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There's a big to-do about an investigative thing by Australia's Four Corners/Fairfax Media concerning Chinese influence in Australia. ASIO investigation targets Communist Party links to Australian political system ASIO is the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, which curated the dossiers that Four Corners/Fairfax assiduously summarized and spun. I think the series is highly significant, perhaps not... Read More
Readers of China Matters may have noticed there hasn’t been too much to read lately. That’s because since the beginning of the year I’ve been doing a weekly video reports for Newsbud, an online indy media outfit run by Sibel Edmonds. It started with China Watch, a weekly newsprogram that covers key China-related international affairs.... Read More
I expect the PRC government has a team of spooks and doctors whose main job is to monitor the Dalai Lama’s public appearances for indications concerning his health. The Dalai Lama’s April 8 visit to Tawang probably gave them something to chew on, because he didn’t look that good to me. He was mentally acute... Read More
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Here are embeds to my two most recent videos for Newsbud. They pair together nicely as they track the evolving stories on Pakistan/Afghanistan and North Korea. Trump may be sucking all the oxygen out of the mediasphere, but the usual suspects are still out there conducting the usual business of murder and mayhem. The most... Read More
My latest Newsbud video looks at signals from Secretary of Defense Mattis' trip to Asia and what it means for the South China Sea, East China Sea, and North Korea now, Trump Asia policy looks pretty mainstream.One point I make in the piece is that Trump isn't necessarily eschewing bloody American military mischief; he's just... Read More
Afghanistan, as a crossroads of empire and a key stage in the Silk Road, is dotted with important archaeological sites that go back 5000 years and can provide insights into the evolution of civilizations across Asia and, in fact, civilization itself. Most of these sites are beyond the reach of the Afghan government’s woefully underfunded... Read More
Over the last month, I’ve been busy making videos for Newsbud, the indie news outfit run by Sibel Edmonds. Don’t be a free media leech! Go to newsbud.com, view my stuff, retweet it, and pay a few bucks and become a member! My most recent Newsbud video keyed off the CCTV New Year’s Gala to... Read More
I don’t share the US FP handwringing over Trump’s retreat from overarching multilateral initiatives in favor of bilateral engagements in Asia. The point of the complex multi-lateral arrangements—the pivot, rebalance, whatever you want to call it, and TPP—were intended to position the United States as the “indispensable nation” in Asia, the glue that was needed... Read More
Is Japan the America’s Pit Bull or Lap Dog… …or Dog in the Manger?
As I discuss in my most recent piece for Asia Times, Duterte v. United States: The Empire Slaps Back, I find the US tunnel vision concerning Asian attitudes toward engagement with China puzzling. The big story in Asia IMO is the smaller powers trying to integrate with the PRC economically while keeping it at arms’... Read More
India-Pakistan relations look to be interesting in the next few years, especially if by “interesting” one means “potential for regional conflagration with toasty global elements”. If the PRC continues its rise at its current trajectory and under its current management, chances are that by 2050 the United States will be facing a China that is... Read More
Another day, another piece of US think-tankery poo-pooing the prospects for a nuclear confrontation with the PRC. RAND came up with a new report on the economic costs of war with China,Thinking the Unthinkable. In RAND's view the war won’t escalate beyond a limited conventional war fought in the West Pacific and over Chinese territory,... Read More
Things fall apart. Especially with a helping push from the United States. The world’s easier for America to manage if it’s broken into smaller, weaker, and more vulnerable and manageable pieces. That, I think, is one of the lessons of the post Cold War era. The USSR fell apart. Yugoslavia fell apart. So did Sudan.... Read More
Now that the UNCLOS SCS ruling has come down, it’s time to deal with What’s Next? Not good things, in my opinion, as expressed in my latest at Asia Times. It’s called No off ramps, only dead ends in the South China Sea. The diplomatic and strategic wild card, I think, is not the fact... Read More
Long Live?
As relatively muted reactions to the Philippines v. China arbitral tribunal award come in from ASEAN and EU, it appears likely that the PRC at the highest level traded an undertaking to finally abandon the nine-dash-line in return for international forbearance on declaration of China as an international outlaw for ignoring the ruling. I suspect... Read More
I have a piece up at Asia Times, China has right to declare ADIZ in the South China Sea. A bit more in your face than my proposed title but a) essentially true and b) not a bad idea improving coordination in zones abuzz with contentious military presences and missions and c) decent clickbait. Pre... Read More
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Brexit, 中国 Denialism, and the End of "China"
What does this map have to do with Brexit? The answer may surprise you! But first, the wait is over, people. My Brexit hot take is up at Asia Times: The Brexit Upside for China The PRC was not happy with Brexit, despite the Atlanticist fetish with spinning any difficulties with the neo-liberal project as... Read More
got an article up on Asia Times, Chinese embassy bombing: Xi sends message by honoring martyrs in Belgrade. It uses Xi Jinping’s attendance at a wreath-laying ceremony in Belgrade and the appearance of US electronic warfare planes in the Philippines to weave together a story of the technological competition between the US and PRC concerning... Read More
Ceterum censeo Sinisem esse delendam
I enjoy a simplistic historical analogy as much as the next blogger, but “Thucydides Trap” doesn’t cut it for me. “Thucydides Trap” is the “conflict inevitable between incumbent and rising empires” thing, tracing back to Thucydides’ analysis, the first example of the IR deep dive, which sidestepped the proximate cause of the Peloponnesian War (Athens... Read More
Scanning the transcript, Ash Carter gave the same “we’re back baby!” speech at Shangri La Dialogue No. 16 that he gave at the Council for Foreign Relations and Annapolis. So I think my current Asia Times piece Ash Carter’s Blissful Bubble of Oblivionhas added value as a Shangri La ‘splainer. Read it at the link.... Read More
I have a piece up exclusively at Asia Times, Duterte’s Beef with America. Go read it! It unpacks the story of Duterte’s coolness to the United States dating back to the Michael Meiring incident in 2002. Duterte’s spokesman recently cited the Meiring case in explaining his attitude toward the U.S., leading to a New York... Read More
That’s the theme of my most recent piece at Asia Times. Read it here. The U.S. sailor suit brigade is obsessed with playing profitable pattycake with the PLAN in the South China Sea. But a more significant and dangerous confrontation is brewing over the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. India doesn’t like the CPEC, and China... Read More
The PRC is in a pretty solid position, legality-wise in occupying Scarborough Shoal. And that means it’s pretty much free to build on it. Even island-build it. The United States and the Philippines know that. Losing Scarborough Shoal was the price of the pivot. It’s just hard to admit it. Back in May 2012, a... Read More
...With Its Own Floating Nuclear Power Station!
I’ve been a somewhat skeptical concerning Western handwringing about perceived PRC intentions to islandbuild Scarborough Shoal, seeing them as perhaps pivot-promoting alarmism. But, as Freud said, sometimes a cigar is a cigar and sometimes a threat to build the shoal is…a threat to build the shoal. My rethink was prompted by the appearance on a... Read More
I’m expecting tactical nuclear weapons to reappear overtly in the US military equation for Asia… …but only after the US Navy gets its chance to feast at the pivot trough for its long-for but perhaps strategically less-than-vital conventional forces buildout in Asia. I have an article up exclusively on Asia Times, The Case of the... Read More
In this post I’m developing at length several themes that I touched upon in my most recent article up exclusively at Asia Times on the current pivot hot button: South China Sea Dispute: Rewriting the History of Scarborough Shoal. There is currently a great deal of handwringing as to whether the PRC will island-build the... Read More
“We will remain the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come.” ----Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter Ash Carter is on a mission: to convince Asia’s democracies that Asian security is synonymous with American leadership. Unfortunately for him, the two concepts are not theoretically or even empirically identical, as is revealed by a... Read More
I’ve got an article up exclusively at Asia Times—Pentagon Looks Beyond FONOPs in the South China Sea-- on the latest wrinkle in the US tussle with the PRC in the South China Sea: augmenting the maritime “Freedom of Navigation” gambit with a new focus on the PRC threat to regional and US territorially-based interests. The... Read More
For a guy who’s sick of the whole South China Sea imbroglio, I sure write about it a lot. I have a piece up at The Asia-Pacific Journal/Japan Focus: China Not Leaving the “South China Sea”. It updates the PRC strategic move to an island based posture in anticipation of an unfavorable ruling on the... Read More
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Stupid Sh*t: US Failure, Denial, and Escalation in the South China Sea
By most metrics the US campaign to deter and modify PRC behavior in the South China Sea has been a colossal bust. The US “Freedom of Navigation” initiative for the South China Sea is, to put it bluntly, completely bogus. The PRC has no interest in impeding the movement of ships in the South China... Read More
I have a piece up at Asia Times—only at Asia Times! Exclusive!—‘Beheading’ Kim: Pre-emptive Strikes are Back and Headed for China, on the implications of the leaked US decapitation strategy for North Korea. In my opinion a) the US is testdriving an eventual pre-emption posture for the PRC in North Korea and b) it locks... Read More
I have an article up exclusively at Asia Times Online, South China Sea Face-off: The Mystery of Woody Island. Go ahead, click the link! It addresses the media freakout over a Fox News report that commercial satellite imagery revealed something that looked like HQ-9 surface-to-air missile launchers were on the beach at Woody Island in... Read More
The China Factor in the Apple/FBI Battle
I take perverse pleasure (note to self: discuss with analyst!) in parting company with my libertarian/lefty buddies on the issue of the FBI’s demand that Apple assist in accessing an iPhone phone of the San Bernardino shooter. The shadow of the People’s Republic of China—and the demands it plans to impose on US vendors of... Read More
There has been a concerted campaign to depict the South China Sea as an indispensable artery for commercial shipping and, therefore, a justifiable object of US attention and meddling. This flagship of this effort is invoking the “$5 trillion dollars” worth of goods that pass through the SCS each year. Reuters, in particular, is addicted... Read More
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Seymour Hersh created a stir with his most recent piece in the London Review of Books, Military to Military. Hersh reported that the Joint Chiefs of Staff under General Dempsey had actively sabotaged President Obama’s Syria policy in 2013, when they took issue with the White House’s apparent acquiescence to Turkey secretly funneling support to... Read More
Terrorism Double Standards in San Bernardino, Paris...and Baicheng?
There have been some darkly amusing moments as the media in United States and France have pushed back against the PRC's efforts to shoulder its way into the privileged ranks of civilized nations that have innocently suffered terrorist attacks. More problematic is the unspoken corollary: that the PRC doesn't get the Empire State Building and... Read More
When the US destroyer USS Lassen finally executed its Freedom of Navigation sailthrough a.k.a. “The FONOP” within 12 miles of Subi Reef on October 27, the China hawks were ecstatic. John Garnaut exulted that the United States had bested the PRC in a “seminal test of wills”. On his Twitter feed plugging his piece he... Read More
This was an anxious week in Pivotland© , the Beltway district in which milsec types congregate to formulate, promote, and profit from the forward strategy toward the PRC. President Obama has been laggard in executing a cherished pivot initiative, the defiant US Navy sailthrough within 12 miles of the PRC’s faux-island holdings in the South... Read More
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One byproduct of tensions with the People’s Republic of China over the South China Sea (to be followed, shortly, I believe by tensions over the friction between the PRC and Taiwan ruled by the DPP) is the opportunity for the United States to abandon the useful but by now threadbare fiction that the massive U.S.... Read More
Clinton's debate assertion matches her version of events in Hard Choices, confirming, I suppose, that she provided the talking points to her ghostwriter and then took the trouble to memorize them. They are, unfortunately, pretty far shy of the truth. Courtesy of India’s First Post, an excerpt from Hard Choices: "President Obama and I were... Read More
On October 6, 2015, the Wall Street Journal carried this headline: Japan Ready to Lead in Asia-Pacific, Abe Says I expect that a few Japan-loving pivot-poobahs inside the Washington beltway had to spit out their breakfast sushi at that one. “But…that wasn’t supposed to happen for decades! Ash Carter promised!” After all, Secretary of Defense... Read More
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A few years back, Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State declared that G-2—a US-PRC great power condominium much dreaded by advocates of a muscular attitude toward the Chinese menace—was dead. Don’t worry, China hawks. G-2 is still dead. What’s left is G-Zero: a world in which the PRC and US governments go their separate ways... Read More
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Japan, the United States, and the Security Laws
The passage of the collective self defense bills-- enabling Japanese participation in military activities beyond its home territory under restrictions that appear to be rather elastic-- --had a feeling of inevitability to me. They give more freedom of movement to the Japanese government in its security policy, more leverage in its foreign relations, and more... Read More
Videos of the August 13 explosion at Tianjin are terrifying and amazing. Based on the seismic record, the second explosion was equivalent to the detonation of 21 tons of not difficult to understand why Xi Jinping might have, as Willie Lamalleges, entertained the notion that this was some sort of sabotage strike against his rule.... Read More
Think of the PRC September 3 military parade, officially "Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War", as a tabula rasa, a blank screen upon which observers can project their PRC-related hopes, fears, anxieties, and fantasies. And, for Xi Jinping,... Read More
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It’s “Why Didn’t Interference Work?”
I suppose much of the journo commentariat was born since 2008 and therefore has no memory of TARP, Too Big To Fail, or Jamie Dimon rolling around naked inside a gigantic vat of taxpayer money, so there has been a considerable amount of handwring about how the CCP defiled the purity of the stock market... Read More
Anti-Submarine Warrior” Primps for Its Close-Up
Assistant Secretary of State Danny Russel spoke at the CSIS South China Sea Conference on July 20, 2015. He made news by declaring that the United States is not neutral in some issues pertaining to the South China Sea. The money quote came in reply to a question from Wu Shicun, the PRC representative at... Read More
Evidence keeps accummulating that a clandestine Turkish government program to enable Uyghur emigration from the PRC--for motives either noble, sinister, or both--has turned into a major security cock-up, embarrassment for Turkey, and a serious issue in PRC-Turkish relations. I wrote this on July 11 on the occasion of the forcible repatriation of over one hundred... Read More
The year-long tug of war between Turkey and the PRC over several hundred Uyghur detainees in Thailand was finally resolved, Solomonic fashion, by Thailand sending 170+ women and children to Istanbul in early July in a little noticed event, and the deportation of 100+ Uyghur men to the PRC this week, which has occasioned much... Read More
Me on Twitter on July 1: IMO most important development in PRC security is mainstreaming of support for Uyghurs in TK national politics. Way more serious than SCS. Turkish anti-PRC furor was fueled by reports of the PRC campaign against Ramadan. In Daily Sabah, the English-language version of Sabah, a Turkish daily closely associated with... Read More
Actually, that was a title of a post I wrote in July 2010, before island-building, before the Senkaku crises, before the rare earths brouhaha, even before Hillary Clinton declared that the US had a “national interest” in freedom of navigation at the 2010 ASEAN foreign ministers’ conference in Hanoi and formally kicked off the “pivot”.... Read More
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