No one wants to criticize China on the South China Sea anymore


Lucas NiewenhuisNovember 16, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump used his Twitter megaphone to declare on November 15 that “our great country is respected again in Asia,” and later gave a speech in which he further boasted that America’s “standing in the world has never been stronger than it is right now.” But in at least one major hot-button Asian issue, America’s standing appears to be notably declining, and China’s notably rising: the South China Sea.

  • The New York Times notes (paywall) that though Trump made references to the conflict, saying that “no one owns the ocean” and that “freedom of navigation and overflight are critical,” he “did not single out China for criticism, continuing a pattern of soft-pedaling on a dispute that could annoy United States allies.”
  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which in previous years has “noted concerns ‘expressed by some’ leaders” about China’s actions in the South China Sea, this year made no mention of concerns in a statement, the Nikkei Asian Review reports (paywall). This is a “clear diplomatic victory” for China, Nikkei says.
  • Japan, also, seems to be newly reluctant to criticize China’s claims in the South China Sea. The South China Morning Post reported on November 15 that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “has repeatedly raised the South China Sea issue during his last five years in office – much to Beijing’s irritation – so his silence this week was a marked contrast to the past.”
  • SCMP attributed Abe’s silence to his efforts to further diplomacy on North Korea, but the New York Times says (paywall) that experts suggest that “Mr. Abe appears keenly aware of Mr. Trump’s erratic swings in opinions and loyalties,” and is “naturally wondering if the United States may make some kind of deal with China that could put Japan at a disadvantage.” Trump’s “failing to press China on its military buildup in the South China Sea” has reinforced the perception that China is “taking advantage of an American retreat,” analysts say.

Source: SubChina “No one wants to criticize China on the South China Sea anymore”

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

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The Quad gets together again


Jeremy Goldkorn  November 13, 2017

Will the Trump Administration’s Indo-Pacific dream last?

The Trump administration has resuscitated the term Indo-Pacific — a description that sounds less Chinese than Asia-Pacific. Another old name has been revived: The Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a meeting of officials from India, Japan, Australia, and the U.S., initiated in 2007, accompanied by joint military exercises. The Quad members have not met again as a foursome until this last weekend.

Then as now, China is the unspoken target:

  • The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that senior diplomats from Japan, Australia, India, and the U.S. met in Manila on November 12, and “discussed measures to ensure a free and open international order based on the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific.” All four countries released similar statements, although the Indian version did not explicitly refer to “freedom of navigation.”
  • Indian PM Narendra Modi met Trump in Manila. The White House website says they discussed “their shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” and their resolve to partner to ensure that “the world’s great democracies should also have the world’s greatest militaries.”
  • Trump also met with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, and per the White House on November 13 in Manila, the three leaders “underscored the importance of working together to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

Some views on the Quad:

  • From Beijing, a researcher at the Center for China and Globalization says, “China needs to as soon as possible deal with the Indo-Pacific alliance, as it is absolutely in conflict with Belt and Road,” according to Reuters.
  • Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang 耿爽 said rather diplomatically that “the relevant proposal should be open and inclusive and…avoid politicizing or excluding some relevant parties,”according to The Hindu.
  • Writing in the nationalistic Chinese newspaper Global Times, Geoff Raby — former Australian ambassador and now CEO of a Beijing consulting firm — argues more strongly that joining the Quad “is not in Australia’s national interest”: “Recognizing that Australia is more dependent economically on China than any of the others, and by a big margin, it is curious why Australia would want to join a group that China sees as hostile to its interests.”
  • In India, not everyone is convinced the Quad is a good idea: In The Wire, Manoj Joshi says that given the “intense and almost violent conflict of ideas within the U.S. about who and what America is all about…it would be hazardous to depend on the U.S. for an effective leadership of the coalition needed to balance China.”
  • Former Australian national security adviser Michael Shearer tells a sympathetic history of the Quad, which argues that the “four countries should develop a robust annual exercise program to build interoperability, capability and ultimately deterrence in the region.”

 

Explicit rejection?

Much of the analysis of Trump’s trip to Asia concludes that he leaves behind a region that is uncertain of U.S. commitment to its allies and to global leadership while China rises inexorably under the steely-eyed leadership of Xi Jinping. But the story is more complex:

  • Ely Ratner of the Council on Foreign Relations tweeted: “Way too simple to see U.S. isolation as only big story in Asia this week: Remember the two most important happenings in region — TPP11 and revival of Quad — both explicit rejections of China-led future.”
  • TPP11 refers to a comprehensive trade pact that Trump withdrew from as one of his first presidential acts. The 11 other nations have renewed their commitment to it and renamed it the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP.

Source: SubChina “The Quad gets together again”

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


Indo-Pacific? Not from where China is sitting…


Christian Shepherd, Sanjeev Miglani November 10, 2017

BEIJING/NEW DELHI (Reuters) – As U.S. President Donald Trump and some of America’s democratic allies talk up a vision of “Indo-Pacific” cooperation, China is determined to ensure that the future belongs to “Asia”.

The increasing use of the phrase “Indo-Pacific” by Trump and his team during their marathon Asian jaunt this week, instead of the “Asia-Pacific” term that has long been common in business and diplomacy, is being greeted with thinly-veiled sneers in Beijing.

“Trump choosing to use the term and actually making it happen are two totally different things,” Diao Daming, an American studies expert at Renmin University in Beijing, told a forum on Friday.

“The region is leading global development and Trump wants America to be first, so he could not ignore its existence. He had to say something to the region, so we have ‘Indo-Pacific’. But as yet it’s just a concept and we don’t know what it means.”

Beyond the wordplay lies both concern and scepticism in Beijing at U.S. attempts to complicate China’s strategic domain, particularly by encouraging rival power India to work more closely militarily with Japan. Tokyo recently backed New Delhi during India’s border stand-off with China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying did not dignify “Indo-Pacific” by name in a statement this week, but noted that “this concept has been mentioned many times”.

“We hope that the Asia-Pacific region can become a stable, prosperous and orderly region….where we are capable of managing differences and have the wisdom to resolve the disputes,” she said.

“Indo-Pacific” has grown in usage across diplomatic and security circles in Australia, India and Japan in recent years, shorthand for a broader and democratic-led region in place of the “Asia-Pacific”, which to some places an authoritarian China too firmly at the center.

Trump and his team have given it fresh currency in recent days, starting in Seoul and Tokyo, building on the rhetoric of his secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who last month talked of the need to support a “free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific”.

Describing the Indian and Pacific Oceans as a “single strategic arena”, Tillerson went further as he described India and the United States as “bookends” within that region.

“In concrete terms, it will lead to great co-ordination between the Indian, Japanese and American militaries including maritime domain awareness, anti-submarine warfare, amphibious warfare, and humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and search and rescue,” he said.

STRATEGIC GOALS

Not all allies are convinced, however.

When Trump’s White House issued a statement after the U.S.-South Korea summit on Wednesday describing the alliance as a “linchpin for stability, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific”, South Korea’s presidential Blue House issued a note of caution.

While the phrase “Indo-Pacific” matched some of South Korea’s policies aimed at diversification, “we felt there was more discussion necessary to see whether it is an appropriate term to be used in our efforts toward…joint strategic goals”, the Blue House statement said.

Welcoming the trend is Indian navy Captain Gurpreet Khurana, who was among the first to coin the Indo-Pacific concept in an academic paper back in 2007.

The rise of India as an economic power following its free market reforms and then its gradual military build-up was itself a key factor in the increasing significance of the Indian Ocean, he said.

“India could no longer be excluded from any over-arching reckoning in the Asia-Pacific, be it economic or security related,” said Khurana, of the military-funded National Maritime Foundation.

Chinese officials and experts have long bristled at any perceived attempt to contain a rising China.

But Trump’s Indo-Pacific policy should not be underestimated by China, because India, Japan and Australia are united by being on the wrong side of China’s development strategy for the region, according to Jia Wenshan, an expert on China’s foreign policy at the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization.

“China needs to as soon as possible deal with the Indo-Pacific alliance, as it is absolutely in conflict with Belt and Road,” Jia said, referring to the Chinese president’s signature initiative to re-establish trade and infrastructure ties between China and nations throughout Central and Southeast Asia.

“Behind Indo-Pacific you have Japan’s economic support, India’s development speed and Australia’s fears of China, these are all strategic realities.”

Additional reporting by Greg Torode in Hong Kong and Kim So Young in Seoul; Writing by Greg Torode; Editing by Alex Richardson.

Source: Reuters “Indo-Pacific? Not from where China is sitting…”

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


US-Japan-South Korea Mini NATO Impossible, China Does Not Fear


SCMP’s article “Why South Korea’s promises on THAAD and a US-Japan alliance are so important to China” today on China’s fear of a ‘mini Nato’ of the US, Japan and South Korea shows the media’s ignorance of East Asian situation.

South Korea has to deploy the THAAD to strengthen its missile defense against North Korea’s threat of nuclear weapons and missiles. China shall make allowance for that even though the missile defense to some extent weakens China’s second-strike capabilities.

That is why China agrees to ease one-year’s tension when South Korea has made the three promises described in SCMP’s article. China simply finds the promises convenient steps to go down from its hardline high ground.

The most important factor is that South Korea may become a very important member of China and Russia’s Asian Union.

As for the so-called mini NATO, China simply does not fear it. The entire Japan is within the range of China’s a thousand medium-range ballistic missiles. US aircraft carriers cannot go near China due to China’s saturate attack of anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles. US F-22s cannot obtain air supremacy from China’s J-20s. Moreover, they have the weakness of the necessity of aerial refueling and their airfields are within the range of China’s ballistic missiles and H-6K bombers.

Can South Korea help the US and Japan if it joins the “mini NATO”?

South Korea will not give them any help but wants them to protect it because if there is a war between the so-called “mini NATO” and China, South Korea will become their burden as it needs their protection against the attack of North Korea’s huge army supported by China’s dominant air force.

Moreover, a NATO to Russia’s west is enough threat to Russia. Will Russia allow a “mini NATO” to its east? Russia will certainly join its de facto ally China in fighting the “mini NATO”.

China simply does not fear the so-called “mini NATO” as it is strong enough itself and has useful allies.

In addition, China does not fear it as such a military organization is simply impossible.

South Korea remains Japan’s latent bitter enemy due to the 50 years of Japanese cruel colonization in the past. Now, Japan is its major competitor in its largest market China. Its economic relations with China are very important. Unlike Japan, it has a free trade agreement with China while Japan, though has an earnest desire to contain China, is courting China in order to have such an advantageous agreement (see my post “Can Abe Succeed in Exploiting China’s Huge Market While Containing China” on November 4).

When all Western leaders were unwilling to be China’s guests to China’s military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of World War II, South Korean President Park Geun Hye was conspicuously present. China’s victory in World War II was mainly the victory against Japan. President Park’s presence was obviously favorable to China and unfavorable to Japan.

Only those who are living in their dreams may imagine that South Korea will join the US and Japan in a “mini NATO” directed at China.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s article, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2118499/why-south-koreas-promises-thaad-and-us-japan-alliance


Can Abe Succeed in Exploiting China’s Huge Market While Containing China


As the grandchild of a war criminal who narrowly escaped punishment of his war crime, China’s rise is Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s nightmare. Abe is certainly anxious to contain China.

He visited Trump right before and after US President Donald Trump’s inauguration to try hard to persuade Trump in vain not to scrap Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) aimed at containing China economically.

He then tried hard to maintain TPP without US participation but lacked the economic strength and political influence to succeed in doing so.

TPP is hopeless now, but Abe is still full of hope that according to SCMP’s report “Japan ‘pushes for summit’ with China and South Korea this year”, when Trump visited Japan a few days later, he is going to “discuss a trade and investment framework for the Indo-Pacific region” obviously in order to join the US in countering China’s Belt and Road initiative.

Obama’s pivot to Asia failed in containing China, but there is still hope for Abe. He will join the United States in “considering security and economic strategies for much of the region, including India and Australia, to counter China’s growing military and economic influence,” according to SCMP.

However, Abe has promised Japanese people that he will lift Japanese economy from its doldrums. His hope lies on China’s growing huge market. That is why SCMP says in the report that Japan wants to resume top-level talks with China and South Korea for the establishment of ASEAN + 3 free trade area before the end of this year.

SCMP says, “A Japanese diplomatic source said Abe could invite Xi for a state visit next year if the three leaders met in Japan by the end of this year for the trilateral summit.”

China certainly wants Japan to join its Asian Union but Xi certainly is not anxious to visit Japan given Abe’s activities to contain China.

SCMP says in its report, “Cheng Yonghua, China’s ambassador to Japan, said China was ‘actively considering’ the possibility of holding the trilateral summit and of high-level exchanges between China and Japan. But he also warned that ‘sensitive and complicated factors’ persisted in bilateral relations.”

China already has free trade area agreements with ASEAN and South Korea, it does not want free trade area with Japan as anxiously as Abe does, ASEAN + 3.

As Chinese leader is not less shrewd, it seems that Abe’s desire to both contain and benefit from China may be but his wishful thinking.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2118183/japan-pushes-summit-china-and-south-korea-year.


Some Americans Are Deeply in Thucydides Trap and Want Trump in


On October 28, I had a post titled “China’s Wisdom Tested when the US Likely Falls into Thucydides Trap” on Daniel Kliman and Zack Cooper’s October-27 article “Washington Has a Bad Case of China ADHD” that reflects US security experts’ Thucydides Trap mentality. I expressed my hope that Chinese leaders will have the wisdom to avoid the trap.

Two days later on October 30, my post “US, India Join Force to Block China’s Belt and Road Initiative” describes US Secretary State Rex Tillerson in the trap as reflected in his speech at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) titled “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century” before his visit to India aimed at winning over India as US ally in containing China.

Yesterday, we have Daniel Blumenthal’s article “Trump Needs to Show That He Is Serious About America’s Rivalry With China” on Foreign Policy that further reflects US elite in Thucydides Trap.

Note: The title of the article is America’s rivalry with China instead of vice versa.

 

South China Sea

China claims the isles, reefs and area within its nine-dash line since long ago and had the line in its map since 1947. The US supported the claim by sending Chinese navy to take back from Japan the isles there with its navy after World War II.

Due to Thucydides Trap Clinton began to challenge China’s claim in 2013 in order to contain China and Obama then began his pivot to Asia as US priority to contain China.

Instigated by the US, the Philippines began Scarborough standoff and ended up in China disallowing Philippine fishermen fishing there.

Then US told the Philippines to file an arbitration and helped it get an arbitration award that entirely denies China’s rights and interests, but China refuses to accept it and US failed to force China to accept it with its two aircraft carrier battle groups.

China decided to fight a war to defend its rights and interests, but the US did not want to fight as it had no rights or interests to defend. It certainly will not fight for others’ rights and interests.

The US ended up in losing its long-term ally the Philippines and its influence in ASEAN and the South China Sea, a total failure in its rivalry with China there.

 

Japan

Since Japanese government bought the Diaoyus (known as Senkaku in Japan), China has sent coast guard ships and aircrafts to patrol and large fishing fleet to the area around the disputed islands. Japan wanted to send navy to drive Chinese vessels away, but that may end up in war so that it needs US help. It was an opportunity for Thucydides Trap to give rise to a war between the US and China.

China was determined to fight. In order to prevent US retaliation with nuclear weapons in case China has sunk a US aircraft carrier (note: China had hundreds of anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles able to sink a carrier with saturate attack), China showed its strategic nuclear submarines for three days in a row on CCTV primetime news to tell the US it had second-strike capabilities with not only mobile ICBMs hidden in tunnels but also nuclear submarines.

The US said that it did not want to fight for a few rocks so that it told Japan not to send its navy and China not to fire the first shot. The crisis ended as a result. Still China patrols and fishes in the disputed area so that the islands are now jointly administered by China and Japan.

At that time, perhaps Clinton had but Obama had not yet fallen into Thucydides Trap.

Now, Chinese navy has grown much stronger, fight a war in the East China Sea is out of the question especially because the sea there is too shallow for US submarines to operate.

When Obama began his pivot to Asia, Japan was very happy especially at Obama’s TPP that aimed at containing China.

Now, Trump has scrapped TPP. Japan has no choice but to court China in order to have a larger share in China’s huge market. Japan though a US ally and does want to contain China as it is scared by China’s rise, cannot give the US the help the US needs in containing China as Japan’s economic relations with China are too important for Japan especially as TPP has been scrapped.

North Korea
China has satisfied Trump’s demands in implementing his sanctions so that Trump cannot make things difficult for China though the writers of the article want him to do so.

 

India

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson places hope in US relationship with India to contain China, but India has joined Russia- and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Indian leader Modi is obviously very wise to obtains from every possible corner including the US. Modi will certainly not give up its interests in other corners such as trade and economic cooperation with China, weapon supply from Russia for improvement of relations with the US.

In fact, what the US can provide India with is but weapons and weapon technology but it is very expensive. If China and Pakistan may improve their relations with India to resolve their long-term disputes and remove India’s long-term enmity, India will willingly become a member of Asia Union. There is real possibility for that as both India and Pakistan have joined Russia and China’s SCO.

What China shall do is to avoid rivalry with the US so that there is no excuse for Americans to fall into Thucydides Trap though US vested interests such as money-thirsty weapon makers want them to fall into.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Foreign Policy’s article, full text of which can be viewed at http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/11/02/trump-needs-to-show-that-he-is-serious-about-americas-rivalry-with-china/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=New%20Campaign&utm_term=%2AEditors%20Picks.


China says one step forwards, two steps back no good for Japan ties


Reuters Staff September 29, 2017 / 4:36 PM

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s foreign minister on Thursday said that ties with Japan should not take two steps back for every step forward, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a rare appearance at an anniversary event for the normalization of diplomatic relations.

Speaking on the eve of the 45th anniversary of the resumption of ties between Beijing and Tokyo, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Japan’s ambassador to China, Yutaka Yokoi, that he hoped for greater improvement in relations.

“We hope that the Japanese government can pursue a more positive policy towards China… and not take one step back for each step forward, even two steps back for each step forward,” Wang said, according to a statement released on the ministry website on Friday.

Relations have been complicated for decades by the legacy of Japan’s wartime aggression, as well as by a festering territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

Abe on Thursday evening made an appearance at a Chinese embassy event in Tokyo that jointly celebrated the anniversary as well as China’s Oct 1 National Day.

Wang called the appearance “good news” and added: “We hope for more good news in China-Japan relations and not for bad news to follow shortly after good news.”

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Abe also exchanged congratulatory messages on Friday, in which Li said that the two countries should “properly manage and control their contradictions and differences”, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

Japan’s cabinet on Thursday announced Oct. 22 as the date of a snap election where Abe, a conservative who returned to power in 2012, hopes a recent boost in voter support will help his Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition maintain a simple majority. It now holds a two-thirds “super” majority.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Nick Macfie

Source: Reuters “China says one step forwards, two steps back no good for Japan ties”

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