U.S. official warns Australia it must choose between U.S. and China


Reuters reported that “A senior U.S. soldier said on Sept. 1 that Australia must choose between a stronger U.S. alliance or closer ties with China, and urged Canberra to take a tougher stance against Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

“The Pentagon, however, disputed the statement by U.S. Army Assistant Chief of Staff Colonel Tom Hanson, saying it did not represent the position of the U.S. government.

“I think the Australians need to make a choice … it’s very difficult to walk this fine line between balancing the alliance with the United States and the economic engagement with China,” Colonel Hanson said on Australian Broadcasting Corp. Radio.

“There’s going to have to be a decision as to which one is more of a vital national interest for Australia,” he said, adding that the comments reflected his personal view and were not necessarily that of the U.S. government.

“The idea that Australia, or any country, needs to choose between its longstanding ties to the United States and its emerging links with China presents a false choice,” U.S. Navy Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, said. . “Australia has strong, multifaceted ties with its Pacific neighbors, including China, just as we seek the same.”

Colonel Hanson’s comments came after a  parliamentary booklet warned Australian lawmakers to treat Chinese motives in Asia-Pacific region with caution as Beijing moves, many observers think, to establish hegemony in the South China Sea

To read the entire article on this, please hit this link.


U.S., India tighten de-facto defense alliance


The United States and India  agreed Aug 29 to allow the use of each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply, part of an initiative to tighten their growing de-facto defense alliance to counter  China’s  growing military aggressiveness, especially in the South and East China Seas.

The signing of the agreement will “make the logistics of joint operations so much easier and so much more efficient,” U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a news briefing with Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar.

To read the Reuters article on this, please hit this link.


Russia-N. Korea-Chinese alliance may be pushing Asia/Pacific toward war


Anders Corr, writing in Forbes.com, warns that the  aggressive dictatorships of China, Russia and North Korea may be pushing the Asia/Pacific region toward war.

Mr. Corr writes: “Official news sources in China have claimed that plans to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea {to protect itself from North Korean nuclear missile threats} are pushing China, Russia, and North Korea into closer relations, what I would call a de facto authoritarian alliance.”

He goes on: “China is the only country, of these three, not currently subject to international economic sanctions, yet it is driving the conflict in Asia. The international community should impose such sanctions before Asia spirals into military conflict.   Not doing so encourages continued risk-taking on the part of China.

“On the flip side of this authoritarian alliance, Chinese, North Korean, and Russian belligerency is uniting the Asian democracies. Japan and South Korea, along with the U.S. and Australia, are increasingly tough on China and North Korea. In what is spiraling towards a potential military conflict, or at the very least an arms race and media war, South Korea plans to have the U.S. deploy THAAD in its territory, and Japan wants to speed up purchase of a THAAD system under its own operational control. THAAD is the latest issue to unite the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Australia, against China and North Korea…”

To read all of Mr. Corr’s remarks, please hit this link.

Vietnam reportedly fortifies some islands against China


The Guardian and Reuters  passed on not totally confirmed reports that Vietnam has fortified several islands it controls in the South China Sea with mobile rocket launchers  so  that it can strike Chinese military bases in the region. This would be one of the most assertive Vietnamese moves in decades and would be in response to China growing militarization in the sea, which it claims control of in violation of international law.

To read the full article on this, please hit this link.

Chinese regime hurts itself in show trials


This week’s show trials  of lawyers who had the courage to defend those campaigning for human rights in the increasingly tough dictatorship of Chinese President Xi Jinping may be in the short-term interest of the Chinese government, but it will hurt the regime in the long term, writes the BBC’s Carrie Gracie.

“With many of the bravest and most defiant in China’s legal community now humiliated, cowed, discredited and jailed, who will represent the child poisoned by toxic milk powder, the ethnic minority academic accused of separatism, the feminist protesting sexual harassment or the citizen maimed by unaccountable thugs? In a world full of danger and drama, the Tianjin {show} trials have won little attention at home or abroad.

“Only China watchers and human rights campaigners freeze to attention as a mighty country, one which says it is ruled by law, holds a group of lawyers for a year without access to family or representation, and then convicts them in trials unworthy of a great nation.”

To read the essay, please hit this link.


Why China is so tough for U.S. tech companies


Why is China such a discouraging place for American technology companies? One reason, Robert  Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, told the Los Angeles  that:

“Since President Xi Jinping took office, they have increasingly switched from an economic strategy that emphasizes attracting foreign direct investment to one that favors indigenous innovation and Chinese-owned firms.”

Mr. Atkinson noted that one of the easier places to do this is on the Internet, because it doesn’t require the cutting-edge technology of, say, the aerospace or automotive sectors.

To read the article on this, please hit this link.

China closing part of South China Sea for exercises


In a new show of muscle, China is closing  part of the South China Sea for military exercises this week. The announcement comes after an international tribunal ruled against Beijing’s claim to own virtually the entire sea.

An area southeast of China Hainan island province will be closed until Thursday local time, but  Beijing gave no details about the exercises.

The Japan Times reported: “Six governments claim territory in the South China Sea, although the area where the Chinese naval exercises are being held is not considered a particular hot spot. China’s navy and coast guard operate extensively throughout the South China Sea and regularly stage live firing exercises in the area.”

To read The Japan Times story, please hit this link.

China’s GDP growth rate suggest economic restructuring lagging



The skyline of booming Shanghai.

China has reported a higher-than-expected annualized growth rate of 6.7 percent, the same rate as in the first quarter. As with most dictatorships, it’s difficult to know how accurate that number us. However, in any case, most analysts saw the number as suggesting that the government of President Xi Jinping, in part to keep political control tight, is avoiding economic restructuring.

The Wall Street Journal reported: “Economists say a slower growth rate in the second quarter over the first quarter’s 6.7 percent pace would have sent a welcome signal that China was tackling excess industrial production, rising corporate debt and state-owned enterprise reform.”

“Instead, by ramping up government spending and opening the credit taps, Beijing is likely to fuel overcapacity and see private companies crowded out by risk-averse state banks and bloated state companies.”

“It’s a pretty clear picture with the big, overcapacity state-owned enterprises getting credit and reform plans not getting support,” IG Markets Ltd. analyst Angus Nicholson told the WSJ. “The government talks a good story about helping the private sector, pushing through supply-side reform and lowering investment to state companies, but you’re not actually seeing any of this in the statistics.”

For the full Wall Street Journal story, please hit this link.

China loses big South China Sea case



The northern  South China Sea.

China has lost an important international legal case over control of strategic reefs and atolls that it  asserts give it the right to control much of the South China Sea.  It has been rapidly militarizing some of  these features to cow other nations  with claims in the region, through which goes 30 percent of world trade in physical things.

But expansionist dictatorships have a tendency to ignore international law.

The judgment by an international tribunal in The Hague overwhelmingly favors claims by the Philippines and will intensify diplomatic pressure on Beijing to scale back military expansion in this geopolitically very sensitive area.

As The Guardian noted, “By depriving certain outcrops of territorial-generating status, the ruling effectively punches holes in China’s all-encompassing ‘nine-dash’ line that goes almost ridiculously far  into the South China Sea, far, far away from China.

China  predictably denounced the verdict, which declares large areas of the sea to be neutral international waters or in the exclusive economic zones of other countries. Xinhua, the country’s official news agency, attacked what it called  an “ill-founded” ruling that was “naturally null and void”.

The Communist Party  newspaper the People’s Daily said that the tribunal had ignored “basic truths” and “tramped” on international laws and norms. “The Chinese government and the Chinese people firmly oppose [the ruling] and will neither acknowledge it nor accept it,” it added.

The tribunal declared that “although Chinese navigators and fishermen, as well as those of other states, had historically made use of the islands in the South China Sea, there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources.”

To read The Guardian’s article on  this, please hit this link.


Kim regime calls U.S. sanctions ‘act of war’


The emblem of North Korea.

North Korea has  predictably called U.S.  sanctions against North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and other senior  Kim regime officials for human-rights abuses a “declaration of war”. Pyongyang said the announcement of sanctions was a “hideous crime”.

It’s hard to believe that it took so long, but the United States imposed its first sanctions targeting any  individual North Koreans for rights abuses on July 6.  The assets of Kim and  10 other  high-level people and five government ministries and departments  within U.S.  jurisdiction are now blocked.

Meanwhile, U.N.  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, hopes  that China will urge its ally North Korea to cooperate internationally on human rights, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said July 7 in New York. Such hopes have been expressed many times before with no effect.

For a longer article on this, please hit this link.

Brexit could be very bad for China


The United Kingdom’s apparent decision to leave the European Union could be very bad news for China. The U.K. has been its biggest economic ally in the E.U.  Further, Chinese investments in the U.K.  itself may suffer. The British have long pushed within the E.U. for freer trade with China  while other members have feared being economically overwhelmed by cheap imports from China.

“The U.K. leadership always said they would be the guys pushing for China’s interests in the West and the European Union,” a Western diplomat in Beijing  not authorized to be quoted by name in foreign media told The Washington Post. “This is quite bad news for China.”

To read The Post story, please hit this link.


Is China punishing N. Korea for nuclear tests?

Satellite imagery suggests that China might be punishing its ally North Korea for its nuclear-weapons tests by sharply restricting trade between the two dictatorships.

“It is apparent that shortly after North Korea did the fourth nuclear test in January, China took unilateral measures to drastically curtail trade interaction along their border,”  Victor Cha, director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration, told The Washington Post.

To read The  Post’s article on this, please hit this link.

Xi focuses on importance of Marxist ideology


Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized the importance of ideological orthodoxy  to ensure the  power and legitimacy of Communist Party rule.

“The wavering of idealistic faith is the most dangerous form of wavering,” Mr. Xi told an assembly of party officials and members at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on July 1. “A political party’s decline often starts with the loss or lack of idealistic faith.”

“Turning our backs or abandoning Marxism means that our party would lose its soul and direction,” he said.

Mr. Xi has  tried to energize the Communist Party with iron discipline and an appeal to nationalism meant to curb corruption and bureaucratic  sluggishness — all with the aim of perpetuating the party’s power.

China’s economic slowdown  has intensified the pressure to reinforce the party, including by appealing to national pride as expressed by China’s aggressive expansionism. But that, of course has met with increasing pushback from China’s neighbors.

“Xi’s speech was a celebration and a warning,” said Jude Blanchette, a Beijing-based researcher who is writing a book on Mao Zedong’s legacy, told The Wall Street Journal. It is “a reminder that Xi’s vision for China cannot be divorced from a strong, organized and highly disciplined Communist Party.”

To read a Wall Street Journal article on this news, please hit this link.

China names tough new Internet czar

Chinese President Xi Jinping has named Xu Lin to become the government’s new head Internet regulator,  succeeding Lu Wei.

Mr. Xu has  vowed to maintain the ruling Communist Party’s tight grip over cyberspace, which is overseen by the Cyberspace Administration of China.

The Chinese government has long imposed  controls over the Internet, in part to stifle political dissent, and is codifying that policy in law. Officials assert that such restrictions are needed to ensure security in the face of such rising threats as terrorism. However, most of China’s crackdown seems directed against speech that, however carefully, criticizes the Communist dictatorship.

For the Reuters article on this, please hit this link.


China’s intense campaign to boost its international cyberpower


China is pressing ahead with efforts to make it easier for dictatorships like that of Chinese President Xi Jinping to censor information on the Internet under the guise of “cybersovereignty’’. Cybersovereignty is a concept used to  try to maintain the power of dictatorships through the suppression of opposition voices.

Stephenie Andal warns in The Diplomat: “Yet while control measures such as the Great Firewall (Beijing’s central censorship apparatus) remain a great source of concern for cyber scholars, the overwhelming focus on the domestic aspects of Chinese cyber policy dangerously ignore the broader, international implications inherent in China’s move towards cybersovereignty, which I argue, we should see as nothing less than an innovative and bold push to reshape the global contours of cyberspace in China’s favor. We might do well to subvert our scholarly bias of China as playing second fiddle to other global power players (most prominently the United States), especially in areas of innovation, cyber policies, and digital communications, and explore the possibility of a China that…is playing a strategic ‘long game’ with highly forward-thinking digital policies. This presents to us a much more complex and challenging picture of a China intent on ‘leading the pack’ in a post-utopian cyber age, with thinking that may be as innovative as it is dangerous.’’

She concludes:

“China’s drive for cybersovereignty should be seen as a calculated power play by Beijing to seize on the moment of transition that the global Internet is in at present, a time when growing geographical and political cleavages in the global cyber terrain are becoming increasingly apparent. The inclusion of the term ‘multilateral’ (in reference to Internet governance) in an outcome document approved recently at the U.N. General Assembly, reflects China’s growing power on the global cyber stage and its sway over future approaches to how to govern and shape the global Internet….’’

To read Ms. Andal’s column in The Diplomat, please this this link.