Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Krauthammer hits the nail right on the head

Charles Krauthammer on Fox News (as transcribed by National Review Online - The Corner) regarding North Korea and the CCP (emphasis added):

North Korea is a nuclear power. It's not going to be stopped. The only issue is what do we actually do?

I would say forget about U.N. resolutions. Forget about the six- party talks, and forget about even bilateral negotiations. What we need is action.

Action number one, a nuclear Japan. Japan is a country that is directly threatened. I think we ought to have intensive negotiations with the Japanese to encourage them to declare themselves a nuclear power.

The only way in which we're going to have any progress in the area is if we reshuffle the interest of the parties here. A nuclear in Japan will send a message to China, especially, to recalculate its interests.

Up until now, it had zero interest in curbing its client. It is a thorn in our side. It is an ally in the area. It is a threat to South Korea. It supports its hegemony in the region.

A nuclear Japan will reshuffle the deck on its recalculations. It may send a message which would encourage China to change its policy.

Otherwise, nothing happens.

Well said, Dr. Krauthammer. Until Washington comes to terms with the root of the problem - namely, the CCP - "nothing happens."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I guess Iran just wasn't ready

I must confess that I was surprised to hear that the Stalinist regime in northern Korea had conducted a nuclear test (BBC), especially when it occurred to me where we are on the calendar (less than two weeks out from the Tiananmen Square anniversary). Until yesterday, I had always assumed it was the Iranian mullahcracy who would conduct a test at this time. I can only assume that the mullahs just weren't ready yet.

Whatever reasons the Stalinists had for conducting the test can and will be analyzed and debated around the world and throughout the world wide web. However, we must not forget to examine why the Chinese Communist Party allowed it to happen - and make no mistake; this sort of thing does not happen unless it was run by the CCP. For the answer to this question, we must go back to the calendar.

I write this on May 26; in roughly a week and a half, the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre will be upon us. It was the one anniversary that scared the cadres more than any other - not because it alone could threaten the regime, but because it could aid or even set in motion a chain of events that could lead to the regime's downfall in the future. This is why I assumed that the Iranian mullahcracy - the CCP's strongest ally in the Middle East - would gladly take attention away from Beijing with a nuclear test.

Instead, Kim Jong-il seized the honor, but for the cadres, the main effect is the same. This test assures Beijing that Tiananmen Square will be nowhere near the front page on June 4, 2009. In fact, the CCP will likely see more democratic leaders praise it for trying to restrain its Korean colony, while insisting no one has the right to push the regime on touchy domestic issues while it is busy with the critical task of bringing Kim Jong-il et al into line.

To get an idea how this will play out, take a look at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's utterly forgettable trip to meet with CCP leaders. For years, Pelosi was one of the very few members of Congress who understood the danger the CCP posed to the world. Now, flushy with power and allies in the White House, she has fallen for the "engagement" nonsense and has gone instead - hat in hand - to talk about climate change, an issue in which the CCP can once again look "responsible" without doing anything except pull the wool over the eyes of politicians who know better.

It will be the same with Korea. Already, the regime is calling for "coolheaded and appropriate" (Voice of America) action - i.e., don't do anything to risk the Korean colony. Keep in mind, the CCP has had plenty of opportunities to solve this problem all by itself. Yet it has instead chosen to prop up Kim even as he starved his own people and threatened his neighbors (I would even say it has preserved him because he threatened his neighbors, but more on that later). We must also remember that Beijing voted for sanctions against its colony in the past - only to announce it wouldn't enforce them hours later. In short, the Chinese Communist Party has never been serious about keeping Kim Jong-il in check.

Why? The reason is simple: Kim doesn't threaten Beijing; he only threatens the United States and America's allies, which makes him immensely useful. Moreover, he is more than willing to take full blame for his actions in the world community, knowing that Beijing's backing ensures that he can survive the ever growing pile of hollow words. Thus, the CCP gets the benefit of a distracted and scared free world with none of the consequences of having a hand in the distracting and scaring. The CCP even ends up watching the democratic world beg it to fix the mess that it created.

In other words, the CCP allows Kim Jong-il to behave like this because they want him to behave like this. Until that changes, he will keep this up, to the point of actually helping terrorists acquire the weapons they need to do us grievous harm.

If we truly wish to have the Korean colony reined in, we'll have to go over their heads. We'll have to make sure Beijing suffers immediate consequences for this: things like the revocation of Permanent Normal Trade Relations, talks with Japan and South Korea about deploying domestic nuclear deterrents (Japan will likely be more receptive to that than South Korea, but the offer should be made), a permanent American naval presence in the South China Sea, and perhaps even a revival of the American defense pact with the Republic of China (currently on Taiwan). The CCP has been using North Korea to distract us for nearly two decades; we need to create and push our own distractions against them.

However, that cannot be all we do. We must also make clear that any act of nuclear terrorism against America, her interests, or her allies, will be taken as an act of war by the CCP against the United States. Whether it's al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Iranian mullahs, the Kimist regime in northern Korea, or anyone in between, nearly every terrorist state or entity has been blessed with support from the CCP. Zhongnanhai must be told in no uncertain terms that we will bear the CCP personally responsible (as opposed to China in general) for actions that any of them take against us.

Finally, we must come to terms with the painful but unavoidable truth: America and her allies will never be secure until China is free. Our enemies in the War on Terror will, if defeated, simply be replaced by other ones as quickly as the CCP get find ambitious people who hate America as much as Beijing fears her. North Korea is, in many respects, the first and last evidence we should need on this. It is time we recognize that we are fighting - and must win - the Second Cold War.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The CCP's Illusion of a good week

Over the weekend, President Obama chose Utah Governor Jon Huntsman as his Ambassador to the Chinese Communist regime (Washington Post). Most of the analysis on this side of the Pacific has focused on the domestic politics of the move (Huntsman is a Republican and was considered a strong possibility to be Obama's opponent in 2012). Far less time has been spent examining the international implications - mainly due to the assumption that Hunstman's appointment typifies the pervasive "engagement" mentality among the political establishment (for more on that, see Agence France Presse via Yahoo). Still, one would have to assume that a Democratic President being able to pick off a high-profile Republican to advance "engagement" in Beijing would make it a good week for the CCP. If so, one would be wrong.

For starters, Hunstman's Ambassadorship makes any 2012 campaign almost impossible for him. This actually increases the possibility that the Republicans look to an anti-Communist as their nominee in 2012. How much is hard to say - if a week is a lifetime in American politics, 2012 might as well be an eon or two in the future - but removing a telegenic defender of "engagement" from the presidential field certainly can't be good for the CCP and its cronies.

More importantly, the Huntsman appointment does nothing to alleviate the numerous internal and external problems the CCP faces, some of which are the CCP's own doing, and one of which - by far the most problematic - hits close to home.

First, there is the regime's continued military buildup and geopolitical expansion - both of which are necessary to justify the regime's existence to the Chinese people, but neither of which are exactly neighborly. As the Communist military boasts of its latest achievements (United Press Int'l) and tries to extend the CCP's reach into the hotly disputed South China Sea (Bloomberg), the United States - engagement or not engagement - is beginning to get nervous (Arstechnica). More ominously for the Communists, the US is largely responding to this by developing closer ties with India (Times of India).

Even outside military and territorial matters, foreign affairs is increasingly more foreign. Whatever one may think of the new Administration's efforts to reduce carbon emissions, it has put the CCP in the unusual (and uncomfortable) position of taking it on the rhetorical chin from American environmentalists and their left-of-center allies, such as Paul Krugman in the New York Times.

Then there's the economic front, where the cadres are suffering the worst of both worlds. Outwardly, there is growing alarm at what the Communists could do to the American economy (London Telegraph), making "engagement" all the harder to sell to a beleaguered (and already skeptical) American public. Inwardly, however, all of the signs of a quick recovery - to say nothing of a return to the white-hot days of the last decade - have vanished. Foreign investment is way off (Wall Street Journal). Hong Kong is suffering its worst economic contraction since the "Asian flu" of the 1990s (Financial Times). Meanwhile, the regime's attempt to reverse this is leading to comparisons not with the the CCP's go-go era, but the American housing bubble (Bloomberg).

As for the regime's ominous hints of ending its binge on U.S. Treasury notes, it's not happening (AFP via Google); the powerlessness of credit continues to thwart the CCP. Rather, it is American investors unloading Communist-controlled assets as fast as they can (Wall Street Journal).

Of course, the release of Zhao Ziyang's memoirs (Wall Street Journal) is sure to cause some heartburn in Zhongnanhai; although, like John Pomfret, I don't think the regime will suffer too much. It's not as if they didn't see this coming, and any genuine reformers were purged from the regime long ago. Still, it will remind the Chinese people (those who can get a hold of the book) and the rest of the world that the continuing abuses of human rights by the regime (Asia News and Religious Intelligence is the rule rather than the exceptions.

The biggest threat to the regime's plans, however, has arisen on the island democracy just across the Taiwan Straits.

As the Associated Press reported, at least 100,000 Taiwanese/free Chinese marched in opposition to ROC President Ma Ying-jeou's own "engagement" policies with the Communists (Yahoo). By itself, a protest doesn't mean much (Zhao's memoirs will, ironically, confirm that, too). However, the march is symbolic of increasing nervousness on the island democracy about Ma's olive branch to the CCP. At least one poll had more Taiwanese disapproving of Ma's performance in office than approving (AP via eTaiwanNews) - an outcome driven largely by concern over Ma giving away the store to Beijing.

A new American Ambassador can't make this problems go away (heck, American Presidents have tried to help the CCP win over the Taiwanese people - with disastrous results). Despite the Obama Administration's acceleration of "engagement," the rest of the world continues to get nervous about the Chinese Communist regime - especially those closest to it. That tension will likely continue to grow as the regime - bereft of the economic growth needed to assuage even the tens of millions of party members - bets even more heavily on radical nationalism and growing geopolitical power to survive.

Thus, the American people will be more likely to seek out anti-Communist leaders in 2010 and 2012 - and one the regime's best chances to head that off in the Republican presidential nomination contest was just taken out of the picture. In time, the CCP may rue their supposed good fortune over the Huntsman selection.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

CCP's attempt to distract from one troubling anniversary lead it stumbling into another

As one might expect, China-watchers are slowly moving into countdown mode - as in, counting down to the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. Tiananmen is merely the latest in a series of anniversaries this year that will culminate with the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the Communist regime this October.

Of course, the cadres are desperate to have their friends and foes abroad talking about anything but the bloody demise of the visible pro-democracy movement. So they're returning a tried-and-true canard, local "elections." As John Pomfret notes on his Washington Post blog:
There's been talk in the last year that the party is again interested in political reform. Citing a speech last December by China's president Hu Jintao, some experts have predicted that the party is interested in "intra-party" democracy first, meaning it's willing to experiment with letting party members vote in real elections for seats on powerful party committees that control townships and elsewhere. Like Buyun, there have been a few experiments. And like Buyun, Chinese officials have been talking them up to foreign friends.

Buyun was the township that became the first to hold local elections at that level in Communist China (villages, as Pomfret also notes, had had elections prior to that, but are also "not part of China's governing structure"). It just so happens that Buyun held their election in 1999 - makng 2009 the tenth anniversary of the first township election the CCP ever allowed.

This is where the CCP runs into trouble, again. While Buyun was the first township election, it was also close to the last. Moreover, as Pomfret details:

Then, after two smaller, less ambitious township votes, township elections were
halted. There were no public attacks on the votes in the state-run press; the results were allowed to stand. There were just no repeats.

What happened next, however, was curious and illustrative of how China - in some ways -- has grown wise in the ways of PR. Despite the fact that this type of experimentation was over, Chinese government officials kept talking up Buyun and other elections to foreign visitors, leaving prominent Americans with the impression that democratic reform was still very much on the table. After the Buyun election, I heard this kind of talk from Chinese officials routinely.

But the clearest example came when Premier Wen Jiabao hosted a delegation of Americans in October 2006. In a trip report by John Thornton, chairman of the board of the Brookings Institution, Wen was quoted as predicting that direct elections would move from the village level up to the townships, then counties, then even provinces.

The only trouble was that Hu was lying through his teeth (Pomfret again):
In an article that appeared on Aug. 30, 2006, in Seeking Truth, one of the most authoritative of the Party's publications, Sheng Huaren, secretary general of the Standing Committee of the NPC, stated that the direct elections of township leaders violated the constitution and that in upcoming elections such practices would be prohibited.


Of course, even without this obvious subterfuge, the "elections" were a sham. While village elections being common in some places, recent events in Taishi made it pretty clear that all the amenities that usually come with elections - real power, accountability to the voters, etc. - are non-existent in area under CCP control.

In other words, you can vote in village elections, run in village elections, and even win village elections, so long as you do the Party's bidding. Otherwise, your term in office is exchanged for a term in prison.

Thus, the Communists, in trying to make people forget how they responded to a national democratic movement with the barrel of a gun, have shifted attention to the times they responded to local democratic movements with, well, with the barrel of a gun. Clearly, the cadres still have a ways to go on PR.

More to the point, it is yet another reminder that for the Chinese Communist Party, nothing is more important than maintaining power - not good relations with its neighbors, not the export market of the United States, nothing. The sooner the leaders of the democratic world understand this, the sooner they will see through things like the "elections" charade, recognize the danger the CCP poses, and get on with the business of helping the Chinese people take their country back.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Series on 1989 slaughter by China of its citizens who longed for freedom in 1989

"This year marks the 20th anniversary of the nationwide, student-led democracy movement in China, and the subsequent June 4th military crackdown in Beijing. To commemorate the student movement, China Digital Times is posting a series of original news articles from 1989, beginning with the death of Hu Yaobang on April 15 and continuing through the tumultuous spring."

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The dangerous rehabilitation of Chiang Kai-shek

Of all the historical figures for the Chinese Communist Party to exploit, the most unlikely would be Chiang Kai-hsek, the man who led the fight against it for over nearly fifty years. However, the CCP - while being brutal, cruel, corrupt, and devious - is also the shrewdest tyrannical regime on earth. Thus, anti-Communists are in the highly unusual position of being wary over the historical rehabilitation of the CCP's most well-known enemy.

Chiang's memory is riding the latest revisionist wave of history. Jay Taylor's The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China (reviewed in the Washington Post) is leading the way on this side of the Pacific, but as John Pomfret notes, "Mainland scholars of the Nationalist period have also written essays intimating that China would probably have been better off if Chiang had stayed in charge."

On some level, this is a dramatic admission from the Communist regime, impossible at any point before 1976. However, this is 2009, meaning the newfound appreciation for the Nationalist leader is much less than meets the eye.

For starters, Chiang is almost always compared to Mao Zedong, rather than Hu Jintao or Jiang Zemin. For historical purposes, this makes a lot of sense. However, when attempting to use the past to explain the present, it falls woefully short for four reasons.

First, neither Chiang nor Mao were genuine democrats in any way, shape, or form. Both men were tyrannical rulers who merely different on the nature of the tyranny. Because Chiang sided with the anti-Communists during the first Cold War, too many assume that Hu and Jiang, by hewing closer to Chiang's tyrant model, have surrendered the argument. This is far from true. Chiang's brutality, his insistence on the Nationalists dominating the state and the economy, and his tolerance for corruption would make him quite comfortable in today's CCP. In fact, Chiang himself managed to convince Joe Stalin that he was a dedicated Communist - to the point that the Soviets actually designated the Nationalists as their allies for much of the 1920s.

Secondly, Chiang and Mao shared an absolute refusal to accept Taiwanese self-determination. During their time, given the deep disagreement over who should control the mainland, that seemed a secondary issue. Today, with the Nationalist/Kuomintang Party having accepted Communist domination of the mainland, Taiwanese self-determination (which is not to say formal independence per se, but could include it) is the only protection the island democracy has left now.

Which bring us to the third reason Chiang's newfound acceptance is problematic: Taiwan (or, for those who prefer it, the Republic of China) is now a vibrant democracy, something Chiang would never accept. What has inspired mainlanders was not Chiang's rule over Formosa, but its transition away from Chiang's rule.

If Taiwan is to have any hero, it should be Lee Teng-hui, but the cadres can't stand him, so instead they encourage a Chiang boomlet. This has the added bonus of aiding the current Nationalist Party on the island, so as to block the return to popularity of Lee's anti-Communist allies, the Democratic Progressive Party.

Finally, the Chiang boomlet does nothing to alleviate concern over the CCP's continuing adventurism abroad. That Hu Jintao may be closer to the Chiang model doesn't make the military he now commands any less dangerous (The Australian and the BBC). Nor does it lighten the dark shadow the regime casts around the globe (Brisbane Times and The Malaysian Insider). It certainly doesn't mean improvement in the areas where Chiang and Mao were equally terrible, be it corruption (Agence France Presse via Yahoo and the Los Angeles Times) or cruelty to dissidents (AFP via Yahoo and Deutsche Presse-Agentur via Hispanic Business).

The CCP, contrary to what they would like us to believe, is still in serious trouble. American investors, fed up with tales of profits that never materialize (Forbes), are finally beginning to look to India as a profitable alternative (New York Times). The tainted export meme has shifted to drywall found in tens of thousands of American homes (CNN). Finally, the rural interior continues to be impoverished and plundered by the regime itself (BBC). In this context, it's easy to see why the regime would want the world (and the Chinese people) to believe the Mao-Chiang conflict was all about semantics - and for those two men, it may very well have been just that.

For the rest of us, however, it is about freedom and tyranny - and which will prevail. The more we focus on how close Mao's heirs have moved to Chiang, the less we notice that the people of the mainland and the island democracy have moved beyond both of them to demand (and in the case of the island, achieve) genuine freedom. Therein lies the danger of Chiang's rehabilitation.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal