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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Saturday, April 28, 2012

China This Week


De Omnibus Dubitandum!
We need to question everything because everything we are told
 should bear some resemblance to what we see going on in reality!

China-Philippines Standoff: David And Goliath Both Stumble In Island Dispute

Op-Ed: The Philippines has overreacted in the ongoing dispute between Manila and Beijing, looking to build a regional coalition against China in claims over territory in the South China Sea. Still, Beijing must learn to manage the "small powers" in a smarter way.

By Patrick M. Cronin  

THIS month’s maritime standoff between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea isn’t the first time the region’s navies have gone toe-to-toe. But while past tensions revolved around resources under the ocean floor, this most recent event is part of a growing strategic rivalry pitting Chinese power against the United States and its East Asian allies. How Washington responds may determine the prospects for continued peace in the Pacific.   The latest crisis arose after the pocket-size Philippine Navy, with an old United States Coast Guard cutter as its new flagship, tried to apprehend Chinese fishermen it claimed were operating illegally near the Scarborough Shoal. China then sent two surveillance vessels — part of a recent effort to protect its claims in the East and South China Seas — to block the Philippine ship.

The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, but it will confront difficult challenges between now and 2025 that could greatly affect its future. In The China Challenge: Military, Economic and Energy Choices Facing the U.S.-Japan Alliance, released in advance of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s visit to the United States, Dr. Patrick Cronin, Paul Giarra, Zachary Hosford and Daniel Katz argue that the United States and Japan must address a host of defense, economic and energy security issues over the next decade if the alliance is to maintain its power as China continues to rise.
The authors conclude that “Whether a powerful U.S.-Japan alliance will endure into the next decade and beyond chiefly depends on how well Washington and Tokyo deal with major military, economic and energy challenges. Although each dimension of power is complex, basic policy choices will require coming to grips with the challenge and opportunity posed by a rising China."

By Robert D. Kaplan

As the world moves into the second decade of the 21st century, a new power rivalry is taking shape between India and China, Asia's two behemoths in terms of territory, population and richness of civilization. India's recent successful launch of a long-range missile able to hit Beijing and Shanghai with nuclear weapons is the latest sign of this development.  This is a rivalry born completely of high-tech geopolitics, creating a core dichotomy between two powers whose own geographical expansion patterns throughout history have rarely overlapped or interacted with each other. Despite the limited war fought between the two countries on their Himalayan border 50 years ago, this competition has relatively little long-standing historical or ethnic animosity behind it….Because India's population will surpass that of China in 2030 or so, even as India's population will get gray at a slower rate than that of China, India may in relative terms have a brighter future. As inefficient as India's democratic system is, it does not face a fundamental problem of legitimacy like China's authoritarian system very well might.

The Bo Xilai saga of power, wealth, corruption, and murder has brought the issue of China’s princelings (offspring of Communist Party’s leaders) to the top of international discourse on China. But Bo's privileged rise is not the norm for the contemporary Communist Party.  Three underlying assumptions about the princelings drive the noisy speculations about Chinese politics by many mainstream commentators: The princelings form a powerful interest group, akin to a political aristocracy, that exerts decisive influence on China’s political system; their corruption is enormous and sapping away China’s national strength; and their privileges of birth are so vast that they are undermining the party’s legitimacy and destabilizing Chinese society as a whole.  Such assumptions are disconnected from reality and need to be debunked.

My Take – I mostly think this is a lot of spin, much like those offspring of famous actors who became famous actors themselves, all the while claiming that it was a lot harder to have success in Hollywood because they had a famous parent.  Baloney! They had the contacts and an understanding of the business.  I don’t have a problem with that, I just hate it that they won’t admit that they got where they are because of nepotism…and the same is true in China.  Why do I say that?  Because people are people; and people do the same things other people have done all throughout the history of all peoples…..everywhere!

As Beijing prepares for a once-in-a-decade change of leadership, the ouster of Bo Xilai and a series of significant financial reforms have been widely seen as signs that reformist elements within the Chinese government are in the ascendency. This analysis may be correct, but it needs to be tempered with a broader look at the Chinese political and policy landscape, which shows that reforms still lag in multiple key areas and that progressive signals are so far limited to the financial sector. The position of the army, a key political constituent, also remains unclear.  The political intrigue surrounding the removal of Bo from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the arrest of his wife on suspicion of involvement in the murder of a British businessman has captivated the global media. As significant, it has been accompanied by a series of encouraging and previously delayed financial market reforms that point to a more progressive position emerging in government.
By Rich Lowry

China-envying New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman likes to muse about how wonderful it would be if the United States could be like China for a day.
The scandal engulfing former rising star Bo Xilai, the cashiered Communist Party boss of the city of Chongqing, suggests how this magical day might go down.  A popular governor who rose to prominence based on his anti-corruption campaign while illicitly enriching himself would fall from grace. His wife would be accused of murdering a foreign businessman. His security chief, whom he relied upon to run an extensive spying operation on potential foes, would seek asylum at a foreign consulate, fearing for his life. State and federal security forces would have a standoff outside the consulate. The entire nation would become obsessed with the case, but the government would prevent anyone from searching the Internet for information about it. Everyone would assume that the government would control the political fallout by arranging a nice show trial for the disgraced governor.

In September 2010, after Japan arrested a Chinese fishing boat captain in disputed waters in the East China Sea, Beijing allegedly retaliated by holding back shipments to Tokyo of rare earths, a group of 17 elements used in high-tech products. Arcane names such as cerium, dysprosium, and lanthanum -- elements that populate the bottom of the periodic table and whose unique properties make them ideal materials in the batteries that power iPhones and electric vehicles -- suddenly commanded global attention. It mattered little whether Beijing actually carried through with the threat (reports are murky), the damage was already done: The world had awoken to the fact that overreliance on China for rare-earths supplies could put the international high-tech supply chain at risk. 

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