Obama prepares for last Asia trip as president

 

President  Obama next month will make what is expected to be his final trip to Asia. There he will  meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders.

During his time in the White House,  Mr. Obama has sought to “rebalance” America’s defense and economic policy to counter China’s rising influence.

During the trip, from Sept. 2-9, he will attend the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, where he will  meet privately with Mr.  Xi.

He also will travel to Laos to  take part in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and East Asia Summit, where leaders have grappled with China’s increasingly menacing territorial claims in the South China Sea.

His visit to Laos will be the first for an U.S. president. There, he will meet  with Laotian President Bounnhang Vorachith and attend a town hall with young leaders.

The trip will be a chance for  Mr. Obama to promote the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, a key part of his Asia strategy but one that faces a lot of opposition in  the U.S. Congress.

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

New Apple center another opportunity for Chinese theft?

 

Despite the increasing difficulties for foreign companies operating in China, Apple Inc. will build its first Asia-Pacific research and development center in the country, Chief Executive Tim Cook said Aug. 14.

The pledge comes after China’s industry and technology regulator in May told Apple  that China could deepen its cooperation with the country in research and development and stressed information security. Given China’s record of engaging in massive intellectual-property theft and in cracking down on Internet freedom in China while its government engages in frequent cyberattacks against the United States, it’s unclear how beneficial the center will be to Apple,  other U.S. technology companies or, indeed to U.S. and other Western nations’ national security in general.

The regime of President Xi Jinping may see the new Apple center as yet another way of undermining American technology superiority.

To read a Reuters story on the new center, please hit this link.

Chinese military even more aggressive than Xi

China’s increasingly aggressive military is pushing the nation’s also aggressive Communist political  leadership to be willing to attack the U.S. and other nations that are pushing back against China’s attempt to take over the South China Sea through military threats.  But so  far, anyway, the government of President Xi Jinping has shown some wariness of provoking a direct armed clash with the United States.

China has called for a peaceful resolution of South China Sea disputes through talks at the same time as it continued to build up its military in the sea, especially by militarizing reefs and shoals.

To read a Japan Times article on this, please hit this link.

China sets new rules for Internet ads

internet

Visualization of some  routes on the Internet.

The Chinese government is imposing new regulations for online advertising that include a wide-range of practices from e-mail to videos. The increasingly authoritarian government is trying to impose more rigorous control of this part of the Internet, in this case, apparently, mostly for public-welfare concerns and not as part of the efforts of President Xi Jinping to tighten the political control of the huge nation by  the Communist Party dictatorship.

The Wall Street Journal reports: “The rules are China’s most comprehensive to date, broadly defining online and electronic advertising as including e-mail ads, paid search results, and embedded links, images or videos ‘with the purpose of promoting goods or services.”’

“The regulations, which take effect in September, lay out guidelines against false or misleading practices and prohibit online ads for prescription medication and tobacco while requiring prior government approval for ads for medical supplies, pesticides, veterinary medicine and other health products.”

To read the entire Wall Street Journal article, please hit this link.

abacus

Ancient Chinese abacus, an early “computer”.

China puts on military show in advance of ruling on the South China Sea

paracells

The exercises, inside a 100,000-square-kilometer zone around the disputed Paracel Islands, come ahead of a ruling expected next week by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague over a long-standing territorial dispute between the Philippines and China.

The court will  rule on whether the Philippines  has the right to exploit waters  also claimed by China.

A ruling  could cast into doubt China’s vast claims in the region, through which about 30 percent of world trade goes through. But Beijing has refused to recognize the court’s authority.

To read The Guardian’s story 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.

Serious journalism dying in Xi’s China

coffins

Many Chinese journalists are giving up on that profession as the Communist dictatorship tightens media control and a technology boom opens new opportunities for being paid much more than most journalists could earn.

The Wall Street Journal notes that: {T}he trend is especially worrying in a huge country with such limited public power to scrutinize the government and big companies. Many journalists believe serious journalism is a lost cause in China. While online content appears to be flourishing, there is less coverage of hot-button issues. Online media outlets don’t have the leeway to cover news so they focus on ‘safer’ content such as sports, entertainment, lifestyle and occasionally business news.”

The decline in rigorous journalism almost certainly means more government and business corruption, which will slow China’s economic growth. But the government of President Xi Jinping is focused on doing everything possible to maintain the Communist Party dictatorship. Thus the huge nation, at least for the foreseeable future, will continue to be a strange mix of police  state and frantic business activity.

To read The Wall Street Journal’s article in this, please hit this link.

Biden warns Xi about Japan’s nuclear potential

 

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden has warned Chinese President Xi Jinping that Japan could  acquire nuclear weapons “virtually overnight.”

Mr. Biden said that he had urged Mr. Xi to push North Korea  to abandon its missile and nuclear- weapons developments. But it is highly unlikely that China will push its fellow dictatorship to do s0.

The vice president was referring to Pyongyang’s recent nuclear test and missile launches in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

 

Mr. Biden said North Korea is building nuclear weapons that can strike as far as away the U.S. mainland. “And I say, so we’re going to move up our defense system,”  suggesting  that America will  deploy an advanced U.S. missile interception system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, in South Korea.

The vice president quoted Mr. Xi as saying, “Wait a minute, my military thinks you’re going to try to circle us.”

 

Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko  asserted June 24 that Japan “can never possess nuclear weapons.”

To read The Japan Times’s story 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.