] remains our chief enemy" (Timperlake & Triplett, p. 133). America is viewed as the principal obstacle in China's quest to become a regional and global power. China resents America's interference in her internal affairs and "internationally bullying" to "keep China down." Many Chinese view America as "a toothless paper tiger" that can be bought—if the price is right. China sees the United States as a superpower whose days are numbered—a superpower that should be replaced. Foreign policy analysts warn that America and China are "drifting towards disaster" (China Briefing, Joseph, 1997, p. 9) and that conflicting interests of these two nations "will be the major global rivalry in the first decades of the 21st century" (Bernstein & Munro, p. 4). An explosion could occur over Taiwan or disputes in the South China Sea.

What these analysts do not grasp is that the America-China situation is beginning to resemble prophecies long outlined in the Bible. Scripture plainly reveals that as the end of the age approaches, God is going to "break the pride" of America's power—because of our sins (Leviticus 26:19). That period may be just ahead. In end-time biblical prophecies "Israel" represents the American and British descended people as explained in our free booklet What's Ahead for America and Britain? The book of Hosea describes end-time Israel as "a silly dove without sense" (7:11) that "went after her lovers" (2:13) and "pursues the east wind" (12:1) seeking to please leaders with lies and double-dealings (7:1-3). This is an incredibly apt description of America's relationship with China in recent years. America has naively sought to engage the Chinese for financial and humanitarian gains. We have given away sensitive technology and ignored China's militant intentions, hoping the Chinese would embrace democracy and become more like us—but they have not! China, as the largest nation in the Far East and a major trading partner, also fits the reference to the east wind.

Hosea warns Israel that "peoples shall be gathered against them" and "the east wind will come" bringing a "sword" (Hosea 10:10; 13:15-16). China is arming nations against the West, and Chinese nuclear missiles pointed at American cities and American bases in the Western Pacific are of the Dongfeng (East Wind) series ("China's Nuclear Forces: An Assessment," Goodwin, Current History, Sept. 1999, p. 260). Hosea 10:14 indicates that Israel's "fortresses shall be plundered." The book of Deuteronomy warns that Israel will be "defeated before your enemies… and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth" (28:25). Chinese troops fought America to a stalemate in Korea, and Chinese arms contributed to America's debacle in Vietnam. America is the focus of growing resentment in Asian and Islamic countries.

Additional prophecies about end-time Israel mention that "aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it" (Hosea 7:9). This aptly describes China's recently revealed efforts to acquire American military secrets (see Time, June 7, 1999). Hosea also reveals that "the pride of Israel" will cause them to "stumble" (5:5) and that "Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel" (10:6). Incredibly, America has initiated exchange visits that permit Chinese military personnel to view our most sophisticated military equipment and maneuvers—and even to ask questions about the vulnerabilities of American aircraft carriers (The New Republic, Apr. 19, 1999, p. 13). Perceptive analysts have observed that "we should not be sharpening the sword that could be used against the Chinese people, our regional allies, or even ourselves" (Timperlake & Triplett, p. 200). Unwittingly, America may be "arming China against ourselves" which would be "a major strategic blunder" (Commentary, July-August 1999, pp. 27-33).

Bible prophecy indicates that the rise of China will play a significant role in America's decline. Yet the Bible reveals even more about China's future activities around the world.

The Eurasian Future

For almost 2,000 years many have pondered how end-time prophecies in Daniel and Revelation would be fulfilled. Yet with remarkable suddenness as the 21st century begins, major nations on the Eurasian continent are moving into alignments outlined millennia ago in Scripture.

The Eurasian land mass—including China—is home to 75 percent of the world's people. The continent of Eurasia, which has seen the rise and fall of most major empires in human history, has been described as "the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played" and the place where "a potential rival to America might at some point arise" (Brzezinski, pp. 31, 39). While America currently provides stability in Eurasia, "America's sudden withdrawal" or "the sudden emergence of a successful rival—would produce massive international instability" (Ibid. p. 30). The rival of which Brzezinski speaks is China—an emerging superpower in eastern Eurasia. Samuel Huntington writes that, "the rise of China is the potential source of a big intercivilizational war between core states" (Huntington, p. 209). This would set the stage on the Eurasian continent for the events described in Daniel and Revelation.

The Bible also reveals that a 10-nation power block in Central Europe (western Eurasia) will arise just before the end of the age (see Daniel, chapters 2 and 7; Revelation, chapters 13 and 17). For more on this topic read "Is the 'Beast' Awakening?" on page 4 of this issue. Daniel reveals that "at the time of the end" the king of the South will attack the king of the North, and the North will counter-attack and occupy much of the Middle East (Daniel 11:40-43). This exact scenario is developing today! The king of the North will emerge from the developing European Community—which has already been challenged by Islamic nations to the south. Several Arab nations have aimed missiles at Europe, and armies from America and Europe have invaded Arab lands several times in recent years. Many of the world's leading purchasers of weapons of mass destruction "are arrayed on Europe's southern periphery" and they are all customers of China (Timperlake & Triplett, p. 95). The threat of massive destruction to Europe from the south is real!

Daniel records that the king of the North will then be disturbed by news from the "east and the north" (11:44). To the north and east of Jerusalem are Russia and China—who along with Europe (notably France and Germany) are the major players on the Eurasian continent "motivated by an ambitious vision" (Brzezinski, p. 43-44). As the emerging European Beast becomes the major power in western Eurasia, Russia and China will move to oppose, or counter-balance it. This too is already happening. China has forged an "arms-for-oil axis" with Islamic nations and has made Russia its "strategic partner." In Russia, Eurasianism—building alliances to the south with Islam and to the east with China—is again in vogue ("Dreams of the Eurasian Heartland: The Reemergence of Geopolitics," Clover, Foreign Affairs, Mar.-Apr. 1999, p. 9). Huntington has commented that "Russia and China united would decisively tilt the balance against the West" (p. 241). Brzezinski worries that "the most dangerous scenario would be a grand alliance of China, Russia and perhaps Iran… united not by ideology but by complementary grievances " (p. 55). This is essentially what the Bible has long foretold—and what is developing on the world scene today!

As we have described in previous Tomorrow's World articles, Revelation 9:1-12 indicates that the European Beast power, in response to the troubling news from the north and east—perhaps the formation of an anti-western alliance—will launch an attack in that direction (See "When Will Jesus Christ Return?" Tomorrow's World, May-June, 2000). The "kings of the east" (Russia, China and allies) will then launch a counter-attack towards Europe with a 200 million man army (Revelation 9:13-19; 16:12). This event will destroy one-third of mankind. Here is the great "intercivilizational war" that Huntington fears will happen. It is described in Bible prophecy, and its setting is the Eurasian continent just before the return of Jesus Christ.

The Bible indicates that armies of eastern and western Eurasia will once again gather at Armageddon (the valley of Megiddo, site of many critical battles from ancient times through World War I) in a final struggle for control of the world (Revelation 16:12-16). The returning Jesus Christ will defeat these armies in an awesome supernatural confrontation. (Revelation 19:19-21). Other prophecies in Ezekiel 38 and 39 reveal that the armies of Gog (Russia) and Magog (eastern nations including China) will make one more attempt to invade Israel after the Kingdom of God is set up on earth, but that the Great God will defeat them.

These proud and ancient nations will then learn who the God in Heaven really is, and that peace and real power come not from the barrel of a gun, but from learning to live by His laws (see Isaiah 59:8; Psalm 119:165). In this long-foretold time known as the Millennium, all nations and peoples, including China, will have their part in contributing to world peace and harmony under the Kingdom of God (see Isaiah 2:2-4).

One of Europe's most knowledgeable journalists has commented that future events in China will have "immense" implications for the rest of the world (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Inc., van Kemenade, 1997, p. 32). American analysts assert that "the democratic countries are about to be unpleasantly surprised by the emergence of a hostile, expansionist, nondemocratic superpower armed with the most modern weapons… America and its allies will soon suffer the devastating consequences of having ignored the dragon rising in the East" (Timperlake & Triplett, pp. 12, 17). Bible prophecy explains what those consequences are—for America and the world. The rise of China will see the demise of America and a growing threat to Europe—just before the return of Jesus Christ. The return of the Dragon is profoundly significant in ways far beyond what secular commentators realize. You need to get to know the God who inspired these incredible prophecies so "that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass" (Luke 21:36). Request your free copy of our booklet, The Real God: Proofs and Promises, right now. It will help you get started—and it may change your life!

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