Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

29 January 2020

African Democratisation and the One China Policy


Democracy in Africa is among the most contentious issues in the continent’s relationship with China. On one hand, many reform-minded scholars, international organisations, and western governments criticise the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for its indifference to the unsatisfactory levels of democracy within many of the African states it deals with. On the other hand, Rich and Banerjee (2015), who carried out a study seeking to identify variables which led African states to have relations with the PRC over Taiwan/Republic of China (ROC) and vice versa, found out that in the continent, Taiwan tended to be more recognised by states that were non-democratic. The paper does not elaborate on why, however; noting only a positive correlation. What mechanisms may underline such a phenomenon? Subsequent literature has likewise not answered this and has thus far placed much emphasis on the economic factors; namely, that African countries have recognised China because of its economic strengths and gains to be made from increased trade with it. As it stands, only a single state recognises Taiwan on the continent. However, the continent has had domestic governance changes that began in the 1990s – the so-called ‘Third Wave’ of democratisation (Huntington, 1991: 12) – and culminated in the 2000s, which merit analysis alongside the One China issue in Africa.

The Geopolitics of the Yangtze River: Wuhan's Rise

Editor's Note: In an effort to contain the outbreak of a deadly coronavirus strain, Chinese authorities have shut down all travel into and out of Wuhan, capital of Hubei province and a key logistical, manufacturing and research center on the Yangtze River. This assessment, originally published in April 2013, explores the strategic importance of the city to China.

In a sense, Wuhan is the heart of modern China. It is not the country's most important economic or cultural hub, and aside from a brief stint in the 1920s as the Nationalist Party government's capital, it has never been China's official political center. But while Wuhan wields less heft than Beijing, Shanghai or Chongqing, its location at the intersection of the country's most important transport routes gives it a different kind of strategic significance for the Communist Party.

Situated at a bend in the Yangtze River near the geographic center of Han China, Wuhan is a natural transportation crossroads. From west to east, it binds the upper and lower stretches of the Yangtze together, serving as the intermediary for goods passing between the Sichuan Basin — western China's industrial powerhouse — and the Yangtze River Delta. From north to south, it anchors the Beijing-Guangzhou railway, a 2,324-kilometer-long (1,444-mile-long) trunk line that gives China's traditional political core, the North China Plain, direct access to the prosperous but historically restive Guangdong province.

The Fate of the China-Russia Alliance

by Lyle J. Goldstein
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Even as Democrats bash the Republicans for being too soft on the Kremlin, the Republicans are inclined to point out that the Obama administration was far too accommodating of China. After all, President Barack Obama prioritized the climate change issue that necessitated a high degree of cooperation with Beijing. Yet in today’s toxic partisan warfare, a winning electoral strategy will be to declare the political opponent as insufficiently xenophobic and thus lacking “true” patriotism.

These days, many people in the Washington foreign policy establishment seem to agree that most of the world’s problems can be put down to either Beijing’s purported insistence on building a new, nefarious world order comprising “all under heaven,” or Moscow’s wily attempts to spread its tentacles everywhere from Madagascar to Libya and possibly even America. Thus, Russian “stooges” and Chinese “useful idiots” are lingering around every corner, so it seems. Even those arguing against a conflict with Iran may find the great-power competition concept useful to the extent that yet another war in the Middle East could dangerously distract the United States from the “main event” in either East Asia or in Eastern Europe.

28 January 2020

Total Competition: China’s Challenge in the South China Sea

This report argues that China is waging a campaign of ‘total competition’ in the South China Sea. Such a campaign reflects George Kennan’s concept of “political warfare” and involves the use of all tools at the state’s disposal short of war. Indeed, it includes illegitimate and destabilizing methods ordinarily avoided by benign competitors. The text’s authors explain that China’s campaign has five essential pillars: economic power, information dominance, maritime power, psychological warfare and “lawfare.” They also suggest that because of its efforts, China now appears to be an unstoppable force in the South China Sea.

A One-​sided Affair: Japan and the People's Republic of China in Cyberspace

In this publication, Stefan Soesanto analyzes the cyber threat landscape regarding Japan and China, focusing on cyber incidents that spilled over into the political realm or had the potential to do so. More specifically, Soesanto looks at 1) the historical evolution of cybersecurity and defense policies in both countries; 2) relevant cyber incidents in which the countries targeted one another; 3) the various Japanese and Chinese teams connected to these incidents; 4) the social, economic, technical and international effects resulting from the cyber threat landscape, and more. 

Not Good: This Report Warns China Could Beat America in a Fight by 2049

by David Axe
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Key point: Beijing is racing ahead with modernizing its forces and tipping the regional balance in its favor. Without a counter plan from America, it is only a matter of time before China is able to assert dominance in the Western Pacific.

Chinese leaders have laid out a plan for deploying the world’s best-armed forces no later than 2049. If the United States is to prevent China from becoming the world’s leading military power, it needs a plan of its own.

That’s the sobering warning in a new report for the Center for a New American Security by former deputy defense secretary Robert Work and co-author Greg Grant.

Chinese leaders’ resolve hardened in 1991 as they watched the U.S.-led coalition pummel Iraqi forces with seemingly ceaseless barrages of precision-guided munitions.

Can there be a winner in the U.S.–China ‘tech war’?

When Donald Trump solemnly announced the reasons behind his trade war with China in late March 2018, he accused China of ‘economic aggression’. This concept has not figured in formal US economic diplomacy since 1943, when a senior US official accused Nazi Germany of this practice during the war. Since then, the United States has avoided the term in its own diplomatic positions, a stance staked out in its reluctance to include economic aggression as an international crime for the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal.

It was more commonly the Soviet Union, China and other countries, such as Iran, that have levied the charge of economic aggression against the United States whenever it applied sanctions against them. Somewhat ironically, in terms of the current China case, an international legal scholar, writing in 1934, identified China and Chinese merchants as the leading practitioners of economic boycotts that had evolved into an increasingly common state practice. In 1935, a Chinese newspaper described ‘American economic aggression in China [as] more serious than Japanese military policy’.

Officials 'formally recommend limited role' for Huawei in British 5G networks

Alexander Martin
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Government officials have formally recommended granting Huawei a limited role within Britain's future 5G infrastructure, according to the Reuters news agency.

The recommendation appears to reassert a decision reportedly made by Theresa May last year, but comes despite repeated pressures from the US to completely prohibit the use of any telecommunications equipment produced by the Chinese company in the UK.

Citing two people with knowledge of the matter, Reuters reported that the recommendation was made at a meeting of officials from senior government departments and security agencies on Wednesday.
The ultimate decision on the matter will be made at a meeting of the National Security Council next week, according to Reuters sources.

A spokesperson for Downing Street said: "The work on the issue of high-risk vendors in the 5G network remains ongoing and when it is completed it will be announced to parliament."

China's Strategy in a War: Blind America, Then Go in for the Kill

Harry J. Kazianis
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Key Point: What if Beijing simply degraded and destroyed the ability of U.S. forces to have those advanced eyes and ears and brought back an old foe of U.S. forces— the much hated “fog of war?”

We all know that the chances of a U.S.-Sino war in Asia are remote— thank God. With hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade, the strong possibility that such a conflict would draw in most of Asia’s big geopolitical players, as well as the very real eventuality that such a conflict could go global (and nuclear), is enough to shut down such apocalyptic thoughts. However, as I have discussed in the past, there is enough pressure points between the two superpowers that sudden tensions could spark a crisis— a crisis that could spiral out of control if cooler heads don’t prevail.

The purpose of this article is straightforward and scary enough: what if Beijing found itself in a situation where it felt war was inevitable with Washington (a crisis over Taiwan, a crisis in the East or South China Seas etc.)— how would it procede? While there are many different ways China could strike America— many of which would be non-kinetic and could even deny like a cyberstrike from a third party country or actor— Beijing has the means to do incredible damage to U.S. interests and alliance networks throughout Asia and even in the wider Indo-Pacific. Much of Washington’s “pivot” or “rebalance” is certainly based on such a fact: a realization that U.S. military primacy is no longer guaranteed thanks to a slick Chinese counter-intervention based military modernization (despite what others may think).

27 January 2020

The Strategic Implications of Chinese-Iranian-Russian Naval Drills in the Indian Ocean

By: Syed Fazl-e Haider


In early December, Major General Shao Yuanming (邵元明), the Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), traveled to the Islamic Republic of Iran for rare high-level military meetings. These meetings were held for the purpose of organizing a series of unprecedented joint naval drills between China, Iran, and Russia, which were held in the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman from December 27–29. The drills took place just as escalating tensions between the United States and Iran reached a crisis point at the end of 2019. The exercise also signified a deepening relationship between Iran and the PRC in economics, diplomacy, and security affairs.

China and Russia have both increased military and economic cooperation with Iran in the year and a half since the U.S. government pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). However, while Iran’s government has repeatedly touted its deepening relations with China and Russia as a show of diplomatic strength, its allies have been less public about the growing relationship. In December, Iranian officials lauded the trilateral exercises—titled “Marine Security Belt”—as proof that Iran can outlast crippling sanctions with aid from its non-Western allies, and declared that the drills signaled a new triple alliance in the Middle East (Tasnim News, December 29, 2019). [1] By contrast, officials from Russia and the PRC were more restrained, framing the joint exercises as part of routine anti-piracy operations, highlighting their peacekeeping priorities and seeking to depoliticize the drills (South China Morning Post, September 23, 2019; Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Russia), October 2, 2019).

Participating Vessels and Exercise Activities

What Does Xi’s Myanmar Visit Mean for India’s China Anxieties?

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded a two-day visit to Myanmar, the first for Xi in his current capacity and his first overseas visit of 2020. Viewed from the perspective of growing Chinese inroads in the Indian Ocean, Xi’s trip spotlighted Beijing’s continued efforts to make geopolitical gains in line with its broader regional interests, which will be of concern to India.

While there may have been some surprise about Xi’s choice of Myanmar for his trip, it is in fact in line with China’s continued interest in making inroads with respect to the Indian Ocean. With the Myanmar visit, Xi has effectively completed his key neighborhood trips, having traveled through the Maldives and Sri Lanka in 2014, Pakistan in 2015, Bangladesh in 2016, and Nepal in 2019.

From India’s perspective, New Delhi can be none too pleased with China’s constant forays into the wider Indian Ocean region. But at least for now, India appears to be letting Myanmar’s natural caution limit China’s influence.

Pakistan and CPEC Are Drawn Into the U.S.-China Rivalry

By: Adnan Aamir


Leaders in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan were stunned in late November when a senior U.S. government official issued a strong verbal attack on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). On November 21 in Washington, D.C., U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asia Affairs Alice Wells spoke at length about the CPEC at a public event, criticizing multiple elements of the $62 billion flagship component of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Ambassador Wells cast doubt upon claims that CPEC will generate sustainable economic development in Pakistan and criticized the project’s cost escalations and non-transparent processes of awarding CPEC contracts to Chinese firms. She appealed to Pakistan’s citizens to ask tough questions of the PRC regarding the CPEC and China’s related projects in Pakistan (U.S. State Department, November 21, 2019).

In the past, the U.S. government had raised concerns over CPEC and China’s “debt-trap diplomacy,” but it had never presented such a direct and detailed set of criticisms. Ambassador Wells crossed that line—bringing the notoriously stalled out CPEC back under international scrutiny just after Chinese and Pakistani leaders had brokered a cautiously optimistic set of funding deals to jumpstart progress a month before (Ministry of Foreign Affairs (PRC), October 9, 2019). Chinese representatives were quick to respond to Ambassador Wells’s criticisms. The next day, PRC Ambassador to Islamabad Yao Jing(姚敬) said that he had been “shocked and surprised to see the remarks of Alice,” and that Ambassador Wells lacked accurate knowledge and had relied on “Western media ‘propaganda’” for her accusations. He called on the U.S. to “show your evidence, give me evidence” of specific cases of corruption related to the CPEC, and questioned whether Wells was taking potshots at the CPEC to score political points. Ambassador Yao challenged the U.S. to suit its actions to its words: “If there is any sincerity… [the U.S. should] come forward to invest in Pakistan. We [China] welcome U.S. investment in Pakistan.” (INP (Pakistan), November 22, 2019; VOA, November 22, 2019). 

China’s Belt and Road: Is Asia Getting More Cautious?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, shake hands after the ceremony of signing a memorandum of understanding at the president house in Naypyitaw Myanmar, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. 

One of the storylines that ran throughout Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first visit to Myanmar in his current capacity was the inroads Beijing was hoping to make with respect to its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). While the focus itself was not surprising, it nonetheless raised a broader question at play in the wider region: are key states getting more cautious in how they engage the BRI?

Since China’s BRI first took off, there has been a near endless focus on the mix of opportunities and challenges it presents for various countries as well as how other major powers are responding to it But as I’ve argued before, a key part of that conversation, beyond what China wants or what the United States thinks and does, is how key regional states themselves are responding to the BRI.

Facing Up to China’s Military Interests in the Arctic

By: Anne-Marie Brady


China’s military ambitions in the Arctic, and its growing strategic partnership with Russia, have rung alarm bells in many governments. In May 2019, for the first time, the U.S. Department of Defense annual report on China’s military capabilities had a section on China’s military interests in the Arctic and the possibility of Chinese submarines operating in the Arctic basin (Department of Defense, May 2019). In August 2019, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg raised concerns about what he diplomatically referred to as “China’s increased presence in the Arctic” (Reuters, August 7).

From a nuclear security point of view, the Arctic is China’s vulnerable northern flank. The flight path of U.S. and Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) targeted at China transit the Arctic. [1] Key components of the U.S. missile defense system are also located in the Arctic.

Chinese submarine-based ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) operating in the Arctic could restore China’s nuclear deterrence capability (Huanqiu Ribao, October 28, 2013). China currently operates six nuclear-powered attack submarines, four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, and fifty diesel attack submarines, with more under construction. If Chinese nuclear-armed submarines were able to access the Arctic basin undetected, this would be a game-changer for the United States, the NATO states and their partners, and the wider Asia-Pacific (Huanqiu Ribao, April 11, 2012). China would be able to target missiles at the United States and Europe with ease; such ability would strengthen China’s military dominance in Asia and bolster China’s emerging position as a global military power. 

Why Aren’t More Countries Confronting China over Xinjiang?

Matt Schiavenza
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Over the past three years, the Chinese government has implemented a highly repressive series of policies against Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority native to the country’s Xinjiang region. Uighurs live under unprecedented surveillance, their every move tracked through cameras and spyware-riddled mobile phones. The government strictly monitors them for signs of religious devotion, such as wearing a beard or veil, avoiding cigarettes and alcohol, or refusing to eat pork. Ancient mosques have been razed and schools are prohibited from teaching the Uighur language. More than one million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are estimated to be detained in euphemistically-named “re-education facilities,” in which some have reportedly been tortured. Hundreds of thousands of Uighur families in the region have been forced to open their homes to Han Chinese volunteers who surveil their “host” families as they oversee their “patriotic re-education.” The Chinese government has subjected even Uighurs living outside of China to harassment and pressure, often preventing them from keeping in contact with relatives still in Xinjiang.

China has justified its actions as a response to a series of terror attacks attributed to Uighurs, including a 2014 knife attack at the railway station in Kunming that led to 35 deaths. But the measures Chinese authorities have employed in Xinjiang have attracted international condemnation. In July, the United Nations representatives of 22 mostly European countries released a letter to the UN Human Rights Council calling on China to “refrain from the arbitrary detention and restriction on freedom of movement on Uighurs and other Muslim and minority communities in Xinjiang.”

The Chinese Population Crisis

By Ross Douthat

In recent days both this newspaper and The Wall Street Journal have carried reports on one of the most important geopolitical facts of the 21st century: The world’s great rising power, the People’s Republic of China, is headed for a demographic crisis.

Like the United States and most developed countries, China has a birthrate that is well below replacement level. Unlike most developed countries, China is growing old without first having grown rich.

Of course China has grown richer: My colleague David Leonhardt, who spent time in China at the beginning and the end of the 2010s, just wrote a column emphasizing the “maturing” of the Chinese economy over that period, the growth of start-ups and consumer spending and the middle class.

But even after years of growth, Chinese per capita G.D.P. is still about one-third or one-fourth the size of neighboring countries like South Korea and Japan. And yet its birthrate has converged with the rich world much more quickly and completely — which has two interrelated implications, both of them grim.

Chinese Dreams, Russian Realities

By Michael McFaul, Kathryn Stoner

Some autocrats grow their economies; other autocrats destroy their economies. For every China, there is a North Korea. For every Singapore, there is a Zimbabwe.

After twenty years in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has performed better than Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, but has accomplished nowhere near what Deng Xiao Peng has in China or Lee Kwan Yew in Singapore. As Putin now proposes institutional changes to lock himself into power even longer, only the most hopeful should assume that the next ten (or twenty?) years of Russian dictatorship will perform any better than the last 20 years. 

Russians could not only be freer with more democracy, but richer.

When Boris Yeltsin first chose Putin to serve as the new president in 2000, a decision later ratified by the Russian voters, Putin was both an accidental and lucky ruler. 

Making Foreign Companies Serve China: Outsourcing Propaganda to Local Entities in the Czech Republic

By: Martin Hála


The fast build-up and equally sudden decline of Chinese influence in the Czech Republic offers an interesting case study of vulnerability and resilience in the newly democratic small states targeted by the united front operations of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). [1] Recent revelations about a powerful Czech financial corporation manipulating public opinion in favor of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) demonstrate the complex dynamics between political and economic actors—both Chinese and local—and how private companies are being leveraged to spread pro-PRC propaganda (Aktuálně, December 10, 2019 / English translation).

The main vector of influence in the Czech Republic has been the PRC’s “economic diplomacy,” which downplays political differences and emphasizes the economic opportunities offered by closer relationships with China (Sinopsis, March 11, 2019; China Brief, May 9, 2019). In Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), it builds on promises of investments into local economies still lagging behind those in Western Europe. The promised investments may or may not materialize, but the economic enticement alone creates a conducive environment for the cooptation of local political and business elites in a manner similar to more traditional united front tactics (China Brief, May 9, 2019). Apart from the promised investments by Chinese companies, the reverse allure may consist of market access in China for local companies, which may then be manipulated into becoming propaganda echo chambers for the CCP. The Czech Republic offers examples of both of these phenomena.

Beijing’s “Economic Diplomacy” Derailed in the Czech Republic

Has the US Lost Myanmar to China?

By Hunter Marston

Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, shake hands after a ceremony signing a memorandum of understanding at the presidential house in Naypyidaw Myanmar, Jan. 18, 2020.Credit: Nyein Chan Naing/Pool Photo via AP

Chinese leader Xi Jinping just wrapped up a two-day visit to Myanmar from January 17-18, the first trip by a Chinese head of state since Jiang Zemin traveled to Burma in 2001. Xi’s visit notably occurred in the 70th anniversary year of China-Myanmar diplomatic relations and further cemented bilateral relations, which have been in general extremely positive since the West turned away from the embattled country in light of the Rohingya migrant crisis that erupted in 2017. In Naypyidaw, Xi and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi signed 33 agreements related to infrastructure development, trade, manufacturing, and special economic zones (SEZs).

Xi and the Chinese Communist Party now hope to put bilateral ties on a more permanently secure footing. Beijing had long shielded Myanmar’s junta from international scrutiny at the United Nations and backed the abusive military regime during the 1990s and 2000s when it was estranged from the West. But when the previous government of President Thein Sein began to reform the country’s political institutions and open the doors to global investors, the Obama administration in the U.S. responded with deft diplomacy and high-level visits, suspending economic sanctions in 2016.

26 January 2020

Is China Engaging in Debt Trap Diplomacy?

By Dr. James M. Dorsey

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The pending Chinese acquisition of a stake in Tajikistan’s aluminum smelter, coupled with earlier tax concessions to Chinese companies that would substantially reduce the trickle down effect of investments for the troubled Tajik economy, suggest that China has yet to fully take into account frequent criticism of its commercial approach to Belt and Road-related projects.

Desperate for cash, Tajikistan is about to sell yet another vital asset to China at a time when countries like Sri Lanka and the Maldives are demanding renegotiation of debt settlements that either forced them to surrender control of critical infrastructure or left them with unsustainable repayments.

The center said eight countries — Tajikistan, the Maldives, Pakistan, Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, and Montenegro — are particularly at risk.