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Today events occur and decisions are made that will determine the nature and outcome of the impending confrontation between the United States and the People's Republic of China. Nevertheless, news and analysis about China receives relatively short shrift, as America's military and foreign policy resources--and the resultant political debates--are focussed on the Middle East. But... Read More
In an April 16, 2005 article entitled Korea Rejected U.S. Plan on North, the LA Times reports that South Korea rejected a secret security strategy that might have given United States forces the initiative in invading and occupying North Korea in the event of a political crisis. In the words of the article, The article... Read More
There is some puzzlement, typified by Praktike's post on Political Animal, as to why the Chinese are getting all worked up about the Japanese all of a sudden. If I may paraphrase his concern, World War II atrocities are so, well, 20th century, and an unworthy preoccupation for a gung ho, charging-in-to-the-future regional power. Certainly,... Read More
There’s been some discussion on Drezner, Yglesias , Delong and Atrios about the Schumer bill threatening 27.5% tariffs on Chinese goods as a club to get the Chinese to revalue their currency. That idea doesn’t look like a winner, for political reasons. Tariff increases are a classic tit-for-tat situation. If the U.S. raises tariffs on... Read More
In an April 19, 2005 article entitled Japan Emerges as America’s New Deputy Sheriff in the Pacific, the Guardian reports on Japan’s deepening role as America’s key military ally—a development that has been largely ignored by the media in the U.S.: Among other things, the article reports that the command post for the U.S. Army’s... Read More
Matt Yglesias links to a 2001 investigative report on the Heritage Foundation in The New Republic. It suggests that financial pressures and fundraising opportunities in Asia caused the foundation to adopt a soft-on-China stance that was anathema to the hard right.
Priceless From London's Daily Telegraph: Ah, Mr. Nishihara? If any country should know that Pearl Harbor-style surprise attacks don’t work, it’s…Japan. I think the Chinese understand that an attack on a U.S. base would elicit a powerful American military response. And an attack against Okinawa would lead to war with Japan. The idea that China... Read More
It’s indicative of the post-9/11 tunnel vision afflicting the American policy debate that the main China news coming out of the John Bolton confirmation hearings doesn't concern the marked pro-Taiwan tilt of his political views. Instead, it relates to another alleged incident of Mr. Bolton bullyragging an out-of-step intelligence analyst. Via Laura Rozen: Mr. Bolton’s... Read More
A Christian Science Monitor article concerning China’s need to make nice with Koizumi at the non-aligned nations meeting in Jakarta gets most things right and one thing wrong. From China tries to patch its torn image: Leading up to the meeting, I think Chin
Inside the Beltway, you can hear senators grunting “This one’s for Colin” as they take their whacks at the John Bolton nomination piñata. Senate resentment at the Bush administration’s coercive and abusive style approach to policy and management that treated Senate-friendly Colin Powell—and the Senate itself-- with such ostentatious contempt appears to have crystallized around... Read More
China Provides More Grist for the White House Political Mill Via Brad DeLong, The Financial Times reports that the decision for a more public, confrontational approach to pressuring China to revalue the RMB was made in the White House, which has taken over direction of the China exchange rate initiative from the Treasury Department: It... Read More
Premier Koizumi issued the boilerplate apology for Japanese aggression as Japan and China sought to paper over their rift. Meanwhile, Hu Jintao took his lumps in a Philip Pan article in the Washington Post entitled "Hu Tightens Party's Grip On Power: Chinese Leader Seen As Limiting Freedoms". The article describes crackdowns on dissidents, and ends... Read More
Matthew Yglesias strives for clarity on Taiwan but seems to come up a little short. Here’s another try. Taiwan receives unequivocal U.S. protection as long as it eschews independence. Full stop. I agree that the time for strategic ambiguity is past. It’s a holdover from the first era of U.S.-PRC relations, which began in 1979... Read More
According to Asia Times, in the jostling over the eastward movement of Russian crude oil “China beats Japan in Russian pipeline race” Declarations of Chinese victory are perhaps premature. After all, in January 2005, the headline read: Russia orders oil pipeline to the pacific Some background: Russia originally considered two alternative eastern outlets for its... Read More
The same week the head of the KMT goes to Beijing to make nice with the Communists, a millionaire basketball player in the United States—Yao Ming, of course—is acclaimed a Chinese model worker. Quite a week. Lien Chan’s meeting with Hu Jintao is a bittersweet enactment of the quasi-state visit that might have been if... Read More
Well, it looks like India’s going to get a security council seat. Hot on the heels of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi showed up in New Delhi. India and Japan then issued a statement that they would support each other’s bids to become permanent members of the U.N. Security... Read More
Oceania has Always been at war with Eastasia! For a time, the big anti-Japanese demonstrations in the PRC managed to steer the discourse between China and Japan back to the nationalist terms that favor the Chinese. But in Japan there seems to be a greater willingness to play the democracy card in response. From the... Read More
Panda-monium! Taiwan has apparently been thrown into a tizzy by Beijing’s offer to visiting KMT Chairman Lien Chan of two giant pandas: The KMT sees this as a public relations coup for itself and its rapprochement policy. Taipei mayor (and KMT hotshot) Ma Ying-jeou promised to form a task force so its zoo could get... Read More
It's Not Easy Being Green "Green", in this case being the signature color of the pro-independence political forces in Taiwan. Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian has dismayed the pro-independence base of his DPP party with his strangely passive and lackluster response to the mainland visits by his rivals, KMT boss Lien Chan and PFP leader James... Read More
Where Have You Gone, Richard Armitage? Richard Armitage, ex-Deputy Secretary of State, Colin Powell’s right-hand man, a voice for moderation and caution in foreign affairs, is out of government service right now. But he’s left the door open to come back. He didn’t rejoin his old consulting firm. Instead, he set up a new business,... Read More
North Koreans Heart "the guy with the white moustache"—But Nobody Else Does As John Bolton’s “friends” in Washington pointed out, he took his eye off the ball in the Iran nuclear talks while lobbying feverishly for the Secretary of State position and then grinding through the nomination process for Ambassador to the U.N. this year.... Read More
The weekend’s National Assembly elections provide an interesting snapshot of Taiwan’s political situation. Voters cast their ballots for party slates, not individuals, that would make up the National Assembly, which in turn would vote along party lines for or against various constitutional amendments affecting election of the legislature, popular referenda and the like. There were... Read More
The furor over some reported comments from a Chinese admiral concerning the purported advantages of sinking an American aircraft carrier in a hypothetical Taiwan Straits crisis consumed a depressing amount of bandwidth at The American Prospect, Liberals Against Terrorism, Matthew Yglesias, and Brad DeLong’s websites. Perhaps unfairly, I chalk this up to a desire by... Read More
Impotent Treasury Department + Economic Policy as Political Football = Another Attack on China's Exchange Rate Policies From the LA Times: After all that snarling comes the rather contradictory call for China to continue manipulating its currency a baby bit more--but to our benefit. Not surprising, politics and not economics are at the bottom of... Read More
Condi thinks he’d acknowledge North Korea’s sovereignty. A clear indication of Condi Rice’s current, if perhaps transitory, victory over the neo-cons can be found in the transcript of Yale professor John Gaddis’s remarks at Ten O’clock Scholar. Gaddis, with disingenuous humility and disbelief, describes how he was invited to the White House and found out... Read More
In his recent column, Mr. Kristof engages in one of those hands-on pieces of vainglory that is the unique domain of the celebrity newspaper columnist. He visits a Chinese chat room, types in a provocative statement about permitting multi-party elections, and dimples with pride as this piece of freedom-loving straight talk is deleted by the... Read More
A story that didn’t receive a lot of ink because it doesn’t fit in with the “pastel revolution/freedom on the march in Central Asia” theme was the victory by Nambaryn Enkhbayar of Mongolia's former communist Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party in the country's presidential elections. He promptly announced And just as promptly Chinese Vice Premier Wu... Read More
In Joseph Kahn and Chris Buckley’s article in the New York Times, China Gives a Strategic 21-Gun Salute to Visiting Uzbek President, a China expert parses the Chinese desire to cozy up to Uzbekistan as follows: Hmmm. Not exactly the way I read it. In the interests of full disclosure, I think Kahn and Buckley... Read More
In our negotiations with North Korea it looks like the only use we have for carrots is as blunt instruments to beat the DPRK over the head with. Today, in congressional testimony, the State Department’s Christopher Hill complained about North Korea’s foot-dragging in restarting the six-party talks about its nuclear program. Richard Lawless, the top... Read More
In today’s column in the Washington Post, ex Asst Sec of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Richard Holbrooke kindly echoes the fundamental theme of this blog—that “China Matters” but too few people pay attention: Actually, Holbrooke is hinting that the wrong people are paying sufficient attention to the region, listing the various interest... Read More
With North Korea unwilling to return to the six-party talks, the U.S. has embarked on a policy of confrontation and saber rattling, terminating military cooperation on servicemen’s remains with the DPKR, “decapitating” the international initiative to provide North Korea with a peaceful nuke power station by removing its director, Charles Kartman, and, as reported in... Read More
The New York Sun reports that Jay Lefkowitz will probably be named special envoy for North Korea human rights. Actually, the story was first leaked almost one month ago. Via Buzzflash, the first murmurings concerning Lefkowitz's possible appointment appeared on May 5: Bush—or somebody—really wants this guy. He looks like some kind of Baby Bolton,... Read More
Peking Duck posts on an article by Orville Schell condemning China as “bipolar” for what he saw as the victim mentality behind the anti-Japanese demonstrations. I responded with a comment reproduced below, in which I posit that the Chinese leadership—and its response to the development in its relationship with Japan—are rational. A distinction can be... Read More
The entire North Korean debate hinges on the question of irrationality. Are the North Koreans so irrational that they have forfeited their sovereignty, thereby exposing their country to the full range of sanctions, destabilization, subversion, and pre-emptive attack that the Bush administration and its nutbar fellow travelers can inflict upon it? Accusations of irrationality—and the... Read More
Reading the NK Zone, a group blog that provides a lot of interesting information on North Korea, a post directed me to a "must read" transcript of remarks by Nicholas Eberstadt. Eberstadt is the hardest of hard core North Korea regime changers at the American Enterprise Institute. In his speech, he's trying to get South... Read More
On June 3, our ambassador to Japan said: Statements like these are meant to rattle China’s cage. There is nothing that China would like less than a hostile, right-leaning Japan armed with nuclear weapons. Forestalling a nuclear Japan is a good reason for the Chinese to put pressure on North Korea. Pressure is applied accordingly,... Read More
By some editing glitch, the Washington Times mistakenly placed Bill Gertz’s piece “Analysts Missed Chinese Buildup” on its national news page. It could have qualified as an op-ed, a plug for Gertz’s scaremongering The China Threat: How the People’s Republic of China Targets America, an infomercial for the pro-confrontation Blue Team of anti-China adventurers, or... Read More
Another sign that the neo-cons are out of favor and Condi Rice is introducing her particular brand of foreign policy professionalism to the Bush administration is the rise of Thomas Fingar. Fingar is now the top intelligence analyst at John Negroponte’s ODNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence). He’s a veteran of the Bureau... Read More
Abstract: North Korea is suffering another year of famine. Kim Jung Il's inability to keep his people fed is sometimes cited as a justification--and even an implement--for regime change. Until its economy was disrupted by the collapse of the Soviet Union, North Korea produced 10 million tons of grain a year--vs. little over 4 million... Read More
From the LA Times: We’re not circus animals! We're not hoop-jumping poodles! No, we’re lean, mean, tongue-tied predators! Problem is, the North Koreans already know "all they need to know about U.S. policy", to whit: North Korea is a member of the Axis of Evil, our policy has moved beyond non-proliferation to aggressive counter-proliferation and... Read More
The real story of CNOOC's bid for Unocal is Wall Street's hopes for a China-driven M&A binge. But that's probably not the story that's going to make it to the front page. Commenting on the CNOOC bid for Unocal, I think the LA Times editorial Oil for China gets it just about right in saying:... Read More
Economists like Angry Bear have a hard time understanding the fuss over the Unocal deal. In conventional terms, they are right. Oil is fungible, it doesn’t matter too much where it comes out of the earth, and, given China’s enormous energy needs, if the Chinese buy Unocal, they are likely to be doing everything they... Read More
I jumped into the Unocal kerfluffle at Brad DeLong’s website last week with the observation: Now CNOOC’s prexy Fu Chengyu does his best to make me look like a Communist agent. From Don Lee via the July 4 LA Times Chinese CEO Defends Oil Bid as U.S.-Style: Unocal, though, is a small player in oil;... Read More
From Date Set For N. Korea Talks: The LA Times does better than most in reporting on the foreign policy shenanigans of the Bush administration, so I’m not sure if Sonni Efron is trafficking in sarcasm or stupidity when she follows her glowing encomium to President Bush’s North Korea policy with: In other words, we... Read More
…it smells like “victory”.
Apparently Condi galpal Sonni Efron can write anything about the North Korean situation--even the truth—if she characterizes it as a “victory” for Condi Rice and our very own Dear Leader, George W. Bush. The lede from the July 14 LA Times: However, Pyongyang’s return to the talks seems to have a lot to do with... Read More
…pretty soon you’re talking about real money.
Ron Brownstein reports on Chevron carping that below-market rates on Chinese loans to CNOOC gives the Chinese a $2.6 billion advantage in its bid for Unocal, more than erasing the difference between Chevron’s $16.5 billion bid and CNOOC’s $18.5 billion bid. I assume the $2.5 billion figure came out of the usual B-school legerdemain: assume... Read More
Brad DeLong’s website excerpts an exchange between Nouriel Roubini of NYU’s Stern Business School and David Altig, who labors in the research department of the Federal Reserve, on the Wall Street Journal website concerning the Yuan revaluation. An excellent exchange on Roubini's part, providing more clarity than usual. But I found Altig's apparent confounding of... Read More
Angry Bear has some good posts and comments here and here on the RMB revaluation, and specifically the issue of the fixed exchange rate that China adhered to for ten years. Here's my two cents on why the Chinese government stuck with a fixed exchange rate for so long (and why major exhange rate changes... Read More
At Long Last Lefkowitz After four months of fits, starts, and leaks, Jay Lefkowitz was finally named the U.S. human rights envoy for North Korea on August 19. Why Jay Lefkowitz? While in the White House, Lefkowitz primarily handled domestic policy outreach to conservative Jewish and Christian groups, most famously in President Bush’s stem cell... Read More
Re the fracas over Pyongyang demanding that they get their light water reactors first, there will be an understandable tendency to blame the North Koreans for screwing up the nuclear accord with another piece of last-minute brinksmanship intended to wring a final concession out of the talks. Or, as the LA Times print edition of... Read More
PastClassics
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?