U.S., China kick off ‘tough’ talks in Alaska with rare public rebukes


Reuters David Brunnstrom, Humeyra Pamuk, Michael Martina, David Brunnstrom, Humeyra Pamuk, Michael Martina

The United States and China leveled sharp rebukes of each others’ policies in the first high-level, in-person talks of the Biden administration on Thursday, with deeply strained relations of the two global rivals on rare public display during the meeting’s opening session in Alaska.

The United States, which quickly accused China of “grandstanding” and violating the meeting’s protocol, had been looking for a change in behavior from China, itself having expressed earlier this year a hope to reset sour relations.

On the eve of the talks, Beijing had presaged what would be a contentious meeting, with its ambassador to Washington saying the United States was full of illusions if it thinks China will compromise.

Sparring in a highly unusual extended back-and-forth in front of cameras, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan opened their meeting with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and State Councilor Wang Yi in Anchorage, fresh off of Blinken’s visits to allies Japan and South Korea. read more

“We will … discuss our deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber attacks on the United States, economic coercion of our allies,” Blinken said in blunt public remarks.

“Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability,” he said.

Yang responded with a 15-minute speech in Chinese while the U.S. side awaited translation, lashing out about what he said was the United States’ struggling democracy, poor treatment of minorities, and criticizing its foreign and trade policies.

“The United States uses its military force and financial hegemony to carry out long arm jurisdiction and suppress other countries,” Yang said.

“It abuses so-called notions of national security to obstruct normal trade exchanges, and incite some countries to attack China,” he added.

“Let me say here that in front of the Chinese side, the United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength,” Yang said.

“…the U.S. side was not even qualified to say such things, even 20 years or 30 years back, because this is not the way to deal with the Chinese people…”

PROTOCOL

Apparently taken aback by Yang’s remarks, Blinken held journalists in the room so he could respond.

Sullivan said the United States did not seek conflict with China, but would stand up for its principles and friends. He touted this year’s Mars rover landing success, and said the United States’ promise was in its ability constantly to reinvent itself.

What is typically a few minutes of opening remarks in front of journalists for such high-level meetings lasted for more than an hour, and the two delegations tussled about when media would be ushered out of the room.

Following the exchange, a senior U.S. administration official said China had immediately “violated” agreed-to protocol, which was two minutes of opening statements by each of the principals.

“The Chinese delegation … seems to have arrived intent on grandstanding, focused on public theatrics and dramatics over substance,” the official told reporters in Alaska.

The United States would continue with its meeting as planned, the official said, adding that “exaggerated diplomatic presentations often are aimed at a domestic audience.”

Before taking office, U.S. President Joe Biden had been attacked by Republicans who feared his administration would take too soft an approach with China. But in recent weeks, top Republicans have given the president a gentle nod for revitalizing relations with U.S. allies in order to confront China, a shift from former President Donald Trump’s go-it-alone “America First” strategy.

While much of Biden’s China policy is still being formulated, including how to handle the tariffs on Chinese goods implemented under Trump, his administration has so far placed a stronger emphasis on democratic values and allegations of human rights abuses by China.

Michael McCaul, the senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Yang’s conduct showed China had no plans to change its ways.

“Their belligerence and false accusations should serve as a wake-up call to the Biden administration about exactly who they are dealing with,” he said.

‘PRETTY TOUGH’ CONVERSATIONS

Washington says Blinken’s Asia tour before the meeting with Chinese officials, as well as U.S. outreach to Europe, India and other partners, shows how the United States has strengthened its hand to confront China since Biden took office in January.

But the two sides appear primed to agree on very little at the talks, which were expected to run into the Anchorage evening and continue on Friday.

Even the status of the meeting has become a sticking point, with China insisting it is a “strategic dialogue”, harkening back to bilateral mechanisms of years past. The U.S. side has explicitly rejected that, calling it a one-off session.

On the eve of the talks, the United States issued a flurry of actions directed at China, including a move to begin revoking Chinese telecoms licenses, subpoenas to multiple Chinese information technology companies over national security concerns, and updated sanctions on China over a rollback of democracy in Hong Kong.

“We’re expecting much of these conversations will be pretty, pretty tough,” a senior U.S. administration official told reporters in Alaska before the meeting began.

Yang questioned Blinken on Thursday about whether the sanctions were announced ahead of the meeting on purpose.

“Well, I think we thought too well of the United States, we thought that the U.S. side would follow the necessary diplomatic protocols,” he said.

China, however, indicated this week that it is set to begin trials of two Canadians detained in December 2018 on spying charges soon after Canadian police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of telecoms equipment company Huawei Technologies, on a U.S. warrant. read more

Meng awaits the outcome of a case that could see her extradited to the United States, but China’s foreign ministry rejected assertions that the timing of the trials was linked to the Anchorage talks.

Washington has said it is willing to work with China when it is in the interests of the United States and has cited climate change policy and the coronavirus pandemic as examples. Blinken said Washington hoped to see China uses its influence with North Korea to persuade it to give up its nuclear weapons. read more

The largest group representing exiled Uighurs wrote to Blinken urging him to demand that Beijing close its internment camps in the Xinjiang region, where U.N. experts say more than 1 million members of the ethnic group and other Muslim minorities have been held. read more

Blinken had pledged to raise the issue, his State Department having upheld a Trump administration determination that Beijing was perpetrating genocide in Xinjiang, something China vehemently denies.

Yang said China firmly opposed U.S. interference in its internal affairs. The United States should handle its own affairs and China its own, he said.

Bonnie Glaser, an Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the tough statements from both sides in the run-up to the meeting had created a potential risk that it would devolve into an exchange of accusations and demands.

“Neither side benefits from this meeting being judged a total failure,” Glaser said.

Source: Reuters “U.S., China kick off ‘tough’ talks in Alaska with rare public rebukes”

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


China calls for a reset, but U.S. says Beijing trying to ‘avert blame’


By Reuters Staff

FEBRUARY 22, 20218:38 AMUPDATED 4 HOURS AGO

BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on various issues if they repaired their damaged bilateral relations, but Washington accused Beijing of trying to avert blame for its actions.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue after ties sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

But he urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs, and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

He called on the United States to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector.

In response, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters: “His comments reflect a continued pattern of Beijing’s tendency to avert blame for its predatory economic practices, its lack of transparency, its failure to honour its international agreements, and its repression of universal human rights.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters separately that the United States viewed the relationship with China as one of “strong competition.”

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then-U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step. Biden succeeded Trump as president on Jan. 20.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region, and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. The president has voiced concern about China’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices, and endorsed a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

Confronting China is one of the few areas where Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress find common ground.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a statement on China’s crackdown on the once semi-autonomous Hong Kong, on Monday urged considering strict consequences for Beijing.

“The Chinese government must know that the world is watching its strangulation of human rights – and that we must put all options on the table for holding China accountable,” said Pelosi, a Democrat.

Reporting by Gabriel Crossley in Beijing, and Jeff Mason, Humeyra Pamuk, and Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Writing by Se Young Lee and Michael Martina; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Jane Wardell and Howard Goller

Source: Reuters “China calls for a reset, but U.S. says Beijing trying to ‘avert blame’”

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


China-U.S. confrontation a disaster for both countries, Xi tells Biden


By Reuters Staff

FEBRUARY 11, 202111:04 AMUPDATED 28 MINUTES AGO

BEIJING (Reuters) – Confrontation between China and the United States would be a disaster and the two sides should re-establish the means to avoid misjudgments, Chinese President Xi Jinping told his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden in their first telephone call as leaders.

The call on Thursday Asia time, but Wednesday in Washington, was the first since Biden took office and comes as Beijing and Washington clash over issues from trade, Hong Kong, the South China Sea, Taiwan and reports of human rights crimes against Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

Xi reiterated during the call that cooperation was the only choice and that the two countries need to properly manage disputes in a constructive manner, according to an account of the conversation reported by Chinese state television.

He also said Beijing and Washington should re-establish various mechanisms for dialogue in order to understand each others’ intentions and avoid misunderstandings, the report said.

Xi also told Biden that he hopes the United States will cautiously handle matters related to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang that deal with matters of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to an account of the discussions reported by Chinese state television on Thursday.

Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Michael Perry

Source: Reuters “China-U.S. confrontation a disaster for both countries, Xi tells Biden”

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


Biden to approach U.S.-China relations with ‘patience’


By Reuters Staff

JANUARY 26, 20212:57 AMUPDATED 5 HOURS AGO

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks to reporters at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 25, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is in a serious competition with China, and President Joe Biden wants to approach relations with Beijing with “patience,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday.

China’s President Xi Jinping, speaking at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum on Monday, called on world leaders to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination and bolster the role of the G20 in global economic governance.

Psaki told a White House news briefing that Xi’s call would not change the Biden administration’s strategic approach to China.

“What we’ve seen over the last few years is that China’s growing more authoritarian at home and more assertive abroad and Beijing is now challenging our security, prosperity and values in significant ways that require a new U.S. approach,” she said.

“We want to approach this with some strategic patience,” she said, adding that the White House would be engaging with Republicans and Democrats in Congress, as well as international allies and partners, on the issue in coming weeks.

Responding to a question on whether Biden would continue to subject Chinese tech giant Huawei to stringent restrictions, Psaki said China’s industrial espionage and theft of intellectual property remained a concern.

“Our view, the President’s view, is that we need to play a better defense, which must include holding China accountable for its unfair and illegal practices and making sure the American technologies aren’t facilitating China’s military buildup,” she said.

SEMI, which represents semiconductor equipment makers and manufacturers worldwide, on Monday called on Biden to review the policy of the previous Trump administration that curbed sales of U.S. technology to China for national security reasons, saying it had unnecessarily hurt American industry.

Reporting by Alexandra Alper, David Brunnstrom and Jonathan Landay; Writing by Michael Martina; Editing by Chris Reese and Sonya Hepinstall

Source: Reuters “Biden to approach U.S.-China relations with ‘patience’”

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


Americans Willing to Take Risks to Defend Allies Against China, Poll Says


Jack Beyrer – OCTOBER 13, 2020 3:45 PM

Americans are overwhelmingly willing to take military risks in defending allies from China, according to a new poll from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

On a scale of 1 to 10—where 10 means one is willing to take significant risk—the American public averages a score of 6.77 when asked if it would be willing to take risks to defend allies and partners against military threats from China. The countries listed in the poll were Japan, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, and an unspecified South China Sea partner.

Members of the national security community polled by CSIS scored at an even higher average of 8.24 for the same scenarios.

“We’re seeing a more enduring rivalry, and not one which will shift with a shift in administrations here in the United States,” said Jude Blanchette, chair of China studies at CSIS.

Bonnie Glaser, director of CSIS’s China Power Project, added that the poll’s results reflect growing knowledge among Americans about the threats allies face from China. “It is a function of the growing awareness about Taiwan in the United States,” Glaser said. “This is something that is a major shift we have now seen.”

In recent months, collaboration with allies against China has become a major feature of the Trump administration’s foreign policy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has rallied transatlantic and Asian allies to form security and economic agreements that either isolate or defend against China.

The results are also indicative of a higher-order view of China’s growing security threat. The poll shows that a majority of Americans—54 percent—see China as the country that poses the greatest challenge to the United States.

Americans also score high for their interest in certain policy priorities to counter the growing Chinese threat, showing high favorability toward both shutting the door to Chinese tech giant Huawei and taking on China for its abuses of human rights.

The shift in views on China among Americans corresponds to a sea change in China strategy from the Trump administration. Breaking with a consensus on economic engagement with China going back decades, the current administration has geared the Pentagon, economic policy, and a renewed commitment to human rights toward standing up to China’s desire to rewrite the rules of the current world order.

Source: Washington Free Beacon “Americans Willing to Take Risks to Defend Allies Against China, Poll Says”

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


American Support for Taiwan Must Be Unambiguous


To Keep the Peace, Make Clear to China That Force Won’t Stand

By Richard Haass and David Sacks

September 2, 2020

For four decades, successive Republican and Democratic administrations resisted answering the question of whether the United States would come to Taiwan’s defense if China mounted an armed attack. Washington’s deliberate ambiguity on the matter helped dissuade China from attempting to “reunify” Taiwan with the mainland, as it could not be sure that the United States would remain on the sidelines. At the same time, the policy discouraged Taiwan from declaring independence—a step that would have precipitated a cross-strait crisis—because its leaders could not be sure of unequivocal U.S. support.

The policy known as strategic ambiguity has, however, run its course. Ambiguity is unlikely to deter an increasingly assertive China with growing military capabilities. The time has come for the United States to introduce a policy of strategic clarity: one that makes explicit that the United States would respond to any Chinese use of force against Taiwan. Washington can make this change in a manner that is consistent with its one-China policy and that minimizes the risk to U.S.-Chinese relations. Indeed, such a change should strengthen U.S.-Chinese relations in the long term by improving deterrence and reducing the chances of war in the Taiwan Strait, the likeliest site for a clash between the United States and China.

AMBIGUITY SERVED ITS PURPOSE

When the United States severed relations with Taiwan (more accurately, the Republic of China) in 1979 and discarded its mutual defense treaty with the island, Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act, which made clear that the United States maintained special commitments to Taiwan. The TRA asserted that the United States would “consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.” It also stated that the United States would both maintain the capacity to come to Taiwan’s defense and make available to the island the arms necessary for its security. Importantly, however, the TRA did not declare that the United States would in fact come to Taiwan’s defense.

American ambiguity worked to deter China from attacking Taiwan, as Beijing could never be sure what the U.S. response would be. China wanted above all to maintain a peaceful external environment so that it could focus on its economic development. Moreover, even if the United States chose not to engage directly, it had provided Taiwan’s military with enough sophisticated equipment that China’s military would be ill equipped to defeat it. A miscalculation would have imperiled China’s economic development and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule.

Ambiguity had an equally important but often underappreciated effect on Taiwan, which could not be assured of U.S. assistance if it provoked a Chinese assault by declaring independence. When Taiwan tested the limits of what the United States would accept—as it did in the early 2000s, under the administration of Chen Shui-bian—the United States made clear that Taiwan did not enjoy a blank check and could not act with impunity. Ambiguity kept this powder keg from exploding.

AMBIGUITY’S FADING BENEFITS

Maintaining this policy of ambiguity, however, will not keep the peace in the Taiwan Strait for the next four decades. Too many of the variables that made it a wise course have fundamentally shifted. China now has the capability to threaten U.S. interests and Taiwan’s future. China’s defense spending is 15 times that of Taiwan’s, and much of it has been devoted to a Taiwan contingency. Chinese planning has focused on impeding the United States from intervening successfully on Taiwan’s behalf.

Gone are the days when Taiwan’s dollars went further than China’s, as China now fields equipment on a par with anything the United States makes available to Taiwan. Whether the United States could prevail in a Taiwan conflict is no longer certain, and the trend lines continue to move in China’s favor. Unless the United States devotes significant resources to preparing for a conflict in the Taiwan Strait, it stands little chance of preventing a fait accompli. Waiting for China to make a move on Taiwan before deciding whether to intervene is a recipe for disaster.

Under President Xi Jinping, China has become ever more assertive in advancing its interests. Xi once pledged to U.S. President Barack Obama that China would not militarize the South China Sea, but in recent years, it has done so. The country has imprisoned at least one million of its Uighur minority. It has openly clashed with India along the two countries’ disputed border. It has ramped up military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and intensified efforts to isolate Taiwan internationally. Equally worrisome for Taiwan, China has over the past year stripped Hong Kong of nearly all its autonomy.

The time has come for the United States to introduce a policy of strategic clarity.

In light of these trends, China’s aim to gain control of Taiwan, through force if necessary, needs to be taken seriously. There is speculation that Xi will marry his ambitions with the new means at his disposal to realize his “China Dream” and force “reunification” with Taiwan, potentially as soon as 2021. No one should dismiss the possibility that Taiwan could be the next Hong Kong.

Furthermore, deterring Taiwan from declaring independence is no longer a primary concern. Taiwan understands that the United States does not support its independence. President Tsai Ing-wen, a member of the “pro-independence” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has adopted cautious and prudent policies to manage relations with China (in close consultation with the United States) and has carefully avoided moves that might cross Beijing’s redlines. The Taiwanese are pragmatic and understand that pursuing independence, which would provoke China, is not in the island’s interest. Accordingly, fewer than ten percent support pursuing independence as soon as possible, and a majority prefer to maintain the status quo rather than risk a war.

Finally, while some may have questioned whether the authoritarian Taiwan of 1979, ruled under martial law, was worth defending, the island has since blossomed into a robust democracy with regular, peaceful transfers of power. Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage and has one of the freest presses in the region. It has the highest proportion of female legislators in Asia, nearly double that of the United States. In its world-leading response to COVID-19, Taiwan demonstrated its enormous capacity in global health and its generosity in lending a hand to countries that needed it. Taiwan is a vital partner of the United States on a host of global issues, and it is in the United States’ interests to defend Taiwan’s hard-won gains.

One thing, however, has not changed over these four decades: an imposed Chinese takeover of Taiwan remains antithetical to U.S. interests. If the United States fails to respond to such a Chinese use of force, regional U.S. allies, such as Japan and South Korea, will conclude that the United States cannot be relied upon and that it is pulling back from the region. These Asian allies would then either accommodate China, leading to the dissolution of U.S. alliances and the crumbling of the balance of power, or they would seek nuclear weapons in a bid to become strategically self-reliant. Either scenario would greatly increase the chance of war in a region that is central to the world’s economy and home to most of its people.

Meanwhile, the 24 million people of Taiwan would see their democracy and freedoms crushed. China would subsume the island’s vibrant, high-tech economy. And China’s military would no longer be bottled up within the first island chain: its navy would instead have the ability to project Chinese power throughout the western Pacific.

TIME TO BE UNAMBIGUOUS

The fact that the United States, China, and Taiwan have kept the peace in the Taiwan Strait for 40 years by finessing the issue is one of the great postwar foreign policy achievements of the United States. It is a testament to the skillful statecraft of Henry Kissinger and many of his successors, who understood that settling this issue on terms acceptable to all sides was out of reach. But ambiguity is now unlikely to preserve the status quo.

To defend its achievement and continue to deter Chinese adventurism, the United States should adopt a position of strategic clarity, making explicit that it would respond to any Chinese use of force against Taiwan. Such a policy would lower the chances of Chinese miscalculation, which is the likeliest catalyst for war in the Taiwan Strait.

A change in U.S. policy is especially necessary given that President Donald Trump has sown seeds of doubt as to whether the United States would come to the aid of its friends and allies. He has questioned the value of NATO and abandoned the United States’ Kurdish partners. He is reducing the U.S. troop presence in Germany, threatening to do the same in South Korea, and has signed an agreement with the Taliban that is nothing so much as a cover for U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Xi Jinping can easily have concluded that the United States will not come to Taiwan’s defense. As a result, the United States must restore deterrence: announcing a policy of strategic clarity is the best way to do so.

The White House could articulate this new policy through a presidential statement and accompanying executive order that reiterates U.S. support for its one-China policy but also unequivocally states that the United States would respond should Taiwan come under Chinese armed attack. The statement would make clear that the United States does not support Taiwan independence, thus deterring Taiwan from attempting to capitalize on the new U.S. policy. Importantly, the TRA, which is a critical element of the United States’ one-China policy, premises normalization with China on “the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means.” A statement that the United States would not tolerate a Chinese attack against Taiwan is thus consistent with the one-China policy.

Strategic clarity would not entail that the United States recognize Taipei or upgrade its relationship with Taiwan, nor would it involve a mutual defense treaty or any signed document with Taiwan. Such steps would force Xi’s hand. Rather, the statement would be a unilateral U.S. pledge, and it would make clear that the basics of U.S. policy remain unchanged: the United States would continue to avoid taking a position on the final contours of a resolution of cross-strait differences and insist only that any such resolution come about peacefully and consensually. In short, the ends of American policy would stay the same—what would change would be the means.

By itself, a statement is not enough. The United States must pair it with steps that bolster deterrence. It should station additional air and naval forces in the region, redouble efforts to disperse these forces in order to complicate Chinese planning, and make preparing for a Taiwan contingency a top priority for Department of Defense planners. The United States should consult with Japan and South Korea to see what types of assistance these allies would offer during a Taiwan contingency.

The CCP derives much of its legitimacy from its ability to provide sustained economic growth. Therefore, the United States should make clear that using force against Taiwan would put China’s continued growth at risk. Congress should pass a law that would impose severe sanctions on China should it attack Taiwan. The United States should coordinate with its Asian and European allies so they send similar signals.

At the same time, the United States should work with Taiwan to help it maintain the integrity of its democracy in the face of Chinese coercion. It should assist Taiwan with election security and cyberdefense and explore a free trade agreement with the island to help ensure its economic vitality.

Waiting for China to make a move on Taiwan is a recipe for disaster.

Some will no doubt oppose this change, arguing that it would risk a crisis, lead to a rupture in U.S. relations with China, or both. But the United States can reduce the likelihood of a breakdown by maintaining the one-China policy and reiterating that the United States does not take a position on the substance of any arrangement between China and Taiwan so long as it is arrived at peacefully and with the consent of the people. The policy change recommended here would not foreclose any potential resolution of cross-strait differences.

Xi moved swiftly against Hong Kong, but if the United States issues a clear statement that it would respond to an armed attack on Taiwan—and takes steps to make this credible—he will think twice before forcing the Taiwan issue and bringing about a confrontation with the United States. Above all, Xi is motivated by a desire to maintain the CCP’s dominance of China’s political system. A failed bid to “reunify” Taiwan with China would put that dominance in peril, and that is a risk Xi is unlikely to take. Strengthened deterrence will thus help prevent a cross-strait crisis and put Sino-U.S. relations on firmer ground by lowering the chances of war.

Those who argue that this new policy extends an additional U.S. commitment at a time when the country is already overextended should not delude themselves: U.S. allies in Asia already assume that the United States will come to Taiwan’s defense. Deciding not to do so would jeopardize these alliances. The problem is that currently, a chasm separates what is expected of the United States from its declaratory policy and its ability to intervene on Taiwan’s behalf. Strategic clarity aligns U.S. policy with what U.S. allies already expect and sets a course for narrowing the gap between commitments and capabilities.

The current administration has chosen instead to symbolically upgrade the U.S.-Taiwanese relationship and call into question the one-China policy—both stances that court conflict, because China’s greatest concern is that Taiwan will move toward seeking recognition as an independent country. Strategic clarity, by contrast, would eschew such symbolic moves in favor of a policy that focuses narrowly on restoring deterrence. The best way to ensure that the United States does not need to come to Taiwan’s defense is to signal to China that it is prepared to do so. What happens or doesn’t happen in the Taiwan Strait may well decide Asia’s future.

Source: Foreign Affairs “American Support for Taiwan Must Be Unambiguous”

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


Trump is playing a deadly game in deflecting Covid-19 blame to China


Simon Tisdall

As Mr ‘Total Authority’ keeps his focus firmly on re-election, he risks lives far beyond the United States

Sun 19 Apr 2020 09.04 BST

Many had wondered what would happen when Donald Trump, failed salesman and gameshow host, faced a real crisis. Now they know. The man who pledged to stop “American carnage” in his inaugural address now owns it. Covid-19 has crowned him lord of misrule.

That’s fitting for a man who last week claimed to exercise “total authority”. Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor who understands what leadership means, reminded him the US does not do kings. But Trump and America’s last monarch, George III, share much in common, tyranny-wise.

Trump is more instinctive dictator than democrat, in the style of his favourite potentate, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Just look at his recent threat to shut down Congress, and his enthusiasm for suppressing minority voter turnout.

It’s worth recalling that old King George became mentally ill, since Trumpism is clearly dangerous for your health. It’s beyond reasonable dispute that his coronavirus posturing, preening, prevarication and paranoia fatally hindered the early US response.

The president’s denial at the beginning was deadly,” Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, said last month. “As the president fiddles, people are dying.” She repeated the charge last week, claiming Trump was still causing “unnecessary death and disaster”.

The result, so far, is around 700,000 Covid cases and 35,000 US fatalities. Is it fair to blame him personally for every preventable death? No. But they all occurred on his watch. It’s his job to look out for the American people. He is ultimately responsible.

Trump’s inability to show competent, rational leadership at home and abroad is decimating America’s worldwide reputation

Trump’s primary motive in issuing “guidelines” last week to ease the lockdown was not concern for citizens’ welfare. It was about reviving the economy and getting himself re-elected, come what may. Health experts and state governors forced him to drop rasher measures.

Likewise, Trump endangers the world the US once aspired to lead. The under-resourced, under-pressure World Health Organization has made mistakes during this pandemic. But it retains a vital role in coordinating a global response. Trump unfairly maligned it.

Developing countries, which could be hardest hit in humanitarian and economic terms, need all the help they can get. Trump could not care less. His unjustified suspension of WHO funding threatens lives. Thanks to him, more people may die.

When it comes to scapegoats, however, Trump’s fall-guy of choice is China. Supplanting Iran, Beijing is his latest, indispensable bogeyman. This is truly dangerous. It risks turning an already badly strained relationship into a second cold war.

Trump raised the stakes again last week, alleging that China deliberately under-reported virus deaths. He gave credence to a conspiracy theory, already debunked by the Pentagon, that a biotech weapons lab in Wuhan caused the original outbreak.

Even Trump’s blinkered “base” can surely see what is going on. Their hero messed up big-time, so now he’s trying, as usual, to avoid responsibility by deflecting blame on to others, preferably foreigners and the Chinese communist party – an easy target.

Trump plans to use this crude anti-China narrative to bash Democrat presidential rival, Joe Biden. It has already started. A Trump online ad released this month claims “Biden stands up for China while China cripples America”.

According to analyst Jonathan Swan, writing on Axios: “Trump officials had long been planning to brand Biden as ‘soft’ on China, but the coronavirus pandemic … has stoked public anger towards Beijing and made the attack more resonant in polling.”

Trump also intends to highlight business dealings with China by Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, in a reprise of his spurious Ukraine impeachment defence. “You’d better believe voters will hear about that,” a Trump campaign operative said.

Trump’s ongoing inability to show competent, rational leadership at home and abroad is decimating America’s worldwide reputation. The WHO decision sparked a fierce backlash from G7 allies and the UN, who pointedly stressed the need for multilateral solidarity.

Meanwhile, Trump’s enduring hostility is bringing out the worst in Beijing. Anger over his Covid-19 smears, coupled with long-running trade disputes, regional tensions, and lecturing about human rights, has goaded China into dropping its non-threatening, diplomatic “peaceful rise” approach. A more aggressive generation of official and semi-official spokespeople has been unleashed by the emperor-president, Xi Jinping. These so-called “wolf warriors” are churning out propaganda and lies of their own, notably a claim that the US army planted the virus in China.

There is much to suggest that China, regardless of Trump, is exploiting the crisis to further its long-term aim of establishing a technological, economic and geopolitical advantage over the west. At home, rising ultra-nationalism and xenophobia are officially tolerated, even encouraged.

China’s top cadres should pause and think again. So, too, should Trump. His reckless blame-games and political machinations are not only killing Americans and American influence overseas. Intensifying mutual antagonism also risks killing any chance that the world’s two biggest powers will cooperate sensibly to eradicate this and future pandemics – for example, by backing a necessary, independent international inquiry into what went wrong. That, in turn, bodes ill for vital bilateral collaboration on the climate crisis and other urgent global challenges such as debt relief.

The world cannot afford another four years of the chaos and carnage personified by Trump. Voting him out in November is the best solution. But what if, fearful of losing amid continuing mayhem, he tries to delay the election?

Experts say he lacks power to do so. But Mr “Total Authority” may disagree. Amid so much avoidable death and destruction, why not kill the constitution and the Founding Fathers, too? As everybody surely realises by now, he’s capable of almost anything.

Source: The Guardian “Trump is playing a deadly game in deflecting Covid-19 blame to China”

Note: This is The Guardian’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