Posts Tagged ‘China’


September 15, 2015

Fox News on September 13, 2015, reported on the Uighurs in East Turkestan (Xinjiang), China. Excerpts below:

The Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gurs) are a Turkic-speaking Muslim ethnic group native to China’s far western region of Xinjiang, which was sporadically controlled by Chinese dynasties over the centuries. They have long complained of ethnic discrimination and religious restriction under the Chinese government, which is dominated by members of the Han ethnic group. Several decades of economic development have brought an influx of Han people into the Uighurs’ oil-rich home region. Uighurs have felt marginalized in the region’s economic boom, sparking ethnic tensions that erupted in the late 1990s and then again about a decade later, culminating in rioting that left nearly 200 dead in the regional capital of Urumqi in 2009.

Since 2009, there have been frequent attacks on police stations, military checkpoints and government buildings in Xinjiang. The violence has spilled into other regions with Uighur militants accused of mounting attacks in train stations, markets and even a public square in Beijing. In March 2014, a group of Uighurs — including two women — slashed indiscriminately at crowds at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming, killing 31. In May of 2014, a bomb assault on a market in Urumqi left 43 people dead.

Beijing has long been wary of independence-minded militants in Xinjiang and has kept tight controls over the region. Scholars have argued that China’s stifling policies in the region — including restrictions on beards and veils — have marginalized the Uighurs and fueled militancy. Last year, well-known Uighur economist Ilham Tohti, who had urged Beijing to review its policies in Xinjiang to foster reconciliation, was convicted of inciting separatism and sentenced to life in prison. In response to the 2014 attacks, Beijing launched a one-year crackdown on terror cells in Xinjiang, executing and jailing hundreds of people on terrorism-related charges.

Uighurs have been fleeing China in recent years, often by way of Southeast Asia. Rights advocates say they are escaping repressive rule…

Courts in Xinjiang cities of Hotan, Kashgar and Karamay recently jailed Chinese smugglers who helped Uighurs cross illegally into Vietnam, as well as several Uighurs who unsuccessfully tried to emigrate illegally. While there are large Uighur diasporas in Europe and the United States, Turkey is the destination of choice for most seeking to leave China. Turkey’s government is under intense public pressure to support the Uighurs, leading to tensions in Ankara’s relationship with Beijing.

Comment: The Uighurs feel closer to Central Asian peoples than to the Han Chinese. There were insurrections in the 19th century and from 1865 to 1878 a state, Yettishar, existed. The capital was Kashgar. This state had relations with the Turkish Ottoman Empire. It recognized the state and helped it build up armed forces. An Ottoman protectorate was created in 1874. Pan-Turkism after 1878 continued and during World War I Pan-Turkish ideas were studied in Turkish organized schools in the area. Volunteers arrived from the Ottoman Empire and training courses held for the study of the history of Turkic peoples. Cultural and linguistic unity was stressed. A struggle for liberation was initiated. Later the liberation groups were supported by Japan seeking influence in Central Asia. A Japanese Turan Society was formed in 1918. In 1933 Turkey supported the proclamation of a Turkish Islamic Republic of East Turkestan (TIRET). With Soviet help the Chinese later abolished TIRET.

Pan-Turkism is a serious security challenge to China and the Uighur problem is of geopolitical and geostrategic interest. There is reason for detailed research of the geopolitics of Pan-Turkism in Xinjiang.


August 27, 2015

Wall Street Journal on August 26, 2015, published a commentary by Aaron Friedberg on US China strategy. The Obama administration is evidently divided over how to respond to provocative Chinese actions in cyberspace and the South China Sea. Intelligence community leaders warn that unless the U.S. retaliates, it will continue to face damaging computer network attacks of the sort China appears to have carried out against the Office of Personnel Management. Yet the administration has refused even to identify China as the culprit in the theft of over 20 million sensitive personal files. Excerpts below:

Regarding the South China Sea, similarly, the Navy favors taking a tough stance, challenging China’s claims of sovereignty by sending ships and planes close to the artificial “islands” that Beijing has created by dredging sand from the ocean bottom.

These disputes involve disagreements over tactics, but they are also the latest indications of an intensifying debate over the future of America’s long-standing, two-part strategy for dealing with Beijing.

For a quarter century successive administrations have sought to engage China through trade and diplomacy. They hoped to give its rulers a stake in the existing liberal international order while reinforcing tendencies—especially the growth of a new middle class—that could lead to democratizing political reforms.

Engagement and balancing were supposed to work hand in hand, but recent events have begun to raise questions about both halves of this strategy. Thanks in no small measure to its economic ties with the U.S., China has grown far richer and stronger since the end of the Cold War. Instead of liberalizing, however, its politics have become more repressive and more militantly nationalistic.

To help consolidate power at home, the regime has more openly challenged key elements of the existing order in Asia. China’s increasingly forceful attempts to assert its claims over most of the waters and resources off its shores are only the most visible manifestation of this tendency.

Beijing has also intensified its opposition to U.S. alliances and begun to build new institutions and infrastructure networks designed to enhance its influence at America’s expense. Mr. Xi’s declaration that Asia’s affairs should be left to “the people of Asia” makes clear his vision for a region in which the U.S. presence has dramatically diminished and in which China will finally be able to emerge as the preponderant power.

Thus U.S. engagement has so far failed to transform China into a liberal democracy or even a “responsible stakeholder” in the existing international system.

The modernization and expansion of China’s nuclear and conventional “anti-access/area-denial” forces is beginning to raise doubts about the ability of the U.S. to defend its allies by projecting power into the Western Pacific. Beijing’s growing air, naval and maritime forces are giving it new options for enforcing territorial claims.

…in the U.S. government decisions are taken on a piecemeal, case-by-case basis with little attempt to take a longer view, reexamine existing assumptions or integrate policy across various domains. High-level attention is fleeting, short-term considerations dominate and marginal adjustments are the order of the day.

Post-Cold War policy toward China has never been the product of a comprehensive strategic planning process or a serious, presidential-level interagency review.

Whoever is elected president in 2016 should therefore begin with a frank assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the current approach and conduct an open-minded examination of the potential costs, benefits and risks of available alternatives. This process could be modeled on the 1953 Solarium Project, in which the newly elected Eisenhower administration organized teams of government and private-sector experts to explore the economic, technological, military and diplomatic implications of different approaches toward the Soviet Union.

Mr. Friedberg, who served as a national-security adviser to the U.S. vice president from 2003 to 2005, is a professor at Princeton University.

Comment: The article by Mr. Friedberg is important. The Putin aggression in Europe against Ukraine since 2014 has created a new Cold War climate. History since 1917 has clearly shown that communist regimes do not liberalize. These regimes loose power if they loosen the grip.

The US pivot to Asia has to be strengthened. The West now has two great semi-totalitarian regimes to cope with. Only a new president in 2016, who can manage a forward strategy both for Russia and China, will be able to guarantee freedom and security. The Eisenhower Solarium Project of 1953 is a useful model for a new strategic approach.


August 22, 2015

August 2015 has been a time of trouble for China’s regime. Devaluation and falling values on the Chinese stock market is only one aspect. Then there are the deadly explosions at a warehouse storing dangerous chemicals in Tianjin that killed over a hundred people, cost billions of dollars, and have raised serious questions about China’s industrial safety and emergency preparedness. Local land and waterways may be polluted for years to come.

Even if one cannot compare the Soviet Union in the 1980s and China in 2015 there are signs of trouble on the Chinese mainland. The long term American policy should be is to aid a democratic takeover in Beijing. This can be undertaken in many ways without damaging the present relations with China.

One way is to contributing to weakening the China communist party elite by putting sanctions on overseas bank accounts, properties, travel, and children of the political elite. The Chinese come to the United States for more than education. A targeted campaign of sanctions against China’s rich and their children is one way to promote the growth of democracy on in China.

Another democracy building effort could be to identify and help young freedom minded leaders of China. They could be brought to the United States on study tours and they could be encouraged to form networks with counterparts in America. Agents of change in the Chinese leaderships should be encouraged not only in America but in the rest of the West.

The great American advantage of world leading information and cultural influence and intelligence ought to be put to better use. Corruption and misdeeds in China ought to be better monitored and tracked. If the information is spread as widely as possible this would weaken the Communist party hold over China. When corruption and misdeed in Peking is better known in the West this information will after a while spread also in China. Information is knowledge-power and power of the people.


July 5, 2015

As early as 2008 Professor Peter Navarro in his book The Coming China Wars warned of the increasing use by China of asymmetrical warfare. The United States must refuse to tolerate Chinese ongoing “test attacks” on US military computer and satellite systems. A growing problem was China’s ability to acquire sensitive defense industry technologies. Such secrets are often acquirws through highly sophisticated industrial espionage programs. It is often “dual-use” technologies that are transferred by American companies. Professor Navarro then recommended that funds be increased for efforts to detect and prevent illicit technology transfers to China. Existing bans on technology transfer should be strongly enforced. All forced direct and indirect technology transfers in all trade agreements must be banned.

In 2013 then Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at an international meeting in Singapore referred to the Chinese state and military entities that are stealing commercial secrets from American firms in cyberspace. In a speech to the Asia Society in New York in March 2013, outgoing national security adviser Thomas Donilon said that cyber espionage by state-based or state-funded entities is now at the “forefront” of American-Chinese relations. He added that “US businesses are increasingly speaking out about their serious concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyber intrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale.” (John Lee in journal World Affairs, September/October 2013).

The report that year by respected cyber security firm The Mandiant estimated that there were more than twenty “advanced persistent threat” (APT) groups operating from China with the government’s support and funding. It designated one of these groups as APT1, describing it as “one of the most prolific cyber espionage groups in terms of sheer quantity of information stolen” and asserting that APT1 alone has stolen hundreds of data terabytes from at least one hundred and forty-one mostly private firms spread across twenty industries. Two of APT1’s four large networks are located in a PLA compound in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area. Given that the compound is host to the PLA’s Unit 61398, whose mission is to engage in “harmful computer operations,” including obtaining commercially valuable data from foreign enterprises, the report reasonably concludes that APT1 is virtually indistinguishable from Unit 61398. This unit reports to the PLA General Staff Department, which, in turn, reports directly to the Central Military Commission—the country’s top military decision-making body, chaired by President Xi himself. If the report is accurate, it can be safely assumed that China’s top civilian leaders in the Standing Committee of the Politburo are well aware of Unit 61398’s activities—and of APT1’s as well.

The Mandiant report concluded that the material stolen from US industry includes electronic data on product development and use, test results, system designs and product manuals, manufacturing procedures, business and strategy plans, negotiation and pricing strategies, and details of joint ventures and collaboration with other entities. Minutes of board and executive meetings and the e-mail content of senior employees have also been targeted.

Estimates by American industry and intelligence agencies put the value of the stolen data in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Washington’s National Counterintelligence Executive flatly stated in a November 2011 report that China is “building its economy” on “US technology, research, and development, and other sensitive forms of intellectual property.”

The Chinese leadership has persisted in its cyber espionage, despite these hazards, because it believes that these activities are essential to the innovation-based economy it sees as its national future. In its twelfth five-year plan (2011–15), the government committed itself to ensuring that the country’s massive state-owned enterprises (SOEs) would continue to dominate key sectors of its economy.

SOEs generate nearly eighty-three percent of the combined Chinese revenues and own more than ninety percent of combined assets of the country’s leading five hundred firms. Indeed, the three largest SOEs in China—Sinopec, PetroChina, and National Grid—make more profit than the combined profits of the five hundred largest private firms in the country, according to 2012 figures released by China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission and the National Bureau of Statistics.

Yet although some giants such as Sinopec and China Mobile pile up enormous profits each year, as a whole China’s SOEs perform poorly even with their monopolistic advantages, gargantuan size, and the state support and leverage that accompanies it.

Stealing information from foreign firms, whether they are located inside China or on foreign soil, is certainly a cheaper and faster way to remedy innovation deficits than to do the hard work of indigenous development. Cyber espionage is necessary because China has become stuck between the rock of its lofty goals and the hard place of its modest achievement. Burdened by statism and the anti-competitive practices that breed its gnawing inefficiency, China’s state-owned enterprises cannot innovate at the level and pace that will produce self-sufficiency, much less global leader status. Its private sector, which might actually rock the cradle of innovation, is stifled by an unlevel playing field and stunted by the legal system’s failure to protect intellectual property rights and the judiciary’s refusal to robustly enforce contract law.

China’s “national champions” in the state-owned enterprises need to out-perform international commercial rivals to grow their revenues in domestic and foreign markets. Since they appear unable to do this on their own, they use data theft to win the game.

(the information above is from the article in World Affairs by John Lee. He is the Michael Hintze Fellow and an adjunct professor at the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney and a nonresident scholar at the Hudson Institute).

BBC News in July 2015 reported that in June US officials said China was responsible for a major data breach of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The hacking of federal government computers could have compromised the records of four million employees.

Republican presidential candidates have commented on the recent OPM cyber hack to attack concluding that the Obama administration has failed to protect the United States against Chinese stealing of secrets.

Marco Rubio and Rick Perry have called for the US to threaten sanctions against organizations linked to hacking, while Mike Huckabee has argued that the US should “hack China back”.

The hack against the OPM is not the first time that China is suspected of beeing behind a cyber attack against the US.

An earlier attempt to breach OPM networks was blocked in March 2014, with the US saying China was behind the attack.

In November 2014 a hack compromised files belonging to 25,000 employees of the Department of Homeland Security, as well as thousands of other federal workers

In March 2014 hackers breached OPM networks, targeting government staff with security clearance, but the attempt was blocked before any data was stolen. The intrusion was reportedly traced to China

In 2006, hackers believed to be based in China breached the system of a sensitive bureau in the US Department of Commerce. Hundreds of workstations had to be replaced


July 1, 2015

The Diplomat journal on May 25, 2015, published an important article by U.S. Geopolitician Francis P. Sempa on how the father of realism after World War II envisioned the rise of China. Professor Hans Morgenthau’s Politics Among Nations, originally published in 1948, is the bible of the realist school of international relations. A less well-known work, Truth and Power, is a collection of essays that he wrote during the 1960s which includes a 1968 piece entitled “The Far East,” wherein Morgenthau applied his realist approach to the balance of power in Asia and envisioned a world where China is the most powerful nation on earth. Excerpts below:

Morgenthau was born in Germany in 1904, educated at the Universities of Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich, practiced law for a time, and taught in Frankfurt, Geneva and Madrid before coming to the United States in 1937. After teaching stints in Brooklyn and Kansas City, Morgenthau in 1943 settled into his professorship at the University of Chicago, where he taught for the next thirty years. He ended his teaching career at the City University of New York.

In Politics Among Nations, Morgenthau defined international politics as “the struggle for power” and “power politics.” “The aspiration for power,” he wrote, “is “the distinguishing element of international politics.”

He set forth six principles of political realism:

1. Politics is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature.
2. Statesmen conduct themselves in terns of interest defined as power.
3. Interest determines political conduct within the political and cultural context which foreign policy is formulated.
4. Prudence is the supreme virtue in international politics.
5. Nations are entities that pursue their interests as defined by power and should not be judged by universal moral principles.
6. Political realism rejects the legalistic-moralistic approach to international politics.

Morgenthau identified the elements of national power as geography, natural resources, industrial capacity, military preparedness, population, national character, national morale, the quality of diplomacy, and the quality of government.

In Politics Among Nations, Morgenthau suggested that developments in Asia, and especially in China, “may well in the long run carry the gravest implications for the rest of the world.” It is in Asia, he explained, “that nations with space, natural resources, and great masses of men are just beginning to use political power, modern technology, and modern moral ideas for their ends.”

This technological development in the hands of large Asian nations would result in a “drastic distribution of power,” he continued, and would be more important than any other factor to the future of the world.

In Truth and Power, Morgenthau expanded on this geopolitical vision.

“[I]t dawned upon the American statesmen,” Morganthau wrote, “that any nation, European or Asian, that would add to its power the enormous power potential of China would thereby make itself the prospective master not only of Asia but of the world.”

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, U.S. policy sought to promote a strong China as a bulwark against a revival of Japanese expansion. That policy broke down when the communists seized power in China. Since then, U.S. policy focused on containing communist China.

Morgenthau next looked at the “position and the prospective policies of China.” China, he wrote, “is the most powerful nation on the Asian continent.”

Communist China’s foreign policy moves since 1949, he wrote, have been based on the fundamental national interests of China. Whether it was the frontier with India, the question of Tibet, or the response to U.S. military moves near the Yalu River or in Southeast Asia, Mao’s China acted no different than China would have acted under Chiang Kai-shek.

Morgenthau called U.S. policy toward China “peripheral military containment.” He described the policy as “the erection of military strong points at the periphery of the Chinese Empire, from Taiwan to Thailand,” and he expressed doubt that such a policy would be effective “once China is strong enough to spill over its present frontiers.”

The China that the U.S. will have to contain in the future, he wrote, will not just be a strong power, but “the most powerful nation on earth.” U.S. peripheral military measures, he predicted, would “be swept away in a matter of days”.

Morgenthau, perhaps too sanguinely, doubted that China would seek the conquest of additional territories. If China sought conquest of new territories the U.S. could contain China the same way it contained the Soviet Union – by committing “the overall power of the United States to the containment of China.” By making it clear to China that if it tried to conquer India, for example, the United States would do whatever was necessary to prevent that from happening, including going to war.

Morgenthau summarized what he believed to be the best, most effective U.S. policy toward China, and Asia as a whole: establish and hold a defense perimeter “following the island chain from Japan to the Philippines, leaving the mainland of Asia beyond.” The Chinese, he wrote, are “predominant on land,” while our strength is at sea and in the air. Underlying this policy is the geopolitical notion that it is in the vital interests of the United States that no one power “gain a hegemonial position in Asia.”

Morgenthau early on envisioned China’s rise, the U.S. rebalance, and the Asian Century.

Francis P. Sempa is the author of Geopolitics: From the Cold War to the 21st Century (Transaction Books) and America’s Global Role: Essays and Reviews on National Security, Geopolitics and War (University Press of America). He is also a contributor to Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics (Potomac Books). He has written on historical and foreign policy topics for Joint Force Quarterly, American Diplomacy, the University Bookman, The Claremont Review of Books, The Diplomat, Strategic Review, the Washington Times and other publications. He is an attorney, an adjunct professor of political science at Wilkes University, and a contributing editor to American Diplomacy.


June 30, 2015

Washington Times on June 28, 2015, published a review by China expert Steven W. Mosher of a Chinese view of the grand strategy of the Asian great power. The publication of Liu Mingfu’s book The China Dream is revealing. There is no lack of grand ambitions for the Middle Kingdom to become the world’s leading nation. Excerpts below:

Those of us who are not inclined to hug the panda were not convinced by claims of “China’s peaceful rise”.. We knew that the Deng Xiaoping had ordered his successors to “bide their time and hide their capabilities.” We believed that China’s leaders had consciously gone into a kind of stealth mode so that they could advance militarily without alarming the United States and its allies. Better to let the sleeping eagle lie, they seemed to be saying, while China built up its strength.

With the publication of “The China Dream,” that debate is now over and done. The cuddly panda stands revealed as a fearsome dragon determined to remake the world order in its own image. Col. Liu, you see, makes it perfectly clear that the “dream” of China is to “dominate the world.” And in order to do so, he writes, China needs to revive its “warrior culture” and remember its history of “offensive warfare.” The world needs to wake up to the fact that, as the Col. Liu writes, the Chinese are “not afraid of war.”

Since the first appearance of his book in Chinese in 2010 the PLA colonel has achieved rock star status in the People’s Republic.

Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping — known as Big Daddy Xi to the Chinese masses — has referred to “The China Dream” in his speeches and endorsed its ideas.

As a result, the phrase itself has become a national patriotic slogan, plastered over the print media, splashed over the Internet, and celebrated in the schools and universities. There are even popular songs (promoted by the state, of course) about the goal of realizing the “strong China Dream” of China “Dreamers,” namely, world domination.

If China’s leaders are “dreaming” that it is China’s manifest destiny to dominate the world, then a lot of their recent actions make more sense. This sense of historical entitlement would explain why China, according to its latest defense white paper, is building several aircraft carriers to project power into the oceans of the world. It would explain why it is making absurd territorial claims to the South China Sea over a thousand miles distant from its shores. And it would explain its construction of militarized artificial islands in what is effectively open ocean.

Still, I would warn readers of the English edition — published by a New York offshoot of a Beijing publishing company — that they will still not be getting the unadulterated truth about China’s ambitions. The uber-patriotic stridency of the original Chinese seems to have been toned down somewhat to avoid alarming the Western reader.

Take the book’s subtitle, for example, which in the original Chinese read, “China’s Objective, the Road [to achieve it], and the Strength to Believe in Ourselves.” The cover also proclaims that “The Road [We Take] Will Determine Our Destiny; [Our] Dreams Help to Drive a Restoration [of National Glory].”

Still, enough of the pungency of the original survives to make it clear that China is in the game for keeps. “It has been China’s dream for a century to become the world’s leading nation,” writes Col. Liu.
Fifteen years ago, I wrote that China not only had a Grand Strategy, but that it was to be consummated in steps, with the PRC dominating first Asia and then the wider world.

• Steven W. Mosher is the author of “Hegemon: China’s Plan to Dominate Asia and the World” (Encounter Books, 2000).


June 29, 2015

Washington Times on June 25, 2015, reported that Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said that Russia and China pose threats to vital U.S. space capabilities and other U.S. technological weapons superiority. Excerpts below:

U.S. space systems built up over decades include imaging and other spy satellites, navigation and targeting sensors and communications networks that give the United States unequaled power-projection capabilities, Mr. Work said during a speech Tuesday to a symposium called GEOINT 2015.

“These capabilities that were built up and refined over the Cold War allowed us to project more power, more precisely, more swiftly, at less cost and with less force structure and with far fewer casualties than would otherwise be possible,” he said.

U.S. military superiority is being steadily eroded in significant ways, as states such as Russia and China field advanced weapons, he said.

Russia and China have studied U.S. war fighting and are preparing to attack space systems as a “vulnerable center of gravity for U.S. military power,” Mr. Work said.

To deal with the threat, the Pentagon is working to make space systems better able to withstand attacks ranging from ground-fired missiles and lasers to small robot satellites.

Failing to secure these systems would have a “profound” impact, as command-and-control systems would be disrupted, the ability to detect missile launches weakened, and the accuracy of precision-guided weapons reduced. Links used for unmanned aircraft and much of the data from intelligence gathering also would be lost, Mr. Work said.

A new command center to deal with space attacks, increasing space intelligence, and a new space architecture are needed, he said.

Mr. Work described Russia as a “clear and present danger” after its aggression against Ukraine and threatening nuclear activities.


June 19, 2015

Washington Times on June 17, 2015, published an article by Professor Victor Davis Hanson on how aggressor nations are once again expanding their sovereignty. After describing how Nazi Germany and Japan expanded before World War II Hanson compares it two the rise of Russia, China and the IS state in the Middle East. Excerpts below:

These hegemonies had arisen without triggering a global war. Had Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese just been satisfied and consolidated their winnings, there was no evidence that the tired Western democracies would ever have stopped them.

The contemporary world is starting to resemble the 1930s, and maps again must be redrawn.

The Islamic State plans to take Baghdad to make it the capital of a radical Sunni caliphate from what is left of Syria and Iraq.

Its enemy, theocratic Iran, is forging its own Shiite empire. Through its proxies, Iran now effectively runs much of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks he can reconstitute the empire of the czars and the later Soviet Union. American “reset” diplomacy green-lighted his annexation of the Crimea and his occupation of areas of Ukraine. Should Mr. Putin wish to absorb Estonia or other Baltic States, NATO probably would not stop him.

A terrified Eastern Europe, which not that long ago was part of the old Soviet Warsaw Pact, is already making the necessary political concessions in hopes that the unpredictable Mr. Putin leaves them alone.

China is vastly increasing its strategic air force and navy — and reminding its neighbors from South Korea to Australia of its new military clout. It has recently instigated various territorial disputes with Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. As a clever way to control key sea lanes and oil-rich areas in the South China Sea, the Chinese are building new military bases by turning small coral reefs into islands of sand.

Well before World War II, Great Britain and France allowed Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese to acquire what they pleased. The Western European democracies were terrified of confrontation and mired in economic crises.

As in the 1930s, an isolationist United States is again watching the new map unfold from the sidelines. President Obama assumes Americans are tired of the Middle East and want to be left alone. Afghanistan is a quagmire. Iraq collapsed once the administration pulled out all U.S. troops.

In 1945, after some 60 million had perished in World War II, the Western democracies blamed themselves for having appeased and empowered fascist empires. That sadder but wiser generation taught us two lessons: Small sacrifices now can avoid catastrophic ones later on, and dictatorial regimes on a roll never voluntarily quit playing geostrategic poker.

If the present trajectories continue, a reconfigured Middle East will be bookended by radical Islamic empires — the Islamic State caliphate and a new Persian empire. China will control most of the Pacific and adjudicate trade, commerce and politics west of Hawaii and to the south and east of India. The client states of a new Russian empire will border central Europe and be under constant pressure to leave the EU, NATO or both.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.


June 17, 2015

Wall Street Journal on June 16, 2015, reported that China said it is shifting work on disputed South China Sea islets from the dredging of land to the construction of military and other facilities as it pushes forward with a program that has aggravated tensions with the U.S. and neighbors. Land reclamation in Spratly islands will be completed in the coming days. Excerpts below:

Beijing lays claim to almost the entire South China Sea, a stretch of resource-rich waters that carries more than half the world’s trade. Its claims overlap with those of Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines—several of whom have criticized China’s rapid and extensive construction program in the Spratlys as the latest in a series of aggressive Chinese efforts to assert territorial rights.

According to U.S. estimates, China has expanded artificial reefs in the Spratlys to as much as 2,000 acres of land, up from 500 acres last year. U.S. officials have said that China’s island-building program includes transforming semi-submerged reefs into forward bases with airfields fit for military use, while U.S. surveillance recently detected two motorized artillery pieces on one of the Chinese-controlled artificial islands.

Other claimants to the Spratlys—including Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines—have all expanded the geographical features they control, but not as quickly as China, analysts say.

Washington says it doesn’t take sides in the South China Sea disputes, but that it has an interest in maintaining freedom of navigation in the area. To this end, the Obama administration is considering ways to challenge the island-building campaign, weighing whether to deploy Navy vessels or aircraft close the islands to signal to China that it can’t close off international waters.

China’s statement came on the final day for Beijing to submit comments to an international arbitration tribunal that is considering the Philippines’ territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague will hold a hearing next month on whether it has jurisdiction in the matter and whether Manila’s claims are admissible for arbitration. The appeal to the court has angered Beijing, which has said it would neither accept nor participate in the process, arguing that the tribunal lacks jurisdiction over the dispute.


June 15, 2015

In April 2015 the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, published a 54 page report on US grand strategy toward China (CFR Special Report No. 72). Excerpts below:


“China represents and will remain the most significant competitor to the United States for decades to come. As such, the need for a more coherent U.S. response to increasing Chinese power is long overdue,” write CFR Senior Fellow Robert D. Blackwill and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Senior Associate Ashley J. Tellis in a new Council Special Report, Revising U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China.

“Because the American effort to ‘integrate’ China into the liberal international order has now generated new threats to U.S. primacy in Asia—and could result in a consequential challenge to American power globally—Washington needs a new grand strategy toward China that centers on balancing the rise of Chinese power rather than continuing to assist its ascendancy.”

The authors argue that such a strategy is designed to limit the dangers that China’s geoeconomic and military power pose to U.S. national interests in Asia and globally, even as the United States and its allies maintain diplomatic and economic interactions with China.


Revitalize the U.S. economy

“Nothing would better promote the United States’ strategic future and grand strategy toward China than robust economic growth…This must be the first priority of the president and Congress.”

Strengthen the U.S. military

“Congress should remove sequestration caps and substantially increase the U.S. defense budget…

Create a technology-control regime

“Washington should pay increased attention to limiting China’s access to advanced weaponry and military critical technologies.”

Implement effective cyber policies

Washington should “impose costs on China that are in excess of the benefits it receives from its violations in cyberspace…increase U.S. offensive cyber capabilities . . . continue improving U.S. cyber defenses,” and “pass relevant legislation in Congress, such as the Cyber Information Security Protection Act.”

Reinforce Indo-Pacific partnerships

“The United States cannot defend its interests in Asia without support from its allies,” and “should build up the power-political capabilities of its friends and allies on China’s periphery.”