Monday, June 27, 2011

We've moved . . .

. . . to Wordpress.

To all the readers who have continued to follow even as the blog slowed down, thank you. I hope you will come with us to the Wordpress site as we rev things back up again.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Why the Hunstman-for-President speculation badly misses the point

The complete lack of interest in eastern Asia within MSM was exposed (again) with the recent flare-up in speculation that John Hunstman, current American Ambassador to the Chinese Communist regime, refused to rule out running for President in 2012. The State neatly summarizes the reaction, which completely focuses on Hunstman's Republican bona fides and how (or if) he could manage to run against his current boss (for more on Hunstman himself, see the Los Angeles Times). Even Jay Cost of the Weekly Standard was stuck on the domestic political implications.

No one, to date, has even bothered to ask why Hunstman would consider leaving in the first place. He is, after all, Ambassador to the CCP regime. If this were an Ambassador to a European nation considering a run against the president who appointed him, or a Middle Eastern nation, speculation would almost certainly focus on policy differences. In fact, given the Obama Administration's recent policies on the CCP, this may be the most important (if unrecognized) reason.

Lest we forget, Hunstman signed up for the job expecting (as nearly everyone else did) that he would be the point man for continued "engagement" with the ChiComs. Instead, Hunstman has watched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly rebuke the CCP for trying to claim the South China Sea and the Senkakus for itself (Duncan Currie: National Review Online - The Corner). Then the president engaged in a post-election tour of Asia that included all of Zhongnanhai's major rivals expect Vietnam, but not Hunstman's posting itself.

Finally, there was the reaction to the recent antics from Stalinist North Korea, in which the early inaction (disappointing for those of us looking to send a message to the CCP) was followed by . . . more inaction (a pleasant surprise for those of us expecting concessions to Beijing and Pyongyang).

So what does a marginalized ambassador who is watching the Administration for which he works move toward a policy unseen in 20 years - and a policy the ambassador himself opposes to boot?

Drop broad hints that you could turn from appointee to rival is a good way to get attention. It worked wonders for opponents of American military action in Iraq.

Unfortunately for Hunstman (and fortunately for the rest of us, if only in this case), American MSM still hasn't paid enough attention to Obama's Asia policy. The combination of domestic politics and traditional attention bias toward Europe or the Middle East has blinded nearly everyone to the fact that the policy Hunstman was appointed to promote and the policy into which the Administration has stumbled are quite different.

So, I think we can expect more heartburn from Hunstman, until the media begin to notice what the Administration is actually doing in eastern Asia (our allies there already know, and are deeply grateful). In the meantime, it must be enormously painful for the CCP to discover that everything it has tried, from provocations by its Korean colony to rumblings from its American friends, has failed to change Washington slow-but-steadying drift toward anti-Communism.

The Obama Administration continues to be far weaker than it should on human rights in the CCP, but in the purely geopolitical realm, its policy in eastern Asia continues to be an improvement over its three most recent predecessors. It would be nice for someone other than the CCP itself or the American Ambassador there to notice.

Cross-posted to Bearing Drift

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Will Japan re-energize Obama on the CCP?

The Obama Administration's reaction to Stalinist North Korea's attack on the democratic South was traditional, conventional, and weak. Once again, the Chinese Communist Party was able to position itself as the supposedly reasonable regional power trying to get a handle on their crazy ally - even though it has to this day refused to criticize Kim Jong-il and his crew. That said, Zhongnanhai has been unable to get policy concessions out of the president yet, and what Japan is about to do with its National Defense Policy Guidelines may get the White House to snap of out its post-attack stupor.

According to the Financial Times (UK), Japan's military will release the aforementioned guidelines later this month, and they will call for a major shift in military policy.
Officials and analysts say the keenly awaited National Defence Policy Guidelines will signal a historic refocusing of Japan's army and other forces toward securing the line of small islands in the southern Nansei chain that stretches from Japan’s main islands toward Taiwan and are seen as threatened by China's rapidly growing military power.

Among the islands in the Nansei chain are Okinawa and the Senkakus, the latter of which are claimed by the Communists (they call them the Diaoyus).

The implications of this are numerous, and none are good for the CCP.

Within Japan, it means a maturing of the Democratic Party of Japan - recently elected to power on a platform that included cozying up to the Communists. According to an analyst quoted by the FT, a recent incident with a fishing boat from mainland China woke up the DPJ and the military top brass about the threat from the CCP. The long-governing Liberal Democratic Party had moved in an anti-Communist direction under Junichirio Koizumi (the last LDP leader to win an election - in 2005). Now the DPJ is joining its rival.

Regionally, the CCP may find itself repeating recent history - and not in a good way for the Communists. Last year, Zhongnanhai tried to take advantage of apparent American weakness by declaring the entire South China Sea for itself. Several American allies, including Indonesia, cried foul - and much to everyone's surprise, America joined them. Just weeks ago, President Obama himself called for India to be made a permanent member of the Security Council. Now, Japan will be heavily reinforcing an island chain that at present includes a large (and locally controversial) American military base.

If Okinawa is now a regional front-line island, the US military may not be so unwelcome. Or more likely, a strong Japanese military presence may allow the US to pull out of Okinawa entirely, thus replacing an unpopular foreign power with a strong domestic military presence dedicated to defending the homeland, while the Pentagon can score an unexpected boon to reallocate or contribution to overall deficit reduction.

I sincerely doubt the CCP was hoping for that.

In any event, Obama, whatever one thinks of him, is clearly the most multilateral president America has had in a long time. As I noted earlier, this has led to a focus on our more well-known allies in Europe - most of whom are wheezing social democracies increasingly unwilling to defend themselves from regional and global threats.

However, in Asia, America's allies are more practical - and the CCP threat is more pressing and immediate. As such, Obama's instincts have lead him to be tougher on Zhongnanhai then previous Administration's in the South China Sea. Unfortunately, the refusal to accept the reality of the CCP-North Korea alliance (i.e., that it's a tool Zhongnanhai uses to pry democratic nations apart) afflicts Seoul and Tokyo as much as it does Washington. However, the Communists have no such deflection at the ready where the Nansei-Sankakus are concerned.

If Japan really does shift its military posture (the report has not yet been released) and Washington stands with Japan as it did with Indonesia, the Obama Administration's unnamed-containment policy may be back on track.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Is Beijing Using North Korea again?

Apparently out of the blue, Stalinist regime in northern Korea shelled Yeonpeyong Island in the democratic part of the country (a.k.a. South Korea). The rest of world is trying to come to terms with the shock. There are at least two death as of 8AM EST. The White House "strongly condemned" (MSN India) the attack, but hasn't had much time to react beyond posturing.

Analysts are fishing for explanations, but the most popular one is that this has something to do with the power struggle within the regime. As Iain Martin put it, shelling a South Korean island is "what passes for a campaign ad in North Korean politics."

I'm not so sure, or to be more precise, I don't think that's the only reason. As much as people would like to think the regime in charge of northern Korea is a lone wolf unable to control or even understand, that regime is wholly dependent on the Chinese Communist Party for its survival. Moreover, the CCP prefers its allies and satellites take full blame or credit for their antics, as it turns Beijing into the "good police state" and enable them to extract more concessions from the democratic world (this is why the ChiComs' closest ally in the Middle East is the Iranian mullahcracy, but I digress).

In fact, there's almost no way a move like this wouldn't get green-lighted by the CCP; keep in mind, the Communists have even gone so far as to make a historical claim to northern Korea as Chinese territory, in part to make it clear who's boss and in part to lay the groundwork for a possible annexation if the Stalinist regime becomes more trouble than its worth.

So, this begs the question: why did the CCP let this happen? For that, we have to look at the last year in eastern Asia.

Amidst the European bailouts, the bizzare "reset" with Russia, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the numerous domestic issues the decided the November elections, little attention has been paid to the western Pacific. However, events there have been dramatic, and dramatically unexpected.

It began when the CCP tried to declare the South China Sea as its own lake. As expected, numerous nations in Southeast Asia cried foul. Not so expectedly, the United States - led by the American apologist President and the Secretary of State whose husband was arguably the Communists' best friend in the White House - responded, essentially, "No."

One can only imagine the shock in Zhongnanhai from that.

Perhaps the Communists believed that this was mere posturing for the voters. That notion disappeared with the President's post-election tour of Asia (India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan). It could have been called the China Containment Tour. Now we're hearing elected officials inside and outside the Administration slanging the CCP for their deliberately devalued currency, and while the criticisms stem from economic confusion rather than geopolitical clarity, that's a distinction without a difference to Hu Jintao et al.

In short, the Chinese Communist regime has watched, likely in subdued horror, as Barack Obama's government moved - haltingly, and with some stumbles, but unmistakably - towards the most anti-Communist Asia policy in twenty years. It has been, almost literally, Nixon-goes-to-China in reverse.

So, now the CCP - and the rest of us - will see if the Administration's newfound and quasi-accidental policy will come with newfound resolve. It won't be as easy as it sounds initially. In Southeast Asia, the President's backbone was widely applauded, especially in Indonesia (in an even more painful irony for the CCP, Obama's time there may be driving his policy in the region). Japan, by contrast, has a center-left government with a more accomodationist policy towards Beijing (although South Korea does not).

This is a critical moment. If Obama follows precedent, i.e., comes hat-in-hand to the CCP to enlist its help in "controlling" Kim Jong-il and his would-be successors, then things will come back to normal in East Asia (and that's not good). However, if the President follows his instincts from Southeast Asia, it could dramatically alter the global balance - and in America's favor.

Nixon's fervent anti-Communist history made him practically the only American politician who could reach out to the CCP. Conversely, Obama's left-wing history may make him the best-equipped American leader to take the CCP on. I believe the ChiComs condoned this incident in the hope to prevent the above from happening. Time will tell if they were right; if not, the Chinese people may get a surprising boost in their fight to take their country back from the Communist regime that enslaves them.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Korea: the endgame no one sees coming

At first, I was surprised to hear that the Stalinist regime in northern Korea had chosen to sink a democratic Korean ship. The timing (late March) seemed off. The Tibet occupation commemorations had already passed, while the remembrance of the Tiananmen massacre was still more than two months away.

Adding to the surprise, the Chinese Communist Party let some of their mouthpieces fire some rhetorical rounds at . . . Kim Jong-il (Yonhap via One Free Korea):

In a rare move for Chinese state-controlled media, the Beijing-based newspaper openly criticized North Korea, calling it "proud."

"North Korea is dancing haphazardly along the nuclear tightrope, fraying the nerves of every world power. It is apparently proud, believing that it has played a dominant role," the Global Times said. "But North Korea fails to realize that the most dangerous role is the one the country itself is playing."

Joshua Staunton (the founder of OFK) doesn't think this amouts to much, and he has a point. The Global Times may be a CCP mouthpiece, but it isn't the CCP mouthpiece. Moreover, the cadres in Zhongnanhai have a history of playing the democratic world for fools. Who can forget when the CCP voted in favor of United Nations-imposed sanctions on northern Korea and then told the world - on the same day - that it wouldn't enforce them?

This time, however, I think something deeper is in play, something that few, if any, will see coming, and dramatically change East Asia - and not for the better, though it will appear that way to the untrained eye.

One thing we need to remember is that the cadres have been claiming for almost five years that northern Korea is actually Chinese territory, or at least it was back when it was called the Kingdom of Koguryo. Lest anyone consider this preposterously irrelevant, keep in mind that Mao used a similar verison of revisionist history to conquer Tibet in 1950.

Of course, the idea of that CCP could send in a military force to annex northern Korea and get away with it would be ridiculous - unless the democratic world was scared enough of the Korean tyranny to acquiesce in the move. That's more likely than one would like to believe.

Both America and Japan have elected governments more focused on domestic matters and less interested in projecting national power. Russia remains more obsessed with the European "near abroad" than the demographic loss of its own Far East provinces. Hardly anyone else considers the situation on the Korean peninsula as anything but a regional issue (i.e., one which doesn't involve them). All of them would be either uninterested in a CCP annexation or secretly grateful to the cadres for bringing "stability" with their conquest.

For the CCP, meanwhile, the benefits would be considerable. Hu Jintao, facing a party conference in two years and very little to show for his current tenure as CCP supremo, could bask in becoming the first Chinese leader since Mao to add territory the Middle People's Republic. This could enable him to handpick his successor as Party leader at least, and perhaps even stay around as Chairman of the Central Military Commission (and thus continue to wield the true power) for years after 2012. For the party as a whole, it would make radical nationalism suddenly look relevant again, especially if it can show the Chinese people that the democratic world endorsed the land grab (silent acquiescence will be more than enough for the cadres to twist and exaggerate to meet their needs).

For the Chinese people, however, it would be awful. The day the CCP loses power could be knocked back by decades as a rejuvenated tyranny once again takes aim at political dissidents. The balance of power would be permanently reoriented in Zhongnanhai's favor. Finally, Korea would never be whole again.

Naturally, democratic Korea would be furious, and loud. The CCP would have to make sure Washington can and will restrain South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, especially given that Korean nationalism would quickly transform from a long a left-wing phenomenon exploited by Kim and Beijing to a right-wing fury that would never forgive them for the annexation.

That's where the latest news Joshua dug up at OFK is so revealing (emphasis added):

Now, there is the story of Kim Soon-Nyeo, whose targets included a 29 year-old college student, two travel agency workers, and her grand sugardaddy, a former executive of the Seoul Subway system.

. . .

The spy collected “confidential” information about the subway system from Oh, information about local universities from the student, and a list of names of high-ranking police and public officials from the travel agents.

Oh maintained extramarital relations with the spy since his first encounter with her in China in May 2006, and transferred nearly 300 million won ($252,000) to “help” her cosmetics business. In June 2007, he became aware that she was a North Korean spy, but continued the relationship.

“What Oh handed over to the spy included contact information of emergency situation responses and other not-so-important internal data,” Kim Jung-hwan, a Seoul Metro spokesman, told The Korea Times, dismissing concerns that it could be used in possible acts of terrorism here by the North. Kim retired from his post in 2008. [Korea Times]

Yes, I can imagine a circumstance in which we or South Korea might face a provocation or a threat so serious that we have to do something more dramatic, in which case what Halloran calls for might have to be our first step. But I’m not there yet, because I fear that North Korea’s most dangerous weapons are already inside South Korea.

In other words, the Stalinists were gathering information to conduct terrorist attacks that could cripple the democratic South while leaving American troops at the demilitarized zone unscathed.

One can imagine what could happen next: terrorist attacks in Seoul, Lee demanding retaliation. America and Japan wringing their hands. When suddenly, the People's Liberation Army crosses the Yalu River, pounds their de facto colony's military and industry, dusts off the Koguryo claims, and reassures the rest of the world that it will all be over soon. Koreans may be enraged, but in Washington the reaction will be a sigh of relief, and strong reminder to Seoul of just who depends on whom for military protection. Game, set, and match to the cadres.

Now, there are still a number of variables that can stop this: Kim Jong-il may calm down; the various would-be successors to his weakly gripped crown could defuse the situation themselves (or argue among themselves enough to have the situation defused by inactivity); the terrorist network the Stalinists would use against the South might not be in place; someone in Pyongyang might even be smart enough to figure all this out (probably not Kim himself, but in his current condition, the right word at the right time can be awfully persuasive).

Still, we need to be prepared for the possibility that the cadres will decided using Kim Jong-il and his cronies has run its course, and annexation is their next move. Whatever one thinks of Kim and his regime, we must not forget that it is only in place because the CCP wants it in place. Replacing Pyongyang's anti-American tyranny with Beijing's anti-American tyranny is no solution.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why the Administration's policy toward Communist China is so dangerous

The president sent his Assistant Secretary of State to discuss human rights, and in response to the Chinese Communist Party's labor camps, one-child policy, and indiscriminate imprisonment of political prisoners, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner . . . apologized for an Arizona state law on immigration.

The Obama Administration has entered new territory in regards to its policy towards the Chinese Communist Party. The new way of doing things is mind-boggling, sickening, and outrageous (and lest anyone think I'm being partisan, Obama's Ambassador to the CCP - Jon Huntsman, who according to Posner's comments on Politico was in on the self-hate fest - was formerly the Republican Governor of Utah; if he's representative of the Utah GOP elite, then that's one more reason Senator Bob Bennett's campaign bit the dust). However, it is also very, very dangerous for several reasons. They are as follows.

It risks further harm on the political prisoners themselves: One comment I will always carry with me is from a speech Richard Gephardt gave when he declared his opposition to permanent free trade with the CCP. He talked about how sensitive the cadres were to outside criticism, so much so that the prisoners themselves could gauge how much flak the Party was getting - the more critics chirped, the nicer the guards were. Nonsense like this makes the cadres think they have a free hand to do whatever they'd like to their opponents behind bars - and when Chinese Communist hands are that free, they usually end up very bloody.

It demoralizes and confuses current dissidents: Does anyone think Hu Jia would be that upset over Arizona's attempt to battle illegal immigration? Think about it, an Arizona cop might ask Hu to show his green card if he's pulled over while driving within the state. Cadres in Henan province let as many as one million people die of AIDS and had Hu arrested for trying to expose them. How about Chen Guangcheng? The regime imprisoned and beat him for helping women violently abused by cadres enforcing the "one child" policy. Don't get me started on Falun Gong, independent Christians, or Hanyuan County.

What this nonsense out of Washington does is make these victims feel completely ignored by the one nation that should remember their plight. This will make it much harder for them to help the Chinese people take their country back.

It gives the CCP international prestige that it will use to enslave more people. After all, if the Chinese Communist Party is the same as the Arizona legislature, what's the big deal about the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong? Or the invasion of Taiwan, should it happen (and I am increasingly convinced that it will)?

My last point doesn't deal with Arizona, but rather the larger context (which, as Jay Nordlinger ruefully notes, included American apologies about "crime, poverty, homelessness, and racial discrimination."

These comments reveal an appalling ignorance of reality in Communist China. Lest anyone forget, the Chinese Communist Party Member card is a license to steal. Outside of the Potemkin cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen), China is mired in a poverty unimaginable in the United States. Millions are "relocated" due to land seizures by corrupt cadres. As for "racial discrimination," try being a Korean in Communist China - actually, on second thought, don't.

In the end, it all points to one thing: the Chinese Communist Party no longer has any reason to take America seriously. This will have catastrophic repercussions, be it with Taiwan (as mentioned), our enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq (who have been past receivers of Communist support), the mullahcracy in Iran (long the CCP's best friend in the Middle East), North Korea, or anywhere else.

Meanwhile, there was no mention of the long arm of lawlessness interfering with Chinese-Americans trying to exercise their political rights in this country, although this dangerous combination of repression and espionage has been unchallenged by Administrations in both political parties.

CCP-watchers have long since gotten used to dissapointments in Washington. No one who remembers the Clinton or Bush Administration were completely shocked when Obama went the "engagement" route. However, this president has been far more obsequious to Beijing than any other, and given the Ambassador, Obama's political opposition is hardly without blame.

There will come a time when the American people will demand a bona fide anti-Communist president, and (s)he will help bring down the CCP, but that future looks more expensive and, quite frankly, much bloodier today than it did even last week.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal and Virginia Virtucon

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reflections on Earth Day

I write this on April 22 - known before 1970 as Lenin's birthday and since then in America as "Earth Day" (when you are reading this, of course, I cannot know). With each passing year, the irony of grafting environmental awareness on the birthday of Communism's founder and examining the ecological records of his largest political heir (the Chinese Communist Party) grows more painful, more cynically amusing, and more impossible to ignore.

This will surprise the casual observer who only sees the CCP press releases on alternative energy sources (yes, Tom Friedman, that means you), but there is arguably no regime that damaged our planet as much as the Chinese Communist Party. The cadres have been forced to account for such exotic chemical spills as cadmium, benzene, and heaven knows what else. They have a slew of mining accidents - annually. Their hydroelectric dam addiction has thoroughly disturbed and distorted water flows, while turning such natural treasurers as the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers into toxic soups. Air pollution is so bad in the interior that the cadres in one city actually explored cutting out the tops of mountains to allow fresh air in. Then there are the open-air nuclear tests from last century, which killed over 200,000 people in occupied East Turkestan (also known as Xinjiang) and sickened many, many more.

In short, the regime in Zhongnanhai has taken its rightful place among Communist defilers of the environment. The Soviet Union was infamous for its toxic-caused animal mutation, and the Chernobyl fiasco was a shocking example of Moscow's lax concern for nuclear safety both before an accident and during one. Yet in the free world, environmentalism remains a largely left-wing phenomenon, complete with the lack of concern for Communist regime's actual records.

What the Western left may be thinking is not the point here, but rather the strange dichotomy between the presumed notion in the free world of government superiority in ecological matters and the reality of totalitarian regimes where the government is itself worse than any corporation - or entire industry - imaginable.

Most economists, environmentalists, and elected officials in the democratic world understand that in making decisions about what to buy, build, or bring together, long-term environmental consequences are not usually a major factor (the term in economic geek-speak is "externality"), and that government can have a role in countering this. However, that assumes government is an arbiter, or at most a facilitator, in the market, without any interests of its own.

Whether this assumption is correct or not is one of the disagreements that have driven politics in the free world for decades, if not centuries. However, there is one important point missed: a totalitarian regime is never an uninterested arbiter; it will always have its own interest - namely survival - front and center. Therefore, the aforementioned long-term environmental consequences are just as irrelevant to the Chinese Communist Party as it would be to your average consumer in the free world. In fact, one could argue that it's less relevant to the CCP, as the regime will assume it has enough power to protect itself from the consequences of the ecological damage it does (the people are, of course, left to suffer).

Thus, tyrannical regimes - interested only in surviving and protecting the group of tyrants (however large or small) - are all but certain to be worse stewards of the planet than democracies are, and the Chinese Communist Party is proving it every single day.

In time, this reality will become harder and harder for the CCP to conceal (the truth about the Soviets started to leak out in the 1980s, but the USSR collapsed before it became common knowledge). Thanks to the regime's faulty policies, China has become the largest carbon emitter on the planet. Its major electric dams are pollution havens. I shudder to think what will happen as they build more nuclear power plants (and I say this as a fan of nuclear power).

As the Zhongnanhai regime limps ahead, it will become abundantly clear to the free world's legion of "green" activists that the CCP is as much their enemy as it is the enemy of everyone else. It may very well be an event celebrated on the birthday of Communism's founder that become the tipping point for the end of Communism's largest regime.