(From the National Interest)
By Harry Kazianis
Where were you when the towers fell?
In just a few months’ time, such questions will burn up the internet and social media as America once again marks the tragedy that is 9/11—fifteen years ago this year.
I certainly know where I was—sitting at a local breakfast hub back in my hometown of Cranston, Rhode Island, with my soon to be wife—preparing to devour the loveliest stack of pancakes, when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. Instantly, everyone’s eyes were locked onto the TV screen. I thought at first it was an advertisement for the latest big-budget action flick. I thought to myself, “That is one heck of a plot—I need to see that.” Minutes later, too my absolute horror, I realized the events depicted weren’t Hollywood’s latest mega-disaster movie, but my generation’s own Pearl Harbor.
And while we tend to think of how the events that day shaped our own lives and our country’s global outlook, 9/11 clearly altered the prospects and national security fortunes of many others nations as well—and not just in the Middle East.
One nation that was impacted dramatically by the events of 9/11, and clearly aided in its rise to not only great power but near superpower status, is none other than the People’s Republic of China.
I would bet Chinese leaders also remember where they were, but more importantly what they felt on 9/11—an overwhelming sense of relieve and opportunity. In fact, Frank Ching, a prominent journalist who opened the Wall Street Journal’s Hong Kong bureau, went so far as to say that from “China’s point of view the attacks were a blessing in disguise” (more on Frank in a second).
Now, I am sure at least some of you are reading the above, scratching your heads in disgust. Who would ever think they could profit in some fashion from such despicable acts? Welcome to the great game known as international politics, where history’s pages are filled with examples of one nation’s tragedy becoming another’s opportunity for power and glory. So let there be no doubt, China was impacted dramatically by the events of 9/11—and for the better. Read more