Is the Quad an anti-China club? How 4 nations plan to engage Beijing


US President Joe Biden (left) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (second left) attend the virtual Quad meeting at the White House in Washington, on March 12, 2021.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

PUBLISHED MAR 19, 2021, 11:03 PM SGT

One week ago, the Quad nations met in their first leader-level summit and emerged with pledges to work together on vaccines, supply chains and technology.

China was not mentioned but it looms large both as a threat and an opportunity for all four – the US, Japan, India and Australia. How will the Quad engage China?

Quad summit underscores Biden administration’s focus on Asia

The discordant start to the first high-level US-China meeting on President Joe Biden’s watch – on Thursday (March 18) afternoon in Anchorage, Alaska – during which top diplomats from both sides lectured each other in public, will only serve to reinforce the underlying rationale of the Quad: China’s increasing assertiveness.

The March 12 summit of the Quad – bringing together the leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the US – was notable for the announcement that it will catalyse the delivery of one billion vaccine doses to South-east Asia, combining the manufacturing, financial, logistical and other strengths that all four countries can deploy.

Quad grouping viewed in Japan as a means to neutralise China’s influence

Japan sees the Quad as an alignment of democracies to further push its Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) vision, which has shifted from a narrow maritime focus to a wider ambit that includes Covid-19 vaccines and climate change.

But the seeming convergence in the objectives of the Quad and FOIP belies a realisation that these issues carry national security implications.

Border row with China alters New Delhi’s strategic calculations

During the recent Quad summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the grouping’s agenda as a “force for global good”.

Yet, China remains unmistakably a strong factor for all four members of the grouping – Australia, India, Japan and the United States.

Bolstered Quad security partnership addresses Canberra’s concerns

The prospect of a strengthened security partnership with the United States, India and Japan prompted some unusually grandiose expressions of jubilation and delight in Australia.

In a triumphant address to a meeting of MPs from his ruling coalition, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the elevated status of the four-way partnership – the Quad – was a historic event that sent a message to the region about the merits and value of liberal democracy.

Beijing has concerns about Quad despite publicly dismissing it

A joint statement by the United States, India, Australia and Japan after their Quad summit last week made no mention of China, but Beijing is under no illusion that the four do not have their sights on keeping it in check.

In a statement just hours before the Quad nations held the first meeting of their leaders on March 12, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman warned that countries should not “target or damage interests of a third party” and should not “pursue exclusive blocs”.

No EU consensus on approach towards Quad grouping

The first summit of the leaders of the so-called Quad – Australia, India, Japan and United States – was followed intently by European governments.

But although European decision-makers are encouraged by the Biden administration’s multilateral approach to Asian security questions, no consensus is emerging in European capitals about how Europe should interact with the Quad.

India’s vaccine manufacturing prowess drives new Quad initiative

India’s pharmaceutical capacity is at the centre of a Quad initiative to deliver one billion Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of next year.

Officials from the four Quad members – Australia, India, Japan and the United States – are now working out the fine details of the so-called Quad Vaccine Partnership which could potentially cover the vaccination of nearly everyone in Asia besides those in its two most populous countries – China and India.

The Quad’s promise of peace… and conflict

It is highly significant that the leaders of Japan, the United States, Australia and India, which share such values as democracy and rule of law, have agreed to tackle various problems that the world is facing.

In the first summit talks held among the four countries, their leaders confirmed that they would promote the distribution of coronavirus vaccines to developing countries. They also agreed to cooperate in the field of maritime security, towards the realisation of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”.

Source: Strait Times “Is the Quad an anti-China club? How 4 nations plan to engage Beijing”

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


Systemic rivals: How China’s Belt and Road challenges the EU


The monumental project isn’t about infrastructure but the creation of a new economic and political order.

By BRUNO MAÇÃES

9/15/20, 12:13 PM CET Updated 9/15/20, 10:26 PM CET

Bruno Maçães, a former Europe minister for Portugal, is a senior adviser at Flint Global in London and the author most recently of “History Has Begun: The Birth of a New America” (Hurst, 2020). The paperback edition of his “Belt and Road: a Chinese World Order” will be published this month.

In Pakistan, the Belt and Road project is everywhere. A dinner at the Islamabad Club quickly turns into a reminiscence of different visits to China. After a lecture in Lahore, a group of young men from Baluchistan want to know if China’s monumental economic initiative will develop their region — or cause it to lose its identity.

The acronym for the corridor linking China and Pakistan can be heard in hotel lobbies and restaurants; it stands out for those who cannot understand Urdu. There are young people who have come of age since the beginning of the initiative and for whom it constitutes the only possible horizon for professional advancement. But there are also a few who hope to reduce its impact and fear for a world where Pakistan has become a Chinese colony.

Earlier this year, I spent three weeks traveling in Pakistan, the crown jewel of the Belt and Road project, the country where the initiative first took root and therefore the most plausible candidate for the place where its future can be surmised and understood.

There are many in the country who worry Pakistan is climbing too deep into China’s lap.

So central is the Belt and Road to Pakistani politics that it should not be thought of as a specific enterprise. Rather, it provides the overarching framework for every economic policy and project. In short, the initiative is something that should feel very familiar to policymakers in Brussels and other European capitals.

In my discussions with economic authorities and think tanks, it quickly became obvious that the main debate in Pakistan today is about the best way to adapt policy decisions and reforms to the Belt and Road framework. The Belt and Road can thus be compared to the European Union and the role it played for countries in Central and Eastern Europe after the 2004 and 2007 enlargements. Which decisions should these countries make in order to better occupy their place within the given political and economic order?

For countries on the periphery of the new Chinese empire — but also in Africa — the Belt and Road project provides a path capable of saving them from painful isolation, but it also threatens to prevent any future links to Western societies. You cannot integrate with two different and opposing models.

That many in the West still think of the Belt and Road purely in terms of infrastructure is something I find deeply perplexing. In the project’s inaugural speech that Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered in Astana in 2013, infrastructure was no more than one of the five pillars of the Belt and Road — and very obviously not more than an ancillary one. The real action was clearly elsewhere.

At the time of Xi was giving his speech in Astana, it was common to hear from different officials and intellectuals in Beijing that the Belt and Road was meant to be completed in 2049, around the time of the first centennial of the new China.

Last year, while living in Beijing, I started hearing that the temporal horizon was even longer. Many spoke openly of a 100-year project. This is not the time-scale of an infrastructure plan. The Marshall Plan was concluded in just a few years.

Interestingly, in Pakistan this idea — that the Belt and Road is a project of economic and technological development, culminating in a new global political and economic order — is clearly understood.

There are many in the country who worry Pakistan is climbing too deep into China’s lap. An officer in one of the state policymaking bodies wanted me to have a trove of documents suggesting staggering levels of corruption in two Belt and Road contracts. He alleged they had been overcharged by something like $3 billion. The documents were public, but no newspaper had shown any interest.

It is revealing too that the infamous Inter-Services Intelligence, the country’s top intelligence agency, has a special unit dedicated to collect critical information about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The political establishment in Pakistan may be enthusiastic about the initiative, but the country’s security apparatus has many doubts. That explains why it is still possible to voice public criticisms of the initiative or why security measures continue to hamper its development.

It also explains why some in Pakistan are eagerly looking for alternatives. When I met with the ruling party in Islamabad, its chief organizer Saifullah Khan Nyazee seemed surprisingly interested in the idea of deepening the relations between Pakistan and the EU.

This would follow a diversification strategy. As the country’s elites are quickly learning, Pakistan cannot rely on China alone. The benefits that can be extracted from Beijing will actually diminish as Pakistan becomes too dependent on China.

There is logic to a strategy of addition, a multivector foreign policy — but there is also a problem. As Pakistan becomes fully integrated with the Belt and Road, it will align itself with China on a wide range of political and economic standards: rules and principles ranging from internet governance to financial supervision, state aid and environmental standards, among many others. Relations with the EU will become increasingly difficult and often impossible.

The question is certainly not limited to Pakistan or even to Asia. It is being raised everywhere. On March 12, 2019, the very same day the EU published a document calling China a “systemic rival” — could it be a coincidence? — European Commissioner Johannes Hahn tweeted his opinion about a recent decision by lawmakers in Bosnia’s Federation, one of the two political entities comprising Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Lawmakers in the country had approved a public guarantee for a large loan from state-funded Export-Import Bank of China. The loan would help Bosnian utility EPBiH build a 450-megawatt unit at the Tuzla coal power plant and replace three aging units. China Gezhouba Group and Guandong Electric Power Design would construct the new unit.

To Hahn, this showed that Bosnian authorities were not committed to a European path for the country. The loan guarantee violated rules on state aid and subsidies, while sharply deviating from European environmental principles and guidance.

One day, in the near or distant future, when it becomes a question of deciding whether Bosnia can join the EU, it may already be too late: The country will have a legal and economic order mirroring that of China and opposed in every way to the fundamental principles governing the EU.

Because of the economic and legal nature of the Belt and Road — its character as a political and economic order — the initiative operates in the very same areas where the EU likes to think of itself as a global giant. China and the United States may be actively competing on geopolitics — but there is a second great game going on and in this one Beijing and Brussels are direct rivals.

Two separate universes are being carved and the only question is where the border will eventually be drawn: Pakistan, the Balkans or somewhere in between.

This article has been updated.

Source: Politico “Systemic rivals: How China’s Belt and Road challenges the EU”

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


US Military Needs Weapons, Allies, Efficiency to Counter China’s Rise


In its report “US must be ready for military clash with China, Pentagon official Chad Sbragia says”, SCMP quotes Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant secretary of defense for China, as saying, “US needs to develop weapons, boost ties with allies and improve military efficiency to be ready against ‘formidable’ China”

Of the three tasks developing weapons, boosting ties with allies and improving military efficiency, developing weapons is first of all US military’s weak point. It lacks vision in having wasted lots of resources on useless Zumwalt destroyers, LCSs, etc. and now has to catch up with China in developing hypersonic weapons.

The second task is even more unrealistic, the report says, “Traditional partners have bridled over President Donald Trump’s aggressive use of tariffs, his decision to withdraw from multilateral agreements and his focus on ‘America First’ policies.”

US allies are more likely to focus on themselves first than America first.

US long-term ally the Philippines has told the US that it would end the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement, a move to reduce its alliance with the US.

The US certainly needs to improve its military efficiency but without strict discipline how can it achieve that? The commanders in charge of the two destroyers that clashed with commercial ships have not been duly punished yet. Without strict discipline how can US military be efficient?

Can US military officers accept strict enforcement of discipline?

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3051683/us-must-gird-possible-military-clash-china-pentagon-official?utm_medium=email&utm_source=mailchimp&utm_campaign=enlz-scmp_international&utm_content=20200221&MCUID=480db96a00&MCCampaignID=dfa7b64609&MCAccountID=3775521f5f542047246d9c827&tc=8.


China and Russia’s push to develop hypersonic weapons raises fears of arms race with US


  • China became the first country to announce the deployment of the missiles, but Russia recently announced it had developed a much more advanced version the Avangard

  • Defence analysts say the weapons are not a game changer for now but could give Moscow extra leverage in negotiations with the US

Minnie Chan

Published: 6:00am, 19 Jan, 2020

Updated: 11:31pm, 19 Jan, 2020

China’s DF-17 missiles pictured at the National Day parade in Beijing. Photo: AP

Recent breakthroughs in the development of hypersonic weapons have heightened fears about a new arms race between China, Russia and the US, with some defence observers calling for new international arms control agreements.

The emergence of hypersonic weapons has raised concerns about the “invincible” arms, which cannot be intercepted by any existing defence systems, being used to enhance nuclear powers’ capabilities.

A hypersonic weapon is usually defined as one that reaches speeds of at least Mach 5, five times the speed of sound.

Last year China became the first country in the world to publicly announce the deployment of hypersonic weapons when its DF-17 missile featured in the National Day military parade on October 1.

But in late December Russia announced the formal deployment of its Avangard missile.

The deployment of Avangard indicated that Russia is ahead of both China and the US, because the DF-17 hypersonic missile of the People’s Liberation Army is a low-tech one, which can travel at a speed of Mach 6,” a military insider told the South China Morning Post.

Russian media claimed that the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle can fly at speeds of Mach 20.

The US has resumed hypersonic missile development under Donald Trump after his predecessor Barack Obama suspended the programme but is yet to announce the development of its own weapons.

Russia and China currently enjoy an advantage in the development of hypersonic technology, based on the number of successful test flights they have conducted, while India and France are close behind, according to a recent report published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Footage from the launch of the first Avangard hypersonic missile system in Russia. Photo: EPA-EFE

Despite the accelerating arms race, Margaret Kosal, an associate professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Institute of Technology in the US, said the hypersonic technology would not be a game changer because evidence suggested the technology would not replace nuclear weapons as the most effective strategic deterrence tool.

Hypersonic missiles will not cause deterrence among superpowers, great powers, or rising powers, [even though the weapons] might affect aspects of the deterrence calculus and might affect choices in command and control,” she said.

Footage of China’s test of hypersonic aircraft: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVWQ2uOCepU&feature=youtu.be

Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming said hypersonic weapons might increase the cost of war, but none of the three major powers would use them as a pre-emptive strike tool and would continue to enhance their strategic nuclear technology.

The appearance of hypersonic weapons has been the icing on the cake for strategic nuclear weapons among today’s three superpowers, because it means the cost of being a real nuclear state is increasing,” he said.

The production and maintenance cost of hypersonic weapons might be much cheaper … but its development cost is tremendous, with each flight test costing billions of yuan.”

Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said it would be almost impossible to stop the major powers competing to develop hypersonic technology, but they could work to avert a potential crisis by agreeing not to arm them with nuclear weapons.

Hypersonic missiles could become either national saviour, or state sinner, it depends on what the leaders decide,” he said.

The three countries should obtain a consensus and verification mechanism to prohibit any hypersonic glide vehicles being armed with nuclear weapons.”

However, hypersonic weapons could also be used as a tactical weapon to increase negotiating power.

Alexei Rakhmanov, president of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation, said in December that Moscow would arm its new warships with hypersonic weapons and retrofit its existing vessels with the missiles, according to a report by the news agency Tass.

If [Russia’s plan is realised, it’ll present a whole new game changer here,” said Collin Koh Swee Lean, a research fellow with the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies’ maritime security programme in Singapore.

Both Koh and Zhou believe Russian President Vladimir Putin used the country’s advantage in developing Advangard to increase its bargaining power ahead of the upcoming Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) negotiations with the US.

START is expected to replace the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that Trump decided to withdraw from last year.

Moscow believes it’s ahead in this area of strategic weapons technology,” Koh said.

It’ll have an impact on strategic deterrence … if the day comes when these three major powers possess hypersonic weapons there could be an international push for new arms control agreements to restrict their use and proliferation.”

Both US and Russia are keen on bringing China into the negotiation and expand it into a trilateral treaty.

But Beijing has insisted it is not qualified to join the discussion, saying the number of nuclear payloads in its stockpiles lags far behind Washington and Moscow’s arsenals.

However, as the power with the most advanced hypersonic missile technology after Russia, Kosal said there may be a push to convince China to join the US and Russia for new arms control discussions.

Hypersonics are not likely to substantially change the relationships between China, Russia and the US. The hype around hypersonics, however, will generate enough interest to prompt productive discussions and increased Track I and Track II diplomatic efforts both bilaterally and trilaterally,” she said, referring to backchannel diplomacy through non-governmental contacts.

That would be a good thing.”

Source: SCMP “China and Russia’s push to develop hypersonic weapons raises fears of arms race with US”

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


US Helpless as China Has Turned South China Sea into Its Lake


South China Morning Post’s article “Has the US already lost the battle for the South China Sea?” yesterday asked the stupid question whether the US has already lost the battle for the South China Sea.

It’s stupid as there has not been and will not be any battle there as by deployment of J-20s to control the air and construction of artificial islands the US is simply unable to fight a battle in the South China Sea.

Subdue the enemy without fighting is the best of best

                                                              –Sun Tze

The SCMP article says that some military experts and analysts believe China’s artificial islands may be destroyed by missiles but so are US military bases in Asia and the Guam.

If there were such a missile battle, it would be a battle in East Asia instead of a small battle in the South China Sea. In such a war, the US cannot be sure of the support from its allies Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines but China can be very sure of the support from its de facto ally Russia.

In fact, the US has lost dominance of not only the South China Sea but East Asia.

Comment on SCMP’s article, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3046619/has-us-already-lost-battle-south-china-sea?utm_medium=email&utm_source=mailchimp&utm_campaign=enlz-scmp_international&utm_content=20200118&MCUID=480db96a00&MCCampaignID=ffe3a1a725&MCAccountID=3775521f5f542047246d9c827&tc=4


The Wound in American Education


(Note: The wound denotes the campus censorship and lack of freedom of speech in American colleges.)

Review: recent debate on free speech in the academy

BY: Joseph Bottum
February 9, 2019 5:00 am

The failure of American colleges to promote free speech and intellectual diversity is like an open wound. It stains the imagination, obscuring paths of investigation with a sick puss. It drains the vitality of thought, leaving the mind weakened. And it strains intellectual discourse—the Socratic ideal of conversation—by making us fearful, anxious, and self-censoring.

Ideas deserve better treatment. The life of the mind requires a more nurturing care than we now give it in the multitrillion-dollar temple of education that we have constructed with America’s colleges and universities. Far from disciplining its intellectual eccentrics, far from expelling its cerebral gadflies, academia ought to protect and celebrate them. Even when they are wrong, they are more rational than the dogmatists who hold right opinions without understanding the arguments that make them right.

Several books on the topic have appeared over the past year and a half. With Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech, for example, Princeton’s Keith E. Whittington argues that recent campus censorship reveals our colleges have lost a strong sense of why they exist. “We are in danger,” he writes, “of giving up on the hard-won freedoms of critical inquiry that have been wrested from figures of authority over the course of a century.”

In Free Speech on Campus, the University of Pennsylvania’s Sigal R. Ben-Porath claims, “An inclusive and welcoming campus is one that must recognize the necessity of free speech.” In the identically titled Free Speech on Campus, UC Berkeley’s Erwin Chemerinsky and UC Irvine’s Howard Gillman—both senior academic administrators—argue that “there is no way to define an unacceptable, punishment-worthy idea without putting genuinely important new thinking and societal critique at risk.” In Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces, Phillips Academy’s John Palfrey insists, “Free expression and diversity are essential components of democracy.”

Such books invariably recognize the problem. Each of them relates one anecdote after another, building to a serious indictment of heavy-handed campus censorship. The 2015 Halloween-costume case of Nicholas and Erika Christakis at Yale, in particular, seems to have shocked them, for the couple were clear members of the core aristocracy of academia: thoughtful professors and administrators who seemed to represent the best of the ordinary members of the university. Our kind, in other words, and when students turned on them—and the president of Yale apologized to the students—a good-sized set of American professors recoiled. If a college administration would not defend Nicholas and Erika Christakis when they were absurdly attacked, then who is safe? Best, decided the professors who would go on to write these free-speech books, to demand that the nation’s schools protect the academic freedom they claim to allow.

And yet, even while they recognize the problem, none of the authors really has a solution. They each, in slightly different ways, end up calling for a change in campus feeling and a reversal of campus culture. They want America’s colleges to commit to free speech and intellectual diversity, but leave vague the mechanisms by which that commitment would take effect.

What needs to be made clearer in all these accounts is that robust intellectual engagement has two distinct enemies on campuses today. Imagine a fairly benign situation at an American university. That might seem hard to do, given how envenomed and even violent our college disputes have become over the past 20 years. Still, picture something like this: During a public discussion—a campus forum, say, or a faculty debate—a professor lays out the argument of The Bell Curve, the 1994 book by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray about the statistical distribution of intelligence. The professor goes on to reject the argument, but the very fact that the book was discussed in public prompts one of those in attendance to complain to campus authorities.

I recently asked an intelligent and thoughtful college human-resources officer what the result would be. And I was told to rest easy. On most American state-college campuses—the ones that don’t make the news for their agitation—all that would happen would be the opening of a Title IX investigation. Testimony would be taken and reports filed over the course of several months, but if the circumstances were as I had laid them out, eventually the professor would be informed that no disciplinary action was being taken. No harm, no foul.

Even in this all’s-well-that-ends-well scenario, one can discern the lineaments of our problem. It’s threatened on one side by those who file complaints, triggered by things like a mention of The Bell Curve. And it’s threatened on the other side by the bureaucracies that have grown up on American campus over the past few decades.

Knowing the extent to which leftist thinkers dominate contemporary colleges, conservative writers have tended to conflate the two forces squeezing academic freedom between them, as though the problem were a leftist faculty spurring agitated students to complain to leftist administrators. But even at schools where the staff is not politically active, bureaucratic process grinds down faculty into self-censorship. To a human-resources employee, an investigation that ends in dismissal of a complaint may seem ordinary and benign. It is their daily work, after all. For the faculty member caught in the process, however, it proves the opposite: an intrusion devouring the time, intelligence, and emotional energy that ought to be devoted to teaching and the life of the mind.

And what answer to a Title IX investigation is a high-minded declaration of the value of free speech and intellectual diversity? Even when schools endorse generous statements of support for free speech, they are endorsing equally feel-good statements of support for diversity. And the two statements are on a collision course—for, at the highest level of abstraction, diversity statements insist that there are ideas that cannot be spoken aloud, and free-speech statements insist that all ideas are allowed a hearing.

It is a deep observation of political theory that when culture fails, law steps in. The Midwestern states, for example, are exploring legal solutions to the national problem of campus culture. In South Dakota, for example, the legislature is considering a bill to require the state’s public universities to promote free speech and intellectual diversity—and this week the House Education Committee approved advancing the bill by a 9 to 6 vote. The bill also demands that students at South Dakota’s public universities take classes in American history and government, and prove their studies by passing a test of the questions on a citizenship exam.

This is only the latest in a series of battles between the Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s universities, and the legislature, which funds them. And not surprisingly, the Board of Regents is mounting an attack on the bill as it reaches the floor of the state House of Representatives.

The regents may have a reasonable point about the bill’s failure to provide funding for its mandates. But when they argue that the bill is unnecessary, given recent changes in free-speech policy at the state universities, the regents are on shakier ground. The failure of American academia to find a solution to its current cultural dilemmas is precisely what invites legislatures to step in.

The proposed law in South Dakota is a blunt instrument, as are parallel bills in other states. But that is the nature of law. Nuance and subtlety, fine balances and good manners, are characteristics of cultures: the accommodations we make to live with one another and pursue our goals—goals such as the life of the mind on a college campus. And when culture fails, when a governmental institution cannot close a wound that drains away its reason for existence, law steps in. As it must. As it ought.

Source: Washington Free Beacon “The Wound in American Education”

Note: This is Washington Free Beacon’s article I reblog here for readers’ information. It reflects the decline of US liberal democracy and human rights.


From a Space Station in Argentina, China Expands Its Reach in Latin America


Our correspondent went to the deserts of Patagonia to examine how China secured its new base, a symbol of its growing clout in the region.

By Ernesto Londoño
July 28, 2018

QUINTUCO, Argentina — The giant antenna rises from the desert floor like an apparition, a gleaming metal tower jutting 16 stories above an endless wind-whipped stretch of Patagonia.

The 450-ton device, with its hulking dish embracing the open skies, is the centerpiece of a $50 million satellite and space mission control station built by the Chinese military.

The isolated base is one of the most striking symbols of Beijing’s long push to transform Latin America and shape its future for generations to come — often in ways that directly undermine the United States’ political, economic and strategic power in the region.

The station began operating in March, playing a pivotal role in China’s audacious expedition to the far side of the moon — an endeavor that Argentine officials say they are elated to support.

[Read The Times’s coverage of China’s Chang’e-4 mission to the moon.]

But the way the base was negotiated — in secret, at a time when Argentina desperately needed investment — and concerns that it could enhance China’s intelligence-gathering capabilities in the Western Hemisphere have set off a debate in Argentina about the risks and benefits of being pulled into China’s orbit.

“Beijing has transformed the dynamics of the region, from the agendas of its leaders and businessmen to the structure of its economies, the content of its politics and even its security dynamics,” said R. Evan Ellis, a professor of Latin American studies at the United States Army War College.

For much of the past decade, the United States has paid little attention to its backyard in the Americas. Instead, it declared a pivot toward Asia, hoping to strengthen economic, military and diplomatic ties as part of the Obama administration’s strategy to constrain China.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has retreated from that approach in some fundamental ways, walking away from a free trade pact with Pacific nations, launching a global trade war and complaining about the burden of Washington’s security commitments to its closest allies in Asia and other parts of the world.

All the while, China has been discreetly carrying out a far-reaching plan of its own across Latin America. It has vastly expanded trade, bailed out governments, built enormous infrastructure projects, strengthened military ties and locked up tremendous amounts of resources, hitching the fate of several countries in the region to its own.

China made its intentions clear enough back in 2008. In a first-of-its-kind policy paper that drew relatively little notice at the time, Beijing argued that nations in Latin America were “at a similar stage of development” as China, with much to gain on both sides.

Leaders in the region were more than receptive. The primacy over Latin America that Washington had largely taken for granted since the end of the Cold War was being challenged by a cadre of leftist presidents who governed much of the region — including Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, Uruguay and Bolivia — and wanted a more autonomous region.

Beijing’s invitation came at a fortuitous time: during the height of the financial crisis. Latching onto China’s voracious appetite for the region’s oil, iron, soybeans and copper ended up shielding Latin America from the worst of the global economic damage.

Then, as the price of oil and other commodities tanked in 2011, several countries in the region suddenly found themselves on shaky ground. Once again, China came to their aid, striking deals that further cemented its role as a central player in Latin America for decades.

Even with parts of Latin America shifting to the right politically in recent years, its leaders have tailored their policies to fulfill China’s demand. Now Beijing’s dominance in much of the region — and what it means for America’s waning stature — is starting to come into sharp focus.

“It’s a fait accompli,” said Diego Guelar, Argentina’s ambassador to China.

Back in 2013, he published a book with an alarming-sounding title: “The Silent Invasion: The Chinese Landing in South America.”

“It’s no longer silent,” Mr. Guelar said of China’s incursion in the region.

Trade between China and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean reached $244 billion last year, more than twice what it was a decade earlier, according to Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center. Since 2015, China has been South America’s top trading partner, eclipsing the United States.

Perhaps more significantly, China has issued tens of billions of dollars in commodities-backed loans across the Americas, giving it claim over a large share of the region’s oil — including nearly 90 percent of Ecuador’s reserves — for years.

China has also made itself indispensable by rescuing embattled governments and vital state-controlled companies in countries like Venezuela and Brazil, willing to make big bets to secure its place in the region.

Here in Argentina, a nation that had been shut out of international credit markets for defaulting on about $100 billion in bonds, China became a godsend for then-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

And while it was extending a helping hand, China began the secret negotiations that led to the satellite and space control station here in Patagonia.

Argentine officials say the Chinese have agreed not to use the base for military purposes. But experts contend that the technology on it has many strategic uses.

Frank A. Rose, an assistant secretary of state for arms control during the Obama administration, said he spent much of his time worrying about China’s budding space program. American intelligence and defense officials watched with alarm as China developed sophisticated technology to jam, disrupt and destroy satellites in recent years, he said.

“They are deploying these capabilities to blunt American military advantages, which are in many ways derived from space,” Mr. Rose said.

China is not alone in regarding space as a critical battlespace for future wars. Last month, the Trump administration announced it would create a sixth military branch devoted to space.

Antennas and other equipment that support space missions, like the kind China now has here in Patagonia, can increase China’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, experts say.

“A giant antenna is like a giant vacuum cleaner,” said Dean Cheng, a former congressional investigator who studies China’s national security policy. “What you are sucking up is signals, data, all sorts of things.”

Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said American military officials were assessing the implications of the Chinese monitoring station. Chinese officials declined requests for interviews about the base and their space program.

Beyond any strategic contest with the United States, some leaders in Latin America are now having doubts and regrets about their ties to China, worried that past governments have saddled their nations with enormous debt and effectively sold out their futures.

But Mr. Guelar argued that hitting the brakes on engagement with China would be shortsighted, particularly at a time when Washington has given up its longstanding role as the region’s political and economic anchor.

“There has been an abdication” of leadership by the United States, he said. “It surrendered that role not because it lost it, but because it doesn’t wish to take it on.”

Source: New York Times “From a Space Station in Argentina, China Expands Its Reach in Latin America”

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


United States Suspends Semi-Suicide for Nearly 3 Weeks


Washington Free Beacon says in its report “Trump, Pelosi Reach Short-Term Resolution to Government Shutdown” that US political elite have agreed to reopen the government for nearly three weeks.

The most advanced liberal democracy that advocates government of the people, by the people and for the people will allow there to be government for the people for nearly three weeks. What will happen after the 3 weeks? No one knows whether the United State will continue its semi-suicide.

What a bizarre democracy!

Does any other nation want to follow such a model of democracy? I don’t think they will follow in spite of the hard efforts the most advanced liberal democracy has been making to promote such bizarre democracy.

Conduct reform so that there will really be government of the people, by the people and for the people instead of government shutdown in the great nation.

Do not make American liberal democracy a laughingstock in the world!

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Washington Free Beacon’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://freebeacon.com/politics/opposition-to-border-wall-crumbles-among-house-democrats/?utm_source=Freedom+Mail&utm_campaign=feb89beeed-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_01_25_08_47_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b5e6e0e9ea-feb89beeed-46069085.


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’s Wisdom Tested when the US Likely Falls into Thucydides Trap


Foreign Policy published Daniel Kliman and Zack Cooper’s article “Washington Has a Bad Case of China ADHD” yesterday that precisely shows that the two US security experts have fallen deep into Thucydides Trap. The article says in its subtitle, “China is the biggest threat to the U.S.-led global order. But America keeps getting distracted.” The writers, both being US Asian security experts accuse US presidents’ failure to contain China and describes it as a bad case of their ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

They accused China of challenging US world leadership but lack grounds to justify their accusations such as unfair trade, stealing US technology, etc. China is a WTO member. If it is found to conduct unfair trade, the US can complain to WTO and if WTO finds US complaint justified, it will punish China. Facts have proved that the US has indeed lodged some complaints. WTO rejected some but found some justified and punished China. There have been no incidents that China disobeys WTO’s final decisions.

As for the accusation about technology, perhaps Chinese hackers have indeed stolen some US technology, but most of the technology is military one. Such military espionage is common practice of most countries including the US. China has indeed obtained some technology from some Western firms through quite a few joint venture arrangements. That is not illegal.

Moreover, US-led global order has been developed by the US for its own interests. When the US finds such order unfavorable to its interests, it does not observe the order developed by it. For example, the US has been much benefited by globalization in exploiting other countries’ cheap labor and exporting its capital to make money abroad. Pizza Hut, McDonald, Kentucky Fried Chicken, General Motors, etc. are making big money in China due to globalization. Now it finds globalization unfavorable for US jobs so that it opposes globalization.

What is most absurd is the US itself does not rectify UN Convention on the Law of the Sea for its own interest but wants China to accept the decision of the International Court of Arbitration at the Hague that is allegedly based on but in fact distorts the Convention.

The US does not regard the Convention as global order when it is not desirable for its own interest, but wants China to observe it even when it has been distorted because it is desirable to contain China. Such unreasonable and selfish hegemony makes the US unpopular in the world so that it has lots of trouble to divert its attention from China.

Facts prove that the US has no grounds at all to be unhappy with China; therefore the real cause is but as the article points out, “China has increasingly challenged U.S. leadership both in Asia and around the world, particularly in the economic domain.”

That proves that the US has fallen deep into the Thucydides Trap. The US as the established great power finds itself threatened to be displaced by another great power China so that it wants to contain China and even to fight a war to defeat China.

Pursuing peaceful rise, China certainly shall have the wisdom to avoid the Trap. It should make concessions to please the US such as the liberalization of its currency, the equal treatment to domestic and foreign enterprises, etc. Such reform in fact benefits China in the long run.

Turning Chinese currency into a freely convertible one helps remove US dollar’s monopoly and the equal treatment will facilitate competition to improve Chinese enterprises.

China shall in addition avoid giving the US the impression that it wants to replace the US as world leader politically or militarily. For its own benefit, it shall certainly replace US economic leadership when US leadership harms Chinese interests.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Foreign Policy’s article, full text of which can be found at http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/10/27/washington-has-a-bad-case-of-china-adhd/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=New%20Campaign&utm_term=%2AEditors%20Picks.