Can China Fall Peacefully?

“The prospects for peace in Asia are not promising. Indeed, whether China rises or falls, the most logical theories predict that conflict is likely, if not downright unavoidable.”

November 19, 2014

The idea that China cannot rise peacefully has become something of an international-relations truism. The story here is simple: as China’s economy grows, its military will follow, and just as other great powers have used force to achieve their foreign-policy goals, so, too, will China. Yet while much ink has been spilled to explore the security implications of China’s rise, relatively few attempts have been made to examine the potential effects of a sudden and prolonged economic downturn. This might be about to change.

As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, China’s growth will decline sharply in the coming decade, from 7.7 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent between 2020 and 2025. Some analysts are more pessimistic, projecting future growth rates as low as 1.6 or 1.7 percent. (To put these numbers in perspective, China grew at an average annual rate of 10.2 percent from 1980 to 2011.) These trends have led some at the National Interest to claim that China is headed for collapse and that we may be approaching the end—not a delay—of China’s economic rise.

What will be the geopolitical implications for China, its neighbors and the United States if the Chinese economy tanks? Would China be taken off of its supposed collision course, or would conflict remain unavoidable?

Let’s start with a slight, but necessary, caveat: we have no empirical evidence for future events and, therefore, need theories to answer these questions. That being said, there are two that may be particularly helpful. The first theory assumes that an economic downturn in China will force the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership to turn inwards, leaving little time and energy to pick fights with its Pacific neighbors (let alone the United States). Chinese leaders will instead devote their attention to domestic policies, hoping to get their “house” in order.

Unfortunately, given the scale and scope of China’s current international disputes, this story is unlikely to pass.

Remember that China has at least five outstanding territorial disagreements: with Vietnam over control of the Paracel Islands; with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam over the Spratly Islands; with Japan over the Senkaku Islands; with Brunei and India over disputed land borders; and with Taiwan over the issue of independence. It’s difficult to imagine that these simmering disputes would be cooled by a weakened Chinese economy.

Which brings us to our second theory—one that I believe is more likely to materialize. This theory posits that an economic downturn in China will cause a crisis in legitimacy for the Chinese Communist Party, who will in turn point to external threats to bolster its internal legitimacy. China’s leaders, in other words, will play the nationalism card, perhaps provoking an international conflagration in one or more of the aforementioned flashpoints.

We’ve seen this movie before. Following World War II, the Chinese economy was in shambles, yet China’s leadership did not turn inward, but rather to the Korean peninsula. Similarly, during the economic catastrophe that was the Cultural Revolution, China’s leaders turned to Vietnam. Zhang Lifan, a Chinese historian, explains that “historically, during every period with many deep conflicts within the country, there has been a surge of anti-foreign sentiments from the party.” Things are no different today.

This year alone, China’s state-run newspaper, The People’s Daily, published forty-two articles blaming China’s domestic problems on foreign forces. Even in the midst of this month’s APEC meeting (which is typically a golden opportunity to show off diplomatic credentials and feign bridge-building enthusiasm), President Xi Jinping publicly praised a young blogger who is now famous for his nationalistic writings—some of which border on xenophobia.

Chinese leaders won’t be able to easily turn off the nationalist anger that is created. And if China’s economy does indeed sink, we should expect more of this strident nationalism, not less. Unfortunately, it isn’t hard to picture a scenario in which a nationalist fervor sweeps across China, leading to escalation, miscalculation or an accidental conflict.

To minimize the likelihood of such crises, the United States should stay laser-focused on the rebalance to Asia, shirking peripheral entanglements and assuring its allies in the Asia-Pacific that it is a reliable guarantor of their security. In addition, China and its neighbors should adopt more open lines of communication (i.e. more “red telephones”) to decrease the chances that potential crises escalate into full-blown military conflicts.

“The prospects for peace in Asia are not promising. Indeed, whether China rises or falls, the most logical theories predict that conflict is likely, if not downright unavoidable.”

The prospects for peace in Asia are not promising. Indeed, whether China rises or falls, the most logical theories predict that conflict is likely, if not downright unavoidable. However, as University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer has noted, theories of international relations are still “rather crude instruments” and “even our best theories to explain the past and predict the future are limited.” Let’s hope he’s right.

Andy Morimoto works at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He holds a master’s degree from The University of Chicago and a bachelor’s from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The views expressed here are his own. Follow on Twitter: @AndyMorimoto.

Image: Flickr/futureatlas.com/CC by 2.0

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/can-china-fall-peacefully-11703?page=2

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China's Spratlys Airstrip Will Raise South China Sea Stakes
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

China’s Spratlys Airstrip Will Raise South China Sea Stakes

Late last week, an IHS Jane’s report corroborated claims that China was embarking on an island-building project in the South China Sea. Based on satellite imagery, Jane’s reported that China was building an airstrip-capable island on Fiery Cross Reef, a group of three reefs in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. China claims the territory as part of Hainan province’s Sansha prefecture and exerts de facto control over the area. The reef’s central location in the broader South China Sea renders it a strategic position for an island-based airstrip.

The Jane‘s report substantiates speculation earlier this year that China was constructing an airstrip on a man-made island in the South China Sea. Based on the most recent satellite imagery, Jane’s notes that “Chinese dredgers have created a land mass that is almost the entire length of the reef.” Fiery Cross Reef is an underwater reef, but China is looking to develop a new island that is roughly 3 km long and 200 to 300 m wide — just wide enough for a functional airstrip. The strategic advantages of an airstrips in the middle of the South China Sea include shorter resupply routes for deployed PLAN patrols, a base for reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned system, and a potential permanent installation for anti-submarine warfare equipment including undersea radar arrays. For China, this island on Fiery Cross Reef could fulfill the strategic role of an “unsinkable aircraft carrier.” As Beijing continues to raise the stakes in the South China Sea, developments such as this airstrip will cause concern among the other claimants.

Of all the major claimants of South China Sea territory, China is the only one without an island-hosted airstrip in the region (outside of Hainan Island, off the Chinese coast). As a result, Beijing has claimed a disadvantage vis-a-vis the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and even Taiwan (Brunei is the only claimant without a similar asset). In real terms, however, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) remains the most capable navy in the region, both in terms of sheer size and in terms of modernization. Additionally, in recent years, China has significantly expanded its interest in backing up its territorial claims in the South China Sea with kinetic action — in 2012, it seized the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines and in 2014, it sent naval and coastguard ships into Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to support the activities of an oil rig. China bases its claims to the South China Sea on historical maps that it argues are evidence of the South China Sea’s long-standing status as Chinese territory.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/11/chinas-spratlys-airstrip-will-raise-south-china-sea-stakes/?utm_content=buffer5dd75&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

China’s Prescription for Troubled Xinjiang: The New Silk Road

Last week’s APEC summit in Beijing served as a major coming-out party for President Xi Jinping’s “one belt, one road” plan: the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road. Kerry Brown ably explored the historical and diplomatic meaning of the initiative in a piece for China Power. However, it’s also worth looking in more detail at the domestic ramifications of the Silk Road plan, and particularly its meaning for China’s troubled western regions.

The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) emerged as a major trouble spot domestically for China following violent riots and terrorist attacks within Xinjiang and as far away as Kunming and Beijing. Faced with this unrest, Beijing implemented a two-pronged strategy. First, the central government unleashed a severe crackdown on terrorist activities, resulting in mass arrests and trials. Second, Beijing doubled down on its previous strategy of promoting economic development in the region as a way of addressing ethnic tensions. The central government recognizes that unemployment and poverty among Uyghurs is a major driver of discontent.

In this context, the Silk Road initiative dovetails perfectly with China’s bid to develop its relatively poorer, underdeveloped central and western regions – including Xinjiang. The Silk Road Economic Belt provides a rationale for the central government to lavish spending on these inland regions. A report from Bloomberg says the government plans to set aside $16.3 billion for domestic infrastructure spending in support of the Silk Road. All of this money will be spent within China’s borders.

The effects of the Silk Road are already being felt in Xinjiang. Just this week, China opened the first leg of a new high-speed railway that will eventually connect Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, with Lanzhou, the capital of neighboring Gansu province. And it’s not only Xinjiang’s infrastructure that is garnering government-encouraged investment: Beijing and the provincial government have an ambitious plan to boost Xinjiang’s manufacturing, tourism, and even financial services industries, all as a part of Xinjiang’s new role as the gateway between China and Central Asia on the new Silk Road.

The newly-established city of Horgos is a case in point. Previously a small town of 85,000 on the border between China and Kazakhstan, Horgos has been targeted as a future transportation and commercial hub on the Silk Road. Already, trains filled with cargo are leaving from Horgos bound for Kazakhstan, Russia, and even Germany. In addition, Horgos is now home to China’s first-ever trans-border free trade development zone, with the zone encompassing both sides of the China-Kazakhstan border. The deputy director of the Horgos free-trade zone told the Wall Street Journal that more than 20 billion RMB ($3.25 billion) has already been invested in the Chinese side of the zone.

The impact on Horgos itself has been immense. Between January and August of 2014, Horgos’ government revenue was almost 80 percent higher than during the same period in 2013. That jump is almost entirely due to Horgos’ position as a “land port” for the Silk Road Economic Belt. The government’s hope is that this investment and employment boom will extend to other cities in Xinjiang.

However, Uyghur activists remain unconvinced that general economic investment is the answer to Xinjiang’s troubles. Alim Seytoff, spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, told Al Jazeera that “Chinese investment has not brought so-called prosperity, stability or peace for the indigenous Uyghur people in East Turkestan.” In fact, he argued that increased strategic emphasis on Xinjiang has only brought more repression for native Uyghurs. Thus, Seytoff predicts that the recently revealed plan for a $40 billion Silk Road Fund “is really bad news for the Uyghur people.”

Xinjiang’s importance to the Silk Road concept is easily apparent just by glancing at a map. The XUAR borders Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. China’s connections with Central Asia in particular will necessarily flow through Xinjiang, giving the province a crucial geopolitical importance for China.

However, the importance of the Silk Road to Xinjiang (or, more accurately, to Beijing’s plans for Xinjiang) is equally noteworthy. China’s eastern coastal regions grew wealthy and developed rapidly thanks to their position as a gateway between China and the world. Under its “March West” policy, Beijing is placing more emphasis on the world beyond China’s western borders, in the hopes that doing so will help replicate eastern growth in China’s landlocked central regions. That’s a particularly important goal when it comes to Xinjiang, as Beijing feels increased general prosperity will go a long way toward solving China’s growing terrorism problem. The trick will be ensuring that the massive amounts of investment in Xinjiang actually help better the lives of current residents, rather than being monopolized by wealthier immigrants (a problem China has seen play out in Tibet and Xinjiang before).

http://thediplomat.com/2014/11/chinas-prescription-for-troubled-xinjiang-the-new-silk-road/

Thank You, But We Prefer the Salt Monopoly

Chinese netizens fear that the end of government control will only bring more food scandals.

China is the world’s biggest consumer of salt — one kitchen staple that has so far remained unadulterated by the country’s many food safety scandals. But now Chinese netizens are worried that is about to change.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced on Nov. 20 that it will end the state monopoly on salt that has existed since 1950, according to a report by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV). State media is touting the move as a step towards the market reforms that President Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party have pushed as China’s export-oriented economy slows.

Yet the country’s netizens are far from rejoicing at what appears to be a step to rein in the power of China’s hulking state-owned enterprises. Rather, the question roiling China’s online social spaces after CCTV’s announcement seemed to be what will happen when profit-hungry fraudsters, eager to make a quick buck, jump into the newly open salt market.

“There will soon be frequent cases of industrial salt” — far cheaper than table salt — “being mixed with edible salt,” went one popular comment on Weibo, China’s huge Twitter-like microblogging platform. Another userwrote, “Soon the media will be putting out articles called ‘How to tell industrial salt from table salt.'” The topic seemed to resonate; “salt monopoly abolished” became a top-trending hashtag on Weibo, and one related post on CCTV’s official Weibo account quickly garnered over 1,300 comments. One user commented cynically, “I’ve eaten all kinds of fake products; now I will finally have the opportunity to eat fake salt!”

In the past decade, frequent food safety scandals have rocked China, ravaging consumer confidence in Chinese food products.

In the past decade, frequent food safety scandals have rocked China, ravaging consumer confidence in Chinese food products. In late 2008, six infants died and 294,000 fell ill after domestic infant milk powder manufacturers secretly added melamine, a chemical toxic to humans, to help milk pass nutrition tests. The scandal sparked a massive public outcry and led many Chinese consumers to abandon Chinese-made milk powder altogether, perhaps permanently — in 2013, five years after the original scandal, so many mainland Chinese made the trek to Hong Kong to buy imported foreign milk powder that the local government imposed a customs limit of two cans per person to prevent shortages in the city. Scandals involving “gutter oil” — putrid leftover cooking oil thrown out by restaurants only to be salvaged, rebottled, and sold on the cheap to street food vendors — have also gained notoriety around the country. In Jan. 2014, authorities even handed a suspended death to sentence to one schemer whose gutter oil ring did an estimated $8 million in illicit sales. Sensational food safety violations pop up regularly:bleached chicken feet in Sept. 2014, cat meat sold as rabbit meat in Oct. 2013, and dumplings containing insecticide in Jan. 2008.To be sure, China’s ongoing food safety issues stem from a variety of sources, some of which involve weak or non-existent government oversight. But many on Chinese social media seem to trust a government-run monopoly to keep salt safe for consumption far more than they do the free market. “In recent years, table salt is practically the only product yet to be affected by food safety issues,” one popularcomment read. “If salt is privatized, it will be difficult to prevent fraudulent products.” Another post read, “Compared to other food products, salt is both cheap and hygienic. Is there any way to get rid of the costs of monopoly while keeping its benefits?”

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http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/11/20/thank_you_china_salt_monopoly_food_safety

Abe’s Humiliation in Beijing
Image Credit: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Abe’s Humiliation in Beijing

For decades, Sino-Japanese relations were conducted under the principle of “separating politics and economics” (seikei bunri). In fact, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s 2006 book Utsukushii Kuni e [Towards a Beautiful Country], which embodied his grand vision for Japan during his first prime ministership, referred explicitly to Japan’s bifurcated policy of seikei bunri as the guiding principle of the Japan-China relationship.

All that changed in September 2010 when the Japan Coast Guard arrested a Chinese fishing boat captain and detained his ship in the waters off Kubajima in the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which inflamed both sides of the territorial dispute between the two nations. It was followed two years later by the Noda government’s purchase of the islands from their private owner and their subsequent nationalization, which further infuriated the Chinese. Cementing hostilities was Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in December 2013.

Politics then very much entered the relationship, with China adopting a dual strategy of political confrontation and military intimidation, particularly in the area around the disputed Islands. As a result, the Japanese private sector lost confidence in seikei bunri. Many Japanese enterprises withdrew from China, leaving only those that still had confidence in “private businesses unaffected by politics.” As Fukunari Kimura argues in his forthcoming contribution to The Political Economy of Japanese Trade Policy book (PalgraveMacmillan, 2015), although China remained important for Japanese businesses as both a production base and as a market, new investment in China by Japanese firms clearly slowed. In 2013, China lost its No. 1 spot for the first time in the annual questionnaire by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, which asks Japanese manufacturing firms what countries are prospective investment destinations in the forthcoming three years or so. China had held this position since 1992, but in 2013 it fell to No. 4 behind Indonesia, India and Thailand. Restoring this investment relationship was an important factor encouraging the Xi Jinping regime to countenance a personalmeeting between Xi himself and Abe on the sidelines of the recent APEC summit in Beijing.

If the atmospherics of the much-touted meeting between the two leaders are anything to go by, however, then the Sino-Japanese relationship has a long way to go before it could be regarded as reverting to the seikei bunriprinciple, or “normalized.”

Although Xi met Abe, he managed to snub him at the same time. Not only was Abe left standing in the Great Hall of the People while he waited for Xi’s entrance (in a complete reversal of normal protocol), but when the two leaders actually did meet, Abe extended his hand in a friendly gesture, smiled and said a few words. This was barely reciprocated. Xi just shook Abe’s hand, said nothing and turned away. This simple gesture displayed a remarkable lack of hospitality towards a state guest who was clearly treated with disdain, as a Japanese Foreign Ministry official put it.

Xi’s undiplomatic behavior was quite striking to any observer. His facial expression seemed to say, “I don’t want to see you,” in contrast to the smiles that he showed when greeting the Russian and South Korean leaders. This just emphasized how bad Japan-China relations were in comparison. In a later Chinese talk show, the MC remarked on Xi’s expression and attitude, which he described as “stern.” On the whole, the Chinese media largely ignored the Abe-Xi meeting.

The state press agency Xinhua also reported Xi as lecturing Abe on how Japan should behave in the future, including following the path of peaceful development and adopting “prudent military and security policies.” Abe might well have responded with the comment, “and the same to you.”

Subsequently, clear differences can be discerned in the way in which the significance of the meeting and the prior written agreement between the two governments that facilitated it have been reported in Japan and China. These differences may sew the seeds for further disputation in the future

First, while the meeting was understood in Japan to be a first step towards improving relations, in China, reports strongly suggested that there was still a long way to go before relations could be improved.

Second, in a partial break with previous policy that no territorial dispute existed between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu, Japan “acknowledged that the two countries have different views.” However, this statement was interpreted differently in each country. In Japan, “different views” did not, according to theNihon Keizai Shinbun, affect the standpoint that Japan had been adopting thus far in terms of territorial rights (namely, that no territorial dispute existed between the two nations). As expected, in China, however, a local paper in Shanghai ran the headline, “Japan admitted that there is a sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyu Islands for the first time.”

Far from the hoped-for breakthrough in relations, it would appear that the Abe-Xi meeting was a very small step on a very long road towards normalizing Sino-Japanese relations. Xi’s attitude was particularly cold, as if he were discouraging any optimism about the relationship improving any time soon, particularly from the Chinese side. The Shanghai newspaper reported that while the meeting was a first step in improving the bilateral relationship, the battle over historical and territorial issues continued. Certainly the message on Xi’s face when greeting Abe conveyed this view.

Aurelia George Mulgan is professor of Japanese Politics, University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, Australia. She is the author of six books on Japanese politics (the latest “Ozawa Ichiro and Japanese Politics: Old Versus New,” Nissan/Routledge 2014).

http://thediplomat.com/2014/11/abes-humiliation-in-beijing/

China's Selling the J-31, But Who's Buying?
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

China’s Selling the J-31, But Who’s Buying?

Who’s going to buy the J-31?

The recent appearance of the aircraft at the Zhuhai airshow, as well as the comments of a smattering of Chinese officials, led to a spate of articles suggesting that China was interested in the J-31 primarily as an export model. Conceivably, the J-31 could occupy a low-end stealth fighter niche that currently has no other entrants.

Some have billed the J-31 as China’s answer to the F-35, as if that represented some sort of compliment. It’s hardly a stretch to suggest Pakistan would be a major customer, and perhaps Egypt as well.  Beyond that?  The United States can offer the F-35 to a wide range of European and Asian countries, all of which have strong economies, big defense budgets, an appetite for high tech, and an interest in cementing the long-term technological and political relationship with the United States.

Beijing doesn’t have the kind of friends that would do it the favor of buying something like the F-35. If the sanctions on Iran ease up in the wake of a successful nuclear deal, Tehran will be looking to buy advanced fighters.  If the Assad government ever manages to win its civil war, it too will need new fighters, but probably won’t be able to afford anything like the J-31.  The Gulf monarchies buy weapons in order to create political ties, and are unlikely to shift their attention from Washington to Beijing unless the international system changes in immense and unforeseen ways.

Malaysia and Indonesia have been known to make adventurous decisions with respect to fighter purchases, but given the tensions in the South China Seas, it’s unlikely that China would want to significantly increase their capabilities, or that they’d want to tie themselves to Chinese support. Several Latin American countries may soon recapitalize their air forces, but the Europeans seem to have a leg up in that market, and thus far the Latin Americans seem satisfied with reliable generation 4.5 fighters.

Russia and India, of course, are right out.

At this point, no one has a good sense of how much the J-31 might cost, or how the Chinese might try to package it.  If the J-31 resembles the F-35 in anything but superficial terms, the system add-ons will matter as much as the airframe itself. The F-35, after all, sells itself as the center of a system of sensor and communications systems that facilitates air command.  This system requires a variety of other components (drones, EW aircraft, satellites), and the system is enhanced by the capacity of F-35s to work together to create a more accurate vision of the battlespace.

There’s no indication as of yet that the J-31 is supposed to have these kinds of emergent capabilities, and there’s little sense that China is capable of developing and exporting such systems along with the airframe.  America’s friends buy the F-35 because they worry that their legacy aircraft won’t be able to coordinate effectively with U.S. planes in multilateral combat situations.  China doesn’t have this kind of relationship with anyone, and consequently can’t make one of the biggest cases for buying a fifth generation fighter.

Competing with the F-35 requires more than developing an effective airframe.  The F-35 remains attractive not because it’s awesome, but because it’s embedded in a larger set of political and technological relationships.  China has a lot of work to do before it can compete with that.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/11/chinas-selling-the-j-31-but-whos-buying/

China’s Deceptively Weak Anti-Satellite Capabilities
Image Credit: Flickr/ thebadastronomer

China’s Deceptively Weak Anti-Satellite Capabilities

In May 2013, the Pentagon suggested that a high altitude Chinese sub-orbital space launch—claimed to be a scientific mission by China—was in reality the first test of an anti-satellite (ASAT) interceptor that would reach all the way to geo-synchronous earth orbit. Previously, on January 11, 2007, China had successfully launched an ASAT missile against one of its own low earth orbit (LEO) weather satellites.

These and other Chinese actions have provoked strong concerns within the U.S. about China’s motivations.James R. Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, for example, recently told a Senate hearing that: “Chinese and Russian military leaders understand the unique information advantages afforded by space systems and are developing capabilities to disrupt U.S. use of space in conflict. Chinese military writings highlight the need to interfere with, damage, and destroy reconnaissance, navigation, and communication satellites.”

While these concerns have some validity, all U.S. military satellites are not equally vulnerable to a Chinese ASAT attack. Furthermore, the benefits from an ASAT attack are limited and would not confer decisive military advantage in every plausible conflict.

Limits of the Possible

The substantial range of orbital altitude—1,000 kilometers to 36,000 kilometers—across which satellites operate from poses a challenge to China’s ability to attack U.S. military satellites. U.S. intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) satellite that operate at altitudes less than 1,000 kilometers are theoretically most vulnerable to an ASAT attack by China’s Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs). Although the 2007 Chinese ASAT test demonstrated an intercept of this type, there is no publicly available data on the conditions under which the test occurred. How long was the target satellite tracked? Was it transmitting telemetry data providing its orbital location information? These conditions matter. If the U.S. slightly changed the parameters of a satellite’s orbit (for example, its inclination), will China still be able to track, target and intercept the satellite?

Unlike the U.S., China has a very limited satellite tracking capability, most of which are based in its territory and possibly a few ships. A first order technical analysis—assuming China cannot pre-determine a point of intercept—suggests it would be extremely difficult for China to successfully execute an ASAT operation without extensive tracking capability. This is due to the difference between the velocity of the target satellite and the ASAT missile. The satellite is traveling at approximately 7.5 km/s. In the approximately three minutes of boost available to the missile, the satellite travels a distance of 1,350 km. For a successful intercept, in the same three minutes the ASAT missile will have to travel up to the altitude of the satellite (say 800 km) and, at the same time, compensate for the 1,350 km the satellite traverses using its lateral acceleration forces.

Unlike ISR satellites, GPS and military communication satellites are completely invulnerable to China’s current missile arsenal. Even China’s most powerful missiles, its solid-fueled Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) would not be able to reach an altitude of 20,000 km where GPS satellites operate, much less the 36,000 km where U.S. military communications satellites operate. In order to reach higher orbit satellites, China would have to build new and more powerful ICBMs. Even if China manages to develop such an ICBM, it certainly will not be able to easily proliferate a large number of them without imposing substantial financial strain on itself. Alternatively, China can use its liquid-fueled space launch vehicles.

However, even if Chinese space launch vehicles could reach these higher orbits in time to intercept U.S. satellites, executing a number of these launches in quick succession is close to impossible. Its infrastructure limits such a venture. For example, China launched a total of eight annual space launches to orbits higher than LEO in 2012, nine in 2011, eight in 2010, two in 2009 (with one failure), and four in 2008. In the last five years the two quickest back-to-back launches to orbits higher than LEO occurred with a gap of 15 days. Finally, unlike the ICBMs which can be quickly fired, liquid-fueled space launch vehicles take time to fuel and these preparations are very visible. If the U.S. anticipates and observes China preparing for an ASAT attack, it could destroy the launch vehicles during the preparation stages.

Alternate Platforms and Redundancies

Furthermore, the presence of alternate platforms and built-in redundancies substantially limit the advantages that China can obtain from anti-satellite operation against the U.S. For example, in the case ISR satellites, the U.S. possesses an extensive array of airborne platforms that can duplicate and likely outperform many missions that are also performed by satellites. A few of these airborne platforms are: U-2, E-8C Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), RC-135 Rivet Joint, EP-3 (Aries II), E-3 Sentry and E-2C Hawkeye.  In addition, America possesses a number of UAVs like the RQ-4 Global Hawk, MQ-1 Predator, MQ-SX, MQ-9 Reaper, MQ-1C Grey Eagle, MQ-5 Hunter, MQ-8 Firescout and RQ-7. All recent U.S. military operations have extensively employed these airborne ISR systems. In the 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom, for example, coalition Air Forces employed 80 aircraft that flew nearly 1,000 ISR sorties during the initial weeks, collecting 42,000 battlefield images and more than 3,000 hours of full motion video. They also provided 2,400 hours of SIGINT coverage and 1,700 hours of moving target indicator data.

These airborne platforms also have standoff capability and should be able to operate safely outside of China’s inland air defense systems in a hypothetical conflict in the 180 kilometer long Taiwan Straits. All of these platforms will be used in a conflict in the Taiwan Straits, raising questions about the unique value of attacking U.S. ISR satellites. Why would China choose to focus on attacking ISR satellites when airborne platforms probably pose a much greater threat and would be easier to attack?

In the case of GPS satellites, the redundancy of the constellation limits what China can achieve. The GPS constellation consists of around 30 satellites in six orbital planes. This orbital arrangement guarantees that the navigation signal of at least four satellites can be received at any time all over the world. To meaningfully impact U.S. performance—for example, force U.S. ships to operate without access to accurate GPS navigation signals in the Taiwan Straits region—China would have to successfully attack and disable at least six GPS satellites. Even if six GPS satellites are destroyed in an elaborate ASAT operation, the degradation in navigation signals lasts only for a period of 95 minutes. What would China gain from 95 minutes of GPS degradation? U.S. ships and aircraft have accurate inertial navigation systems that would still permit them to operate in the region. As for the ability to use GPS-guided bombs, the U.S. could shift to laser-guided bombs. In fact, between Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, DOD decreased the use of GPS-guided bombs by about 13 percent and increased the use of laser-guided bombs by about 10 percent.

Finally, in the case of communication satellites, a Chinese ASAT operation has its own problem: escalation control. The Naval Telecommunications System (NTS) that would be supporting the U.S. Navy in a conflict is very elaborate. It is comprised of three elements: (1) tactical communications among afloat units around a battle group, (2) long-haul communications between the shore-based forward Naval Communications Stations (NAVCOMSTAs) and forward-deployed afloat units, and (3) strategic communication connecting NAVCOMSTAs with National Command Authorities (NCA).

The first element consists of tactical communication between close formations (25-30 kilometers) using “line-of-sight” radio. For communication with picket ships and between formed groups (300-500 kilometers) “extended line-of-sight” radio are used.  Satellites do not play a major role here.

In contrast, the third element, consisting of strategic communications, is largely dependent on satellites. Therefore, the component of NTS that China would be able to disrupt with its ASATs is strategic communications that would connect the NCA with the forward-deployed battle group. This poses a unique problem. Normally, China should prefer to disable the communication capabilities within the forward-deployed battle group and then negotiate with the NCA to have the battle group withdraw or stand down. However, it can only accomplish the opposite. By using ASATs, China would cut off the forward-deployed battle group from its NCA but not be able to significantly disable the battle group’s ability to execute its naval mission. China could hope that such an attack might force the battle group to stand down. However, it will also have to contend with the possibility that the battle group commander would act more rashly in the absence of direct guidance from the NCA, particularly if combat maneuvers have been initiated. Would China be willing to take such risk? Arguably, the risk might not be worth the potential escalation it might trigger.

Policy Recommendations

The various arguments expounded above paint a nuanced picture on American vulnerabilities in space and China’s potential to exploit it. Just because the U.S. armed forces use satellites more than any other military does not make these satellites immediate and obvious targets. Convincing the Chinese of this might be the best way to dissuade their anti-satellite activities. There are a number of steps the U.S. can take to do that:   

  1. The presence of alternate systems gives a large measure of operational security to U.S. forces—enabling them to operate in an environment with degraded satellite services. Such systems should be more effectively integrated into U.S. military operations.
  2. The U.S. should demonstrate its ability to use measures like satellite sensor shielding and collision avoidance maneuvers for satellites that would dilute an adversary’s ASAT potential.
  3. Monitoring mechanisms that provide long warning times and the ability to definitively identify an attacker in real time should be a priority. Examples of these include the ground based Rapid Attack, Identification, Detection, and Reporting System (RAIDRS), which is used to identify, characterize and geo-locate attacks against U.S. satellites, and the upcoming Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness (SSA) that would provide a continuous monitoring of satellites.

These military-technical solutions might provide some relief, however, it is important to acknowledge and address legitimate Chinese concerns about U.S. weapons programs, including missile defenses in order dissuade China. Central to the threat of China’s ASAT is the incongruence Beijing perceives between the capabilities of U.S. and PLA forces. While it may not be politically possible to address all Chinese concerns, engaging and addressing some of them is a sensible way to build a stable and cooperative regime in space.

Such inducements will require more cooperative ventures that integrate China more deeply into the global space community. The U.S. could, for example, make available U.S. data on satellite traffic and collisions that would help China streamline its space operations. Such gestures will demonstrate a modicum of goodwill, which can encourage further cooperation.  However, the U.S. has been more forthcoming and willing to ink data sharing arrangements with allies than with China. Although there may be security reasons behind this preference to engage primarily with allies, it is important to realize that China is the nation that needs to be most induced to contribute to the peaceful development of space operations. Any coherent plan to dissuade and deter China from employing an ASAT attack will also have to include bilateral discussions.

Discussions over possible space arms control will provide opportunities to convince China of important thresholds. For example, as Micah Zenko of the Council of Foreign Relations suggests, if China believes shooting down U.S. early-warning satellites would be de-escalatory and stabilizing in a naval encounter with the U.S., it should be told clearly that is not the case. U.S. military satellites that provide missile early-warning have a tactical utility but, more importantly, they also serve to maintain the stability of nuclear deterrence between the U.S. and China. China should be convinced that attacking these satellites will provoke swift reprisal attacks. Finally, engaging in negotiations over space security and demonstrating leadership with such measures will help characterize the U.S. as a responsible actor; and therefore render it with the authority to respond with force when an attack is made on its own or allied space assets.

Jaganath Sankaran is an Associate with the International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He was previously a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the RAND Corp. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the topic of space security. A more detailed version of this op-ed will be published in a forthcoming article in the Strategic Studies Quarterly.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/11/chinas-deceptively-weak-anti-satellite-capabilities/

You are here: Home >> Vantage Point | Posted On Wednesday, 2013 Jul 10

AUTHOR: Story Architect: Juliet Feng
Contributing writers: Coco Shen, Cecilia Chan
Translators: Coco Shen, Cecilia Chan, Rachel Gouk, Peijin Chen
Special Thanks to the Shanghai History Museum

While the rest of the world was facing the Great Depression, Shanghai was experiencing perhaps its most affluent era. During the 30s, when little separated city from country, Shanghai became the first metropolis in the Far East, and was venerated as the ‘Paris of the Orient’. From ballroom dancing and horserace betting, to catching the latest Hollywood films and passing time in Parisian-style coffee shops, Shanghai underwent a drastic process of Westernization.

Luxurious Nightlife
The 1930s saw foreigners and Chinese from across the nation flock to Shanghai to get rich fast and indulge in life’s guilty pleasures, the most popular being the city’s burgeoning nightlife. There were several ballrooms of various sizes and catering to different social classes scattered across the city. Ciro’s, Xin Xian Lin, Metropolitan Ballroom and Paramount Hall were the most high-profile spots. These ballrooms typically charged patrons based on the number of songs they wanted to dance to, with noteworthy venues charging a hefty one yuan for three songs. The ballrooms were managed on the principle of exclusivity, and therefore reserved the city’s best jazz bands, musicians and dancers for their venues alone. Every weekend, like today’s ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ the rich and famous would don Western-style outfits and escort Shanghai’s qipao-clad beauties to spend a night gliding around a dance floor of neon lights to the world’s latest jazz numbers.

Located near Jing’an Temple, Paramount Hall was the origin and epitome of Shanghai’s nightlife culture, a place where Chinese tycoons and gangsters mingled with beautiful women and foreign travellers in a setting of dizzying opulence. A-list patrons of the time include the 20th-century Chinese political and military leader Chiang Kai-shek, the patriotic hero Zhang Xueliang, notorious gangsters Huang Jinrong and Du Yuesheng and the famous poet Xu Zhimo. Famously, when Charlie Chaplin visited China and only stayed for a single day, he spent it at Paramount Hall.

Ciro’s Ballroom


Four years after Paramount opened to the public, a rival luxury ballroom was built. The newly built ballroom surpassed the Paramount in many ways, as it covered a vast 10 mu (imperial units of land area) and was refurbished with modern automatic lights and heating and cooling facilities. The owner was property tycoon Victor Sassoon, the man behind the Messrs Sassoon Sons & Co empire, who decided to build his own ballroom after an infamous incident. One night, when Sassoon visited Paramount, the ballroom manager, unaware of his status, didn’t treat him in a manner befitting his wealth. Sassoon lost his temper and stormed out, and the rest is history. Ciro’s takes its style from the most popular ballroom in New York at the time and hired high-profile bands and dancers of the same standing.

‘Spring Floor’ in Paramount Ballroom
The Paramount Ballroom is an exercise in extravagance, costing a staggering 600,000 silver (the Chinese currency at the time) to build, it typified the culture of consumption of the era. The building’s style is Art Deco, the pinnacle of architectural fashion for its time. The interior is even more extravagant with crystal and marble-clad surfaces at every turn, while the iconic dance floor is illuminated by more than 50,000 lights. The highlight of Paramount Hall is the dancing experience, the dance floor is sprung so that not only does it improve the dancing but you can feel the music and movements of other dancers through the floor, and you can feel the vibrancy in the room.

At the Movies


During the 1920s and 1930s, going to the movies became one of the most fashionable ways to spend the evening. The theaters were filled with all types of peoples, from young couples on dates and stay-at-home wives looking to kill time to the very stars pictured on screen. It is said that Lu Xun, the world-renowned Chinese writer, watched more than 100 movies during the last 20 years of his life. At the time, Zhang Ailing, a noteworthy female writer, was one of the first film critics, as she would regularly attend screenings and write reviews.

During this period, going to the movies became as popular and regular a social activity as inviting people to dinner. At its advent in Shanghai, film screenings were mobile, as Westerners would show movies in public areas like parks and teahouses. It wasn’t until Spanish entrepreneur Antonio Ramos set up an iron house in 1908 near Haining Road and Zhapu Road that China saw it’s first cinema: the Hongkew Motion Picture Theater. Establishing a permanent venue made the pastime more accessible. The 20s saw the motion picture’s most popular era as the number of movie theaters doubled in Shanghai in the five years from 1927 to 1932 to a total of 50 theaters; the three most popular theaters were The Grand Theater, Cathay Theater and Nanjing Grand Theater.

The high-class theaters were first to screen the latest Hollywood and domestic movies. Such theaters were renowned for their luxury and exclusivity: Going to the movies became a fashionable activity for society’s elite, as men would see fit to style their hair while women would don their most expensive outfits.

The Best Movie Theater in the Far East
The Grand Theater on West Nanjing Road, not to be confused with the Shanghai Grand Theatre, was known as the best theater in Shanghai in its day. It boasted luxurious facilities, the best service and the highest quality of sound and film. The wide-screen displays and expensive stereo system were revolutionary in China’s movie projection development. In 1933, celebrated Hungarian architect Lázló Hudec remodeled the theater, transforming the three-story building into a stylish art deco building.

In the 30s-era of Hollywood films, nearly every popular translated foreign film was screened at The Grand Theater. The audience would receive beautifully printed brochures containing information about the movie, its actors and directors, as well as posters and poetic catchphrases reminiscent of today’s movie trailers. To help viewers better understand the plot, the theater offered an advanced interpretation system imported from the U.S. Every seat was outfitted with a set of headphones that would project the voice of an interpreter nicknamed ‘Miss Earphone,’ who would describe the plot and dialogue to the audience. It was the first time earphones were seen in China, and patrons could enjoy in the experience for an extra 10 cents.

Dreaming of a Race Pay Day


As one of the West’s most popular sporting events, it wasn’t long before horse racing made its way to the ‘Paris of the Orient.’ The British loved the pastime so much that they brought the practice to Shanghai, setting up a racecourse in the centre of town. Not only did this introduce a popular form of entertainment, but also the gambling culture that came with it, spurring dreams of overnight riches. Shanghai’s first racetrack was built in 1850 on Nanjing and Henan Road, with three more circuits opening over the next ten years.

At first, winners on the races were not awarded prize money, but bottles of champagne, leading to the betting slip moniker “champagne ticket”. Later, cash rewards were established, and the highest jackpot was reportedly up to 224,000 Yin Yuan, the silver currency at the time. The high-profit bets took the East by storm, spreading nationwide and even making it possible for those outside Shanghai to purchase betting slips from cigarette shops. The races transformed the Bund into a wealthy area overnight, bringing windfalls to lucky punters, while bankrupting many more.

The Far East’s First Raceclub


In its wake, horseracing culture left behind a lot of English-influenced architecture including a building completed in 1932 by Englishman Mohair Matheson. This never-before-seen structure of reinforced steel and concrete cost a staggering two million silver dollars. At 100 meters high, its construction area of 21,000 square meters included a dramatic 53-meter tower. The four-story building contained the racetracks’ ticketing office, a member’s club and an indoor swimming pool, as well as an area for awarding ticket winners. This historical site is still intact and has been used for art and cultural purposes such as the Shanghai Art Music event.

Shopping Mecca


During the 1930s, Shanghai became a shopping mecca with an influx of some of the most fashionable and internationally renowned brands of clothing, jewellery and magazines setting up shop in the metropolis. This attracted people from nearby cities and neighboring countries who flocked to the city. The four most famous department stores were Sincere, Wing On, Sun Sun and Da Sun, which stocked an assortment of products in grand and luxurious settings that were comparable to New York’s Macy’s and London’s Selfridges at the time. Shanghai was determined to keep pace, lighting up the streets with neon lights and creating beautiful window displays that exhibited the latest international trends. Boutiques also opened shop, selling imported products like long stockings, chocolates, wine, dancing shoes and talcum powder – items that were never before seen in China.

Of the four major department stores, Wing On was the most influential and high-class. Within the modern European-style building of Wing On’s store, there were as many as 50,000 different products for sale. Wing On even imported the glass for their display windows. Previous to Wing On, all store clerks were male, but Wing On became the first to employ beautiful young female attendants. This awoke more male customers to the benefits of shopping, and provied to be the start of a smart business practice that stores routinely employ today.

Wing On was also the first company to combine both commercial and entertainment features, placing shopping stores on the first to fourth floors and setting up entertainment venues on the upper floors like restaurants, hotels, nightclubs and cinemas. They maximized all the available space, even utilizing the roof for an open-air playground during the day and making it a venue for rooftop parties at night. Their store was one of the most popular destinations on Nanjing Road.

http://www.vantageshanghai.com/en/vantage-point/2013/07/shanghai-in-the-1930s-paris-of-the-orient.html

How Well Does China Control Its Military?
Image Credit: REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

How Well Does China Control Its Military?

Developments in East Asia in recent years hint at the possibility that communication between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is not all that it might be when it comes to coordinating military activities. Incidents such as the surprise stealth fighter test during former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ visit in 2011, or the 2007 anti-satellite test, are prime examples of the CCP’s leadership being seemingly unaware of what its military is doing. This suggests weakness in coordination between the center and the military, and helps explain numerous episodes where the civilian apparatus seemed oblivious to the PLA’s activities and confused about officers’ statements that made the PLA appear “rogue.”

In 2009, Andrew Scobell argued for the existence of a “civil-military gap” in China’s peaceful rise. Scobell uses this expression in two ways. First, it refers to a potentially serious difference between the attitudes and perspectives of civilian and military elites based on different life experiences and career paths; second, it refers to a possible “loose civilian control of the military.” The PLA detests political intrusion by the party into its own affairs and has subsequently carved out more autonomy for itself. Thus, the claim that in recent years, “civilian CCP leaders seem to have adopted a hands-off approach to the day-to-day affairs of the PLA” seems to plausibly describe the relationship between the military and the civilian leadership.

This could have far-reaching implications. In 2012, outgoing President Hu Jintao hinted that the chain of military command “might be more fragile than commonly understood,” although the true meaning of this statement remains abstruse. Certainly, confusion in the chain of command is not a new problem for China. Past examples include the 16th Party Congress, when Jiang retired from his post as general-secretary, but retained his seat as chairman of the CMC, while Hu became the new general-secretary. This led to ambiguity as to who was China’s commander in chief and ultimately in charge of the PLA, particularly for potentially explosive issues like Taiwan, where conflict control is complicated by the involvement of the United States.

It is assumed that senior CCP leaders hold decisive authority over the main foreign and defense policy issues, but that their authority on military actions of foreign policy relevance on subordinate levels of the policy process is not as clear. Given their status as commander in chief, technocratic civilian CCP leaders possess a broad knowledge of military programs and defense priorities. However, they appear to grant the PLA considerable autonomy and latitude as to how and when programs are implemented. The result is that civil-military coordination regarding specific types of military action impinging on foreign policy is weak.

The 2011 stealth fighter test during Gates’ visit is generally regarded as a prime example of the party’s number one not knowing what his military is doing. Yet the idea that Hu would not have known about the test, or would not have been informed of it, appears inconceivable in a system based on collective direction and mutual control. Thus, the timing with Gates’ visit was not coincidental. Indeed, Gates later affirmed that, “I asked President Hu about it directly, and he said that the test had absolutely nothing to do with my visit and had been a pre-planned test.” The PLA was undoubtedly determined to display its prowess and was intent on sending a message to the U.S. at a time many had hoped tensions might be declining, given that China had resumed military contacts with the United States after suspending them following the U.S. announcement that it would sell arms to Taiwan in January that year.

A repeat performance took place during U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s trip to China in September 2012, when another stealth fighter was revealed. The incident contained elements of both “showmanship and boasting,” and, as was the case one year earlier, was “carefully timed to reinforce some political point.” A renewed denial by China’s number one that he had been informed about the disclosure makes clear that again a message was supposed to be sent.

It is quite possible that some of these incidents are the result of the PLA’s “rogue” tendencies, meaning that the military does not always communicate vital information, such as the dates of tests or other military activities, to the party leadership in Beijing. The 2007 satellite test is perhaps most conceivable as an example of roguish PLA behavior, since evidence suggests that top-level Chinese leaders really weren’t informed of the test details or schedule, consistent with the idea of a PLA operating on a loose leash, albeit not necessarily with malicious intent. The PLA’s attitude sometimes seems to be that if a policy issue is determined by the PLA to be an agenda exclusive to the military, its external effects need not be taken into consideration, leading to unintended consequences for Chinese foreign relations.

A similar, if more pointed assertion, has been put forward by the Japanese National Institute for Defense Studies. Contending that the Chinese military is in fact unwilling to coordinate, the Institute’s scholars assert that the PLA “does not fully recognize the need for policy coordination with the government departments.” They argue that is particularly evident in the relationship between the PLA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2010, Professor Wang Yizhou, Vice Dean of Beijing University’s School of International Studies, stated in reference to various military exercises conducted in the South China Sea, East China Sea and Yellow Sea that “the PLA’s recognition of its right to hold independent events ‘led’ the [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] to lose time to have enough discussions.” In other words, naval activities could not be properly coordinated in advance.

Prominent analysts of Chinese foreign policy have hypothesized that the CCP general-secretary and chairman of the Central Military Commission is generally not being informed of issues at the operational level, such as specific weapons tests and training exercises or small military patrols outside of China’s immediate borders. Given the apparent absence of any requirement for the PLA to provide operational information, China lacks an explicit mechanism to make sure that coordination between civilian and military authorities takes place. An exacerbating factor is China’s stove-piped bureaucratic system, which aggravates difficulties in horizontal and vertical coordination as well as information sharing between the army and the civilian apparatus.

In a crisis, this lack of a reliable management at the highest levels may lead to unintended and far-reaching consequences, such as accidental escalation. Yet the Chinese foreign policy establishment continues to rely on temporary mechanisms created on an ad hoc basis. During a politico-military crisis, these mechanisms are often as inefficient for information processing as they are ineffective for coordinating actions, since quality information does not reach those in charge in a timely fashion.

The decision-making procedure, too, has the potential to slow crisis management. Judging from the procedures applied in the EP-3 incident and the Chinese embassy bombing, it was the top leaders in the Standing Committee of the Politburo who called the shots. But because those leaders were not able to come together quickly, China’s responses were slow.

In recent years, there has been talk in Chinese academic and policy circles about the advantages of establishing a supervisory body to facilitate foreign policy coordination, prevent escalation, and manage conflicts. The new Chinese National Security Council, established in 2013, was described by Li Wei, director of the Anti-Terrorism Center at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, as “an organization that has the power to coordinate different government organs at the highest level in response to a major emergency crisis and incidents which pose threats to the national security, such as defending China’s borders and dealing with major terrorist attacks.” Although this seems like a step in the right direction, it serves primarily internal security purposes, and its precise relationship with the CMC and Xi Jinping remains obscure. And so it appears that despite an increasingly pressing need, foreign policy coordination is unlikely to improve anytime soon.

 Johannes Feige is a Junior Researcher at the European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS), Brussels.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/11/how-well-does-china-control-its-military/

The Great Fall from Grace: Is China’s Rise Over?

A combination of inaction and daunting challenges threatens the end of China’s economic rise. Not a delay, the end.

November 12, 2014

This week marks the two-year anniversary of Xi Jinping’s ascendance to General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. Xi inherited serious economic problems, underappreciated at the time, and his response thus far has been largely cheap talk. The combination of inaction and daunting challenges threatens the end of China’s economic rise. Not a delay, the end.

Last month, China acknowledged a five-year low in growth of gross domestic product (GDP). Casual observers, such as former Treasury secretary Larry Summers, have turned bearish. While the new bears are right, they may not know why they are right. Chinese weakness is not one or two years old, it is eleven or twelve.

The term of Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, is now correctly recognized by some as an economic failure. That term dates to late 2002. In 2003, Beijing began to unbalance the economy with wildly high public investment, especially in heavy industries such as steel. Among other things, this led to pronounced environmental degradation, which limits long-term economic prospects.

In 2006, China shoved aside the possibility of further market reform andendorsed state control of major sectors. In 2009, state-owned banks conducted arguably the biggest stimulus in world history, boosting lending by one-third in a single year, even as their borrowers’ ability to repay plunged due to the global crisis. Debt exploded.

The weak economy is the culmination of more than a decade of bad policy. Even now, problems are being understated.

From mid-2008 to mid-2014, Chinese GDP doubled on official figures. In that same period, also on official figures, the volume of outstanding bank loans almost tripled. This is close to $9 trillion in new debt issued by state banks. From mid-2008 to mid-2014, Credit Suisse estimates Chinese private wealth increased only about $5 trillion.

In comparison, the U.S. added a hefty and dangerous $6.5 trillion in federal debt from mid-2008 to mid-2014. Against that, though, net private American wealth soared $22 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. The financial crisis started in the United States, but it continues in China.

In light of their balance sheets, Standard and Poor’s called Chinese companiesthe least risky among their global peers in 2009, yet the most risky just five years later. Chinese growth since 2008 has been built entirely on sand.

The future is equally unsteady. The way to achieve sustained gains in personal income is through higher productivity. The Conference Board found that total factor productivity in China actually fell from 2007 to 2012, mostly due to money being wasted. This is an unavoidably rough estimate, but the result is completely incompatible with a successfully developing economy.

With the capital side accumulating waste and debt, the burden falls to workers. However, the rapid labor-force expansion that helped carry China forward for a generation is ending. In 2012, the labor force shrank for the first time in official records. And Chinese society will grow progressively older and less work-friendly for at least another generation, perhaps more.

The hole China must climb out of is not several years of slowing GDP growth. It is twelve years of foolishly promoting the state over the market, six years of soaring and in some ways unprecedented debt, and the prospect of twenty years of a labor and environment situation that looks like nothing so much as the old Soviet Union’s.

The Party claims to have recognized the challenge, if belatedly. In fall 2013, with Xi in charge, the Party promised sweeping economic reform at its annual plenary session. Premier Li Keqiang, number two in the hierarchy, said deep reform must occur no matter how painful.

But Beijing has delivered very little. What are trumpeted as important changes by remaining China bulls, featuring another round in cyclical fiscal reform, are sideshows. Local government debt, for example, is perhaps one-fourth the size of corporate debt and steps to address it cannot qualify as transformative. The key issues remain almost untouched.

Perhaps most striking, inefficient state-owned enterprises are intended tocooperate more with private firms. What is badly needed is exactly the opposite: far more open and fair competition between the state and private sectors.

The much-touted Shanghai Free Trade Zone, symbol of financial transformation, reached its one-year anniversary, accomplishing little beyond drawing speculators. Labor reforms have been offered but are slow and partial, when daring is required in light of China’s rapid aging. Last month, the 2014 edition of the Party plenary meeting was caught up in internal political issuesand barely discussed the economy.

The middle-income trap occurs when the policies that help raise countries out of poverty cease to work, but governments refuse for political reasons to adopt different ones. Very few countries ever escape to become rich. For a decade, China slowly ensnared itself in the middle-income trap. After Xi Jinping’s first two years, it remains tightly bound.

Beijing controls the publication of all economic numbers and can continue to insist everything is fine. But if Xi does not quickly move beyond talk to profound pro-market reform, China will not slow or struggle—it will just stop.

Derek M. Scissors is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies Asian economic issues and trends. In particular, he focuses on the Chinese and Indian economies and US economic relations with China and India.

Image: Flickr/yakobusan Jacob Montrasio/CC by 2.0

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-great-fall-grace-china%E2%80%99s-rise-over-11649?page=2

Chinese Direct and Financial Outbound Investment

China is an emerging investor in business abroad via overseas direct investment, and is also exploring options to invest in international financial markets. China became the third largest outbound direct investor in 2012 and, in conjunction with plans to reform its financial sector, is examining ways to potentially increase financial flows abroad as well.

While the ongoing economic slowdown has dampened China’s overseas direct investment (ODI) in 2014, the long-term trend points to an increase in ODI. Outbound direct investment is dominated by state-owned and state-controlled enterprises, and much of the ODI is carried out through mergers and acquisitions. Outbound direct investment from China is catching up to inbound direct investment from other nations into China, weighing in at $90.2 billion in 2013.

China’s outbound FDI regime began with the Going Out policy developed from 1999 to 2001. The Going Out policy encouraged overseas investment, contracting, and resource procurement. The cumbersome approval process for outbound investment projects was streamlined after the success of reforms piloted in Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shandong, and Guangdong. The application and authorization procedures were further simplified in 2005 and 2009. State-owned enterprises can now apply to MOFCOM for authorization of projects between $10 million and $100 million, while projects under $10 million can proceed without approval.

The Twelfth Five Year Plan on Inward and Outward FDI stated that the government will support the participation of firms in natural resource projects and industrial upgrading, and encourage private enterprises to use outward FDI. China has invested in developing nations in Africa, often for natural resources, as well as in developed nations in Europe and elsewhere, to obtain the advantage of technology transfer. Indeed, China’s ODI across the African continent in mining, manufacturing, and infrastructure highlights strong endeavors by Chinese enterprises to expand abroad.

Outbound financial investment, while minimal today, is also on the table. The Asia Financial Risk Think Tank based in Hong Kong SAR, for example, is in the process of documenting ways in which China may consider outbound foreign financial investment. Strict capital controls continue to block outbound foreign financial investment, but the potential for the development of foreign financial investment is vast, and China’s institutional and retail investors alike can benefit from diversifying assets abroad. Allowing capital outflows for the purpose of financial investment is currently under discussion.

Precedents for outbound financial investment from China are few, but include China’s sovereign wealth funds. The China Investment Corporation (CIC) has been most visible in this area, investing in a number of foreign assets. Controlled by the Ministry of Finance, CIC is registered as an independent non-bank state-owned enterprise, unlike other sovereign wealth funds. Although a recent audit revealed losses due to investment in firms such as Blackstone and Morgan Stanley, CIC has learned from its experience and continues to obtain returns abroad. An aggressive strategy implemented in the early years of its operation has been modified to a more moderate strategy based on investment in equities and other assets rather than high-yield assets purchased via absolute return vehicles such as hedge funds.

The CIC case may increase the incentive to first open overseas financial investment to state-owned banks rather than non-bank state-owned enterprises, as state-owned banks may undergo emergency liquidity injections where necessary. State-owned banks are under the purview of the People’s Bank of China. In addition, the CIC case illustrates the danger in taking an aggressive financial position, particularly given low levels of experience in investing abroad. It also shines a light on the need to ensure adequate management and accounting procedures.

Consideration of outbound financial investment comes at a time when China’s leadership is attempting to further marketize its financial sector, enhancing returns and other market signals. Overseas financial investment is a wide open field that has the potential to provide risk diversification and returns to institutional and retail investors, if managed properly. Like overseas direct investment, overseas financial investment may play an important role in providing China with much-needed resources (in the latter case, financial) to expand economic growth.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/11/chinese-direct-and-financial-outbound-investment/

Siege of Port Arthur: Verdun in Manchuria
Image Credit: Tōjō Shōtarō

Siege of Port Arthur: Verdun in Manchuria

The recent centenary of the Great War has prompted much reflection on its social, technological, and military implications. Yet many of the battlefield technologies and social innovations we associate with World War I had already emerged a decade earlier in Asia, during the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War. These included the dominance of the machine gun on the conventional battlefield, the importance of the media, wireless communications, radio jamming, and even the emergence of submarines. All factors of conflict throughout the 20th century. In particular the defining battle of that conflict – the Siege of Port Arthur, which lasted from August 1, 1904 to January 2, 1905 – saw many innovative uses of technologies along with bloodshed on a scale that made it a precursor to World War I trench warfare.

Had Western observers chosen to take notice, it was here that important lessons on the future of warfare first emerged.  Yet, it was not the siege of Port Arthur that occupied the attention of most contemporary observers. Instead, the land battle that received the most attention was the 1905 Battle of Mukden, the largest fight the world had seen since the three-day Battle of Leipzig in 1813.

Mukden involved 600,000 combatants and would be the largest battle fought by an army organized along modern lines in Asia until World War II. The Japanese Imperial Army (trained by German officers) sought to turn Mukden into a decisive encirclement battle. Their blueprint was the victory won by Prussian-Bavarian forces at the Battle of Sedan. After an exhausting 19-day battle, however, the Japanese failed to achieve this. The changing defensive nature of warfare allowed the dug-in Russian Army to avoid a “Second Sedan” by inflicting heavy causalities on Marshal Iwao Oyama’s forces and escape with much of the Russian Imperial Army still intact.

If Mukden sought to reflect the battles of the past, the five-month Siege of MacArthur anticipated the future of war. The Siege of Port Arthur, as China’s Lyushunkou District was then known, proved to be iconoclastic. Here, more than a decade before the Somme, the futility of frontal assaults against dug-in troops supported by artillery and machine guns was established. The Russian troops worked constantly to improve their fortifications. While modest trench systems were factors in the battles of Liaoyang and Mukden, at Port Arthur more than 75 kilometers of trench work was dug by both sides, some of it protected by barbed wire entanglements and electric fences. Searchlights helped the Russians fend off Japanese night assaults. To overcome these defenses, the Japanese resorted to tunneling under Russian fortifications.

Much of the trenches and defensive works dug by the Russians focused on defending the highest point within their perimeter, a site known as 203 Meter Hill. When the Japanese commander of the besieging Third Army, General Maresuke Nogi realized the outcrop’s importance, he concentrated Japanese efforts on seizing it. The defense of the area stretched from September to December. To seize the position the Japanese sustained as many as 14,000 casualties, while the Russian defenders lost perhaps 5,000. Not until the Battle of Verdun in 1916 would so many lives be traded for such a small piece of real estate. In fact, all Japanese assaults on Port MacArthur failed, save when morale not firepower was the deciding factor.  According to The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective, an edited volume on the conflict, while the Battle of Sedan had inflicted a Prussian casualty rate of 7.3 percent and the French casualty rate of 18.9 percent, Japanese casualty rates at the Battle of Mukden reached 27.2 percent. The carnage was even higher during the Siege of MacArthur, in which Japanese Imperial forces suffered a casualty rate of 45.6 percent. Major General Anatoly Stessel’s decision to surrender his force of 33,000 soldiers and seamen despite adequate supplies shocked both the Japanese and Russian commands equally. In World War I, few entrenched forces the size of the Port Arthur Garrison would be surrounded.

Media played a role in the 1904-1905 conflict in a way not apparent in earlier 19th century conflicts. Both sides struggled with press leaks. Not only did both the Russians and the Japanese have access to wireless communication, but so did a London Times correspondent who used a radio aboard a civilian vessel to cover the Port Arthur battle. Meanwhile, Japanese agents provided future Bolshevik leader V.I Lenin with 50,000 yen to fund the newspaper Vperyod, which appeared on January 4, 1905. The second edition of the paper covered the fall of Port Arthur in depth. The news of the defeat was a further blow to Russian national morale. Coupled with the events of Bloody Sunday 1905 and Leon Trotsky’s abortive St. Petersburg Soviet, Russia was forced to the peace table.

Prior to the surrender the Japanese had gained control of commanding heights such as the 203 Meter Hill. From there, newly imported Krupps howitzers with  11-inch (280 mm) howitzers bombarded the Russian fleet with 500 pound shells, destroying it piecemeal. The last remnant of the Russian Pacific Fleet and survivor of the Battle of the Yellow Sea was the battleship Sevastopol. Scuttled in deep water just after the surrender, theSevastopol was the only Russian battleship to not later be refloated by the Japanese; it rests in the same place to this day.

Among the prizes captured by the Japanese was an inoperable Russian submarine. Indeed, both sides had developed a submarine warfare capability before the start of the war, according to another book on the subject, Rotem Kowner’s The A to Z of the Russo-Japanese War. Japan had ordered five American-made Holland-type submarines before the outbreak of hostilities. The first of the vessels arrived in November 1904, but the capture of 203 Meter Hill meant it was not used to attack the Russian fleet harbored at Port Arthur. Meanwhile, Russia used the Trans-Siberian railway to deploy 14 small submarines to Vladivostok by the close of the war. The problems posed for Japan in attacking the Russian Pacific fleet at Port Arthur harbor had important ramifications for the future of naval warfare, and certainly encouraged the British Royal Navy’s interest in submarines as an offensive weapon.

Notwithstanding that, most European observers actively chose to learn the wrong lesson. British Lieutenant General Sir Ian Hamilton, an observer of the conflict, invoked the Battle of Sedan when he wrote, “War is essentially the triumph, not of chassepot over needle-gun, not of a line of men entrenched behind wire entanglements and fire-swept zones over men exposing themselves in the open, but of one will over a weaker will, the best defense to a country is an army formed, trained, inspired by the idea of attack.” In those words lay the bloodbaths of the Somme and Verdun.

Similarly, the Russian military failed to make any substantial changes following the Russo-Japanese War. Indeed, the feud between two competing commanders – Alexander Samsonov and Paul von Rennenkampf – in the Russo-Japanese War at the Battle of Mukden spilled over into the Great War, leading to negligence. Rennenkampf dallied in rescuing Samsonov at the Battle of Tannenberg, resulting in major German victory in the first battle of the Eastern Front.

And while some sources continue to suggest that World War I was the first conflict in which battlefield casualties exceeded those lost to disease, that grim achievement had already been recorded on the battlefields of the Russo-Japanese War. But the bloodshed of the Russo-Japanese War was soon forgotten along with its lessons, and a decade later the world faced a far greater tragedy.

Joseph Hammond is a freelance writer and former correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/11/siege-of-port-arthur-verdun-in-manchuria/

From Fujian, China's Xi Offers Economic Olive Branch to Taiwan
Image Credit: Xi Jinping image via Kaliva / Shutterstock

From Fujian, China’s Xi Offers Economic Olive Branch to Taiwan

After recent signs that Beijing was increasing its pressure on Taiwan’s KMT government, Chinese President Xi Jinping took a softer tone in remarks made this week. Notably, Xi’s recent comments steered clear of thorny political issues and went back to the basic foundation for the current cross-strait relationship: business ties.

Xi spent the week on an inspection tour in Fujian, the province where he cut his political teeth (including a stint as governor from 1999-2003). Fujian, as the province directly across the Taiwan Strait from Taiwan, plays a central role in cross-strait interactions, for better and for worse — Fujian is a gateway for Taiwanese businesses seeking access to the mainland, but also hosts the military deterrents China uses to keep Taiwan in check.

Though Xi’s tour included attending a military conference in Fujian, his major message for cross-strait relations focused on economics. Xi visited the Pingtan Comprehensive Experimental Zone, the mainland’s pet project for encouraging more cross-strait investment and business cooperation. While there, Xi emphasized role of Fujian in fostering economic ties between the mainland and Taiwan.

In a statement, Tawain Affairs Office spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang pointed out that Xi specifically visited Taiwanese enterprises and met with Taiwanese businesspeople during his tour of Fujian. Stressing the ethnic and cultural ties between Taiwan and the mainland, Xi said that there was “no reason” for the two sides not to join hands in joint development. Xi also praised the role of Taiwanese businesspeople in fostering a positive cross-strait relationship. Overall, Xi’s  tone during this visit represented a return to earlier, softer rhetoric toward cross-strait relations, where improved business ties were seen as acceptable progress on the road to Beijing’s eventual goal of reunification.

As part of this rhetoric, Beijing seemed to retreat from Xi’s earlier insistence that the “one country, two systems” formula was the only possible way forward for cross-strait relations. Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou flatly rejected the idea of “one country, two systems” as the basis for cross-strait relations, insisting instead that the “1992 consensus” is the preferred formula of Taiwan’s people. The “one country, two systems” model would allow Taiwan some degree of autonomy but effectively rob it of any claim to sovereignty by subordinating Taipei to Beijing’s ultimate control. Meanwhile, the “1992 consensus” frames the mainland and Taiwan as part of “one China,” but allows enough wiggle room for Taipei and Beijing to define “China” differently.

“Beijing introduced the ‘one country, two systems’ model, and when they did so, we told them that Taiwan could not possibly accept it,” Ma told the New York Times in an interview this week. “Public opinion polls have consistently shown that most people oppose it.” Instead, Ma stressed that the 1992 consensus and the ambiguous formula of “one China, respective interpretations” is still “a key foundation undergirding cross-strait relations.”

The Taiwan Affairs Office re-embraced the “1992 consensus” after Xi’s tour of Fujian. Spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang emphasized that “opposing ‘Taiwan independence’ and supporting the ‘1992 consensus’ is the foundation for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.” That signals a return to the conscious ambiguity that allows for continued cross-strait interactions – in effect, an olive branch offered to Taiwan’s government along with an indication that Beijing is willing to refocus on the basics of expanded economic cooperation.

Despite political sensitivities (which are nothing new in the cross-strait relationship), Ma Ying-jeou remains devoted to expanding Taiwan’s trade relationship with the mainland. Speaking to the New York Times, Ma denied the charge that Taiwan is growing increasingly dependent economically on mainland China. “In 2000, mainland China (including Hong Kong) accounted for 24 percent of Taiwan’s total exports. Before I took office in 2008, our exports to the mainland had risen to a 40-percent share,” Ma said. “From last year to September of this year, 39 percent of Taiwan’s exports were shipped to mainland China. The figure did not increase but instead decreased.” Ma concluded, “The present situation warrants our attention but does not call for excessive anxiety.”

Ma Ying-jeou’s KMT government has been quick to point out that it is not directly cooperating with Beijing on the Pingtan experimental zone, but in general Ma’s administration is supportive of projects that boost cross-strait trade. In his interview with the New York Times, Ma continued to defend the controversial Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement, the issue at the heart of the Sunflower protests this past March. “The agreement will … be more beneficial to Taiwan” than to the mainland, Ma argued. “Blocking the agreement will only result in lowering Taiwan’s competitive standing.”

http://thediplomat.com/2014/11/from-fujian-chinas-xi-offers-economic-olive-branch-to-taiwan/

Xi Jinping Turns the Screws on Taiwan

Not unlike other authoritarian and totalitarian regimes throughout history, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has always had a paranoid streak, whose stridency has ebbed and flowed according to the times. In periods of high instability, such as during the Cultural Revolution, the CCP leadership went to extraordinary lengths to eliminate its enemies — real and imagined. Unrest in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and signs that Taiwan may be “slipping away” after half a decade of cautious rapprochement, seem to have engendered a new phase of paranoia in Beijing, as evidenced by the detentions of and travel restrictions imposed against dozens of Chinese individuals in recent months.

Those measures have been accompanied by an increasingly xenophobic line in Zhongnanhai. President Xi Jinping, the hoped-for reformer who, as it turns out, is very much the strongman, has repeatedly warned against “pollution” by Western values and has directed the implementation of policies to counter such nefarious influences. Chinese agencies and propaganda outlets, meanwhile, claim to have uncovered “evidence” of several plots hatched abroad to destabilize China.

If we believe the rhetoric, Uyghur “terrorists” from Xinjiang have been acting on behalf of foreign organizationsand Taiwanese “separatists” are pawns of American and/or Japanese forces. Meanwhile the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong, which has brought part of the metropolis to a standstill, is said to have simultaneously been funded, scripted, fomented, and influenced by a plethora of disparate foreign groups, including the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED)Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai, the CIA, British agents, the Oslo Freedom Forum, and out-of-favor Taiwanese politicians. Even American jazz musician Kenny G, who briefly visited a protest site last week, was sniped at by Chinese authorities.

Besides highlighting a heightened sense of paranoia in China, which is fueled in part by the growing sense of “us versus them” that naturally accompanies budding nationalism, the emphasis on foreign forces is a political tool used by Beijing to downplay the severity of the crises. By blaming external agents, the CCP hopes to minimize the importance, scope, and reach of the movements to portray them as a misguided minority. It thus seeks to discredit their grievances with a domestic audience as part of containment efforts. Rather than stem from indigenous forces animated by legitimate grievances, the activists are either fools who are easily deceived by duplicitous foreign agents (who must be brought in line), or downright enemies of the CCP and, by default, China (who must be defeated). Of course the grievances are very real, whether it be broken promises in Hong Kong or repression in Xinjiang, and the locals are sufficiently intelligent and resourceful to organize without foreign help. But China doesn’t want its citizens to believe the dangerous — and potentially infectious idea — that this is the case.

Although the depiction of unrest as foreign-controlled is very much a rational move on the part of Beijing, the growing paranoia isn’t. In some cases, this may have led Beijing to miscalculate.

It would be tempting to regard Beijing’s recent behavior vis-à-vis Taiwan as part of that downward slide towards irrationalism. Since 2008, when Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT was elected president in Taiwan, Beijing had showed a surprising level of sophistication, and no small amount of patience, amid its efforts to resolve the hugely sensitive conflict with the democratic island of 23 million people, which it regards as a “renegade province” awaiting “reunification.” Yet after nearly seven years of careful diplomacy, it looked like China had committed its first major faux pas late last month when President Xi overturned Beijing’s cross-strait policy by declaring that the “one country, two systems” (1C2S) formula, discredited though it may be in Hong Kong, was the only platform for dialogue between Taipei and Beijing. Although 1C2S has always been Beijing’s ultimate offer to Taiwan, Beijing had until now played along with the “1992 consensus” formula favored by the Ma Ying-jeou administration (“one China, with different interpretations of what ‘one China’ signifies”).

Xi’s sudden insistence on a formula that has no traction in Taiwan, not even within Ma’s KMT and much less within Taiwanese society in general, left many analysts wondering what the Chinese leader was up to (and secondly, who his audience was). We can only speculate on the causes. It may be that Xi is not receiving the intelligence he needs to make informed decisions on Taiwan. Another explanation would be that Xi, who is quite possibly the strongest — and arguably the most ideological — Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, is losing patience on the “Taiwan question,” which suffered a major setback in the spring with the Sunflower Movement’s occupation of the Legislative Yuan (the parallels with Occupy Central certainly matter). Xi may have decided to draw lines in the sand, regardless of the political mood in Taiwan. Fearing that he may be losing control of the “peripheries,” Xi may have concluded that a tougher stance is the only way to bring about Beijing’s desired outcomes, especially as the CCP seems to be losing faith in the ability of President Ma and his KMT to deliver. Despite their claims to the contrary, Ma and his party were severely discredited by the Sunflowers.

It is only after having established this context that we can attempt to make sense of Beijing’s latest allegations against Taipei. On Monday, the Global Times, a subsidiary of the state-run People’s Daily, alleged that Taiwan’s National Security Bureau (NSB), the island’s top civilian intelligence agency, had been recruiting Chinese students in Taiwan to conduct espionage in China. Citing “related agencies,” the Global Times said it had identified three NSB agents who were responsible for 40 cases of recruitment since 2009 with agents active on as many as 20 university campuses in Taiwan. According to the report, the Chinese students were encouraged to take exams and join Chinese government agencies after returning to China to access sensitive information.

Taiwanese authorities have vehemently denied the allegations, despite one Chinese PhD student at National Taiwan University telling the state-owned Central News Agency that approaches by intelligence agencies were “a common phenomenon.” Though we should avoid assuming that everything the Global Times reports is a reflection of official policy in Beijing, the fact that the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) under the State Council has commented on the matter reinforces the view that the accusations against Taiwan are sanctioned by the state and therefore not mere media sensationalism.

Despite Beijing’s claims, it is unlikely that the NSB sought to recruit Chinese students. In democratic societies, the laws on intelligence activity on campus tend to be very strict. Furthermore, given that Chinese students are constantly under surveillance by their peers and must report to various Chinese agencies before and after studying in Taiwan, the chances that attempted recruitment by Taiwanese intelligence would be reported are extremely high, something that the NSB is surely aware of. Also, while some Chinese students appear to have taken a liking to Taiwan’s liberal democracy (a few participated in the Sunflower movement), others have hardened their position on China’s claims on Taiwan following their exposure to Taiwanese society. In a recent incident, Chinese students filed a complaint with National Chengchi University (NCCU) after staff referred to them as “Chinese students” rather than “Mainland Chinese students,” which they saw as the proper way to describe themselves.

Given the high risks of being exposed — and the political cost thereof — the NSB very likely stayed away from trying to recruit Chinese students, who moreover would not be expected to immediately have access to sensitive political or military information following their return to China. Other mitigating factors include likely guidance by the Ma administration to avoid intelligence targeting of one of the most visible symbols of cross-strait rapprochement, reported frustrations within the NSB at its inability to initiate new collection operations against China, and a recruitment strategy that in recent years has instead focused on recruiting businesspeople with access in China.

As such, the student spy allegations are probably false. Yet Beijing deliberately chose to play up the matter in a way that constitutes yet another blow for President Ma, who has touted the presence of Chinese students (more than 6,500 are currently enrolled in Taiwanese universities) as one of his greatest achievements.

So what do we make of all this? Why would Beijing, twice within a month, openly slap President Ma in the face, one month prior to major local elections and a little more than a year before Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections? One possibility is that Beijing has given up on the KMT — or rather, that it has chosen to continue pressuring the KMT while simultaneously working directly with pro-unification elements in Taiwan — following the Sunflower occupation, which succeeded in stalling implementation of the controversial Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement (CSSTA) and the follow-on trade in goods agreement. (Beijing may also have conjured the student spy allegations in retaliation for the controversy surrounding former Mainland Affairs Council deputy chief Chang Hsien-yao, who earlier this year was accused of passing secrets to China, leading to his dismissal.)

Against all odds, and largely due to social activism earlier this year as well as other factors inherent to democracy, the KMT may have fallen out of favor with Beijing. The CCP is aware that the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) could make a comeback in 2016, and remains unsure whether it can work with the DPP or should seek to discredit it altogether (the CCP appears to be divided on the subject, though there are now indications that it may lean towards the latter option). Given this, there are several indications that Beijing has therefore increased its United Front Work in Taiwan by relying on non-governmental institutions in the cultural, religious, and political spheres, as well as triad-linked organizations, such as Chang An-le’s Unification Party. Much of that strategy appears to have focused on influencing Taiwanese at the grassroots level (community leaders, or “Lizhang,” have been primary targets) with bribes and all-expenses-paid trips to China. Those individuals can then influence elections through “bloc voting” or vote buying (funded by China), or they can pressure legislators on policies regarding Chinese investment, among other things. For example, during TAO Minister Zhang Zhijun’s local visits on his June trip to Taiwan in June, the Mainland Affairs Council, the government body in charge of cross-strait exchanges, was excluded in favor of grassroots contacts. At some point during his groundbreaking tour, Zhang requested he not be accompanied by Taiwanese officials, saying he had organized his own meetings with locals. The request was granted, and it is not known whom the Chinese official met with.

With approximately 14 months left to his second and last term in office, President Ma is aware that his legacy — undoubtedly a major component of his decisionmaking — hinges on Beijing’s recognition. It now seems that Beijing is threatening to deny Ma his shot at making history through an emphasis on 1C2S and spying accusations and through the direct engagement of alternative social forces which effectively bypass government and KMT institutions. By doing so, Beijing may be playing pro-unification agents against the KMT to maximize its returns, with the implied message being: “If a KMT that abides by democratic rules can’t deliver, others will.” In other words, the CCP may be trying to force Ma to act on his fears of irrelevance (his entire presidency can be said to hinge on rapprochement with China, with the ultimate goal of securing a summit with Xi, and perhaps a peace agreement) by delivering more than he intends to — or more accurately, more than society allows him to. This pressure, in turn, may result in increasingly autocratic rule in Taiwan and further unrest in 2015 as civil society reacts accordingly. If that is the  case, then we can only conclude that Beijing’s plan is to undermine Taiwan’s democratic institutions in order to better align them with China’s authoritarianism.

Paranoia and political calculations are not mutually exclusive. In fact, in the Taiwan case they are two sides of the same coin; President Xi has harnessed both in order to increase the pressure on President Ma before he steps down in early 2016. Whatever Beijing’s policy may be, it is not irrational.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/10/xi-jinping-turns-the-screws-on-taiwan/

Given glimpse into Xi Jinping’s daily life, China goes gaga

China goes gaga over fawning reports about Xi Jinping’s ‘private’ life

Chinese President Xi Jinping eats breakfast before dawn. He speaks in a “bold, down-to-earth manner” and is capable of drawing a room to nod in praise. And the head of state is incredibly diligent: While others are gathering for family dinners or watching TV, Xi is still burning the midnight oil.

These are some of the revelations in an article published Monday in the Shanghai Observer newspaper, a largely state-funded new-media platform founded in January (read the English translation here). Titled “How does Xi Jinping pass the day?” the article has been republished seemingly everywhere in Chinese media, including the home page of the official New China News Agency website.

In the article, the reporter follows Xi throughout a busy day at the office. Already working before daybreak, Xi reads his briefing and meets with representatives of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete. The hagiographer-journalist praises Xi’s speaking style and wisdom, noting how he easily defused a tense moment with Kikwete.

At a time when anger over income inequality and egregious displays of government corruption is simmering, fawning media coverage like this seems aimed at setting Xi apart from his predecessors by making the leader appear more amiable and transparent. With Chinese officials often presented as grand figures by the strictly controlled state media, many Chinese don’t know what their unelected leaders actually do.

“In China, leaders’ work and lives remain mysteries,” said Hu Xingdou, a professor of economics at the Beijing Institute of Technology. “In the past, the more mysterious leaders were, the more unfamiliar they were to people, the more people would worship them,” he said.

But “nowadays, the more unfamiliar you are to people, the more distant you appear,” he said.

A good deal of the article is dedicated to how efficient and hardworking the Chinese leader is. Xi is described as working “at high speed and with great energy,” and “at work both at day and night.” He says he “finds joy in exhaustion” both in the office and at home.

Since Xi took office, his public relations team has been working to present him as someone to whom the average Chinese person can relate. He has been photographed eating an austere dinner with a rural family, ordering steamed buns at a fast-food chain and shooting a video in the secretive compounds of Zhongnanhai. The Hong Kong-based newspaper Ta Kung Pao reported that Xi took a common taxi ride last April — though the New China News Agency later debunked the story as “fake.”

Most recently, a photo of Xi in Wuhan holding an umbrella, his pants rolled up to keep his cuffs dry, won the country’s top photojournalism prize on Oct. 22. The photo might not seem particularly technically or stylistically notable, but it quickly caught steam on Chinese social media platforms.

Monday’s profile of Xi was published as Beijing is preparing for the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, which will see world leaders including President Obama visit the Chinese capital in November. Already, China’s government has announced a raft of special measures unseen since the 2008 Olympics, designed to present the Chinese capital as a place free of pollution and traffic. Burnishing Xi’s image is another part of the package.

Silbert is a special correspondent.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-glimpse-president-xi-china-20141027-story.html

Is Xi Losing Control of China’s ‘Peripheries’?

As tens of thousands of activists continue to defy the authorities in Hong Kong by occupying entire city blocs in the heart of the city, and with weekly reports of escalating violence in restive Xinjiang, the central government in Beijing seems to be losing its grip on what the Chinese regard as the “peripheries.” Recent comments by President Xi Jinping about yet another piece in China’s puzzle of instability—Taiwan—suggest that the leadership may be panicking.

Before we proceed, it’s important to point out that the two territories and Taiwan are different issues altogether: The first two are politically part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) while Taiwan is a self-ruled entity operating under its own set of rules and constitution, that of the Republic of China (ROC). Furthermore, Taiwan is democratic and was never part of the PRC, whereas Hong Kong was “returned” to the PRC in 1997 and can only aspire to a democratic system, a situation that is at the heart of the current impasse in the former British colony, while Xinjiang is ruled with a mix of intermarriage, displacement, and repressive policies under a veneer of economic development and “ethnic harmony.”

Still, fundamental differences notwithstanding, Beijing has proposed—imposed, rather—a one-size-fits-all solution for Hong Kong and Taiwan, known as the “one country, two systems,” or 1C2S, model. Despite the model showing cracks in the one territory where it has been applied, as evidence by Hong Kong’s angry response to China’s White Paper on 1C2S in June, Beijing is adamant that it is equally viable as an instrument by which to bring about the “re-unification of China,” or, to put in terms that better reflect reality, the annexation of Taiwan.

The 1C2S formula has been implicit for years as relations across the Taiwan Strait ebbed and flowed. Nevertheless, the Chinese leadership had until recently been cunning enough to know that stating this outright would be counterproductive, aware that 1C2S had very little appeal among Taiwan’s 23 million people, even those who tend to vote for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), a party that generally identifies more and favors closer relations with China. Consequently, while 1C2S remained a constant for China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in its engagement with its counterparts in Taiwan adopted a seemingly more conciliatory position and agreed to negotiate under the so-called “1992 consensus,” whereby both sides agreed there is “one China,” but differed on its interpretation. The creative formula was vague enough to allow for the substantial rapprochement that has occurred between Taipei and Beijing since the election of President Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT in 2008.

Beyond serving as a platform for dialogue, the 1992 consensus was good enough for the Chinese, as it succeeded in halting what it feared most—a gradual slide in Taiwan towards de jure independence. For all his faults, Chinese president Hu Jintao, Mr. Xi’s predecessor, showed patience on the question of Taiwan. As long as things moved in the “right” direction—and there is no doubt that the 20 or so agreements signed between the two sides since 2008, added to the explosion in cross-strait tourism and exchanges, was the “right” direction insofar as Beijing is concerned—Hu adopted a “go slow” approach to unification, which largely succeeded in drawing Taiwan ever closer into its orbit without unduly alarming the Taiwanese population.

It was only a matter of time before this well-calibrated balancing act by Beijing would come undone after Xi replaced Hu. There were plenty of warning signs, starting with China’s increasingly assertive behavior in the East and South China Seas and its more nationalistic, if not belligerent, tone on Sino-U.S. relations. Xi, who wasted little time ridding himself of his political opponents to arguably become the most powerful and ideological Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, is an impatient man. Consequently, whereas Hu was content with neutralizing Taiwan, Xi seems intent on dealing with the problem once and for all. And developments in Hong Kong, added to the Sunflower Movement’s occupation of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan earlier this year—whose impact was not, despite Mr. Ma’s claims, short lived—appear to be fueling that impatience by raising the specter of the permanent “separation” of Taiwan from the “mainland.”

To put it simply, Xi seems to have run out of patience not only with Taiwan, but with President Ma’s KMT as well. Despite the rapprochement that has occurred under Ma since 2008, Beijing hasn’t been able to initiate overtly political talks about Taiwan’s future, which was the plan all along. With fifteen months left to his second and last term in office, Ma has probably delivered as much as he can to Beijing. His party is divided, Ma’s image has been severely hurt by the Sunflower, and whoever aspires to filling his seat in 2016 will, given electoral pressures, be compelled to adopt a more centrist position, which by default means imposing more brakes on cross-strait dialogue (at least during campaigning).

A Chinese government that understands the tremendous pressures facing Ma and the KMT at the moment would take a step back and wait for future opportunities. Inexplicably, Xi has done the opposite.

During a meeting with a delegation led by Yok Mu-ming, chairman of Taiwan’s New Party (NP), and Hsu Li-nung, chairman of the Taiwan New Alliance Association, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sept. 26, Xi abandoned all subtlety and affirmed his view that “one country, two systems” was Beijing’s “guiding principle” in solving the “Taiwan issue.” Although Xi had already met with representatives from the KMT, this was the first time that a Chinese leader met with overtly pro-unification politicians in Taiwan. In all, about 20 pro-unification groups from Taiwan were present at the meeting with Xi.

In his remarks, Xi dispensed with the conveniences of the 1992 consensus and affirmed that Taiwan and China belong to “the same China” and added that 1C2S was the best way to “bridge the cross-strait political divide.” Expressing impatience with the “status quo,” Xi argued that secessionism was “intolerable” and that both sides must curb forces that stand in the way of the dream of unity.

Seemingly unwilling to admit that very few Taiwanese experience such dreams in day- or nighttime, Xi then stressed that China understands and would presumably respect the “social system” and “living style” of the Taiwanese people. Left unsaid was what China would do with Taiwan’s political system—its democracy.

Xi’s decision to meet with the pro-unification groups and to bluntly propose 1C2S as the only formula to deal with Taiwan is as difficult to understand as it is counterproductive. Within 24 hours of Xi’s remarks, President Ma, Premier Jiang Yi-huah and Mainland Affairs Council Minster Wang Yu-chi were all forced to state that “one country, two systems” was unacceptable to Taiwan and that Taipei continued to operate under its “three noes” policy of “no unification, no independence, and no use of force.” Ma, who had recently come under fire for comments about the two Germanys serving as a model for future relations between Taiwan and China, also re-emphasized that the ROC was a sovereign country built upon democratic ideals.

While threatening to damage trust between Taipei and Beijing, Xi’s remarks also further undermined the little credibility that Ma’s still enjoyed with the Taiwanese public and forced the Taiwanese president into a corner. It was now clear that the status quo and the 1992 consensus, which had buttressed Taipei’s entire China policy since 2008, were no longer good enough for Beijing. All of a sudden, Ma’s careful management of cross-strait ties was coming undone, the illusion exposed.

So why did Xi do what he did, knowing that this would put Ma, his safest counterpart in Taiwan, in a bind? One possible explanation is that Beijing understands that Ma has been neutralized by both the Sunflower Movement and the pressures arising from the 2016 elections. There are already signs that Beijing has been bypassing the KMT and dealing directly with influential leaders at the local level across Taiwan. Initial research by some Taiwanese academics, who recently discussed their work with this author, has yet to draw a full picture of the network upon which the PRC relies to funnel money and influence into Taiwan. Nevertheless, enough is known to positively state that the liberalization that has occurred under Mr. Ma has created manifold opportunities for Chinese officials, investors, and intelligence agents to inject money into Taiwan in return for political favors. Moreover, initial findings by a Taiwanese academic also point to possible role as go-between by a former presidential candidate, who has met with Xi and whose son, a candidate in the Taipei mayoral race in late November, runs a foundation in Hong Kong that, according to sources in the financial industry, is reportedly very close to Chinese “princelings.”

It could very well be that the CCP under Xi has run out of patience with the KMT and is aware that it won’t be able to get what it wants under a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration—a distinct possibility from 2016—and that it sees its greatest hopes through cooperation with parties such as Yok’s NP, or gangster Chang An-le’s Unification Party, Taiwan-based organizations that while unelectable (Yok’s party only obtained 10,678 votes, or 0.08 percent of the total, in the 2012 elections), are ideologically in-tune with Xi (Chang, an ex-convict and head of the Bamboo Union triad who has reinvented himself as a politician, has been a vocal proponent of 1C2S since his return to Taiwan in June 2013 after spending 16 years on the run in China). Given the irrelevance of such parties in Taiwanese politics and their ostensible ties with the Chinese intelligence apparatus, we can conclude that Xi, having lost faith in his ability to use Taiwan’s democratic system against itself, has decided to bypass Taiwan’s democratic institutions altogether by cooperating more closely with parties and associations that would have done rather well under Mao’s doctrine of “constant revolution.” (In case anyone has any doubts about his interest in reviving Maoism, Xi has repeatedly emphasized the need to revive Maoist thought, warning that failing to do so would result in the demise of the CCP and “chaos” across China.)

Another explanation for Xi’s otherwise counterintuitive move last week is that Beijing is seeking to force the KMT to deliver more political concessions by playing the more Beijing-friendly parties (Yok’s, Hsu’s, Chang’s) against Ma’s party, though Beijing’s ability to do so would be severely undermined by the lack of appeal that those parties have with Taiwanese voters.

Two other options present themselves. One is that Xi’s advisers are so bad as to believe that Taiwanese indeed share the “dream” of unification the Chinese leader was referring to last week. Given the deeply flawed nature of authoritarian regimes, this wouldn’t be the first time that the man at the top was denied intelligence that contradicts his views of the world. Another possibility is that the crises in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, added to pressures that are unknown to us given China’s opaque system and signs that Taiwan is “slipping away,” may have combined to create a sense of panic among the CCP leadership, forcing it to emit edicts that threaten to undo years of calibrated policy on the Taiwan “issue.

Whatever the explanation, Xi’s about-face presages greater tensions across the Taiwan Strait, and perhaps an intensification of Beijing’s assault on Taiwan’s democratic institutions.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/09/is-xi-losing-control-of-chinas-peripheries/

Xi Jinping Turns the Screws on Taiwan

Not unlike other authoritarian and totalitarian regimes throughout history, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has always had a paranoid streak, whose stridency has ebbed and flowed according to the times. In periods of high instability, such as during the Cultural Revolution, the CCP leadership went to extraordinary lengths to eliminate its enemies — real and imagined. Unrest in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and signs that Taiwan may be “slipping away” after half a decade of cautious rapprochement, seem to have engendered a new phase of paranoia in Beijing, as evidenced by the detentions of and travel restrictions imposed against dozens of Chinese individuals in recent months.

Those measures have been accompanied by an increasingly xenophobic line in Zhongnanhai. President Xi Jinping, the hoped-for reformer who, as it turns out, is very much the strongman, has repeatedly warned against “pollution” by Western values and has directed the implementation of policies to counter such nefarious influences. Chinese agencies and propaganda outlets, meanwhile, claim to have uncovered “evidence” of several plots hatched abroad to destabilize China.

If we believe the rhetoric, Uyghur “terrorists” from Xinjiang have been acting on behalf of foreign organizationsand Taiwanese “separatists” are pawns of American and/or Japanese forces. Meanwhile the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong, which has brought part of the metropolis to a standstill, is said to have simultaneously been funded, scripted, fomented, and influenced by a plethora of disparate foreign groups, including the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED)Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai, the CIA, British agents, the Oslo Freedom Forum, and out-of-favor Taiwanese politicians. Even American jazz musician Kenny G, who briefly visited a protest site last week, was sniped at by Chinese authorities.

Besides highlighting a heightened sense of paranoia in China, which is fueled in part by the growing sense of “us versus them” that naturally accompanies budding nationalism, the emphasis on foreign forces is a political tool used by Beijing to downplay the severity of the crises. By blaming external agents, the CCP hopes to minimize the importance, scope, and reach of the movements to portray them as a misguided minority. It thus seeks to discredit their grievances with a domestic audience as part of containment efforts. Rather than stem from indigenous forces animated by legitimate grievances, the activists are either fools who are easily deceived by duplicitous foreign agents (who must be brought in line), or downright enemies of the CCP and, by default, China (who must be defeated). Of course the grievances are very real, whether it be broken promises in Hong Kong or repression in Xinjiang, and the locals are sufficiently intelligent and resourceful to organize without foreign help. But China doesn’t want its citizens to believe the dangerous — and potentially infectious idea — that this is the case.

Although the depiction of unrest as foreign-controlled is very much a rational move on the part of Beijing, the growing paranoia isn’t. In some cases, this may have led Beijing to miscalculate.

It would be tempting to regard Beijing’s recent behavior vis-à-vis Taiwan as part of that downward slide towards irrationalism. Since 2008, when Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT was elected president in Taiwan, Beijing had showed a surprising level of sophistication, and no small amount of patience, amid its efforts to resolve the hugely sensitive conflict with the democratic island of 23 million people, which it regards as a “renegade province” awaiting “reunification.” Yet after nearly seven years of careful diplomacy, it looked like China had committed its first major faux pas late last month when President Xi overturned Beijing’s cross-strait policy by declaring that the “one country, two systems” (1C2S) formula, discredited though it may be in Hong Kong, was the only platform for dialogue between Taipei and Beijing. Although 1C2S has always been Beijing’s ultimate offer to Taiwan, Beijing had until now played along with the “1992 consensus” formula favored by the Ma Ying-jeou administration (“one China, with different interpretations of what ‘one China’ signifies”).

Xi’s sudden insistence on a formula that has no traction in Taiwan, not even within Ma’s KMT and much less within Taiwanese society in general, left many analysts wondering what the Chinese leader was up to (and secondly, who his audience was). We can only speculate on the causes. It may be that Xi is not receiving the intelligence he needs to make informed decisions on Taiwan. Another explanation would be that Xi, who is quite possibly the strongest — and arguably the most ideological — Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, is losing patience on the “Taiwan question,” which suffered a major setback in the spring with the Sunflower Movement’s occupation of the Legislative Yuan (the parallels with Occupy Central certainly matter). Xi may have decided to draw lines in the sand, regardless of the political mood in Taiwan. Fearing that he may be losing control of the “peripheries,” Xi may have concluded that a tougher stance is the only way to bring about Beijing’s desired outcomes, especially as the CCP seems to be losing faith in the ability of President Ma and his KMT to deliver. Despite their claims to the contrary, Ma and his party were severely discredited by the Sunflowers.

It is only after having established this context that we can attempt to make sense of Beijing’s latest allegations against Taipei. On Monday, the Global Times, a subsidiary of the state-run People’s Daily, alleged that Taiwan’s National Security Bureau (NSB), the island’s top civilian intelligence agency, had been recruiting Chinese students in Taiwan to conduct espionage in China. Citing “related agencies,” the Global Times said it had identified three NSB agents who were responsible for 40 cases of recruitment since 2009 with agents active on as many as 20 university campuses in Taiwan. According to the report, the Chinese students were encouraged to take exams and join Chinese government agencies after returning to China to access sensitive information.

Taiwanese authorities have vehemently denied the allegations, despite one Chinese PhD student at National Taiwan University telling the state-owned Central News Agency that approaches by intelligence agencies were “a common phenomenon.” Though we should avoid assuming that everything the Global Times reports is a reflection of official policy in Beijing, the fact that the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) under the State Council has commented on the matter reinforces the view that the accusations against Taiwan are sanctioned by the state and therefore not mere media sensationalism.

Despite Beijing’s claims, it is unlikely that the NSB sought to recruit Chinese students. In democratic societies, the laws on intelligence activity on campus tend to be very strict. Furthermore, given that Chinese students are constantly under surveillance by their peers and must report to various Chinese agencies before and after studying in Taiwan, the chances that attempted recruitment by Taiwanese intelligence would be reported are extremely high, something that the NSB is surely aware of. Also, while some Chinese students appear to have taken a liking to Taiwan’s liberal democracy (a few participated in the Sunflower movement), others have hardened their position on China’s claims on Taiwan following their exposure to Taiwanese society. In a recent incident, Chinese students filed a complaint with National Chengchi University (NCCU) after staff referred to them as “Chinese students” rather than “Mainland Chinese students,” which they saw as the proper way to describe themselves.

Given the high risks of being exposed — and the political cost thereof — the NSB very likely stayed away from trying to recruit Chinese students, who moreover would not be expected to immediately have access to sensitive political or military information following their return to China. Other mitigating factors include likely guidance by the Ma administration to avoid intelligence targeting of one of the most visible symbols of cross-strait rapprochement, reported frustrations within the NSB at its inability to initiate new collection operations against China, and a recruitment strategy that in recent years has instead focused on recruiting businesspeople with access in China.

As such, the student spy allegations are probably false. Yet Beijing deliberately chose to play up the matter in a way that constitutes yet another blow for President Ma, who has touted the presence of Chinese students (more than 6,500 are currently enrolled in Taiwanese universities) as one of his greatest achievements.

So what do we make of all this? Why would Beijing, twice within a month, openly slap President Ma in the face, one month prior to major local elections and a little more than a year before Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections? One possibility is that Beijing has given up on the KMT — or rather, that it has chosen to continue pressuring the KMT while simultaneously working directly with pro-unification elements in Taiwan — following the Sunflower occupation, which succeeded in stalling implementation of the controversial Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement (CSSTA) and the follow-on trade in goods agreement. (Beijing may also have conjured the student spy allegations in retaliation for the controversy surrounding former Mainland Affairs Council deputy chief Chang Hsien-yao, who earlier this year was accused of passing secrets to China, leading to his dismissal.)

Against all odds, and largely due to social activism earlier this year as well as other factors inherent to democracy, the KMT may have fallen out of favor with Beijing. The CCP is aware that the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) could make a comeback in 2016, and remains unsure whether it can work with the DPP or should seek to discredit it altogether (the CCP appears to be divided on the subject, though there are now indications that it may lean towards the latter option). Given this, there are several indications that Beijing has therefore increased its United Front Work in Taiwan by relying on non-governmental institutions in the cultural, religious, and political spheres, as well as triad-linked organizations, such as Chang An-le’s Unification Party. Much of that strategy appears to have focused on influencing Taiwanese at the grassroots level (community leaders, or “Lizhang,” have been primary targets) with bribes and all-expenses-paid trips to China. Those individuals can then influence elections through “bloc voting” or vote buying (funded by China), or they can pressure legislators on policies regarding Chinese investment, among other things. For example, during TAO Minister Zhang Zhijun’s local visits on his June trip to Taiwan in June, the Mainland Affairs Council, the government body in charge of cross-strait exchanges, was excluded in favor of grassroots contacts. At some point during his groundbreaking tour, Zhang requested he not be accompanied by Taiwanese officials, saying he had organized his own meetings with locals. The request was granted, and it is not known whom the Chinese official met with.

With approximately 14 months left to his second and last term in office, President Ma is aware that his legacy — undoubtedly a major component of his decisionmaking — hinges on Beijing’s recognition. It now seems that Beijing is threatening to deny Ma his shot at making history through an emphasis on 1C2S and spying accusations and through the direct engagement of alternative social forces which effectively bypass government and KMT institutions. By doing so, Beijing may be playing pro-unification agents against the KMT to maximize its returns, with the implied message being: “If a KMT that abides by democratic rules can’t deliver, others will.” In other words, the CCP may be trying to force Ma to act on his fears of irrelevance (his entire presidency can be said to hinge on rapprochement with China, with the ultimate goal of securing a summit with Xi, and perhaps a peace agreement) by delivering more than he intends to — or more accurately, more than society allows him to. This pressure, in turn, may result in increasingly autocratic rule in Taiwan and further unrest in 2015 as civil society reacts accordingly. If that is the  case, then we can only conclude that Beijing’s plan is to undermine Taiwan’s democratic institutions in order to better align them with China’s authoritarianism.

Paranoia and political calculations are not mutually exclusive. In fact, in the Taiwan case they are two sides of the same coin; President Xi has harnessed both in order to increase the pressure on President Ma before he steps down in early 2016. Whatever Beijing’s policy may be, it is not irrational.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/10/xi-jinping-turns-the-screws-on-taiwan/

The Rule of Law in China: Lessons From China's 'Top Lawyer'
Image Credit: Flickr/ Stephan Röhl

The Rule of Law in China: Lessons From China’s ‘Top Lawyer’

I have some “star-chasing” photographs that I cherish, including some photographs of me with members of the “post-80s” generation. And I don’t mean photos of beautiful girls who were born after the 1980s – I mean photos of me with scholars who are over 80 years old. Here, I present one of these photos: myself and Mr. Zhang Sizhi, who is a veteran in China’s legal community and “China’s top lawyer.”

Zhang Sizhi and Yang Hengjun

Mr. Zhang hasn’t written many books, so when he recently came out with an oral autobiography I immediately bought it and devoured it. Zhang Sizhi is the real deal: an “old revolutionary.” At the age of 16, in the midst of World War II, he flew over “the Hump” and joined the Chinese Expeditionary Force in Myanmar. Later, Zhang joined an underground branch of the Communist Party and threw himself into the CCP-led revolution. When the new government was established in 1949, Zhang became the first judge in Beijing. Later, though, Zhang chose to pursue China’s least wanted and most powerless profession: a lawyer. During the Cultural Revolution, he suffered along with all of China’s intellectuals, although his road was longer than most: he spent 15 years in a “reeducation through labor” camp. After resuming his profession, Zhang became a model teacher and spent eight years working for the All China Lawyers Association.

In 1980, Zhang Sizhi was assigned as the leader of the defense for the case against the “counterrevolutionary gangs” of Jiang Qing and Lin Biao – the first major legal case in the PRC. That was perhaps the moment when Zhang really became famous, but if it hadn’t been for Zhang’s activities in the legal field over the past 20 years, we probably wouldn’t remember him today.

In the case against Jiang Qing, lawyers had very limited options. At that time, Peng Zhen (then the secretary of the Central Committee’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission) hoped to have lawyers appear in court as a way to demonstrate that China had emerged from the lawlessness that defined the Mao era. Peng wanted to prove that China would make judgments according to the law, and (even more importantly) govern the country according to the law.

However, from Mr. Zhang’s account in his autobiography, we can see that the lawyers were only for show. This is easy to understand – under the legal system at that time, how could the law not be a decoration? Mr. Zhang earned much admiration from his reflections on the role he played in that trial. I believe this experience drove him to stand at the front lines in later years, when China was in the midst of constructing a legal system.  Over the past 20 years, Mr. Zhang’s peers have all retired, but he still stands at the front lines in protecting people’s rights, an especially in protecting the law. In this way, he has won widespread respect.

This year, the Fourth Plenum enthusiastically discussed “governing the country according to the law” and the “rule of law.” Under these circumstances, it’s a great time to read Mr. Zhang’s autobiography. Today, 65 years after the founding of the PRC, some officials and scholars still think that “governing the country according to the law” means using the law to manage the people. They still hesitate between creating a China with the “rule of law” or continuing to promote a “people’s democratic dictatorship.”  It’s both painful and disillusioning.

In a previous blog article, “Without Legal Guarantees, Everyone Is a Vulnerable Group,” I pointed out that some officials are taking advantage of China’s lack of the “rule of law.” Where there are laws, some officials don’t follow them and instead enrich themselves while oppressing the people. It seems like a happy situation for them, but look more closely: after a few years, there will come a time when these high-ranking Party and government officials are pulled in front of a judge and not given any opportunity to provide a legal defense. Even their right to select their preferred lawyers has been taken from them. Under this scenario, we can truly see that the rule of law in China isn’t only meant to protect the people, but is also a shield the protest the legal interest of officials.

In his description of Jiang Qing’s case, Mr. Zhang Sizhi said that Jiang, who had been Mao Zedong’s wife, picked four lawyers as candidates for her defense team, but the “powers that be” didn’t approve a single one. In the end, she was the only member of the accused that that didn’t have a defense lawyer.

It’s said that during the Mao era, China faced a complicated domestic and international situation, and the ruling party had no governing experience. But today, after reform and opening up and especially after the past 20 years of development, there’s no excuse for not “ruling the country according to the law.” If we think for a moment, it’s not hard to discover that behind almost all cases of corruption, social unrest, and “mass incidents” there’s a Party official who violates or does not follow the law. Zhou Yongkang, the former secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Committee, became a huge corrupt “tiger.” Why? Because he controlled the political and legal system and the “social stability” system. He deliberately violated the law in order to deal with those “rights defenders” who would make it impossible for him to continue his corruption. Ultimately, he became China’s biggest “tiger.”

Bo Xilai stood trial in a court, and so will Zhou Yongkang. Tigers and flies from all across China should also appear in court. The reason these officials came to such an end is because they put themselves above the law and didn’t act according to the law. In this sense, the administration’s decision to focus on constructing a robust rule of law for China even as the government fiercely battles corruption will win broad support from the people. Not only that, but “governing the country according to the law” will receive little resistance from Chinese officials – without the rule of law, people who put themselves above the law can definitely embezzle public funds, but they can also lose everything overnight without even being given a chance to defend themselves!

The key to the rule of law is constitutional government – putting the constitution first, so that no group or person can put themselves above the constitution. The key to “governing the country according to the law” is “governing the Party according to the law” and “governing officials according to the law,” not just “governing the people.” After assuming power, China’s new leadership has achieved some preliminary successes in the fight against corruption and in its ambitious plan for reform and opening up. But if there are no legal safeguards, these gains could be short-lived. Over the past few decades, we’ve seen this happen many times.

A longer version of this piece originally appeared in Chinese on Yang Hengjun’s blog. The original post can be found here.

Yang Hengjun is a Chinese independent scholar, novelist, and blogger. He once worked in the Chinese Foreign Ministry and as a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC. Yang received his Ph.D. from the University of Technology, Sydney in Australia. His Chinese language blog is featured on major Chinese current affairs and international relations portals and his pieces receive millions of hits. Yang’s blog can be accessed at www.yanghengjun.com.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/10/the-rule-of-law-in-china-lessons-from-chinas-top-lawyer/

Chinese Salafism and the Saudi Connection
Image Credit: REUTERS/Stringer

Chinese Salafism and the Saudi Connection

This current moreover embraces to a certain extent a rejection of the madhhab (legal school) Sunni traditions that had emerged in Islam’s early centuries. As a relatively modern phenomenon building on the Sunni orthodox revivals of the 18th century, the failures of traditional Muslim authorities to contend with mounting internal and external challenges, as well as the spread of new modernistic discourses, Salafism found a popular following across many Muslim societies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its growth was facilitated by Saudi Arabia – which embraced its own idiosyncratic brand of Salafism rooted in the mid-18th century religious revivalism that swept central Arabia (usually denoted by its detractors as Wahhabism after its “founder” Mohammed bin Abdul Wahhab) – especially after its annexation of Mecca and Medina in 1924-25, and the subsequent influx of oil wealth, which endowed the country with the religious authority and means (universities, charities, organizations, preachers, and communicative mediums) to promote this current globally.

Among China’s Hui ethnic group, Saudi-influenced Salafism has been present for nearly a century. Aside from the intellectual residue influencing other sects and currents, its most obvious manifestation is to be found in the Salafi sect, which constitutes a small minority within the community of the faithful in China. Concentrated in small clusters across the Northwest and Yunnan, and identified by their “Saudi” clothes, Salafis have elicited fear and opposition from their ideological opponents within the wider Chinese Muslim community, leading at times to outright sectarian conflict.

Since the 1990s, and particularly following 9/11, the Chinese state has placed the Salafi community under close surveillance, fearing that its close connections with Saudi Arabia as well as presumed Uighur Salafi networks, not to mention the sect’s considerable growth over the past few years (attracting not only other Hui, but increasingly Han as well), might herald political and religious violence in the future. These security concerns have only abounded with the rising specter of the Islamic State and the appearance of a few Chinese fighters in the ranks of the contending Islamist groups in Syria and Iraq.

Historical Roots of Chinese Salafism

Although relatively isolated since the 14th century with the disintegration of the Yuan dynasty, the Hui Muslim communities, and especially those in the Northwest of China, remained open to the religious and intellectual influences emanating from other parts of the Muslim world. The spread of the various Sufi tariqas (orders),such as the Naqshibandis, Kubrawis, and Qadiris, during the late Ming and early Qing in China in the 17th century, as well as the consolidation of Sufi tariqas with their own distinct lineages, tombs and practices (such as the Khuffiyya and Jahriyya), is indicative of this permeability, which endured primarily through the Hajj and overland trade networks via Central Asia and Yunnan. Unsurprisingly, the transmission of Salafism – or initially Wahhabi ideas – amongst the Hui follows this template in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Wahhabism gained converts in China throughout the Republican era, primarily as a byproduct of the growing traffic of Muslim pilgrims going to the Hejaz, facilitated by the proliferation of new means of transportation such as the steamship. Between 1923 and 1934, hundreds of Hui Muslims made the Hajj. In 1937 – prior to the full-fledged Japanese invasion of the country – well over 170 Hui reportedly boarded a steamer in Shanghai bound for Mecca. The effects of this were palpable, ranging from a noticeable increase in the availability of Wahhabi literature across China in the 1930s, as observed by the scholar Ma Tong, to high-profile conversions of detractors of the movement, including Sufi Sheiks.

It is from within this context that the first pronounced Salafiyya sect emerged within China and mostly, interestingly enough, in reaction to the perceived “departure” of the Yihewani movement from its puritan and proto-Wahhabi ethos. The founding propagator of an explicit Salafism is usually identified as Ma Debao (1867-1977), originally a Yihewani adherent who officiated in various mosques across the Northwest. His earliest encounters with Salafism came through a visiting – presumably Arab – scholar who settled in Xining, Qinghai in 1934 to teach the Wahhabi doctrine. This exposure led him to reassess some of his views, although his major intellectual transformation would only come when he departed for the Hajj in 1936, a period during which he spent considerable time at the Salafi Dar Al-Hadith school.

On returning to China in 1937, Ma Debao became an enthusiastic promoter of the teachings, quickly gathering a following of his own centered in the Xinwang mosque in Linxia, Gansu and breaking away in turn from the Yihewani movement, whom he perceived to have compromised their beliefs. His Salafi group encountered strong opposition from the established Yihewani clergy and their warlord backers, forcing the movement to assume a more cautious and quietest attitude towards politics for the sake of its survival.

After the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, the Salafis – now unfettered by the Muslim warlords – experienced a brief period of religious growth, with its leadership actively participating in a number of state organs as well as the newly created Islamic Association of China (IAC). This soon came to an end as the 1958 “Religious Reform Campaign,” followed by the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) and the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), forced the movement underground as many of its leaders and adherents were killed off or sent to concentration camps. It survived as remnants from the leadership settled in Xinjiang and Tibet during these difficult years.

Channels of Saudi Influence

The start of the “Reform and Opening Up” in 1978 signaled the end of a dark period of sustained persecution against China’s Muslim communities, including the Salafis. The dismantlement of restrictions on religious worship, the restoration of mosques, and the reformation of the IAC served to reconsolidate state control over these communities but more significantly, served to showcase (in a resurrection of Chinese foreign policy patterns in the 1950s) Beijing’s tolerance of Islam, a policy principally aimed at courting the support of various Muslim states. The direct outcome of this new “opening” allowed the re-introduction, and even amplification of, Saudi Salafi influences across the country, with implications for both the Salafi and wider Muslim community as a whole. This occurred through various channels, the most important of which was the restoration of the Hajj missions in 1979 (after nearly a decade-long suspension dating from 1964) followed by new regulations allowing private individuals to make the pilgrimage in 1984, that allowed considerable numbers of Hui Muslims – jumping from nearly 2000 in 1985 to nearly 10,000 annually in 1990 – to travel to the Kingdom. There, some of these pilgrims opted to stay for further study or came in touch with relatives from the well-established Chinese Saudi diaspora (which had settled in the Hedjaz following the end of the Chinese civil war and received citizenship there). These interactions exposed Chinese Muslims to new discourses and religious experiences that challenged their own traditional understandings of Islam. They returned to China carrying Wahhabi books, leaflets, fatwas (religious rulings), and sermon tapes that broadly disseminated Salafi ideas.

Other significant channels included the arrival of Saudi organizations and preachers in China during the 1980s. Initially, religious activities were limited to influential groups like the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, the Muslim World League, and the Islamic Development Bank, which operated under the auspices of the IAC and in turn re-directed their efforts in a non-sectarian fashion. Their activities, beyond providing alternative channels of communication between Saudi and Chinese officials, encompassed the construction of various Islamic Institutes, the renovation of major mosques, the initiation of a Quranic printing and distribution project (in 1987, more than a million copies were disbursed across China as a “royal gift” from the Saudi King), and the provision of training workshops for clerics and scholarships for students (initially in China and Pakistan,) amongst others. By the mid-1980s, religious policies were relaxed considerably, allowing for a growing number of Saudi private organizations and individuals (mainly preachers and missionaries bringing in religious literature) to increasingly work outside established IAC channels. In this new environment, these entities began to selectively target their funding towards specific groups – particularly those visibly identified as Salafi in places like Gansu, Qinhai, Ningxia, Shanxi, and Yunnan – and popularize certain discourses that might have been rejected by the IAC for fear of inviting state reprimand.

The activities of these groups were greatly facilitated by a network of Chinese Salafi activists who had graduated from Saudi or Saudi-affiliated institutions like Imam Saudi University, Umm Al-Qura, and Medina University. While numbers are hard to come by, one study from Medina University shows that between 1961 and 2000/2001, over 652 scholarships were granted to mainland Chinese. Nearly 76 percent of these were offered in the 1980s and 90s alone. While significant numbers of the graduates (who ofter never actually completed their studies) gravitated towards middlemen jobs in Guangzhou or Yiwu where they could utilize their Arabic proficiency, a few joined privately run religious academies in Yunnan or Gansu, and some began officiating in mosques after the longstanding official barriers on the hiring of foreign-trained Imams eased in the 2000s. A smaller but far more influential group fostered close ties with Saudi organizations and preachers – a relationship that was beneficial to both sides.

The Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which came under a U.S.-backed UN ban in 2004 due to its presumed affiliations with Al-Qaeda, is illustrative. Throughout the 1990s, the organization expended considerable funds on the construction of Salafi mosques across China, the maintenance of Salafi-aligned schools (typically “Arabic language” schools that double as Islamic institutions), and the provision of scholarships for interested students – an array of activities that were largely overseen by various (at times competing) circles of Medina University graduates who leveraged their influence within the wider community.

In conjunction with these developments, Beijing had assumed a more cautious attitude by the 1990s, typified by the barring of entry of suspected preachers, continued refusal to offer scholarships for students heading to Saudi Arabia, and the introduction of new laws that restricted foreign religious activities, including one in 1994 that banned donations made outside the auspices of the IAC. Unsurprisingly, these restrictions have grown more stringent over the last decade, but they have not severed the Saudi ties altogether.

The Saudi Impact

Saudi influences have had a somewhat contradictory impact on Hui Salafis and the wider Muslim community in China. On one level, these influences have contributed – to a degree – to the salafisation (namely, a cultural and religious approximation of an “idealized” Saudi orthodoxy) of Hui Muslim society. This salafisation subsumes the adoption of presumably Salafi doctrines, prayers rituals, attitudes, and even culturally authentic attire (the Saudi headgear worn in a manner usually associated with the religiously conservative in the Kingdom) and mosque architecture under what can be described as an Arabization process, although the appearance of these trends is not always indicative of a Salafi influence. The salafisation of Hui Muslims has affected nearly all sects, albeit in different ways. Amongst Salafis, the re-introduction of orthodox sources after a significant period of isolation, and amplified now by globalizing forces, led to the breakdown of the old Salafi community as a new generation of Salafis (the early graduates and pilgrims) in the 1980s sought to “correct” the errors of their elders. This was reflected in the schism that emerged over the interpretation of certain Quranic verses, the appearance of a more activist opposition to Sufism leading to the demolishment of some Sufi tombs in the Northwest, and the enunciation of a takfeeri (excommunicatory) stance towards “deviant” Salafis and non-Salafi Muslims that led to bouts of sectarian infighting. Beyond the Salafis, salafisation is also observable amongst Yihewani and Gedimu (“old” traditional) Muslims who, in many cases, while not describing themselves necessarily as Salafis (due to fears of ostracization or out of a fidelity towards the Hanafi madhab), embraced aspects of this intellectual tradition. In the Yihewani case, it is marked by a revived interest in the Wahhabi origins of the movement.

On another level, Saudi influences have, counterintuitively, encouraged a fragmentation of the Salafi community within China. This has been driven of two factors: First, the introduction of new sources of funding and ideas brought by Saudi organizations, preachers, and affiliated graduates led to the proliferation of new “mosque communities” or jama’at amongst Salafis, a development that was principally shaped by the leadership struggles that assumed an intergenerational character. Second, Salafis – like other sects – were not exposed to homogenous discourses on Islam or Salafism, mainly because of existing cultural and linguistic barriers, and the multiplicity of doctrines and agendas pursued by various organizations and preachers, which have induced a splintering effect along doctrinal and ritualistic lines within the Salafi community, even if less pronounced than elsewhere in the Islamic World.

Indeed, the most significant outcome of these two simultaneous developments is that it has helped give way to the formation of what can be called a “Salafism with Chinese characteristics.” Its proponents – mainly from the 1990s generation, are charting new discourses about Salafism that deviate from that which exists in the Saudi mainstream. Most notably, there is a strong rejection of sectarianism (although there is a troubling growth in anti-Shia sentiment) and an emphasis on ecumenical approaches – a shift that stems principally from what many view as the takfeeri legacy of the 1980s that led to unnecessary confrontations with the wider Muslim community. Indeed, the Salafis today encounter severe challenges in proselytize and even practicing in places like Xining, Qinghai.

The post-90s generation is also far more internationalist and, to a large extent, far more cognizant of the realities facing Hui Muslims within the Chinese state (as a minority of a minority contending with the attention of the state security apparatus). While courting Saudi funding and literature, it is selective in what discourses it seeks to reproduce. This explains why some Saudi-oriented Salafis are increasingly discouraging visits by Saudi preachers, who are unable to appreciate the specificities of Chinese Islam there. More importantly, this new generation is more willing to cooperate with the authorities, and is displaying signs of seeking to participate more actively within the political channels that have been traditionally dominated by Sufi and Yihewani groups.

In all, the Hui Salafi scene and its connections to Saudi Arabia are complex. The community is fragmenting intellectually and generating new discourses that reflect the tensions that confront new religious authorities and groups seeking to navigate the difficult waters between perceived orthodoxy and the realities of their situation. Hui Salafis want to carve out a space of their own within China. Their concerns are not political per se: Across the spectrum, they appear to have embraced the apolitical quietism one expects to see within the Saudi clerical establishment. Even with regards to the Uighur Salafis – if we speak in terms of an Islamic political project – there is little evidence to suggest a burgeoning solidarity between the two groups. Historical hatreds notwithstanding, the evolution of Uighur Salafism has taken a completely different trajectory than that of the Hui and its political/religious dynamics are therefore different. Rather, for the majority of Hui Salafis, their concerns remain solely those of identity and religious legitimization.

Mohammed Al-Sudairi is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar (International Politics). He spent two years in Beijing studying Chinese and undertaking freelance research.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/10/chinese-salafism-and-the-saudi-connection/

Chinese Democracy: A ‘Nightmare’ Scenario for US
Image Credit: State Department Photo

Chinese Democracy: A ‘Nightmare’ Scenario for US

A democratic China would be a nightmare for the West, according to a leading former Southeast Asian former diplomat.

One of the paradoxes for the West is that it is better off with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in power in China, Kishore Mahbubani, the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of the National University of Singapore and that country’s former UN ambassador, told a D.C. audience on Tuesday.

Noting that the general consensus in the United States has long been that a liberal democratic China would be a more responsible global power, Mahbubani warned Americans to be careful what they wish for.

“There is a strong nationalist sentiment in China” that derives from the view that China suffered a century of humiliation at the hands of Western and other foreign powers, Mahbubani pointed out. This sentiment is not relegated to the fringe of society; in fact, this conviction is often strongest among highly educated Chinese elites, especially those who have studied abroad in places like the United States and Europe.

The CCP currently keeps this nationalist sentiment in check, Mahbubani said. These forces would be unleashed, however, if China became a liberal democracy, which would be a “nightmare” for the Western world.

“I have no doubt that doubt China as a liberal democracy would be a much more nationalist, much more dangerous country” because “200 years of pent up anger” would explode, Mahbubani predicted.

By contrast, the CCP is more interested in domestic issues, which are the key to its survival, Mahbubani argued. He also said that CCP leaders believe that time is on China’s side and thus see little reason to aggressively challenge the established global order. The paradox, then, according to Mahbubani, is that China is most likely to play the role of a responsible stakeholder in the global order if it remains under the control of the Chinese Communist Party.

“If you are interested in global peace and security you may want to see the Chinese Communist Party remain in power,” Mahbubani told the largely American audience.

Indeed, Mahbubani added that “China has no interest in disrupting the global order” and on most global issues it is likely to continue deferring to the leadership of other countries for the foreseeable future. He did concede that this is not necessarily the case for important regional issues like North Korea and the South China Sea, where China is already more actively asserting itself.

Mahbubani was speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Center For The National Interest in Washington, DC.

While noting that predicting the future is wrought with challenges, Mahbubani also argued that it is nearly inevitable that China’s economy will surpass America’s on a non-PPP basis in the near future, making China “number one” in the world.

“It is possible China may stumble and fall…. We cannot rule it out” but it’s unlikely to happen given China’s “enormous stock of human capital.” This will allow it to maintain an annual average growth rate of 6-7 percent for the foreseeable future, Mahbubani said, which is all it needs to surpass the United States.

Given this, the former ambassador said, it is surprising that there aren’t far more discussions about how the world will change when China becomes number one. However, Mahbubani noted that this is unlikely to occur in the United States because it is “political suicide” for any American leader to openly contemplate a future where the U.S. is number two.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/10/chinese-democracy-a-nightmare-scenario-for-us/