This has been floating in weibo for several days, but this seems to be the first coverage in Western media..
This particular development may cause anxiety for ethnic Han people who pay attention to development in China… The event took place in Tangshan, the city in Hebei, near Beijing, as well as near the provinces of NE China, not too far from North Korea. Tthis area, also south of Inner Mongolia, can be considered “heartland” of any Chinese regime centered in Beijing. This area has Han population as the absolute majority, possibly with minor Manchus, Mongolians and Koreans. But with little presence of Islam. Islamic areas in China are to the north west, the Huis in Ningxia or the Uigher even further away. So how does such an incident, where a Muslim demanded special treatment that should be unjustified, led to riots by Muslims against the local government buildings, where the Muslim population is few and far between? And how can such events took place under the dictatorship of the CCP, which took internal “threats” seriously, and suppressed Fa Lun Gong, which probably had larger followings in Han populations in the area?
Such events should led to more negative impressions of the Han towards Islam and made the spread of Islam wihin Han Chinese even more unlikely. But the clear demonstration of Islamic “power” in China proper would cause more Han fear and resistance towards demands for further Islamic presence, such as building more mosques in China proper.
Muslim protesters clash with armed SWAT officers in China
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.
THE communist Party of China will convene its 19th National Congress on October 18, a key meeting held to draw out polices for the future development.
More than 2,300 delegates will discuss the country’s accomplishments since the previous gathering, discuss a strategy for building a “moderately prosperous society” and elect new members of the top leadership.
The 19th CPC National Congress will also summarize experiences gained from uniting and leading citizens of all ethnic groups to advance socialism with Chinese characteristics, according to a meeting of the Politburo yesterday presided over by Xi Jinping, the Party’s general secretary.
It will examine the current international and domestic situation, and take into account new requirements for the development of the Party and the country as well as new expectations from the people.
The congress will draw out guidelines and policies that respond to the call of the times, according to a statement after the Politburo meeting.
The congress is being held at a time when China is striving to achieve a moderately prosperous society, and at a critical time for the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the statement said.
It will hold high the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, be guided with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of “Three Represents” and the Scientific Outlook on Development, and thoroughly carry out the essence of Xi’s series of important remarks and the new governance concepts, thoughts and strategies of the CPC Central Committee, according to the statement.
The congress also aims to boost confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, continue to adopt an overall approach to promote economic, political, cultural, social and ecological progress, as well as to advance coordinated development of the “Four Comprehensives.”
The Four Comprehensives refers to a four-pronged strategy that aims to accomplish a moderately prosperous society, deepen reform, advance the rule of law and strengthen Party governance.
A new Central Committee and a new Central Commission for Discipline Inspection will be elected at the congress.
All preparatory work for the congress is going smoothly at present, the statement said, and preparations should continue to ensure a successful congress.
A group of China’s top universities have set up Communist Party departments to oversee the political thinking of their teaching staff after the colleges were criticised amid the government’s tightening ideological control on campuses.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party’s powerful disciplinary watchdog, last week published “rectification reports” on eight top-tier universities it inspected this year.
Seven have set up a “teachers’ affairs department” under their Communist Party committees to improve “ideological and political work” among teaching staff.
The inspection teams toured 29 of the best universities across mainland China, including the prestigious Peking University and Tsinghua University in Beijing, for a “political check-up” earlier this year.
Some universities were criticised after the months-long inspections for their weakness in promoting ideology, while party committees were also chastised for weak leadership and failing to toe the party line.
Dalian University of Technology in Liaoning province has pledged to make annual training plans to improve the ideological and political education of teachers, according to its rectification report.
Beijing Normal University said the “virtues” of teachers, which include their ideological and political thinking, were included in their appraisals this year.
All universities and colleges in China are under the control of a party committee, which oversees party affairs on campus and the running of the schools.
Most committees already have two departments supervising undergraduate and graduate students to monitor their ideological and political thinking.
The inclusion of teaching staff for supervision under the party committee is the latest move by the authorities to tighten ideological control on campuses.
Universities were ordered four years ago to steer clear of seven topics while teaching, including universal values, press freedom and civil rights.
Outspoken professors who have openly criticised the communist authorities or its leaders have been punished or silenced.
Deng Xiangchao, a communications professor at Shandong Jianzhu University, was forced to retire in January after criticising Mao Zedong publicly on the eve of the anniversary of the late leader’s birth.
Some more liberal universities have already moved to tighten control of their teaching staff to toe the party line.
Many universities – as well as the seven inspected – have set up teachers’ affairs departments this year, including Shanghai Jiao Tong university and the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing.
Peking University was the first to set up a similar teachers department in 2015.
Twenty-one other universities inspected by the commission have yet to release their “rectification reports”.
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.
(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.
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Chinese agency has another video on Doklam, minus the overt racism
Chinese news agency tries a different tack with a video explainer claiming “sober, cooperative solution is in need to tackle China-India border standoff”.
A screenshot of video posted by China Xinhua News on Twitter.
After last week’s bizarre, racist anti-India video, Beijing mouthpiece Xinhua is trying a “sober” approach.
It’s still pretty silly, but at least we’re spared the Chinese actors trying to pass off for Sikhs… and the unintentionally hilarious beards.
This time, Chinese news agency tries a different tack with a video explainer on the Doklam standoff that features a newsman in a suit arguing, not that China is right, but that India is wrong: why, is never explained.
There is even a vaguely conciliatory reference to the two countries’ great histories, during which the video shows a montage of the famous Xian warriors, followed (inexplicably) by a snippet featuring a camel caravan that is presumably meant to represent India!
Bhutan, the country caught in the middle of it all, gets no mention.
Still, there’s no overt racism in the new video, which must count as an improvement. This might even pass for a sign of grudging respect.
What explains the change of tone? Perhaps it’s an acknowledgment that last week’s video went too far into crazytown. Or perhaps, a recognition that the Dokram affair will not be resolved by blatant propaganda directed at Indians, especially when their own response has been to laugh out loud.
Far be it for us to suggest that the video Hindustan Times commissioned, featuring comedienne Vasu Primlani had anything to do with it…
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.”
According to Global Research.Org 95% of the non food products that are on sale in your local Wal-Mart store are made in China. I knew that almost all of the products that I looked at to buy had made in China tags on them, yet I didn’t realize that it was quite that high of a percent. Wal-Mart has apx 11% of all of America’s GDP go through their hands each year. Folks, that is one out of every nine dollars and that in itself is a dangerous thing for any nations economy. I learned many years ago back when old man Walton was still alive when they used to advertise that they only bought made in America products to help American manufacturing jobs stay here in America that this slogan was a blatant fraud and a lie. I was a long haul truck driver for a span of over 30 years and I picked up Wal-Mart loads quite a few times at the shipping docks in Elizabeth New Jersey and at the port in Miami Florida. It was not at all uncommon that when I would get backed up to the dock that the load would be staged there waiting to be put onto the trailer yet I would often have to sit there for at least two more hours so the dock workers could take off all of the tags saying where it was actually made at and to put on made in the USA tags. Wal-Mart itself grew from lying to the American people so to be honest with you when I have seen tags on items in one of their stores that said ‘made in the USA’ I can’t help but doubt that this is also another lie.
A couple of years ago Wal-Mart bought three ships ‘made in China’ for the sole purpose of shipping products to the western ports of the U.S.. These three ships was said to cost about 500 million dollars each. These ships are so large that they can not fit through either the Suez or Panama Canals. They are designed for one purpose, to bring cheap Chinese garbage to the American market. In reality if people here in the States want to bring jobs back to America all they have to do is to quit doing any of their shopping at Wal-Mart or Lowe’s (they own 100% of Lowe’s). Wal-Mart nor China are friends to or of the American people. Only two things really matters to these two entities and that is power and money. If the American Federal Government gave a damn about the American people they would never ever allow any company to have such a huge amount of their GDP in the hands of one company. If the Federal Government gave a damn about American jobs they would pass a bill requiring at least 80% of every company’s American sales to be from products made in America, this is how you could keep jobs for the American people. Yet it is obvious to most of the American people that the Politicians only listen to the big money people who grease their personal sleds. Donald Trump and his family and their businesses are a good example of this farce. Only money matters, you and I do not matter.
If you are a person that pays any attention to world affairs you already should know that the Communist Leadership behind their ‘President for life’ Xi Jinping have been very active in building up their military throughout Asia, even building islands upon coral formations and constructing military air fields upon them. They pretty much claim all of the South China Sea, all of the mineral deposits below it and the Air Ways above it to be their own. They claim Taiwan as their own property as well as Mongolia, Tibet, Islands that belong to Japan and they are pushing hard against India by claiming that thousands of square miles of northern India actually belong to them. China has been building up its military machine at an unrepresented level during this past five years under President Xi Jinping (whom President Trump calls his good friend). So folks, this is the reason I chose the title that I did for this article this evening. To me, it is very obvious that money and power matters far more to Wal-Mart owners and stock holders and to the Chinese government as well as Americas Federal Politicians than the sovereignty and the safety of the American people matter. The only way that I can see that ‘we the people’ can fight back and to regain our jobs is to totally quit shopping at companies like Wal-Mart. One could also easily say that our national security depends on it.
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