Thursday, December 18, 2008

Yet another Brezhnevian move by Beijing

As Beijing sees its domestic economy deteriorate (Epoch Times) and political dissidents grow more popular (BBC) and bolder (Epoch Times), the regime has responded with saber-rattling reminiscent of the Brezhnev balderdash that preceded the end of the Soviet Union.

The attempt by the cadres to scare Americans with the debt issue (Agence France Presse via Yahoo) was clumsy even by CCP standards. Its announcement of the execution of two Uighurs (AFP via Yahoo) over a "terrorist attack" that may very well have been a fake was much cleaner - and typical of the cadres' combination of dramatic flair and lack of concern for the facts. However, what will probably get the most attention is the decision by the regime to join the fight against the pirates of East Africa (BBC, BBC again, CNN, and the Washington Post).

At first, this move looks like one of cooperation with the rest of the world, and indeed, that's how it's being played. I have to wonder, however, how much of it was driven by India's recent battles with the pirates, and the subsequent jump in the reputation of the world's largest democracy. It is no secret that the CCP - who are convinced they have Washington figured out - are more afraid of India than any other nation on earth. What better way to minimize India's geopolitical gains from the piracy fight than joining in and taking away some of the credit?

Of course, this will also be an excellent chance for the cadres to show off their naval power - and thus intimidate their enemies - without what would be seen as a provocation.

Make no mistake, though, the regime that continues to prop up North Korea (CNN and One Free Korea) and desperately figure out "where to go next" (BBC) at home is not doing this to send a message to the pirates. The regime is sending a message to us. It is message we must hear, but not heed. The CCP is weaker than it would like us to believe, and there's no reason we should continue to believe it is stronger than it really is - pirates or no pirates.

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