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Posts Tagged ‘Chinese Government’

7
Dec

China’s Princeling’s a Threat to the CCP’s Legitimacy

   Posted by: Pat    in China   Print Print

If you are one of the few to hold a high place in the Chinese Communist Party life has to be good. You are running one of the world’s greatest powers and you don’t have to worry about elections next Fall, or the next Fall, or the…However, there is one major hangup to being part of the leadership of a Communist country: living a publicly austere and modest life. And not just you, but also your family and heirs. This last part is bubbling up some problems according to Jeremy Page recent piece on China’s ‘Princelings’:

One evening early this year, a red Ferrari pulled up at the U.S.
ambassador’s residence in Beijing, and the son of one of China’s top
leaders stepped out, dressed in a tuxedo. Bo Guagua, 23, was expected.
He had a dinner appointment with a daughter of the then-ambassador,
Jon Huntsman.

The car, though, was a surprise. The driver’s father, Bo Xilai, was in
the midst of a controversial campaign to revive the spirit of Mao
Zedong through mass renditions of old revolutionary anthems, known as
“red singing.” He had ordered students and officials to work stints on
farms to reconnect with the countryside. His son, meanwhile, was
driving a car worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and as red as the
Chinese flag, in a country where the average household income last
year was about $3,300.

The episode, related by several people familiar with it, is
symptomatic of a challenge facing the Chinese Communist Party as it
tries to maintain its legitimacy in an increasingly diverse,
well-informed and demanding society. The offspring of party leaders,
often called “princelings,” are becoming more conspicuous, through
both their expanding business interests and their evident appetite for
luxury, at a time when public anger is rising over reports of official
corruption and abuse of power.

These are high stakes for CCP. The CCP has largely traded their governing legitimacy from creating an egalitarian, communal society to one of promoting growth, growth, growth, but this does not mean that they have completely abandon the former. Having silver spoon fed young adults running around flaunting their connections and the financial and societal benefits it has brought them can create a backlash. The fact that the incoming CCP leadership will have only tangential ties to Mao’s revolutionaries of the recent past puts even more spotlight on these new leaders. Page details how the current CCP leaders are aware of the dangers these Princelings’ behavior may bring:

State-controlled media portray China’s leaders as living by the
austere Communist values they publicly espouse. But as scions of the
political aristocracy carve out lucrative roles in business and
embrace the trappings of wealth, their increasingly high profile is
raising uncomfortable questions for a party that justifies its
monopoly on power by pointing to its origins as a movement of workers
and peasants.

Definitely a story worth following…

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18
Oct

Great Decisions: China on the Prowl

   Posted by: Pat    in China   Print Print

I’ll be leading my local Great Decision’s group discussion of China’s growing role in international politics this week. Here’s the list of readings I provided for our participants:

In the Footsteps of the Kaiser: China Boosts US Power in Asia‘ by Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest – May main man WR Mead dissects recent missteps by the CCP which he argues have pushed East and South Asian countries deeper into the United States’ arms. Features some solid analogies with a rising 19th-20th century Germany.

Making the World Safe for China‘ by Anne Applebaum, Slate – Applebaum details numerous instances where the Chinese government and businesses have profited from American military prowess and spending.

Rising PowerWashington Post Editorial Board – Just an example of how one of our country’s major newspaper’s views the Middle Kingdom in the early 21st century.

Is China Afraid of Its Own People?‘ by Willy Lam, Foreign Policy – A worthwhile read about the implications of domestic public opinion on the CCP. Ratcheting up anti-American and anti-Japanese sentiment with the masses has and will continue to force the Chinese government into possible embarrassing walk backs.

It’s the Chinese, Stupid‘ by Max Strasser, Foreign Policy – A great walkthrough of several cases of American Congressional candidates blaming China (and trying to tie their opponent to ‘China is taking our jobs’ sentiment) for our economic woes. Will the demonization of China on the campaign trail affect our future trade or foreign policy?

China’s Naval Build-Up Not Over‘ by James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara, The Diplomat – A rather high-level overview of China’s rising naval buildup. A short article that leaves you with a deeper sense of the growth of the Chinese navy in the Pacific.

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2
Mar

Top Threats to International Security

   Posted by: Pat    in China, Latin America, Middle East, Russia   Print Print

Last week, I made a list of the Top 7 Threats to the United States homeland and interests and now will tackle the Top 7 Threats to the entire international system. Let the threatening begin!

1. Great Power War – Many would call this old-fashioned thinking, but I still believe the greatest threat to global security is war(s) between great powers. Throughout human history, with World War II being the greatest example, physical conflicts between powerful nation-states has caused the most destruction and destabilization to our global society. Though in many ways the world has moved away from the tragedy of power politics, it still does exist, and as long as it does, it proves the greatest threat to a peaceful, cooperative existence.

To describe this danger more specifically, let’s look at the world’s current two behemoths, the United States and China, and how they individually or together (mainly meaning a war between the two) could destabilize the international system and bring great harm to millions. After all, with great power comes great responsibility.

A. United States – People often quote a poll conducted in Germany that concluded that a majority of Germans view the United States, with Iran a distant second, as the largest threat to global security. This poll was almost always referenced in conjunction with the Bush administration, specifically its decision to invade Iraq.  I always thought of something else. First off, I find the poll’s results completely unsurprising (though the writer/speaker who brought them up always seemed to expect gasps). The sheer enormity of American power, especially in the military sphere, has to make it the greatest threat to international security. In 2003, no other state actor on the planet could go halfway across the globe and dispose of a government in power for 30 years with a sizable military in a couple weeks. And it’s not even close. If I’m Germany, Iran, India, Nepal, etc. I would be speechless. How did you guys do that? It looked so easy that every state had to now understand that it could be done to them.

This is not to ignore the troubles the US and its allies faced after the invasion of Iraq, but the point is made nevertheless. The sheer fact that most of the world does not fear American power, only worries about it being misused from time to time, shows the benevolent nature of American hegemony or great power status. (Here comes hypothetical ridiculousness) If a Nazi or Stalinist regime was in charge of the United States than every state (especially you Canada!) would have the United States easily atop their threat assessments. The US doesn’t even have to be ruled by thugs to shake up or bring back global stability as Iraq has shown us twice (1991, 2003)! Great power can be used for good as well as ill and that is why the behemoth that is the United States is a consistent threat to international security.

B. China – China deserves a mention under this category as well. Their economic rise,( they soon will be the 2nd largest economy in the world), sheer geographic and demographic size, and superpower ambitions portray a major power player in international relations and like we just said, with great power comes great responsibility. One can feel the presence of a rising Middle Kingdom in Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Vietnam, Russia, India, and all the way to America’s shores. The 20 odd year run of American unipolarity will face in China, its greatest challenge yet. The current global status quo, US as a limited superpower with several smaller, yet critical global players (EU, Russia, China, Japan, etc.), may be upended in various unforeseen ways by a revisionist Chinese state. Interests between these two will inevitably clash in East Asia, Middle East (Iran already), Africa, and even in Latin America. Realist scholars have noted that the most dangerous, destabilizing periods in international politics have sprung out of battles between a status quo challenger (in this case, the US) facing a revisionist power (China) who desires a role in the world to match its perceived influence and power. I am by no means arguing that this US-China conflict, or for that matter China-India, will be physical or inevitable, but the possibility is there and it could get very, very bloody.

2. Failed States – Well I consider the destructive power of a war (both cold and hot) between great powers to be the most serious threat to international security, the presence of failed states across the globe is at this very moment already causing dramatic problems. Failed states such as Afghanistan (especially before 9-11), Somalia, Congo, Haiti, Sudan, etc. create numerous challenges to global stability and safety. Ethnic or sectarian conflict spilling over borders, weapon and drug smuggling, international terrorism, piracy, and millions of world citizens who do not have a local societal and governmental structure to give them a chance at a decent life are all threats to those close by and as 9/11 showed, sometimes those far away. It is not only those states that already failed that is a serious concern for us all, but those that may be failing, specifically Pakistan, Afghanistan, North Korea, parts of Mexico, Iraq, and Yemen. If any one of these states collapses the consequences would be far reaching.

3. International Terrorism – Connected to failed states, but by no means only relegated to them, international terrorism is a scourge on international safety and stability. Attacks on major financial centers such as New York and London shock the global economy costing billions in losses for millions of people. Terrorism breeds insecurity and forces states and societies to spend huge amounts on homeland security, hurting not only global commerce, but also slowing the transportation of ideas and talents across the planet. Looking outside the West, one can clearly see what terrorism and the threat of it does to such states as Pakistan, India, Uzbekistan, Palestine and Israel. Terrorist attacks are not good recruiting tools for foreign investments. When it comes to the threat that terrorism brings to the international system, the greatest fear is a nuclear/biological/chemical attack, or even a valid threat of their use. If there ever comes to be one of these attacks on a major population and political center (New York, Washington D.C., London, Paris, Beijing, New Delhi) it could shake the international system in ways we can’t imagine.

4. Iraq/Iran – An Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear weapons and an Iraqi state that is falling apart are two scenarios that are both possible and frightening. Though I do not believe an Islamic Republic government will behave irrationally enough to actually launch a nuclear attack, I do fear their policy shifts and regional stance that would come with them knowing that they now have a nuclear deterrent. Their acquisition of such weapons would also require either Arab states to reply in kind with their own programs, or more likely, blatant American security umbrella commitments. Either way it would seem to even further the Iran-United States battle for influence and control of the vital Middle Eastern region.
I have long argued that losing Iraq would be more catastrophic for American and global security than if US/NATO lost Afghanistan (Obviously it would be best to lose neither). Iraq is a key state in a vital and volatile region. Its border touches Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia and therefore has the ability to negatively or positively affect these other critical states. The state of Iraq is of course home to one of the greatest oil reserves in the world and the country’s stability and ability to get this vital resource to market will affect energy prices everywhere. Lastly, an Iraq that is functionally democratic (not like Western liberal democracies, but still ten times more free than its neighbors), stable, and friendly to its neighbors, the West, and the United States, would be not only a terrific (or terrifying if you’re a neighboring autocrat) example to the peoples of nearby states who lack such an open, productive system, but would also provide an integral link between the West and a strong Muslim state, which could bring much promise to both sides. In either case, much is at stake.

Did someone say 'threatening'?

 

5. Pakistan/India – The conflict between these two states over the region of Kashmir is one of the most vibrant and potentially explosive in the world. The two sides have fought 3 small border wars over the past 50 years and remain militarily-ready for more. Did I mention that each side has nuclear weapons? Of course, many Realists would argue this is keeping a major war at bay. Thankfully, the two sides have in the past week begun officially speaking again. Still, the inability, or the purposeful allowance, of the Pakistani state to control violent extremists in their midst that have perpetrated attacks against the Indian people and state (with Mumbai 2009 being the latest major attack) will continue to make these contentious neighbors a threat to regional and international security, as a major brouhaha between these two actors would bring in outside great powers (US, China, EU, Iran) and unknown consequences. This case rates below Iran/Iraq because it is much less likely to actually occur.

6. Russia – I’ve spoken about Russia’s still vibrant, if limited globally, power for some time now. Moscow’s willingness to use its military (hello Georgia 2008) to protect or further its interests in its perceived ‘sphere of influence’. While great powers like the US, China, Germany, etc. downplay their great power status in order to calm the international community, Russia speaks openly about its regional and global aspirations (see Cuba, Venezuela, bomber flights, Ukraine, etc.). The Russian bear’s main threat to global stability is its continuous presence as a threat to Europe. 

7. Israel-Palestine – Lastly, this seemingly endless territorial conflict has troubling implications beyond its bloody borders. The entire Middle East sees this as the central foreign policy issue and outside powers such as the United States, UK, EU, and Russia are constantly embroiled in the dispute. The status of the Palestinians is a common complaint, or raison d’etre, for many Islamist terrorist groups and actions. Finally, the contentious cold war between Israel and Iran could become a hot one at any moment and nuclear weapons held by each side may bring an uncomfortable truths between the two states, or it could lead to catastrophe. 

What do you think of the list? What did I miss? What did overrate? Underrate?

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What are the threats facing the United States? What are the threats to international security and global stability as a whole? Well, Gallup asked over 1,000 Americans to ‘assess the threat of each of seven international issues to the United States’. While I’m sure that most Americans aren’t qualified to answer questions regarding security threats (although a greater number are getting degrees in homeland security from DHS sponsored college programs), it is still interesting to see what the general public perceives as the greatest threat. People’s responses are no doubt skewed by the media, their religious backgrounds and politics. Here are the results:

First, I will give GPP own answer to this question by listing what I believe to be the greatest threats facing the United States national security and interests today. Secondly, I will give my opinion of what I see as the greatest threats to international security and stability overall in a post to follow.

In the poll above, Americans listed their perceived threats as 1. Terrorism 2. Iran 3. North Korea 4. Israel-Palestine 5. China 6. India-Pakistan 7. Russia. Here’s how I would breakdown the question above, starting from least threatening to most to US security and interests:

Threat #7- The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians - Putting this one as the least threatening I’m sure with displease many people who see in this conflict the root to many of the world’s and America’s problems. Like all of these seven threats, the longstanding Palestinian-Israel conflict is a major factor for global instability and its continued presence no doubt hurts US national security and interests in the Middle East, with its use as a reason for terror attacks being the most central, but it does not have the impact, or potential consequences, to American security interests as the others.

Threat #6 – The conflict between India and Pakistan - This always cold war, sometimes hot war, conflict has been a threat to US interests for decades, but with the current situation in Afghanistan/Pakistan it has taken on a new level. These states both hold nuclear weapons and have a seemingly intractable issue, Kashmir, keeping them at odds. The fact that this conflict is intertwined to the future of Afghanistan and it becomes even more clear how important the resolution, or at least semi-civil containment, of this Pakistan-India conflict is to US interests. The US has a major stake in the stability of the Pakistan government and state, with which it needs to stamp out Al Qaeda and other international extremists. For the US, India is a natural great power partner that can help it to balance against a rising China in South Asia.

Threat #5 – The military power of North Korea - Here is another assessment that I think might surprise people, including many Americans that answered the poll question. Kim Jung Il’s nuclear armed military state is something to worry about indeed, especially if you are South Korea and Japan. North Korea’s government has continued to give narcissistic dictatorship’s a bad name and has successfully denied international pressure to conform to foreign demands for years now. Kim’s government is not shy in testing nuclear weapons nor in building missiles that some estimate will be able to reach California in just a few years. The city of Seoul, Tokyo, Kyoto, etc. are already well-within reach. So why is North Korea’s military power not higher on the list? They are #5 because I believe that Kim’s government, and its likely successor’s, can be deterred. I just can’t foresee Kim actually launching an attack against Seoul, Japan, US, that would surely lead to his and the state’s destruction. This is a tough one though, as Kim’s government has also been caught red-handed providing weapon technology and know-how to Iran, Pakistan, and Syria.

Threat #4 – The military power of Russia - Commentators on this site have criticized my respect for Russia as still a highly relevant player in European and global politics, and this ranking of fourth show’s that there are several greater threats to US interests than Mother Russia, but not many. One of reasons I feel that Moscow is still a major player in the great power game and a threat to US interests and homeland is its proven willingness to use old school power political tools, specifically military and natural resources, to defend its interests and expand its influence. The Georgian-Russian war of 2008 showcases this capability and the fact that Russia has made a deal to build a military base in Abkhazia and keep it there for 49 years leads one to believe that this event was not a one-off. The US relies on a safe and secure Europe and Russia has to still be considered the number one threat to its existence. Concerning the US homeland, Moscow is still the only state on the planet that could destroy all major population centers through the use of a massive nuclear strike. This fact can never be ignored, no matter how unlikely the possible occurrence.

Now that is threatening!

Threat #3 – The military power of Iran - It was difficult to place this higher than the Russian military forces, but Iran deserves to be here, especially in light of the recent IAEA report which states that the Islamic Republic has been working on weaponizing a nuclear device. Iran’s military does not come close to touching Moscow’s, but the Islamic Republic’s intentions and proximity to Afghanistan, Iraq, oil-filled allies, and Europe makes it a more direct threat to US interests. The Islamic Republic has based part of its legitimacy as a fighter against the ‘Great Satan’ and has fought against US interests in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan (at times), North Korea, Syria, and I could go on. Though I believe an Iranian government in control of nukes will be mostly rational, and therefore deterrable, I am much less confident about this than I am about North Korea. Iran has been given the opportunity by a rather pliant American administration to bring itself back into line with most of the international community, in a sense ‘come out from the cold’, and shown time and time again it is unwilling to do so. Unless the Islamic Republic is overthrown, there aren’t really any good signs that this will end well.

Threat #2 – International Terrorism - The American public’s number #1 is not quite mine, but who could blame them. It seems like everyday one turns on the television, opens their newspaper, or clicks on a website there is yet another story about a terror attack directed at either American interests or homeland. From the panty-bomber, US Army member Hassan, Zazi, David Headley, the Bronx group, to the fact that America’s number intelligence leader says that an attempted attack on the homeland in the next 6 months is a ‘certainty‘, it should come in surprise that 81% of Americans view international terrorism as a major threat. I too believe international terrorism, specifically of the Islamic extremists nature, is the most immediate threat to America’s homeland. Unfortunately, there are just too many fanatics out there that believe the United States is the cause of their or their people’s problems and that the only way for them to rectify the situation is to kill themselves and as many of us as possible. So international terrorism is very serious challenge facing the US, and it will be for a long time, but it’s not the number one threat. That honor goes to….

Threat #1 – The military power of China - The blog’s called Great Power Politics after all, so how could I not put the battle between the world’s two greatest behemoths number one? I can’t! Cold-blooded IR realists see this picture: a superpower in likely decline relative to a rising great power who no doubt has superpower ambitions; both locked in the same playground = conflict. This does not mean violent tank-to-tank, destroyer-to-destroyer, nuke-to-nuke conflict is guaranteed, but that it, along with economic, political, social, cultural, ideological battles are indeed very likely to occur. Just in the past couple months the wounded United States and surging Middle Kingdom have spared over currency, multi-national corporations, North Korea’s nukes, Tibet, global warming, cyber attacks, and I feel that these will get worse and others will arise as time moves forward. American relations with its many allies in East and South Asia (South Korea, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, India) will be shaped by these states’ evolving relations with the burgeoning neighbor. The Chinese government has shown itself to be pragmatic to the core, but its growing resources and influence, are expanding what it sees as its interests further and further abroad. As this occurs, Beijing and Washington’s interests will inevitably collide (case in point). Major conflicts between the US and China are far from preordained, but as of right now I do strongly believe that a rising China is the greatest threat to US interests and homeland.

The current American administration is aware of these challenges facing the country and it would be interesting to see how some of the higher ups (Obama, Clinton, Gates, Mullen, Petraeus) would answer this survey. What do you think they would be? What are your top 7 or more for the US? I will make a new list from the vantage point of threats facing international security very soon.

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14
Jul

I’m a Bad, Bad Blogger

   Posted by: Pat    in China   Print Print

I want to give a heartfelt, internet apology to my GPP readers as I have been a lackluster poster of late.  Unlike Paul McCartney and John Lennon in the 1960s, I have writer’s block.  Well, that’s just a nice way of saying I’ve been lazy.  I am currently working on our 3rd installment of the Great Power Rankings which should appear shortly (maybe tomorrow!!!).  Great Power teaser: Japan and China are both struggling, while the Major League’s All Star Game is pushing the United States to new heights (like this home run!).

Now this is a hitter on a hot streak!

Now this is a hitter on a hot streak!

In the meantime, check out this worthwhile article about the Muslim silence over the Chinese government oppression of Uighur Muslims in their Xinjiang Province.  While ‘Free Tibet’ and Danish cartoons rile up many around the world, the suffering of this Muslim minority raises barely a whimper.

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