China- on Combat, Personal Heroism, & Drones
This is a really interesting story- and it's actually one of the few cases where you can't say "but the US..." Because I actually think China is *more* likely to use autonomous weapons should conflict arise-
-I don't think we'd initiate conflict (I hope), but I can see us using these. Here's why.
In the sort of vague Confucian hierarchy Chinese are raised in, your primary duty is to your parents (technically it should be country, but this doesn't get called on much).
This leads to the classic question Chinese wives ask their husband "If your mother and I fell in a lake, who would you rescue first?" Leading to generations of Chinese men desperately trying to Kobayashi Maru their way out of that one- but the only correct answer: their mother.
Our first obligation- to have a son and continue the family line, our second, to care for our parents in their retirement. Everything else comes well, well after that. Because of the one-child policy, most Chinese are only children- so this arrangement is extremely tenuous.
Because children are the Chinese retirement plan, the death of an only child isn't just emotionally devastating, but financially: https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/long-reads/article/2107155/chinas-one-child-policy-has-legacy-bereaved …
The bystander effect is often commented on in China, it is a combination of a few things. A mind-your-own business mentality what was essential to survival in hard times- but of course is inexcusable and quickly fading now. Poor legal protections for Good Samaritans (improving)-
-and foremost our filial obligation to our parents, which likely cannot be fulfilled if we are dead, imprisoned, sued or injured in the course of getting involved helping others.
There is a lot to dislike about the way some expatriates conduct themselves in China- but on personal heroism, to the point of idiocy (in Chinese eyes) they really do make a good account of themselves.
Whenever there is some maniac threatening people with a knife in the market, you constantly hear that it was a foreigner that smacked him over the head, took the knife and said "'nough of that then" or something else cool- a suicidal lunatic in our eyes but still very admirable.
Just admirable for you- not us. Too big a risk
Likewise with fights. Aussie and Chinese drunks will eye each other from adjacent tables, Aussie getting ready for a bit of a dust-up, Chinese waiting for 10 of his friends to arrive- good tactics if you can't risk getting hurt.
This does not endear Chinese to foreigners in search of a "fair fight". The absolute unbreakable Chinese obligation is to our parents and our family line- and if we get hurt or killed fighting, we can't take care of them.
Post-Vietnam the US public was much less willing to accept military casualties- and the US turned to drone strikes of unprecedented volume. The American reputation with global armed forces for shooting anything that moved- including their allies, was carried over to joysticks.
But the US still has ground troops- with huge amounts of body armor that smaller statured Chinese would likely have difficulty with. But the number of flagged draped caskets still coming off US military planes, it would never be accepted by Chinese families left childless.
Even with the social privileges and compensation granted to families of Chinese martyrs- it would never be accepted, there would be an uproar from all the family branches left bare, constant petitioning of the government and a reluctance of even refusal to enlist.
This means, of course, leveraging China's massive industrial base and hardware expertise to assemble a military force with the express goal of insulating China from the socially disruptive consequences of Chinese deaths during military action.
I am very much against truly autonomous weapons- weapons that both determine the target, and determine when to fire without human intervention and have even spoken about the dangers of consumer products that can be be used as tools of asymmetrical warfare.
As I've mentioned before, the "evil robot" or "automation as the enemy of man" trope does not really exist in Asia. We have no John Henry racing a steam drill, we never experience large scale job loss due to automation, Godzilla is the bad guy, who's the good guy? Mecha-Godzilla.
We have no deeply held beliefs to make us reluctant to employ automation in warfare if doing so is tactically advantageous- and deeply held beliefs to make us inclined to do so for cultural reasons.
That being said, I genuinely think that Chinese people's reluctance to accept casualties, as well as a historic lack of interest in initiating hostilities or expanding outside our borders means it's very unlikely we would initiate anything with another country.
But admittedly- if powerfully built drunk comes demanding a "fair fight", he won't get one.
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