China’s cardinal foreign policy imperative is to refrain from interfering abroad while advancing the proverbial good relations with key political actors – even when they may be at each other’s throats.Still, it’s nothing but gut-wrenching for Beijing to watch the current, unpredictable, Saudi-Qatari standoff. There’s no endgame in sight, as plausible scenarios include even regime change and a seismic geopolitical shift in Southwest Asia – what a Western-centric view calls the Middle East.And blood on the tracks in Southwest Asia cannot but translate into major trouble ahead for the New Silk Roads, now rebranded Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Tag Archives: China
Early one morning in January, under the veil of darkness, a team of undercover police from China quietly entered Hong Kong’s Four Seasons hotel and made their way into a luxurious residential suite. After sweeping aside the billionaire occupant’s private contingent of female bodyguards, they shrouded the man’s head in a white sheet and bundled him off in a wheelchair.Xiao Jianhua was one of China’s richest businessmen. He had built his fortune over the past two decades through deals involving the cream of China’s political elite, reportedly including close relatives of the president, Xi Jinping. Because of China’s opaque political culture, one can only speculate about the reasons for Xiao’s abduction, but it seems that he had taken careful steps to protect himself. Not only was he residing and conducting his business outside of China, his country of birth, he had a diplomatic passport from Antigua and Barbuda and had adopted Canadian citizenship, perhaps thinking that this might offer him some extra degree of legal or diplomatic protection.
A vast, boxy customs center acts as a busy island of commerce deep in central China.Government officers, in sharply pressed uniforms, race around a maze of wooden pallets piled high with boxes — counting, weighing, scanning and approving shipments. Unmarked trucks stretch for more than a mile awaiting the next load headed for Beijing, New York, London and dozens of other destinations.The state-of-the-art facility was built several years ago to serve a single global exporter: Apple, now the world’s most valuable company and one of China’s largest retailers.The well-choreographed customs routine is part of a hidden bounty of perks, tax breaks and subsidies in China that supports the world’s biggest iPhone factory, according to confidential government records reviewed by The New York Times, as well as more than 100 interviews with factory workers, logistics handlers, truck drivers, tax specialists and current and former Apple executives. The package of sweeteners and incentives, worth billions of dollars, is central to the production of the iPhone, Apple’s best-selling and most profitable product.
WHEN CHINA boldly seized a U.S. underwater drone in the South China Sea last December and initially refused to give it back, the incident ignited a weeklong political standoff and conjured memories of a similar event more than 15 years ago.
In April 2001, just months before the 9/11 attacks gripped the nation, a U.S. Navy spy plane flying a routine reconnaissance mission over the South China Sea was struck by a People’s Liberation Army fighter jet that veered aggressively close. The mid-air collision killed the Chinese pilot, crippled the Navy plane, and forced it to make an emergency landing at a Chinese airfield, touching off a tense international showdown for nearly two weeks while China refused to release the two-dozen American crew members and damaged aircraft.
Australia is sleep-walking into a confrontation with China. Wars can happen suddenly in an atmosphere of mistrust and provocation, especially if a minor power, like Australia, abandons its independence for an “alliance” with an unstable superpower.The United States is at a critical moment. Having exported its all-powerful manufacturing base, run down its industry and reduced millions of its once-hopeful people to poverty, principal American power today is brute force. When Donald Trump launched his missile attack on Syria – following his bombing of a mosque and a school – he was having dinner in Florida with the President of China, Xi Jinping.
I am the son of a Chinese democracy activist. My father went into exile in 1988; I was born in China and raised in England. But today, my father and I find ourselves back in the motherland.My family’s struggle for freedom was a quest to escape what they saw as a narrowing reality. My father’s decision to seek refuge, and his independence from a brutal government, led to my upbringing in England. But having returned to China, in 2012, of my own free will, I have come to realize that the struggle for most young people in China isn’t a political one — it’s a generational clash against the stifling influence of parental expectations.Before he left China, my father was an assistant teacher of law at a university in the southern city of Guilin. In the late 1980s he started distributing pamphlets and writing letters calling for democratic reforms. In those days, the winds of change were blowing hard. The slaughter near Tiananmen Square in June 1989 was the culmination, a savage eradication of the democratic movement that had swept across China.
Aisulu grimaces while talking about the gauntlet she has been thrown by foreign competitors. “The Chinese say, ‘You took away our market, we will find a way to bring it back. We will produce clothes that are even cheaper than yours.’ She owns a textile workshop in the outskirts of Bishkek. The sewing machines are made in China (“They cost much less than the Japanese ones,” she says) and a dozen young women are working away producing women’s padded coats, which are oversize for local consumption because Aisulu’s target customers are junoesque Russian buyers.
Since the end of the US presidential campaign, Donald Trump and his team of advisers have made statements showing they seek to alter world politics in significant ways. None are quite as important, for world peace and global stability, as the adversarial pronouncements about the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that are now upsetting bilateral relations and generating turbulence in East Asia. While not yet formalised in a coherent policy framework, official and semi-official discourses point to sharpening rivalry, and possibly to an unfolding, and risky, containment effort.At the economic level, the new administration is considering designating China a ‘currency manipulator’ for the first time since 1994, and is proposing punitive tariffs of up to 45% on Chinese-sourced imports. At the strategic level, prominent figures in or close to the new administration have been sending unusually unambiguous messages that the US will use force if necessary to curb China’s growing power and reach in East Asia and the Pacific. In confirmation hearings on 11 January, secretary of state designate Rex Tillerson warned that the US would interdict Chinese naval forces in the South China Seas: ‘We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to these islands also is not going to be allowed.’ It would be a ‘danger to the global economy’ if China were to ‘dictate access to the waterway’ (1). A few days later, Newt Gingrich, former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives (1995-9) and confidant of Donald Trump, told the German weekly Der Spiegel, ‘Well, frankly, on the South China Sea, I suspect we will try to communicate with the Chinese that they are not going to become the leading naval power in our lifetime’ (2).
When the hype surrounding the Trump-Xi summit turns into a Mar-a-Lago fact on the ground next month, both presidents are bound to agree fully on at least one issue: “radical Islamic terror” – as per Trump terminology.Donald Trump has relied on a controversial Muslim “no-ban” ban that – in theory – would restrict the inflow of potential radical Islamists to US territory; his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, meeting Xinjiang lawmakers on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, has launched a “Great Wall of Iron” to protect China’s Far West.
Every day as dusk falls on Colombo, residents flock to Galle Face Green, a vast esplanade facing the beach and Indian Ocean beyond. Snack sellers serve refreshments from rickety tables while families and couples stroll by, hair and dupattas (scarves) fluttering in the wind. One of the most popular parks in town, it’s a great place to people-watch, or just stare at the turbulent waters gleaming in the sunset.