When facing a choice between writing a post about my own views, and translating an interesting article in Chinese, I’ll usually choose translation. That’s how several topics have remained in the backseat for weeks and months.
As this situation could well go on for another number of months, I might just offer a link collection of articles that have caught my interest since summer, rather than rehashing them into thoughts of my own.
1. “Hegemony with Chinese Characteristics”
Like this one, in the National Interest‘s July-August 2011 edition. The author, Aaron L. Friedberg, suggests that China’s current rulers seem intent on establishing their country as the preponderant power in East Asia, and perhaps in Asia writ large. Friedberg points out that China, in its own view, isn’t so much “rising” as it is returning to a position of regional preeminence, and that
The party’s desire to retain power shapes every aspect of national policy. When it comes to external affairs, it means that Beijing’s ultimate aim is to “make the world safe for authoritarianism,” or at least for continued one-party rule in China.
You will need to click through several pages when reading the article.
2. Xinjiang Shakes Sino-Pakistani Relations
Another author, Raffaello Pantucci, writes about Uyghur unrest in Xinjiang as a complicating factor in Pakistan’s relations with China, in an article for the Jamestown Foundation. Simply granting China access (to an unknown degree, it seems) to the stealth helicopter the U.S. troops had to abandon when killing Osama bin-Laden in Abottabad won’t smooth everything else over.
3. The Euro-Drama
Then there’s the financial crisis in Euroland – no particular link here. There would be a lot to write about, but all I’d like to say is that in my view, Eurobonds would probably provide the best answer. Yes, it could have a negative impact on the incentives for countries like Greece, Italy, or Spain to get their public finances in order – but then, Eurobonds can’t work without a common fiscal policy, anyway. The least it takes will be a watchdog with genuine teeth which, from Brussels, oversees the process. Whatever choice may be made, it will come at the cost of the better-off Euroland countries – but only a reliable roadmap towards consolidation will eventually reduce the costs of European public debt.
Besides, it isn’t helpful if Germany and France initiate every new rescue measure – that makes Germany serve as a projection screen for some or a lot of Greek or Spanish anger – and the German government in turn will need to drop its fear of German anger about the risks the better-off countries, including Germany, need to take if Euroland is meant to survive as a whole. The German opposition isn’t in the ruling coalition’s way at all. The Social Democrats and the Greens have shown solidarity with the countries in trouble.
4. Taiwan’s Defense, “a Long-Delayed Decision”
Taiwan’s government keeps pushing for American arms supplies, i. e. the U.S. government clearing supplies from the American arms corporations in question. A problem rarely touched upon is about how safe the technology would be from Chinese espionage. The Wall Street Journal has carried an article about the issue recently (access requires subscription, but the Voice of Russia has a short abstract of it), and DefenseNews, in a header to an interview with Taiwan’s deputy defense minister Andrew Yang (楊念祖), wrote that Taiwan has just opened the floodgates for mainland Chinese visitors, prompting fears of an increase in espionage and agents of influence here.
A major general, Lo Hsien-che (羅賢哲), was jailed for life in July – he had been recruited as a spy for China in 2004, while he was posted to Thailand as a military attache. If his betrayal made contents of Taiwanese-U.S. military cooperation available to Beijing is contested, but Focus Taiwan, an English-language website run by Taiwan’s official Central News Agency (CNA),offers an interpretation which makes you wonder about official Taiwan’s mindset:
Sexual and financial temptations aside, the choice was definitely related to Lo’s confusion over the country’s future and the loyalty of military servicemen. In fact, this is a question that President Ma Ying-jeou has so far failed to clarify.
During the final years of former President Lee Teng-hui’s term in office and throughout Chen Shui-bian’s presidency, social identity and unity were damaged by a series of movements promoting a new constitution and designation for the country. As a result, many military servicemen had no idea to whom they should pledge allegiance.
No Taiwanese president, neither the incumbent nor his predecessors, can be directly blamed for this obscene facelessness. That responsibility rests with that author at CNA.
But I have to admit that stuff of this quality makes me wonder how safe U.S. military technology can be at the hands of Taiwan’s bureaucracy, if this CNA article is somehow indicative for the bureaucracy’s mindset.
5. China’s Relations with Gaddafi
FOARP has followed stories about how close – or not – Beijing and Tripoli have been during Muammar al-Gaddafi‘s rule. Not as close as we might think, he suggested in February. And (probably) not as close as the London School of Economics’ links with the same gang.
Right now, there’s talk about a Libyan (Gaddafi-controlled) delegation of Libyan officials, having held talks with interested companies in late July, about the purchase of Chinese military procducts.
If you can get verifiable information that China actually supplied that kind of stuff in recent months, please let me know. That said, even if there is no such evidence, Beijing may find that trust isn’t necessarily second nature to Arab governments, including Libya’s National Transitional Council.
» Wen in Arabia: Trusted Brothers, Nov 8, 2009