See Through Trump’s Smokescreen before Trump-Xi Meeting

Xi Jinping and Donald Trump are due to meet in Florida on April 6. Photograph: AP

US President Donald Trump tweeted,“The meeting next week with China will be a very difficult one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits and job losses. American companies must be prepared to look at other alternatives,” soon before it was announced that he would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping next week.

That makes media not optimistic of the results of Trump-Xi meeting. The Guardian regards Trump’s tweet as the commencement of collision between the US and China so that it gave its report on the meeting the title “Trump sets himself on collision course with China ahead of Xi meeting”.

However, it is common sense that leaders of great nations meet not for quarrel but for resolving quarrel. If the two sides see no possibility of positive outcome of their meeting, they simply will not have the meeting.

There have been busy preparations before a meeting of top leaders of great nations can be a reality.

This blogger is sure that the meeting is simply impossible if the leaders are aware that nothing good will come out of the meeting.

Then why Trump has written such a tweet?

That is his smokescreen in order to make people believe it is impossible to obtain what he wants in the meeting. However, he is sure of the positive outcome but only wants to bring Americans a surprise. Obtaining something impossible in the meeting will impress Americans how clever and successful he is. He wants to win confidence among Americans through his success in his meeting with Xi especially when he is encountering so much opposition at home now.

As this blogger has predicted repeatedly in his blog, win-win cooperation is the only way out for both China and the US. Neither Trump nor Xi is so stupid as to choose confrontation.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on The Guardian’s report, full text of which can be found at

Maiden flight of China-built amphibious aircraft set for May

Officials of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) unveil the newly-made nose of amphibious aircraft AG600, during a ceremony at a factory in Chengdu, Sichuan province March 17, 2015. REUTERS/China Daily

China’s domestically developed AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, will make its maiden flight in late May from the southern city of Zhuhai, the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.

China has stepped up research on advanced military equipment as it adopts a more muscular approach to territorial disputes in places such as the busy South China Sea waterway, rattling nerves in the Asia-Pacific region and the United States.

The aircraft will take its first flight over land and then another on water in the second half of 2017, Xinhua said, citing its manufacturer, state-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC).

AVIC has spent almost eight years developing the aircraft, which is roughly the size of a Boeing 737 and is designed to carry out marine rescues and battle forest fires.

The aircraft has received 17 expressions of interest so far, Xinhua added. It has a maximum flight range of 4,500 km (2, 800 miles) and a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes.

China is in the midst of a massive military modernization program, ranging from testing anti-satellite missiles to building stealth fighters and the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, to add to an existing one bought from Ukraine.

The new carrier could be launched soon, state media have reported, though it is likely to be several years before it fully enters service.

On Thursday, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a monthly news briefing the outfitting of the new carrier was proceeding smoothly and people would not have to wait long for more “good news”. But he did not elaborate.

(This version of the story was refiled to remove extraneous word “said” in paragraph 8)

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: Reuters “Maiden flight of China-built amphibious aircraft set for May”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

Terror v. Terror, China’s Way to Prevent Terrorist Attack

Shopkeepers line up with wooden clubs to perform their daily anti-terror drill outside the bazaar in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Before China adopts the measure of terror v. terror, there were quite a few reports of terrorists killing tens and even hundreds of victims indiscriminately not only in Xinjiang, Chinese terrorists’ homeland, but also in quite a few large cities.

There was real terror created by the terrorist attacks that have give rise to stampede that hurt people when people heard the panic yelling about terrorist attack, though quite a few of that turned out false alarms.

China adopts the measures of terror v. terror, including:

1. It bans report on terrorist attack so that terrorist cannot create terror among Chinese people. That is most important as creation of terror is precisely what terrorists want more than the killing of innocent people.

2. It counters terror with terror. It fills its media with reports on how people have been organized to fight terrorists with clubs and conduct mass search of terrorist attackers. It has indeed organized people for fighting terrorists not only in Uighur heartland but also all over China. As far as I know more than 100,000 people have been organized to fight terrorists in Shanghai, my hometown.

Chinese media are even filled with reports on the stories of people resisting terrorists with clubs and even stools and killing them without arresting them to punish them and on mass search of terrorists by lots of civilians armed with clubs. The photo on top shows how shopkeepers have been organized to fight terrorists with clubs.

3. According to Reuters’ report “Terror threats transform China’s Uighur heartland into security state” yesterday, China has built thousands of what the authorities call “convenience police stations” across Xinjiang and hired some 30,000 new officers to man them to set up grid-style surveillance there. As a result, terrorists have no way to escape after their attack. That certainly terrifies terrorists.

Certainly, the surveillance has caused some inconvenience just as I felt when my bag was checked for security when I took subway in Shenzhen, but I place the blame on terrorists instead of the authority that imposes such surveillance.

Reuters says in its report, “This month a video purportedly released by the Islamic State group showed Uighur fighters training in Iraq and vowing that blood would ‘flow in rivers’ in China.” It tells us that there is real threat of terrorist attacks in China.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at

Closer Ties between China, Philippines when US Fails to Contain China

China-Philippines relations had been quite satisfactory with South China Sea dispute remaining on the sideline until former Philippine President Aquino was exploited by the US to contain China with intensification of the dispute. However, Aquino got nothing as the US was not willing to fight China for Philippines’ interests.

Upset by US inaction as an ally, Philippine President Duterte wanted to recover and even further improve relations with China and estrange his country from the United States, Philippines’ old ally. However, that is not something new as described by lots of Western media. It is but the recovery and further development of Philippines’ old policies to be friendly with China and estranged from the US.

Do not forget that the Philippines took back US military bases to drive away US troops stationed there in 1992. The US shall be aware of the trend so that it has to give the Philippines something when it asks the Philippines to do something for it. Its failure to do so has caused it to lose the Philippines to China as China can and is giving the Philippines lots of things: funds, cooperation in exploiting fish and energy resources etc.

If we know the history of Philippine- China and US relations, we will not be surprised at the development of closer ties between China and the Philippines at the expense of the US.

SCMP says in its report “Beijing and Manila to discuss South China Sea dispute” today that China has invited Philippine coastguard to visit China and plans to hold talks on South China Sea dispute with the Philippines in May.

In fact, according to Chinese media Global Times’ report “Duterte has not only invited Chinese warships to visit the Philippines but will also board a Chinese warship” on March 25, Duterte has invited Chinese navy to visit the Philippines and will board a Chinese warship in person to show the vigorous development of Philippine-China relations.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP and Global Times’ reports, full text of which can respectively be found at and

The Conundrum of Jiang Zemin Justifying Pursuit of Capitalism with Marxism

Since Deng Xiaoping began his reform and opening up capitalist in nature, there had been fierce debates between reformists and conservatives about the nature of the reform and opening up. Conservatives denounced the reform for its capitalist nature, but Deng and the reformists under him could not deny. Deng knew well as Maxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought were the dominant ideology at that time, there was no hope for him to defend his pursuit of capitalism against Marxism and Mao Zedong Thought. He resorted to a stalling strategy and told conservatives to wait and see the results of the reform and opening up.

After Tiananmen Protests, conservatism prevailed. Deng had to apply his power as paramount leader (“core of collective leadership” according to Deng’s term of expression) to force officials to carry on the reform. His successor Jiang Zemin had to play every trick to overcome conservatives’ opposition in order to continue Deng’s reform while establishing his power base.

However, when Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji had achieved obvious successes in conducting reform and opening up, the facts of successes silenced opposition. However, Jiang and the reformist theorists knew that ideology was very important in China. Feudal dynasties could each survive for two to three centuries due to the ideological dominance of Confucianism. Jiang had to justify the reform and opening up with Marxism, the dominant ideology in China now, so as to ensure the continuance of reform and CCP’s rule in China. To do so, he used the most fundamental Marxist doctrine that production relations shall suit the requirements of the development of advanced production force.

According to Marx, at first capitalist production relation the private ownership of means of production (enterprises) suited the requirements of the development of advanced productive force so that it replaced the feudal one and brought about prosperity. However, there is the basic contradiction of capitalism that the production is for the society but the means of production (the enterprises) are owned privately by capitalist entrepreneurs, who often make decisions on production for their own profits in disregard of the needs of the society, resulting in overproduction and overcapacity that gave rise to cyclical economic crisis. Marx believed that by that time, the capitalist production relation no longer suited the requirements of the development of advanced production force and should be replaced by communist production relation of public ownership and planned economy.

Marx instructed communists that they should represent the requirements of the development of the advanced productive force and carry out a revolution necessary to put all means of production (enterprises) under public ownership as required by the development of the advanced productive force so that the state can plan the production in accordance with the needs of the society. A planned economy would be the most efficient, Marx believed. Then as the production relations suit the requirements of the development of the advanced productive force, the economy will take off. There will be abundance of all kinds of products to meet the needs of all the people. Everyone including former capitalists whose assets have been confiscated will be benefited. So, Marx said that the proletariat (the working class) would emancipate the entire human race.

However, Marx was not able to foresee that public ownership and planned economy were good in theory, but have been proved inefficient by practice everywhere in the world.

The first of Jiang’s Three Represents goes deeper in Marxist theory for the communists to represent the requirements of the development of advanced productive force. It sums up the lessons of the failures of public ownership and planned economy and the successful experience of China’s capitalist reform and opening up to prove that capitalism instead of communist public ownership and planned economy suits the requirements of the development of advanced productive force in China now. That was why China remained poor and backward for more than two decades when it had monolithic public ownership and planned economy, but has become rich and prosperous in three decades since it began to carry out its reform and opening up capitalist in nature.

Since Jiang’s Three Represents were written into CCP’s constitution, there have no longer been any debates whether the reform and opening up are socialist or capitalist in nature. It is generally accepted that China’s reform and opening up are commensurate with Marxism. However, according to the constitution, CCP has not only Marxism but also Mao Zedong Thought as its guiding ideology. When Hu Jintao wanted to conduct further reform to encourage private enterprises and remove state-owned sector’s monopoly, conservatives represented by Bo Xilai began to use Mao to oppose Hu’s reform.

A fierce power struggle between conservatives and reformists broke out. For several years Hu was unable to conduct his further reform due to the opposition from vested interests, especially the group of corrupt officials, and from conservatives.

How Xi Jinping put an end to the fierce power struggle will be described in my article “The Conundrum of Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream” later.

US Is Training Scientists, Engineers for China’s rise

China attracted top quantum scientis Pan Jianwei back from Austria. The photo shows him speaking at the press conference on quantum satellite

SCMP says in its report “America’s hidden role in Chinese weapons research” yesterday, “Many scientists have returned to China after working at Los Alamos and other top US laboratories”.

It says, “China has been trying to woo foreign-trained scientists back home since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, with one early success being Qian Xuesen, who returned to China from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1955 to lead the country’s space and military rocket research.”

In fact, Qian was among the group of 40 plus top scientists who returned China at the same time and made great contribution to China’s modernization in all fields not only military. Having been benefited by experts trained abroad, it is only natural that China “has stepped up its efforts in recent years, using financial incentives, appeals to patriotism and the promise of better career prospects to attract scientists with overseas experience” not only “in defence research” but also in other researchs and not only from the US but also from other countries.

For example, China attracted back world top quantum scientist Pan Jianwei from Austria, who has been in charge of China’s development of quantum communications, including the successful launching of world first quantum satellite for both civilian and military purposes.

Military scientists are certainly a priority as all countries employ their best scientists for weapon development. No wonder, according to SCMP, China has attracted lots of scientists from US Los Alamos laboratories, but they are only a small percentage of top scientists and engineers trained abroad and making contributions in China. In fact, China has also attracted quite a few foreign scientists from abroad. Ukrainian scientists and engineers have been making great contributions to China’s development of aircraft carriers and large aircrafts.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at

US Withdrawing but China Exporting Capital to Globalize Its Interests

While US President Trump opposes globalization and urges US companies to withdraw their capital for creating jobs in the US, China is now the leader of globalization and exploiting it to find opportunities for export of capital to make money and get technology.

China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd’s purchase of 5% stake in US rising electric car maker Tesla Inc. is but one example.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report “Tesla deal boosts Chinese presence in U.S. auto tech”, full text of which is reblogged below:

Tesla deal boosts Chinese presence in U.S. auto tech

By Paul Lienert | DETROIT Tue Mar 28, 2017 | 5:55pm EDT

China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK) has bought a 5 percent stake in U.S. electric car maker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) for $1.78 billion, the latest investment by a Chinese internet company in the potentially lucrative market for self-driving vehicles and related services.

Tencent’s investment, revealed in a U.S. regulatory filing, provides Tesla with a deep-pocketed ally as it prepares to launch its mass-market Model 3. Tesla’s shares rose 2.7 percent to $277.45 on Tuesday, closing in on Ford Motor Co (F.N) as the second-most-valuable U.S. auto company behind General Motors Co (GM.N).

Tencent also could help the U.S. company sell – or even build – cars in China, the world’s largest auto market, analysts said.

“It certainly is a strong chess move for Tesla,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for researcher LMC Automotive, citing the cash infusion and “help in navigating the Chinese market.”

Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk on Tuesday tweeted: “Glad to have Tencent as an investor and adviser to Tesla.” Musk did not say what he meant by “adviser” but in a separate tweet he noted Tesla had “very few” Model 3 orders from China, where the car has not been formally introduced.

The midsize Model 3 is due to go on sale later this year in the United States.

The deal expands Tencent’s presence in an emerging investment sector that includes self-driving electric cars, which could enable such new modes of transportation as automated ride-sharing and delivery services, as well as ancillary services ranging from infotainment to e-commerce.

Those new technologies, and their potential to create new business models and revenue streams in the global transportation sector, have attracted billions in investment from China’s three tech giants – Tencent, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) and Baidu Inc (BIDU.O).

In an investor note, Morgan Stanley auto analyst Adam Jonas said on Tuesday that he “would not be surprised” to see Tencent and Tesla collaborate in the development and deployment of some of those technologies.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Chinese investment in Tesla, but President Donald Trump has been critical of U.S. automakers and of China trade policies.

Founded in 1998 by entrepreneur Ma Huateng, Tencent is one of Asia’s largest tech companies, best known for its WeChat mobile messaging app. With a market capitalization of about $275 billion, it is roughly six times the size of 14-year-old Tesla, whose $45 billion market cap on Tuesday was only $1 billion shy of 114-year-old Ford.

Tencent was an early investor in NextEV, a Shanghai-based electric vehicle startup that since has rebranded itself as Nio, with U.S. headquarters in San Jose, not far from Tesla’s Palo Alto base. Tencent also has funded at least two other Chinese EV startups, including Future Mobility in Shenzhen.

In addition, Tencent has invested in Didi Chuxing, the world’s second-largest ride services company behind Uber, and in Lyft, Uber’s chief U.S. rival.

Baidu has invested in Nio, as well as in Uber and Velodyne, a California maker of laser-based lidar sensors for self-driving cars. Alibaba’s mobility investments include Didi and Lyft.

As Tesla is doing, many of the start-up companies backed by Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba are developing self-driving systems that eventually could be introduced in commercial ride-sharing fleets in the United States and China after 2020.

Tencent maintains a U.S. office in Palo Alto, in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. Beijing-based Baidu and Hangzhou-based Alibaba also maintain offices in Silicon Valley.

Tencent owns about 8.2 million shares in Tesla, the carmaker said. It is the fifth-largest shareholder, behind Musk and investment companies Fidelity, Baillie Gifford and T. Rowe Price.(

To help fund Model 3 production, Tesla raised about $1.2 billion by selling common shares and convertible debt earlier this month. Tencent said its shares were acquired as part of the early March equity sale and on the open market.

Musk had a stake of about 21 percent as of Dec. 31.

(Additional reporting by Rishika Sadam in Bengaluru, Sijia Jiang in Hong Kong and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Dan Grebler)

Revealed: China’s Radars Can Track America’s Stealthy F-22 Raptor

F-22. Image: Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Air Force.

Dave Majumdar February 19, 2016

Chinese media is claiming that the People’s Liberation Army has been able to track the U.S. Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth fighters over the East China Sea. While the Chinese report might be easily dismissed as propaganda—it is not beyond the realm of possibility. In fact—it’s very possible that China can track the Raptor. Stealth is not a cloak of invisibility, after all. Stealth technology simply delays detection and tracking.

First off, if a Raptor is carrying external fuel tanks—as it often does during “ferry missions”—it is not in a stealth configuration. Moreover, the aircraft is often fitted with a Luneburg lens device on its ventral side during peacetime operations that enhances its cross section on radar.

That being said, even combat-configured F-22s are not invisible to enemy radar, contrary to popular belief. Neither is any other tactical fighter-sized stealth aircraft with empennage surfaces such as tailfins—the F-35, PAK-FA, J-20 or J-31. That’s just basic physics.

The laws of physics essentially dictate that a tactical fighter-sized stealth aircraft must be optimized to defeat higher-frequency bands such the C, X, Ku and the top part of the S bands. There is a “step change” in a Low Observable (LO) aircraft’s signature once the frequency wavelength exceeds a certain threshold and causes a resonant effect. Typically, that resonance occurs when a feature on an aircraft—such as a tail-fin — is less than eight times the size of a particular frequency wavelength. Effectively, small stealth aircraft that do not have the size or weight allowances for two feet or more of radar absorbent material coatings on every surface are forced to make trades as to which frequency bands they are optimized for.

Therefore, a radar operating at a lower-frequency band such as parts of the S or L band—like civilian air traffic control (ATC) radars—are almost certainly able to detect and track tactical fighter-sized stealth aircraft. However, a larger stealth aircraft like the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, which lacks many of the features that cause a resonance effect, is much more effective against low-frequency radars than, for example, an F-35 or F-22. Typically, however, those lower-frequency radars do not provide what Pentagon officials call a “weapons quality” track needed to guide a missile onto a target. “Even if you can see an LO [low observable] strike aircraft with ATC radar, you can’t kill it without a fire control system,” an Air Force official had told me.
That being said, Russia, China and others are developing advanced UHF and VHF band early warning radars that use even longer wavelengths in an effort to cue their other sensors and give their fighters some idea of where an adversary stealth aircraft might be coming from. But the problem with VHF and UHF band radars is that with long wavelengths come large radar resolution cells. That means that contacts are not tracked with the required level of fidelity to guide a weapon onto a target. As one U.S. Navy officer rhetorically asked, “Does the mission require a cloaking device or is it OK if the threat sees it but can’t do anything about it?”

Traditionally, guiding weapons with low frequency radars has been limited by two factors. One factor is the width of the radar beam, while the second is the width of the radar pulse—but both limitations can be overcome with signal processing. Phased array radars—particularly active electronically scanned arrays (AESA)—solve the problem of directional or azimuth resolution because they can steer their radar beams electronically. Moreover, AESA radars can generate multiple beams and can shape those beams for width, sweep rate and other characteristics. Indeed, some industry experts suggested that a combination of high-speed data-links and low-frequency phased-array radars could generate a weapons quality track.

The U.S. Navy and Lockheed may have already solved the problem. The service openly talks about the E-2D’s role as the central node of its NIFC-CA battle network to defeat enemy air and missile threats. Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, the Navy’s director of air warfare, described the concept in detail at the U.S. Naval Institute just before Christmas in 2013.

Under the NIFC-CA ‘From the Air’ (FTA) construct, the APY-9 radar would act as a sensor to cue Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles for Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets fighters via the Link-16 datalink. Moreover, the APY-9 would also act as a sensor to guide Raytheon Standard SM-6 missiles launched from Aegis cruisers and destroyers against targets located beyond the ships’ SPY-1 radars’ horizon via the Cooperative Engagement Capability datalink under the NIFC-CA ‘From the Sea’ (FTS) construct. In fact, the Navy has demonstrated live-fire NIFC-CA missile shots using the E-2D’s radar to guide SM-6 missiles against over-the-horizon shots—which by definition means the APY-9 is generating a weapons quality track.

That effectively means that stealthy tactical aircraft must operate alongside electronic attack platforms the like Boeing EA-18G Growler. It is also why the Pentagon has been shoring up American investments in electronic and cyber warfare. As one Air Force official explained, stealth and electronic attack always have a synergistic relationship because detection is about the signal-to-noise ratio. Low observables reduce the signal, while electronic attack increases the noise. “Any big picture plan, looking forward, to deal with emerging A2/AD threats will address both sides of that equation,” he said.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.

Source: National Interest “Revealed: China’s Radars Can Track America’s Stealthy F-22 Raptor”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

Why America—and Its Political Leaders—Should Think Twice about Poking China

Politicians should carefully consider the impact that their words may have on America’s international relationships.

Jared McKinney March 26, 2017

The first rule of rational thinking is that one should not assume what one hopes to prove. The first rule of international politics is that misperception is rampant. And the first rule of strategy is that the adversary gets a vote too. Sadly, Rep. Ted Yoho violates all three of these rules in his March 22 analysis titled “How America Should Confront China’s Unchecked Maritime Bullying.” The result is an empty shell of words masquerading as strategic advice. Isolated, this could be ignored; more worryingly—and more difficult to ignore—is that Rep. Yoho’s article nicely represents the resentful, unreflective, incurious and superficial rhetoric that is increasingly coming to dominate Washington’s view of China.

Assuming What We Claim to Prove

Rep. Yoho begins his article by commenting on the economic importance of maritime Asia. Undisputedly, a large amount of commerce passes through these waters. He then suggests this commerce may be threatened by China, which has “possibly” indicated its “ambition to exclude foreign vessels from China’s near seas at will.” His evidence? The increasing strength of the People’s Liberation Army and Chinese investments in Anti-Access/Area Denial weapons.

Confronted with the fact that China has sought to strengthen its military since Deng Xiaoping launched his “four modernizations,” an intellectually curious person might posit a variety of explanations. These might include Chinese embarrassment over its poor performance in the 1979 war with Vietnam, a desire to be recognized as a great power by the United States and Russia, and a commitment to defending China’s territorial interests, particularly given the humiliation it suffered in the 1995–96 Taiwan Straits Crisis. Indeed, if a person took the trouble to speak with some Chinese military officers, or even merely read some standard histories of China’s rise, then that person would discover that this last explanation is particularly salient. China desires the ability to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Since U.S. actions have threatened—and could once again threaten—these objectives, China is making investments intended to preserve its interests. Here we have the origins of China’s A2/AD investments, and an explanation for Chinese strategy.

But this is not what Rep. Yoho does in his analysis. Instead, he connects China’s growing military power to the possible “ambition to exclude foreign vessels from China’s near seas at will.” This connection is not impossible, and if it were something China was capable of doing, and if it was something China was likely to do, given the region’s importance, then this would be a big deal. But Rep. Yoho never completes that argument. He never informs us why it is likely that China might exclude trading vessels from the region, thereby injuring global commerce.

Risk is calculated by multiplying the probability of an event occurring by the estimated consequence of that event. When probability is extremely low, even when the consequence is high, risk is low. This formula must lie at the heart of all strategic thinking. When it does not, the results are not just irrational but dangerous.

So what is the likelihood that China would disrupt the “$5 trillion” in commerce that moves across the Asia-Pacific region? Most of this commerce is coming from China, going to China, passing through a Chinese port, or ultimately destined for China in one capacity or another. This is a good place to start: disrupting this commerce would be contrary to China’s most important interests.

Seemingly aware of this fact, Rep. Yoho moves on to discuss energy supplies for nations like Japan and South Korea. Perhaps China would intercept those? And what does Rep. Yoho think would happen to the Chinese economy if the economies of two of its closest neighbors collapsed at China’s behest? Does Rep. Yoho understand that a disabled Chinese economy would destroy the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party? Does he know that oil can be sold on a spot market (sometimes as many as thirty times on one journey), making it difficult for a blockading force to tell where oil is ultimately destined? Does he know that transshipment of oil from Southeast Asia would be impossible to prevent? Has he calculated China’s ability to impose such a blockade? Does he know that the South China Sea is a “tough neighborhood for hegemonies” because it lacks any dominating geographical features? Is he aware that China’s neighbors could respond with their own A2/AD networks, locking China out of the region’s seas? Does he realize the United States could easily respond tit-for-tat in the Persian Gulf, for China, too, is dependent on oil imports? And has he considered that such a move would forever alienate China’s neighbors and most of the globe’s respectable powers? The answer to all these questions is an apparent “no.” But if someone did bother to answer them, then that person would come to the realization that it would be literally suicidal for China to disrupt the commerce of the Asia-Pacific region. Further reflection would likely yield the conclusion that China could not effectively do so even if it so desired.

Where then is the evidence that China’s military investments are intended to disrupt the commerce of the Asia-Pacific region? None has been offered. What Rep. Yoho desires to prove he has merely assumed. Until evidence is provided to the contrary, the risk of China destroying the maritime commerce of the Asia-Pacific region should be assessed as close to nonexistent.

Misperception Is Rampant

Rep. Yoho seems to believe that Chinese “belligerence” is running in a straight line, and as a result of the Obama administration’s failure to “impose costs,” China is running rampant, bullying its neighbors. This view misperceives the extent to which the situation in the South China Sea has stabilized. Indeed, in the last year, both the Philippines and Vietnam have ended their open rivalry with China and engaged in bilateral negotiations. Knowledgeable diplomats believe an Association of Southeast Asian Code of Conduct will be agreed upon this year, and Chinese insiders have told me that China is committed to seeing it through. China is no longer building the types of islands that so concern Rep. Yoho and Filipino fishermen are back at Scarborough Shoal. In East and Southeast Asia, foreign-policy elites are now more worried about being dragged into a U.S.-China conflict than Chinese “assertiveness.” Japanese nationalism, naturally, remains alive and well, and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense issue has made China-South Korea ties the worst in recent history, but these are separate issues.

Yet even if interactions in the South China Sea have stabilized, there remains plenty of room for misperception. For example, Rep. Yoho claims that China’s seizure of America’s unmanned underwater vehicle in December 2016 was “a transparent attempt to deliberately engineer an international incident.” This is an assertion, but not an argument (see point one above). Furthermore, this statement assumes a good many things about China that may not, in fact, be true. Why would China want to engineer a conflict with the incoming Trump administration, which has not yet decided how it’s going to deal with China? Is Rep. Yoho aware, as I have previously argued, that it could be that the United States was the actual engineer of this international incident? Even more significantly, as I have recently learned from conversations with two dozen Chinese foreign-policy experts, within China there is a sound consensus that the seizure of the unmanned underwater vehicle was not authorized by China’s political leaders. If this is the case, then Rep. Yoho is perceiving an unauthorized Chinese move as an intentional political challenge. In other words, that is a common case of misperception.

The Adversary Gets a Vote Too

The single most extraordinary fact about Rep. Yoho’s article is that he never once considers whether his solution for Chinese “belligerence”—imposing costs—will, in fact, change Chinese behavior in the way he intends. Anticipating an adversary’s response is the most basic rule of strategy. This rule is endemic to human interaction, and highlighted in certain games, such as chess. Only a fool would move first and consider consequences later.

Yet this is what Rep. Yoho would have us do. He suggests a series of moves: more freedom of navigation operations, commercial sanctions, punishing (though expressed in more diplomatic terms) the Philippines for its realignment and disinviting China from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific naval exercise while inviting Taiwan. Rep. Yoho merely assumes these moves will result in his preferred outcome. Yet there are alternative possible outcomes. One is that such moves change nothing. Minor pokes are not going to force China to fundamentally alter its strategy. Another alternative is that China escalates tensions, but in its own way. Perhaps it more closely tails U.S. forces in the region. Perhaps it increases its long-term military investments. Or perhaps it punishes American “allies,” such as Taiwan.

The most likely outcome need not be assessed in this essay. My present plea is only that we—as Americans—reorient our thinking. If the United States is going to formulate intelligent strategies in this increasingly complicated time, simple assertions need to be excised from our strategic discourse. The National Interest and other serious foreign-policy publications should not publish a single new essay on the theme of changing U.S. strategy towards China unless that essay carefully considers how China (and other regional actors) would respond to such a change. Strategic interactions are dynamic, and, like good chess players, we must model probable action-reaction cycles to the best of our ability. In the realm of international politics, the rules are not as certain as those of chess, but that is no excuse. In real life, our decisions could result in conflict or even war. As chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Rep. Yoho has a particularly weighty responsibility in this regard—one that his piece in the National Interest sadly neglects.


I have been forced to take a negative tone in this article, but I do so for a constructive purpose: we can do better than this. Indeed, if peace is going to be preserved in the coming decade, we must do better. Doing better means formulating thoughtful arguments. That means justifying assumptions, considering alternative explanations and being genuinely curious about discovering the truth. Doing better means realizing that misperception is common in international politics, and doing what we can to mitigate this fact. Signals can be ambiguous; states often aren’t unitary rational actors; and situations evolve constantly. Finally, doing better means realizing that strategy is a dynamic process, and actions can have short- and long-term effects. In 1996, did anyone consider that by projecting force around China in such a humiliating manner that the United States would stimulate a huge Chinese military buildup, including A2/AD investments and an aircraft carrier program? Perhaps not, but that is the point. The Chinese are here to play the long game, and if Washington elites are going to make a habit of publishing articles calling on the United States to poke the dragon, then they should at least consider whether the dragon, in fact, needs to be poked and how the dragon might respond both today and a decade hence.

Jared McKinney is a nonresident fellow at the Pangoal Institution (Beijing) and a PhD Student at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore).

Source: National Interest “Why America—and Its Political Leaders—Should Think Twice about Poking China”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

Chongyi Feng, Australian academic banned from leaving China, told not to talk

Associate professor Chongyi Feng from the University of Technology Sydney, who has been twice prevented from leaving China to return to Australia. Photograph: University of Technology Sydney

Associate professor questioned about human rights research says he does not know when he will be able to leave

An Australian academic researching human rights and barred from leaving China by state security agents on suspicion of endangering national security has been told not to reveal the details of his ordeal.

Chongyi Feng, a professor at the University of Technology Sydney, was stopped twice at immigration checkpoints at the weekend while attempting to take flights to Australia from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, his lawyer said. He has not been formally detained or arrested and is still living at his hotel with his wife.

Feng’s interrogation came in the middle of a high-profile, five-day visit by the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, to Australia – the first by a Chinese premier in 11 years. Li was pushing closer trade ties and cautioned his hosts on picking sides between the US and China in a return to “cold war” mentality.

When reached by phone at his hotel, Feng, 56, was tight-lipped about his current situation, saying only he had been advised not to talk to the media, but did say he was unsure when he would be able to return to Australia.

“State security is questioning him about who he met while in China, about human rights lawyers,” Chen Jinxue, a friend and Feng’s lawyer, said. “They want to know more about his research into human rights lawyers and he has been barred from leaving China on suspicion of harming national security.”

Since he was stopped at the airport, Feng has been repeatedly questioned by national security officers. He was born in China and is a permanent resident in Australia but not a citizen, Chen said.

China’s human rights attorneys have faced a series of crackdown in recent years, beginning with a nationwide sweep in 2015 that netted about 250 lawyers and activists. Under the president, Xi Jinping, the Chinese government has increased restrictions on expression and stepped up efforts to silence critics both at home and abroad.

Feng was headed back to Australia after three weeks conducting field research in China. He had previously been questioned by police while in another city, Kunming, his lawyer said.

“Australia doesn’t really do enough for human rights,” said John Hugh, a spokesman for the Australian Values Alliance, who has been in contact with Feng. “Quite a few politicians focus more on the economic exchange and short-term gains, rather than standing by our principles.”

Feng was a member of the Australian Values Alliance, a group of Chinese people “advocating for safeguarding democracy, human rights, equality and freedom”. The group is calling on the Australian government to help secure Feng’s release.

The University of Technology Sydney has also spoken to Feng and is supporting his daughter.

“We have been in regular contact with Dr Feng, including as recently as this morning. He is well and in good spirits,” Greg Welsh, a spokesman for Feng’s university said. “We understand the Australian Government is taking the matter up although there are diplomatic constraints due to the fact that Professor Feng is not an Australian citizen and was travelling on his Chinese passport.”

Feng has long been involved in research over China’s political future and has advocated for liberalisation of the current Communist-controlled system. He has also spoken out against Chinese government attempts to exert influence over Australia’s Chinese community, especially through Chinese-language media.

Sydney academic stranded in China may have upset authorities, friend says

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“Since Xi Jinping came to office, he has not only failed to lead China forward in reform and opening up and constitutional government, he has made an historical U-turn,” he wrote last year in response to the 2015 crackdown on rights lawyers. “He has restored totalitarian values and destroyed existing achievements in the rule of law.”

Feng was also critical of a planned series of concerts last year in Sydney and Melbourne commemorating the 40th anniversary of the death of revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reiterated its previous response that it could only provide consular assistance to Australian citizens.

“However, the government is monitoring developments closely and has raised this case with senior Chinese officials,” a spokeswoman said.

Source: The Guardian “Chongyi Feng, Australian academic banned from leaving China, told not to talk”

Note: This is The Guardian’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.