sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Assertive China

China reacted predictably to Republic of China President Tsai’s transit through Houston to Central America. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang fielded a question from the press on 9 January.
“Tsai Ing-wen, the leader of the Taiwan region, met with US Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott during her "transit" in the United States on Sunday morning. What is your comment on that?’ 
Lu replied, “I have taken note of the relevant report. I would like to reiterate that the Chinese side resolutely opposes the leader of the Taiwan region taking advantage of so-called "transit" to engage in contact in any form with US official personages and to engage in activities that interfere with and undermine China-US relations” 
“We once again call on the relevant US personages to abide by the one-China policy and the principles of the three China-US joint communiqués and to deal with issues involving Taiwan in a cautious and proper manner in order to avoid harming the overall situation of China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
It's interesting that the official language being used by China is not designed to inflame the situation further. This is because China is waiting for President Trump to take office. Once that happens, they expect to do some damage control and to assess the new situation with the USA.

The editorial staff at Virtual Mirage judge that the Trump Administration will move slowly with China as it has more pressing matters higher on the agenda. The status quo will remain unless the PRC pushes things - primarily in the South China Sea, which they now claim as a "Chinese lake". Trade arrangements will change between China and the US over the next four years, but the details of those changes and the pace of change remains to be worked out.

HOWEVER

CHICOM leadership uses editorials in the Global Times to express how they really feel. This situation is no different. Thus it's useful for any of us who have an interest in this to read the Global Times if you want the "real story" about how they're reacting.
(Global Times) “Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen arrived in Houston for a brief transit stop in the US during her trip to four Central American countries, with which Taiwan has diplomatic ties. On her return, she is expected to transit from San Francisco. Such "transit diplomacy" was favored by the Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian authorities, the significance of which often outweighed the trip to Central America.”
The op-ed writer noted that President-elect Trump did not meet Tsai. The Chinese writer wrote that it is unclear whether he took a step back from his earlier statement. The op-ed assured readers that the mainland is fully prepared for any eventuality. The author wrote “The mainland has seized the initiative. The US and Taiwan now should restrain, or be forced to restrain, themselves.
“…Beijing does not need to feel grateful to Trump for not meeting Tsai. The one-China policy is the basic principle reiterated in the three Sino-US joint Communiqués. It is also the foundation of the profound bilateral relationship. Sticking to this principle is not a capricious request by China upon US presidents, but an obligation of US presidents to maintain China-US relations and respect the existing order of the Asia-Pacific. If Trump reneges on the one-China policy after taking office, the Chinese people will demand the government to take revenge. There is no room for bargaining.”
“The Trump-Tsai call indicates the eruption of the Taiwan independence tendency by Tsai authorities. The mainland should mobilize all possible measures to squeeze Taiwan's diplomacy as well as deal a heavy blow to Taiwan's economy. It should also impose military pressure on Taiwan and push it to the edge of being reunified by force, so as to effectively affect the approval rating of the Tsai administration.”  
“We should take Tsai's denial of the 1992 Consensus as a turning point and end the disturbance of Taiwan independence on cross-Straits ties. The Democratic Progressive Party should be made to realize that if it continues to engage in Taiwan independence moves, the political costs will be more than it could bear.”
Concerning independence for Taiwan, the op-ed makes three very blunt statements. 
  • First is that China does not fear US provocations and the mainland has seized the initiative. The author did not provide details, but the language indicates a plan or operation is already being implemented. The apparent goal of the plan is to work for political change in Taiwan.
  • Second, the author’s comment about restraint means that if the US and Taiwan do not restrain themselves, China will restrain one or the other. Those are words of confrontation, bordering on contempt.
  • Third, the author wrote that there is no room for bargaining. If the US reneges on its agreements, China will take revenge.
As for handling Taiwan, the op-ed piece does not advocate reunification by force. It does urge the leadership to use all instruments of national power to cause the ouster of President Tsai and the Democratic Progressive Party. The author wrote that China should squeeze Taiwan with all possible measures and exert military pressure on it “to bring it to the edge of reunification by force.”

Meddling in Elections

The plan or operation to unseat Tsai will intensify this year, regardless of the state of Chinese relations with the new US administration. Chinese agents of influence have helped engineer the electoral defeat of two prior Taiwan presidents who were pro-independence – Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian. The Chinese leadership judges that China can do the same with Tsai Ing-wen.

Chinese Economic Transformation

It's just as expensive to manufacture in China now as it is in Germany. Chinese workers demand roughly the same pay and benefits package as Europeans do. A haircut in Shanghai will cost you about US$20. The 1.3 billion Chinese expect that their economic situation will improve further. It remains to be seen whether or not the single party Communist system can cope with this rampant capitalism. There is some doubt that the trend can continue and that a barber will be able to charge US$40 for a haircut in 2020 (that would be the prolongation of the trend). While an outsider sees things in that way, the man on the street in China does not.

Men in China follow a general life-goal plan:
  • Make lots of money.
  • Get married.
  • Build a monument to yourself.
Anything that interrupts that life goal process creates social anxiety in China that is like a boiling pot with the lid clamped tightly on it. Chinese leadership is acutely aware of this as is the Public Security Bureau and their overseers in the People's Liberation Army.

Even though Chinese leadership is outwardly certain that they can contain and manage the United States, there is a nagging concern. The USA is not predictable. They've been able to do just about anything they wanted to do during the Obama Administration (which they viewed as weak and feckless). Changes in how they do business with the US can impact that social pressure inside China and can cause them considerable grief. Chinese progress requires 6-7% economic growth annually.

US-Russia Trade Deal (excluding China?)

While China and Russia have made common cause recently, the Chinese are also concerned that Russia could cut a trade deal directly with the US, undercutting them. You will read more about potential US-Russia trade relations in the future here on Virtual Mirage as readers show interest in the  topic. There is a reason why Rex Tillerson is being confirmed as Secretary of State. It will change how the US does business with Russia - at China's expense.

Meanwhile, China/Japan

Japanese Defense Ministry officials reported that 8 Chinese military planes flew over the Tsushima Strait in western Japan on Monday, 9 January, flying back and forth between the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan.

The Chinese continue to force Japan to react to exciter flights. Both sides are learning about each other’s capabilities and reaction times. Japanese sources reported that Chinese bombers performed similar tactics over the Strait twice in 2016. The first time was in January 2016.

The significance of the Chinese patrol behavior is that it is becoming routine. The Chinese do not cause trouble, but the presence of their aircraft and ships embodies a claim to sovereignty. 

The military actions have political significance that is not normally associated with routine military training, which is how Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesmen describe them. Routine patrols in support of a sovereignty assertion threaten the claims of other nations.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for the briefing, it took me away from the not inconsiderable task of trying to name ONE Obama achievement.

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    1. The briefing echoes eight years of foreign policy disasters. The last time Obama flew to China, they didn't bring a ladder for him to descend to the tarmac from. He had to lower the stairs at the 'ass end' of Air Force one and leave that way. While appropriate, it's a political slight to us all. Naturally, Barack did nothing - because he's a Kenyan at heart and a post-American president.

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  2. The JMSDF are going to get pissed and 'eventually' one of the Chinese is going to make the wrong move. Boom... THEN it will get interesting!

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  3. I agree with NFO. One of these days it's going to be "FOX 1!"....

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    Replies
    1. I don't think that day is all that far off. It may be the first test of Trump's presidency.

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