WASHINGTON – American foreign policy has reached a historic inflection point, and here’s the surprise: It has very little to do with the all-consuming presidency and controversies of Donald Trump.
For roughly 25 years after the Cold War, one of the dominant themes of U.S. policy was the effort to globalize the liberal international order that had initially taken hold in the West after World War II. Washington hoped to accomplish this by integrating the system’s potential challengers — namely Russia and China — so deeply into it that they would no longer have any desire to disrupt it. The goal was, by means of economic and diplomatic inducement, to bring all the world’s major powers into a system in which they would be satisfied — and yet the United States and its values would still reign supreme.
This was a heady ambition, one that was based on the idea that Russia and China were heading irreversibly down the path of political and economic liberalization, and that they could eventually be induced to define their interests in a way compatible with America’s own.
Yet that project has now unmistakably reached a dead end. The new goal of U.S. strategy won’t be to integrate rival great powers into a truly global world order, but to defend the existing international system — successful yet incomplete as it is — against their depredations.
This conclusion may be difficult to accept, because it flies in the face of the enormous optimism that characterized the post-Cold War era. As the superpower contest ended, democracy and free markets were spreading like wildfire, walls were falling and geopolitical divisions were disappearing.
Even Russia and China — America’s longtime geopolitical rival and the next great power looming on the horizon — were showing interest in greater cooperation and integration with the U.S.-led international community. It seemed possible that the world was moving toward a single model of political and economic organization, and a single global system under American leadership.
Encouraging this outcome became a chief preoccupation of American policy. The U.S. sought to deepen diplomatic ties with Boris Yeltsin’s Russia and to encourage democratic and free-market reforms there, even as it hedged against potential Russian revanchism and European instability by expanding NATO to include the countries of the former Warsaw Pact.
Similarly, Washington pursued “comprehensive engagement” toward China, focused on integrating Beijing into the global economy and encouraging it to take a more active role in regional and international diplomacy. The theory of the case was that a richer China would eventually become a more democratic China, as the growth of the middle class produced pressures for political reform. America’s integration policy would simultaneously give Beijing an equity stake in the existing, U.S.-led liberal order and thereby deprive Chinese leaders of reasons for challenging it.
As President Bill Clinton’s administration described it, this approach was one of “seizing on the desire of both countries to participate in the global economy and global institutions, insisting that both accept the obligations as well as the benefits of integration.”
This strategy, which was summed up by Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick in 2005 as the “responsible stakeholder” model, reflected an admirable aspiration to permanently leave behind the intense geopolitical and ideological competition of the 20th century. Yet, as has become increasingly clear over the last decade — first in Russia, and now in China — that approach was based on two assumptions that have not withstood the test of reality.
The first was that China and Russia were indeed moving inexorably toward Western-style economic and political liberalism. Russian reform ground to a halt in the late 1990s, amid economic crisis and political chaos. Over the next 15 years, Vladimir Putin gradually re-established a governing model of increasingly undisguised political authoritarianism and ever-closer collusion between the state and major business interests.
In China, economic growth and integration into the global economy did not lead inevitably to political liberalization. The ruling Communist Party instead used dizzying economic growth rates as a way of purchasing legitimacy and buying off dissent. In recent years, the Chinese political system has actually become more authoritarian, as the government has assiduously repressed human rights advocacy and independent political activism, and centralized power to a degree not seen in decades.
The second assumption was that these powers could be induced to define their own interests the way the U.S. wanted them to. The trouble here was that Russia and China were never willing fully to embrace the U.S.-led liberal order, which emphasized liberal ideas that were bound to seem threatening to dictatorial regimes — not to mention the expansion of NATO into Moscow’s former sphere of influence and the persistence of U.S. alliances and military forces all along China’s East Asia periphery. And so, as Beijing and Moscow obtained, or regained, the power to contest that order, they increasingly did so.
Russia has, over the past decade, sought to revise the post-Cold War settlement in Europe by force and intimidation, most notably through the invasions of Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. Putin’s government has also worked to undermine key institutions of the liberal order such as NATO and the European Union, and it has aggressively meddled in the elections and domestic political affairs of Western states.
China, for its part, has been happy to reap the benefits of inclusion in the global economy, even as it has increasingly sought to dominate its maritime periphery, coerce and intimidate neighbors from Vietnam to Japan, and weaken U.S. alliances in the Asia-Pacific region.
American officials hoped that Moscow and Beijing might eventually become satisfied, status quo powers. Instead, as Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution has written, they are behaving in classic revisionist fashion.
The age of integration is thus over, in the sense that there is no realistic, near-term prospect of bringing either Russia or China into an American-led system. This does not mean, however, that America is destined for war with Russia and China, or even that it should seek fully to isolate either power.
For better or worse, U.S.-China trade remains vital to American prosperity and the health of the global economy; cooperation between Washington and Beijing — and even Washington and Moscow — is important to addressing international diplomatic challenges such as nuclear proliferation and climate change.
What this does mean, however, is that the U.S. needs to become both tougher and less ambitious in its approach to great-power relations and the international system. Less ambitious in the sense that it needs to set aside the notion that the liberal order will become truly global or encompass all the major powers anytime soon. And tougher in the sense of understanding that more strenuous efforts will be required to defend the existing order against the challenge that revisionist power represent.
This will require taking difficult but necessary steps, such as making the military investments needed to shore up U.S. power and deterrence in Eastern Europe and the Western Pacific, and developing capabilities needed to oppose Chinese coercion and Russian political subversion of their neighbors. It will require rallying old and new partners against the threat posed by Russian and Chinese expansionism. Above all, it will mean accepting that great-power relations are entering a period of greater danger and tension, and that a willingness to accept greater costs and risks will be the price of meeting the revisionist challenge and preserving American interests.
In short, the goal of achieving a fully integrated world is no longer achievable today. Successfully defending the existing international order that the U.S. has successfully constructed and led over the years will be challenge — and accomplishment — enough.
Hal Brands is the Henry A. Kissinger distinguished professor at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
Please Take The Time To Reference The Book Of Revelation For Greater Understanding
I have been debating how to write this article for about a month now, I have even been debating how to word the title also. I had been thinking about making the title something like ‘Are These 3 Men 3 Beasts Of Revelation’, yet as I started writing the title I changed it to what you see now. Obviously I am trying to tweak folks interest enough to get them to take a few moments to stop in, read and contemplate what I am going to say to you here in this article today. I hope that you enjoy the read, I hope that I am able to get you to think and maybe even get you to reread the last book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation.
As this system that we all live in keeps getting worse as it and we are spiraling toward the ‘End Of Days’ spoken of several times throughout both the Old and the New Testaments. The Rapture, the second coming of Christ, will not come today or tomorrow, I can say this with total confidence simply because all of the Bible’s end of time prophecies have not been fulfilled yet. For those of you who are unaware of it the Rapture is when Armageddon will happen. Armageddon is when the governments and their armies and their people fight against God and His Angels and the people are crushed like grapes in a wine-press. When Christ returns one of the first things that will happen is the Demons who posed as world leaders will straightway be cast into Hell. This will happen because they have already been judged and found guilty by God. This is when the people will see and understand that they have been deceived by their Demonic Leaders and it will be too late for those poor Souls then. These humans are the ones who allowed these evil governments and their leaders to insert computer chips in their hands or in their head. This, is the ‘Mark of the Beast’, the Devil’s mark, the way that the governments will get all the people to bow down to them.
As time closes out the broader circle of world power will continue to shrink into fewer and fewer hands. There will come a time when almost all of the worlds military and economic power will rest in the hands of 10 governments, 10 Leaders. This system will then be usurped by just 3 seats of power, then finally just one. I believe that the 3 world powers will come from 3 regions of the world. Please think of the globe in the means of north to south planes. One of these 3 great powers will come from Asia so almost without a doubt, China. Another of the 3 great powers will come from the center area. I believe that Russia in time will dominate Europe, don’t laugh folks, President Putin if he wished to do it can right now turn off the oil and gas to Europe. With no energy all of their economies will quickly implode or Russia could play the ‘good neighbor’ and end up having a seat at the EU table. Then you have the western hemisphere, the Americas, most likely dominated by the U.S.. These 3 will be usurped by ‘The” Anti-Christ who will come up from underneath them and the 3 will give all their power to their Master, “The” Anti-Christ which is the Devil Himself.
Do I really believe that the 3 Presidents that I mentioned in the title are or will be the 3 who will control these 3 realms? Do I really believe that these 3 men are evil, yes I do. Everyone’s body is like unto a house and this house can only have 3 options, I am referring to the Spiritual plane . One option is the house is empty, anther option is the house is the dwelling place of God’s Holy Spirit, and the third option is that it is occupied by at least one Demonic Spirit. A demon can not enter where the Holy Spirit resides so they cannot share one house. Where the Holy Spirit is, no Demon is there. So, these three Presidents are just like you and I in regard to our bodies being a dwelling place, a house, a home. There is a such a thing as a person who chooses to be evil by their nature, one does not need a Demonic presence to be hate filled, egotistical and selfish, way to many humans manage that all on their own dime. Now do I believe that these 3 Presidents I mentioned are going to be the “big 3” very shortly before the ‘end of days’? Honestly, I think probably not, but is it possible? Yes it is possible, certainly these 3 men fit the profile and I believe that in China and in Russia their two current Presidents have no intention of ever letting go of the power they now have. Trump, who knows about this egomaniac. Pope Francis last year questioned Trumps faith and his being pro-life and Mr. Trump rebutted that “no religious leader should ever question another man faith.” A couple of things, yes, it is exactly what a religious leaders job is in part to question people’s faith. Yet in Mr. Trumps case it is my belief that you cannot question something that does not exist.
I hope you enjoyed this little ‘future’ history discussion. I hope that you will take an hour or so and read through the Book Of Revelation again. I also hope that if you have any questions, please ask them I will give you the most honest and truthful answers that I know of. God’s love and peace I wish to each and every one of you, God bless.
This morning Kim Jong Un, the idiot who controls North Korea with an iron fist set off a nuclear bomb. China says that they do not want there to be nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula yet they have helped create this lunatic in North Korea. I say this because there is plenty of picture evidence that shows that the missile launchers North Korea uses are Chinese. The very rapid development of their missile and Nuke programs makes it obvious that North Korea is getting ‘State’ help from someone. There are only two choices as to which States, China or Russia. There is also plenty of solid proof that North Korea is helping Iran with their missile and Nuke programs. All of the signs point to China being behind North Korea and China’s President Xi Jinping has stated this past week that China will not tolerate a Regime change in North Korea under any circumstance.
China’s President Xi Jinping has proven himself to be almost as flagrant of a liar as President Trump, the difference between those two men is that Xi Jinping is very intelligent and Donald Trump if a complete idiot. China’s government would love nothing more than for the United States military to totally exit the Asian realm so that they can more easily totally dominate every country in Asia. I do not believe that China and I mean by that, Xi Jinping will order a ‘hit’ on Kim Jong Un even though that would be the best solution to this crises. One mans blood being spilled is far better than the blood of thousands or even millions being spilled.
Being China is actually helping Kim Jong Un with his Nuclear and military programs the world can not wait on China to do anything to this crazy fool. While the world waits on the UN to produce results with their talks and sanctions North Korea is perfecting their Missile and Nuclear technologies with the help of Beijing. China continues to warn the U.S. and our allies in that region of the world that if North Korea is attacked preemptively that China will militarily join North Korea. So, to me that sounds a lot like the U.S., South Korea or Japan should just sit back and wait to be hit with Nuclear bombs first before they respond. I am not saying that the U.S. should Nuke anyone first but what I am saying is that if Xi Jinping will not kill Kim Jong Un then the U.S. needs to make it very clear to Kim Jong Un that if he tests even one more missile, Nuke of otherwise that the U.S. and our Allies will hunt him down and kill him, no if and or buts about it, he will die.
I cover business and investing in emerging markets.Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Chinese President Xi Jinping walks with Brazilian President Michel Temer in Beijing on Friday, just two days before the opening of the annual BRICS Summit on Sept. 3. China is far and away the most powerful of the five BRICS. (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Is it at all humiliating to the Russians, at least a little bit, that the Chinese are far and away the biggest, baddest BRICS nation? Russia used to be a world superpower. It’s a world oil power. A world nuclear power. But beyond that, China is more relevant to the world economy than the Russians.
Brazil. What about them? For years, the commodity bubble made it seem Brazil was on its way to becoming the runaway leader of Latin America, surpassing Mexico, which is basically a U.S. import market. Brazil was, and is, a more diverse economy than Mexico. They weren’t dependent on any one nation, really. Then the commodity bubble burst and Brazil’s purchasing power has dropped, putting it on par with China’s. GDP per capita is also similar. China’s Happy Meal toy making economy has grown up and is home to more new billionaires than anywhere else. And as leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa meet in Xiamen on Sept. 3, it is clear to everyone watching that China is the leader.
Russia needs China because it is in a never-ending feud with the West. They have two things in common, generally: commodities supply and demand, and a desire for a multi-polar world, though this is probably more Vladimir Putin’s thing than Xi Jinping’s. China is at least as dependent on the U.S. as Russia is dependent on Europe.
Brazil needs China because that’s where all of its soybeans and iron ore goes. Brazil’s agribusiness is vital to the economic recovery now just two quarters young. In May, China and Brazil launched a joint investment fund to increase productive capacity. The fund has an initial sum of $20 billion and will reportedly go to finance investment projects in Brazil (not in China) that are of interest to both countries. Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, is already in China. He wants to convince them to buy airports and participate in other privatization bids as Brazil tries to trim more fat from its federal government.
Following the recent border skirmish, India can probably do without China. India’s main trading partners are the U.S. and United Arab Emirates. But if you include Hong Kong with China, then China is No. 2. More importantly, India’s imports are heavily dependent on the Chinese. Some $59 billion worth of Chinese imports moved into India in 2015, more than the No. 2 Sweden and No. 3 U.S. combined. Bilateral trade volume between China and India also rose by 21.5% year-on-year to $47.52 billion between January and July 2017, Indian customs data show.
South Africa needs China investment and Chinese buyers for its raw materials. China is its biggest export market, accounting for around $12 billion. That beats South Africa’s No. 2 partner, the U.S., with around $7 billion in exports, both based on 2015 figures.
China is a total beast. South Africa, Russia and Brazil are particularly at its mercy.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping at the BRICS summit in Goa, India last year. India and China have agreed to pull back their troops from a face-off in the high Himalayas where China, India and Bhutan meet, signaling a thaw in the months long standoff. It’s a relationship where China has more Aces up its sleeve than India. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)
Although all five of these countries stand to gain from closer commercial ties, China is the one that will gain the most. China has just about enough money sitting in international reserves to equal the economic output of Brazil ($1.7 trillion), Russia ($1.3 trillion) and South Africa ($295 billion). It’s state owned enterprises have the funding to buy strategic assets abroad, like water and oil and gas infrastructure. And its new billionaires like Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, has his eyes set on being the Jeff Bezos of emerging markets. He basically already is.
The upcoming BRICS Summit will end on Sept. 5 with the usual rhetorical messaging and memorandums of understanding about how they will all accelerate trade, investment and technological know-how. China’s Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said on Friday that China wants to deepen international cooperation in improving industrial capacity. In convincing their emerging market partners that they need to get more productive, China can sell them their new robotic technologies. All those Chinese workers replaced by automation, can work building the screws and attaching the wires and packaging up new robots to ship to Brazil instead.
A few BRIC country companies have big business in China, too. It is not entirely a one way street. Brazil’s Embraer jet manufacturer has a facility in southern China, and builds planes with their Chinese joint venture partner.
Russian investment bank, VTB Capital, set up shop in Shanghai in 2015.
India’s Tata Group family of companies is in China. IT firm Tata Consultancy Services is there, with the usual tie-up with a Chinese firm. Tata Steel has two steel mills in China. Tata’s Jaguar Land Rover unit has a JV with Chery Automobile to build the luxury cars in Changshu.
South Africa’s Old Mutual financial services firm used to have a foothold there but are now looking to dump their insurance unit, at least.
Meanwhile, here’s a quick snapshot of what China has accomplished, as outlined on Friday by China Daily:
Gezhouba Group announced March 30 that it will spend up to $200 million to acquire 100% stake of Sistema Produtor Sao Lourenco, a water supply company in Brazil, China Daily first reported.
China Investment Corp partnered with Brookfield Asset Management in April to take a 90% percent stake in Nova Transportadora do Sudeste, a natural gas pipeline company owned by Petrobras.
It is clear who is the big buyer and who is staking claim to turf long term. Brazil is selling; China is buying. South Africa is a seller, too. So when Putin and other leaders meet in China on Sunday, they will all know on many levels, that in terms of global finance and trade, they are no longer equals.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres in Geneva, Switzerland, January 18, 2017 (Photo: Pierre Albouy/UN)
As I noted in my post yesterday, the Chinese government has declined to clarify how and whether it believes the international law governing the use of applies to cyber warfare. Its refusal to do so has drawn sharp criticism from the U.S. and other cyber powers. But while the Chinese government has not set forth a clear statement on these issues, Chinese scholars and media commentators have outlined important principles that may become part of official government policy. Drawing on my recently published paper for the Hoover Aegis Paper Series, this post sketches out some key themes on international law and cyber warfare gleaned from Chinese legal scholarship.
First, much of the Chinese commentary I reviewed is deeply suspicious of the motives of any effort to build a consensus on the rules of cyber warfare, including the Tallinn Manual, an important effort by scholars from around the world to develop academic consensus on the rules of international law and cyber warfare. In China’s view, the fact that most of the scholars in the original Tallinn Manual hailed from NATO countries made its motives suspect. As one Chinese media commentary put it, the United States is attempting to “spur the international community into drawing up rules for cyber warfare in order to put a cloak of legality on its ‘preemptive strike’ strategy in cyber warfare.”
Chinese scholars did participate in the “Tallinn 2.0” effort, but Chinese media remained skeptical of the whole approach. China has long argued that instead of discussing how existing international law should be interpreted to regulate cyber warfare, all cyber activities should be handled through a new treaty negotiated at the United Nations. As another Chinese commentator noted, the West usually enjoyed “bragging about its ‘carrying of the flag’ for international law,” yet the West is now the main obstacle to international legislation in this area.
Second, Chinese analysts have emphasized that, despite the Tallinn Manual, deep uncertainty and disagreement exists on ways to define and attribute cyberattacks that constitute “armed attacks” under international law. Most importantly, Chinese commentary has criticized an expansive definition of the right of self-defense against cyber-attacks. Because the United States, in China’s view, has abused its right of self-defense in other contexts, China is reluctant to endorse any principle that would bolster doctrines such as preemptive self-defense. As a prime cyber target as well as cyber power, China is worried about legitimizing U.S. offensive cyber operations as forms of “self-defense.”
Other Chinese scholars have reiterated that the difficulties in attributing a cyber attack to a state remains a key obstacle to the effective application of international law. Yet in their view, the efforts of some Western scholars to loosen legal standards to make a state responsible for cyber activities of small groups or individuals are impracticable and dangerous.
I discuss all of this in greater detail in my paper, but overall, I think China’s position deserves more study and consideration. As I argued yesterday, China’s embrace of international law for cyber warfare may not actually be in the best interests of the U.S. As this brief survey of Chinese commentary suggests, China is also skeptical that signing up for the U.S. version of international law will be in China’s best interests. It is therefore not surprising that U.N.-sponsored negotiations on the application of international law to cyber warfare collapsed this past June.
I write about Asia in the 21st-century world economy.Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
This story appears in the September 2017 issue of Forbes Asia.Subscribe
Xi Jinping, China’s president, left, and Li Keqiang, China’s premier, at the third session of the 12th National People’s Congress in Beijing, China in March 2015. (Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg)
There is an Arab proverb, inspired by the Koran, that says, “He who predicts the future lies, even if he tells the truth.” In other words: If you make a prediction and it turns out right, it’s sheer luck, mate.
With that caveat, let me offer not a prediction but a hypothesis. On the basis of current trends, it would seem the world is experiencing one of its most profound transformations in history.
In essence, for the last half-millennium, since the rise of the Portuguese seaborne empire in the late 15th century, the world has been dominated by the West. Japan was the only non-Western nation to emerge as a global power, but it did so not by challenging the West but by joining it. It never had Asian allies but rather three successive Western allies: imperial Britain from 1902 to 1922, while Japan was an imperialist nation; Nazi Germany from 1937 to 1944, during which period it became a fascist military dictatorship; and the U.S. since 1952, as it became a “Western” democracy and joined the “Western” alliance.
China is rising as a, if not the, great global power of the 21st century, and the U.S., after having dominated the 20th century, is declining in the 21st.
Until it entered its “era of humiliation” in the century-plus following the first Opium War (1839), China was a rich and proud power. It then declined precipitously: Its share of global GDP fell from an estimated 33% in 1820 to 4% in 1950–even though it had an estimated 20% of world’s population. Until fairly recently, the words “Chinese” and “poor” were synonymous. China has no Western allies, only two–sort-of–Asian allies: North Korea and Pakistan. Unlike Japan, China is not seeking to emulate any Western system. When you ask what China is about, the answer is “Socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
Chinese paramilitary policemen stand in formation on Tiananmen Square after attending a ceremony to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on August 1, 2017. (Photo credit: ANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images)
The emerging Chinese challenge is military and economic–but also historical, cultural, political, geopolitical, philosophical and ideological. Just as it was essential for the non-Western world in the 19th and 20th centuries to learn about the West, so is it incumbent on all to learn about China.
In doing so, it is difficult to imagine a better guide than Howard French’s Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power. This book is an outstanding font of knowledge and provides compelling insights into how China sees the world and its own destiny. It combines a bird’s-eye view of China’s past, present and possible future with a detailed worm’s-eye view, especially of its positions vis-à-vis Southeast Asian nations in the South China Sea and vis-à-vis Japan in the East China Sea.
French presents the Chinese viewpoint. You don’t have to condone it, but to be awake in the 21st century, you have to understand it. You also have to understand how Chinese see world history and how it applies to them. Thus, Chinese thought and policy leaders are quite familiar with how the Monroe Doctrine allowed the U.S. to assert a hegemonic position in Central America and to transform the Caribbean into an American lake. A 21st-century version of that doctrine is being crafted in Beijing and applied to East Asia.
The rise of China is half of the global picture. The other half is the decline of the U.S., or indeed of the West generally. That is the theme of Edward Luce’s recent book The Retreat of Western Liberalism. Luce demonstrates that while Donald Trump as president is a potential disaster, it is a disaster that was waiting to happen. The decline of the U.S. and the retreat of Western liberalism imply, among other things, that the Western alliance that played such a crucial role in the second half of the 20th century is kaput. As Luce points out, while the end-of-history theory that prevailed at the turn of the century presumed democracy had won, in fact over the past decade, 25 democracies have failed.
U.S. President Donald Trump leaving the White House on August 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Thus, the question is “whether the Western way of life, and our liberal democratic systems, can survive this dramatic shift of global power… . Donald Trump’s victory crystallizes the West’s failure to come to terms with the reality it faces.”
Recent events in the U.S. come to mind while reading this passage in Luce’s book: “The future of Western democracy looks bleak if American politics hardens into two racially hostile camps. Donald Trump consciously stokes racist sentiment, and has given a rocket boost to the ‘alt right’ fringe of neo-Nazis and white nationalists.”
So as China rises and the U.S. declines, eyes are increasingly turning to Berlin and Angela Merkel. Germans–who on the global leadership front have been there, done that (and failed)–are not particularly keen to have this glory thrust upon them.
Until now, foreign academic presses were largely immune to this sort of censorship. In recent years, the websites of most foreign news organizations have been blocked in China, as have social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and the search engine Google.
But because of their small readership, and high subscription costs (one China Quarterly article costs more than $20), academic journals were not targeted.
The new measures seem in line with announcements made by President Xi Jinping in February 2016 that all media content on any platform must come under the Communist Party’s “guidance.”
“The same rules apply to any foreign content, academic or otherwise, that is accessible within China,” said David Bandurski, the co-director of the China Media Project and a fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin. “Given Xi Jinping’s determination to rein in dissenting views in the information space, foreign publishers are misleading themselves if they believe they can escape pressure like that facing China Quarterly.”
Searching for the word “Tiananmen” at the journal’s main page yields 50 results, with the top two relating to the “Tiananmen Papers,” a 2001 compilation of secret documents that is widely considered essential for understanding the events of 1989. Other top hits include an assessment of China’s universities in the aftermath of the student-led movement, and the effect of the crackdown on relations with Taiwan.
Performing the same search within China, however, yields only five hits, either tangential mentions or urban-planning articles about the square.
The block appears to go beyond Cambridge University Press’s website to include searches through third-party databases, including JSTOR, a digital library that academics around the world use to perform full-text searches of nearly 2,000 journals, including China Quarterly.
As of Friday night, it was unclear whether all JSTOR access was now blocked in China.
After news of the censorship spread, academics inside and outside China expressed alarm.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN.COM, THE LONG READ, AND ANDY TAI’S WEBSITE)
Could Trump’s blundering lead to war between China and Japan?
China and Japan’s postwar truce has always been an uneasy one – and if Washington cools its support for Tokyo, the dynamics in the region could shift dangerously. By Richard McGregor
Thursday 17 August 2017 01.00 EDT
For news out of east Asia, it is difficult to compete with North Korea’s youthful, jocular despot, Kim Jong-un, and his near-daily threats to fire a nuclear-tipped missile at US territory. On Monday, Kim was pictured surrounded by his top generals mulling over maps with targets closer to home, in South Korea and Japan, while warning again that he was ready to “wring the windpipes of the Yankees”. The young Kim, and his father and grandfather before him, have long tossed violent epithets at their enemies, but Pyongyang’s new capabilities – to potentially deliver a nuclear warhead across the Pacific – have injected fresh danger into the crisis on the Korean peninsula.
The North Korean crisis is one of the few creations of the cold war to have outlived the Berlin Wall, despite persistent predictions that the communist dynasty would collapse. There are many factors driving the confrontation, chief among them paranoia in Pyongyang, where the Kim dynasty is focused above all on preventing regime change. In neighbouring China, Beijing is paralysed: it is caught between anger at Kim for destabilising the region, and fear that if it pushes Pyongyang too hard, the regime will collapse, and fall into the hands of South Korea, an ally of the US. The US itself also seems impotent, knowing that starting any war could lead to devastating attacks on its allies in Seoul and Tokyo.
Lost among the headlines is the fact that the crisis is just a symptom of a bigger drama unfolding in east Asia, where an entire postwar order, built and maintained by the US since 1945, is slowly coming apart.
While the US military bases still dotted across the region have a whiff of latter-day imperialism, for the past seven decades Pax Americana has underwritten an explosion in wealth not matched in the world since the industrial revolution. Since the 1950s, Japan, and then South Korea, Taiwan and China, have been able to put bitter political and historical enmities aside to pursue economic growth.
At the same time, the US presence in east Asia has papered over serial diplomatic failures. All of the frozen-in-the-1950s conflicts buried during the decades of high-speed economic growth are starting to resurface. China and Taiwan have drifted further apart than ever politically. The Korean peninsula remains divided and bristling with conventional and nuclear armoury. The Sino-Japanese rivalry overflows with bitterness, despite a bilateral business relationship that is one of the most valuable in the world.
The Chinese often quote an ancient idiom when speaking about Japan: two tigers cannot live on one mountain. China is in growing competition with Japan to be the dominant indigenous power in Asia, and many view this as a zero-sum game. Any clash between them would not be a simple spat between neighbours. A single shot fired in anger could trigger a global economic tsunami, engulfing political capitals, trade routes, manufacturing centres and retail outlets on every continent.
Whether these tensions play out peacefully depends not just on the two superpowers, the US and China. Japan – which has at different times threatened to eclipse them both – is also pivotal to regional stability. Prior to Donald Trump’s emergence, it was assumed that just about any scenario for the US in east Asia would involve broad continuity for the core elements of past policy, including trade liberalisation and a commitment to alliances, such as that with Japan. But Trump is also a living embodiment of the larger trend that the days of US dominance of the region are numbered.
Today the relationship between the three powers resembles a geopolitical version of the scene in the movie Reservoir Dogs in which a trio of antagonists simultaneously point guns at each other, creating a circle of cascading threats. In the east Asian version of this scenario, the US has its arsenal trained on China; China, in turn, menaces Japan and the US; in ways that are rarely noticed, Japan completes the triangle, with its hold over the US. If Tokyo were to lose faith in Washington and downgrade its alliance or trigger a conflict with Beijing, the effect would be the same: to overturn the postwar system. In this trilateral game of chicken, only one of the parties needs to fire its weapons for all three to be thrown into war. Put another way: if China is the key to Asia, then Japan is the key to China, and the US the key to Japan.
In recent months, it has become fashionable among American journalists and foreign policy analysts to warn of the so-called Thucydides trap – the idea that a rising power (China, in this case) is destined to go to war with an established power (the US). But there is another geo-strategic dilemma identified by the same ancient Greek historian, which is more pertinent. It is dangerous to build an empire, Thucydides warned; it is even more dangerous to give it away.
This “other Thucydides trap” encapsulates the real dilemma faced by the US in east Asia. After more than seven decades as the region’s hegemon, the US now has a choice to make. It could stand and fight to maintain the status quo, at potentially massive cost. Or it could retreat from east Asia, potentially leaving a trail of chaos in its wake.
During the presidential campaign, Trump suggested that Japan and South Korea had become over-reliant on US security, and that it was time for the US to pack and up and go home. But Asia’s economic rise has only magnified the dangers of an American drawdown. “It is not only true that China changed the status quo by getting strong,” said Yan Xuetong, one of China’s most prominent hawks, “but also that America and Japan changed the status quo by getting weak.”
AChinese friend, trying to describe how Washington views east Asia, came up with a disarmingly simple formula. “The Americans like the Chinese, but they don’t like China,” he said, and then: “They like Japan, but don’t like the Japanese.” George Kennan, the renowned strategist, called Japan’s partnership with the US “an unnatural intimacy”, born of conflict between two very different countries, which, over time, developed into a close relationship of its own. This intimacy – if that is what it is – has been hard won. A remarkable number of senior US officials, starting with Henry Kissinger, have not hidden their dislike for dealing with Tokyo. In his authorised biography, Brent Scowcroft, a hard-nosed veteran of America’s national security establishment, called Japan “probably the most difficult country” the US had to deal with: “I don’t think we understood the Japanese and I don’t think the Japanese understood us.”
It is not only the Americans who feel uneasy about the relationship. Washington originally saw the alliance as a way to ensure that Japan was on its side in the cold war and, later, that it stayed in sync with the US’s broader global strategy. By contrast, for Tokyo, according to the Japan scholar Kenneth Pyle, the security pact was an “unpleasant reality” imposed on the nation after the war, but one it cleverly and cynically made the best of. All the while, Tokyo has harboured the fear that the US and China are natural partners – big, boisterous continental economies and military superpowers that wouldn’t hesitate to bypass Tokyo in a flash, if only they could find a way to do so.
Into this volatile landscape strode Donald Trump, Republican candidate and now president, a man who cut his teeth politically in the 1980s with attacks on Japanese trade practices. On the campaign trail, Trump criticised Japan and South Korea for free-riding on US military power, and said both countries should acquire nuclear weapons if they wished to reduce their reliance on Washington. On trade, he singled out China and Japan for cheating Americans, in league with the domestic Visigoths of globalisation, Wall Street and big business.
In the White House, Trump has slightly altered his rhetoric, paying lip service to the conventions of the postwar order. When Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, visited soon after the election, Trump repeated a commitment made by his predecessors, saying that the two countries’ bilateral defence treaty covered the Japan’s Senkaku Islands, which are also claimed by the Chinese, as the Diaoyu. Diplomats in Washington told me after the meeting that Trump had only done this after being talked into it by his daughter, Ivanka, who had been lobbied by the Japanese.
Even if Trump accepts that the US, for the moment, has to abide by its treaty obligations to Japan, and other regional allies, he has never made the argument, during the campaign or in office, as to why it should. On the question of the other “Thucydides trap” – the principle that it is dangerous to build an empire but more dangerous to let it go – Trump had seemed quite unconcerned; that was something for other countries to worry about. Far from fretting about Japan’s ability to defend itself against China, Trump seemed to believe it would do fine.
In an interview with the Economist in September 2015, Trump was asked what would happen if China started bullying its neighbours without the US being there to protect them. He cast his mind back to more than a century earlier, when Japan and China began to fall into conflict. “If we step back, they will protect themselves very well,” Trump said. “Remember when Japan used to beat China routinely in wars? You know that, right? Japan used to beat China, they routinely beat China. Why are we defending them at all?”
Trump, in his clumsy way, had hit on an existential point, one that he exploited brilliantly in his campaign. Why do Asian countries need the US in the region anyway? Why can’t they get on with each other independent of the US? To fully grasp this dilemma, it is essential to understand the poisonous relationship between China and Japan.
Most accounts of Sino-Japanese relationspaint the two countries’ differences as the inevitable result of Japan’s invasion and occupation of China in the 1930s, and throughout the second world war, until Tokyo’s surrender in August 1945, followed by an extended squabble over responsibility for the conflict. Alternatively, their clash is depicted as a traditional great-power contest, with an ascending superpower, China, running up against a now-weaker rival. A third template takes a longer view: one of a China bent on rebuilding the influence it enjoyed in Asia in imperial times.
None of these templates alone, however, captures the tangled emotions and complex psychology of the Sino-Japanese relationship. For centuries, China had been both the Athens and the Rome of east Asia, an empire that established a template of cultural, political and institutional values and structures that permeated the region. Japan’s scripts, its merit-based bureaucracy, hierarchical social relations and exam-intense education system – all of which remain embedded in the country’s 21st-century way of life and governing institutions – originated in China.
In small, striking ways, the Japanese display an authentic affinity with their Chinese heritage. In early 2016, at a farewell reception for a senior Japanese diplomat in Washington, each guest, including the Chinese ambassador, was given a copy of a poem as he or she departed. Penned by the diplomat in whose honour the reception was held, the poem – which celebrated the seasonal blooming of cherry blossoms in Washington – was written in Chinese characters in the style of revered Tang dynasty poets. The gift was an homage to the enduring influence of Chinese culture and to contemporary education in Japan, where schoolchildren still learn the art of classical Chinese poetry.
The histories of modern Japan and China have much in common as well. Both were forcibly opened in the 19th century at the point of a gun wielded by an imperialist west. In the century that followed, they both battled to win the respect of the intruders who considered themselves racially superior to Asians. And yet, far from displaying solidarity with each other, the two nations went in different directions: Japan modernised rapidly, while China disintegrated. Ever since, they have struggled to find an equilibrium of their own. If one country was ascendant, the other was subordinate.
Despite their shared roots, Japan and China have remained as psychically remote as they are geographically close. In Europe, an acknowledgment of the second world war’s calamities helped bring the continent’s nations together in the aftermath of the conflict. In east Asia, by contrast, the war and its history have never been settled, politically, diplomatically or emotionally. There has been little of the introspection and statesmanship that helped Europe to heal its wounds.
A corrosive mutual antipathy has gradually become embedded within Japan and China’s ruling parties, and in large sections of the public. In turn, seemingly unavoidable political divisions – partly driven by constant demands from China for Japan to apologise for its wartime conduct and Japanese hostility to such pressure – have eroded trust and strengthened hyper-nationalists in both countries.
China’s economic rise and Japan’s relative decline have only reinforced this trend. In both capitals, the domestic tail now wags the diplomatic dog as often as the other way around. What once seemed impossible and then merely unlikely is no longer unimaginable: that China and Japan could, within the coming decades, go to war.
The territorial disputes, the enduring strains of the cold war, and China’s demand for respect and fear of containment all help to explain the region’s diplomatic tensions. So, too, does geopolitics, which is the furnace for Sino-Japanese rivalry. But at the core of their rivalry are the two countries’ wildly varying and persistently manipulated memories of the Sino-Japanese wars in Asia.
Even the most basic of disagreements over history still percolate through day-to-day media coverage in Asia, in baffling and insidious ways. Open a Japanese newspaper in 2017 and you might read of a heated debate about whether Japan invaded China – something that is only an issue because conservative Japanese still insist that their country was fighting a war of self-defence in the 1930s and 1940s. Read the state-controlled press in China, and you will see the Communist party drawing legitimacy from its heroic defeat of Japan; in truth, Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists carried the burden of fighting the invaders, while the Communists mostly preserved their strength in hinterland hideouts. Scant recognition is given to the US, which fought the Japanese for years before ending the conflict with two atomic bombs.
The history of Sino-Japanese relations since the late 19th century, when the two countries first fought a war, has long had a dominant storyline. Japan encroached on Chinese territory, demanding and then taking bits of land here and there, before eventually launching a full-scale invasion and occupation in the 1930s. Tens of millions of Chinese soldiers and civilians died in the conflict. After its defeat and surrender in 1945, so the narrative goes, Tokyo prevaricated endlessly about apologising to China and making good for the damage wrought by its armies.
The first part of the storyline is true. From the late 19th century onward, Japan did set out to dismember China. Although the precise numbers of casualties are still debated, the Nanjing massacre is not an invention, as some prominent Japanese politicians and historians gratingly insist. Japan committed atrocities, used forced labour from its colonies to support the war effort, and oversaw the recruitment of the so-called “comfort women” for brothels for their soldiers.
The history of the history wars, however, is more complex, with many twists and turns that are lost in today’s shrill headlines. When there was much soul-searching in Japan about the war during the 1950s and 1960s, for example, Beijing had no interest in seeking an apology and reparations. Instead, Mao Zedong and his premier, Zhou Enlai, cultivated relations with Japan in an effort to break the US embargo on their country.
In 1961, in a meeting with a Japanese Socialist Party leader, Mao perversely thanked Japan for invading China, because the turmoil created by the Imperial Army had enabled the CCP to come to power. “We would still be in the mountains and not be able to watch Peking Opera in Beijing,” he said. “It was exactly because the Imperial Japanese Army took up more than half of China that there was no way out for the Chinese people. So we woke up and started armed struggle, established many anti-Japanese bases, and created conditions for the War of Liberation. The Japanese monopolistic capitalists and warlords did a ‘good thing’ to us. If a ‘thank you’ is needed, I would actually like to thank the Japanese warlords.”
Mao often adopted a freewheeling, sardonic style in conversation, which seemed deliberately aimed at putting his interlocutors either at ease or off balance. But his statements brushing off an apology and expressing gratitude to the Japanese for their invasion are embarrassingly discordant in today’s China, and so jarring that they are invariably airbrushed by the CCP these days. The official explanation contends that Mao used sarcasm to underline how Japan’s invasion had “awakened” the Chinese people. Chinese scholars of Japan who have tried to tread a more independent path say the truth is simpler: Mao had no interest in an apology because he genuinely believed that the CCP owed its victory in the civil war to Japan.
Official policy was tailored in conformity with Mao’s views for much of the next three or four decades, even as it grated with many Chinese who retained visceral memories of Japanese atrocities. As one scholar at a government thinktank in Beijing told me last year: “This came from Mao’s mouth. There was no need for any discussion, or for him to consider outside elements such as public opinion or conflicts between past and present policies. His power was absolute.”
By the mid-1980s, when Beijing decided that Japanese remorse should become a permanent fixture of bilateral relations, Tokyo had come to view such demands as little more than self-serving politics. Some Japanese leaders were willing to apologise, just to deprive China of a ready-made issue to beat them over the head with. “We can apologise as much as China wants. It’s free, and very soon China will become tired of asking for apologies,” the former prime minister Noboru Takeshita confided to foreign ministry officials in the early 1990s.
As it turned out, the Chinese never did tire of receiving apologies. They thought they were the country’s due. But Japan did tire of giving them. In the process, history disputes have become a huge obstacle to a genuine postwar settlement.
The rage expressed in Chinatoward Japan these days over history is the tip of a much larger iceberg. Beijing’s core problem is not with the details of the war itself, but with the diplomatic deals that were agreed to settle it. In Washington’s and Tokyo’s eyes, the San Francisco Treaty of 1951 forms the foundation of the east Asian postwar order. The treaty ended the US occupation, reestablished Japan as a sovereign nation, fixed it as a security partner for the US, and gave the country space to rebuild itself into a modern, prosperous nation. The treaty also laid the basis for Japan’s gradual rapprochement with other former wartime foes in south-east Asia and Australia.
Chinese scholars, in lock-step with the country’s political leaders, use a different template for the region, something that is largely overlooked in Washington. Their reference points are the conferences in Cairo in 1943 and in Potsdam in July 1945, at which the so-called Three Great Allies – the US, the UK and the Republic of China – set the terms for Japan’s unconditional surrender. In the process, as Chinese politicians, historians and activists have begun to argue more forcibly in recent years, Japan was consigned to a permanently subordinate role in the region.
Beijing favours Potsdam, because it disarmed Japan, restored the territories Tokyo had seized in the previous century, and confirmed China’s great-power status. It doesn’t recognise San Francisco, because it enshrines the US-Japan security alliance and the American military presence in east Asia. China was represented at Cairo in the form of the then-Nationalist government, but not at San Francisco in any form.
The notion that Japan should sit inert in east Asia, enduring a kind of life sentence as a result of having lost the war, absurd as it is, is given much credence in China, by its top leaders as well as in the popular political culture. As president Xi Jinping told the visiting Pentagon chief Leon Panetta in late 2012, “The international community must not allow Japan to attempt to negate the results of the World Anti-Fascist War, or challenge the postwar international order.” In another sign of this mindset, a pro-nationalist book that became a bestseller in the mid-90s, The China That Can Say No, had a chapter titled In Some Respects, To Do Nothing Is Japan’s Contribution To The World!
Sheltering under America’s nuclear umbrellain the postwar period, Japan has in fact been a constrained power since its defeat in 1945. The Americans, after all, wrote a new “pacifist” constitution for Japan, which said it should only maintain military forces for its own self-defence. At times, Japan, at least in security terms, has seemed to be “inert” and willing to free-ride on the Americans.
But thanks to China and North Korea, those days are over. Shinzo Abe has fashioned a strong national security policy and strengthened the country’s military. While attention was focused on Pyongyang’s nuclear antics in early August, Japan quietly announced that it was studying equipping its military with offensive weapons, such as cruise missiles, to allow it to strike overseas enemies for the first time since the war.
Japan presents a particular challenge to China. Militarily, it is not a pushover like other south-east Asian nations Beijing has clashed with recently, such as the Philippines. In 2012, the central government in Tokyo nationalised the Senkaku Islands in order to prevent a far right-wing nationalist politician, Shintaro Ishihara, from buying the islands from their private owners. At that point, Beijing considered trying to take the islands by force. A retired regional leader with good connections in both China and Japan told me that Beijing had studied its options carefully: “They did a number of basic tabletop exercises to work out, if there was a conflict over the islands, whether China could prevail; I had many conversations with Chinese military planners at the time.” In the end, he said, Beijing concluded that the “co-relation of forces was not with them”. Unlike Japan, which has fought naval wars, China has fought only one, in 1894-5, which it lost. The Chinese had made huge strides as a military power, but not so far that they were confident about taking on their old foe.
Perhaps the most salient factor in China’s calculations over the Senkaku Islands was what might happen if it should lose to Japan. In Tokyo, a military loss would be disastrous, of course, and the government would certainly fall. But that would be nothing compared with the hammer blow to China’s national psyche should Japan prevail. “That would be terminal for the CCP,” the former regional leader observed. “Regime change.”
Over time, though, China’s capabilities, and its confidence, are likely to outpace those of its neighbour. Japan knows that China is not going away, whereas one day, the US might. China is keen to emphasise to every nation in Asia a single truth: China’s presence is a geopolitical reality in Asia. The US presence, by contrast, is a geopolitical choice, one that China intends to make more and more costly.
If Tokyo continues to feel threatened, and loses faith in the US, the next step is going nuclear. That will be the definitive sign that Pax Americana in Asia is over, and it could come sooner than anyone thinks.
Main illustration by Lee Martin/Guardian Design
Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan, the US and the Struggle for Global Power by Richard McGregor will be published by Allen Lane on 5 September.
• Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, or sign up to the long read weekly email here.
Since you’re here …
… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.
I appreciate there not being a paywall: it is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not a commodity to be purchased by a few. I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less means still have access to information.Thomasine F-R.
If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure.
They said the turnout was higher than expected, but they were unable to come up with an estimate. Police put the figure at 22,000.
Led by pro-democracy groups including the Civil Human Rights Front, League of Social Democrats and Demosisto, crowds marched from Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to the Court of Final Appeal in Central, where a rally was held.
Many brandished yellow umbrellas – a symbol of the Occupy pro-democracy movement – while others donned mock prisoners’ outfits and makeshift cages over their heads.
They held placards branding the imprisonment of Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang last week as acts of “political persecution”.
The activist trio were given jail sentences of between six and eight months by the Court of Appeal for storming the Hong Kong government headquarters compound at Tamar during an illegal protest that triggered the 79-day Occupy sit-ins.
Procession leaders, which included pan-democratic lawmakers and activists, held a long banner that read “no crime for fighting against a totalitarian government” as they shouted slogans calling for the release of the “political prisoners”.
Occupy student leader Lester Shum, one of the spokesmen for the organisers, said he believed the march was “certainly the biggest protest since Occupy in 2014”.
“The big turnout tells those in prison that they’re not alone. There are many Hong Kong people supporting them outside,” he added.
One participant, retiree Chan Cho-tak, said it was a shame the government had utilised legal means to suppress young activists. “The judges were wrong to send them to jail. What the young people did was for the good of Hong Kong.”
Another marcher, office worker Chu Ming-tak, 24, said the ruling had made him lose confidence in the city’s judiciary. “I hope the higher court can rectify the mistake,” he added.
Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said the guilty verdict for the activists was expected but that public fury was caused by what some felt was a harsh punishment, prompting more people to take to the streets in protest.
The Court of Appeal’s decision to jail Wong, Law and Chow marked a victory for the government, which had appealed to have tougher punishments imposed after a lower court last year gave the trio community service or suspended jail terms.
Separately, public prosecutors also succeeded in revising the punishments for 13 activists involved in a protest at the city’s legislature against a development project in Hong Kong’s northeastern New Territories in June 2014.
Joining Sunday’s march was former Civic Party legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee. She said criticism of the sentences was not a personal attack on judges.
The criticism was aimed at Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung and the Department of Justice, she said.
She rejected claims that there had been no political considerations in the court rulings. “You can’t prove there were none, either,” Ng said.
A government spokesman said any allegations of political interference in the courts were unsubstantiated and groundless and that the court’s judgment had sufficient legal justification.
Additional reporting by Phila Siu
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as:
Protest over activist jailings ‘the biggest since Occupy sit-in’
BEIJING — In Chinese schools, students learn that the United States became a great nation partly by stealing technology from Britain. In the halls of government, officials speak of the need to inspire innovation by protecting inventions. In boardrooms, executives strategize about using infringement laws to fell foreign rivals.
China is often portrayed as a land of fake gadgets and pirated software, where intellectual property like patents, trademarks and copyrights are routinely ignored.
On Monday, President Trump announced the opening salvo in what could become a far-reaching investigation into Chinese trade practices. He has spoken forcefully about the need to protect American intellectual property, accusing Chinese companies of stealing jobs and technology.
Mr. Trump’s action against China came as he has tried to pressure the country to rein in nuclear and missile testing by North Korea, which is economically dependent on China.
Mr. Trump’s demands on Chinese trade practices are likely to be met with deep skepticism in Beijing.
China takes conflicting positions on intellectual property, ignoring it in some cases while upholding it in others. Underlying those contradictions is a long-held view of intellectual property not as a rigid legal principle but as a tool to meet the country’s goals.
Those goals are getting more ambitious. China is now gathering know-how in industries of the future like microchips and electric cars, often by pushing foreign companies attracted by the country’s vast market into sharing their technology. It is also toughening enforcement of patents and trademarks for a day when it can become a leader in those technologies — and use intellectual property protections to defend its position against rival economies.
President Xi Jinping is in the midst of an effort to strengthen laws on patents, copyrights and trademarks, giving fledgling firms in China new sources of revenue and prestige. The country is also pursuing an ambitious plan, called Made in China 2025, to become a global leader in areas like robotics and medical technology and kick off the next phase of China’s development. The efforts reflect the view of Chinese officials that controlling global technologies and standards is on par with building military muscle.
Zhang Ping, a scholar of trade law at Peking University in Beijing, said the West had long used intellectual property laws as a “spear and shield” against Chinese companies, hurting their profits at home and blocking access to foreign markets. Now, she said, it is time for China to fight back.
“If you want to enter our market to cooperate, it’s fine,” Ms. Zhang said, “but you can’t grab us by the neck and not let us grow.”
Trademarks and patents protect companies and inventors, compensating them for their time, ideas and investment. While poorer countries have throughout history worked to obtain inventions from wealthier nations, sometimes running afoul of intellectual property laws, China has rewritten the playbook for acquiring advanced technology.
Since Deng Xiaoping, as leader, opened the Chinese economy to the outside world nearly four decades ago, the country has made it a priority to obtain ideas and inspiration from overseas.
Sometimes it has reverse-engineered what it wants. United States officials say that Chinese companies have also carried out extensive economic espionage through cyberattacks and other means. (Chinese officials have denied those charges.) More recently, China has used its growing wealth to buy into cutting-edge technologies, like genetically modified crops and the latest innovations from American start-ups, and to attract promising talent.
But since those early days, China has relied heavily on one tried-and-true method: forming joint ventures with foreign partners. Big-name companies like I.B.M. and Qualcomm are required to share advanced technology and research with domestic firms in order to set up shop in China. And to entice partners, the country offers access to its enormous market and hundreds of millions of consumers.
Joint ventures helped China build whole industries out of scratch. After using them to explore high-speed rail technology, Chinese firms now dominate the global industry.
Chinese experts say those moves are simply smart deal-making, not violations of intellectual property laws, allowing the country to harness its leverage as the world’s second largest economy to win practical knowledge.
But now China’s efforts are moving beyond routine manufacturing into cutting-edge technologies — and the Trump administration has denounced the arrangements as coercive.
In April, the Office of the United States Trade Representative accused China of “widespread infringing activity,” including stealing trade secrets, tolerating rampant online piracy and exporting counterfeit goods.
Chinese commentators see hypocrisy in American criticism, noting that the United States was once one of the world’s leading pirates, when it worked to challenge British industrial dominance after the American Revolution by obtaining designs for inventions like steam-powered looms. The state-run news media has highlighted the caseof Samuel Slater, often called the father of the American industrial revolution, who brought British textile designs to the United States in the late 1700s.
Still, as China comes up with its own innovations, the country’s leaders are embracing stricter laws on patents, copyrights and trademarks.
The government has created specialized courts to handle intellectual property disputes and awarded subsidies to entrepreneurs who file patent applications. In 2015, more than a million were filed, a record amount.
Li Jian, a vice president of Beijing East IP, a Chinese law firm, said mainland companies increasingly saw strong intellectual property protections as a tool to help protect inventions and earn royalties overseas.
“Many Chinese companies have realized that through patent protection they can gain an advantage in the market,” Mr. Li said. “They have more faith now in the Chinese government to protect their intellectual property.”
The rules have also benefited some foreign firms. New Balance won a landmark case this year against a Chinese company that used its signature slanting “N” logo. China’s highest court last year gave Michael Jordan the rights to Chinese characters of his name.
Enforcement is still inconsistent, experts say. Local officials are often reluctant to aid foreign companies, worried about jeopardizing tax revenues from homegrown companies.
The Made in China 2025 initiative is a key reason the country is improving intellectual property rights. The plan focuses on sectors like electric cars, robotics, semiconductors and artificial intelligence.
By forcing foreign companies to hand over more technology and encouraging local companies to make new products based on that technology, Chinese leaders hope to cement the country’s dominance in critical fields. They also see an opportunity to dictate the terms of the future development of technology and extract licensing fees from foreign firms that use Chinese-made technology.
Several trade organizations and governments have said the plan is protectionist. Some have called for reciprocity, arguing that the United States should impose on Chinese companies the same restrictions China places on foreign companies.
“There is an unmistakable national policy to boost the position of Chinese companies in cutting-edge areas,” said William P. Alford, a Harvard law professor and an expert on Chinese intellectual property laws.
Chinese experts have defended the strategy.
“To become an adult, you have to accumulate knowledge,” said Professor Zhang, of Peking University. “It’s the same for a country.”
As China’s power has grown, Chinese companies have started using intellectual property laws to fend off foreign rivals.
When the United States International Trade Commission last year began investigating Chic Intelligent Technology Company, a manufacturer of self-balancing scooters based in the eastern city of Hangzhou, the company’s executives fought back. The commission was looking into claims that Chic had copied product designs of a California-based competitor, Razor USA.
Chic filed retaliatory lawsuits against American competitors, adopting many of the tactics that American companies have used for years to hobble Chinese competitors. The trade commission has since declined to banimports of the Chic scooters. The lawsuit against Razor USA remains unresolved, according to Chic.
Chic made clear that it saw the investigation as an effort by the United States to use intellectual property laws to bully Chinese companies. In a statement, the company’s leaders compared American regulators to Japanese invaders during World War II.
“The crazier the enemy,” the statement said, “the more we need to prove the necessity of our siege.”
This blog, trouthtroubles.com is owned, written, and operated by oldpoet56. All articles, posts, and materials found here, except for those that I have pressed here from someone else’s blog for the purpose of showing off their work, are under copyright and this website must be credited if my articles are re-blogged, pressed, or shared.