Indonesia is Worried about ISIS

ISIL, a Growing Threat in Indonesia?”
Gwenael Njoto-Feillard

East-West Center
September 23, 2014

Lest we develop the impression that concern about ISIL/ISIS is restricted to the Middle East and select western capitals, this paper by Njoto-Feillard, a visiting scholar at the Institute of South-East Asian Studies in Singapore, makes clear that the entire Muslim world is coping with the disruption in the fertile crescent.

Njoto-Feillard suggests that the way to resist the tsunamis of extremism washing through Muslim communities worldwide is to build resilient societies. Those societies, he notes, would involve stronger cooperation between the state and “all elements of Islamic civil society.” Absolutely.

What we wonder, though, is what happens to non-Muslim minorities in a situation like that. Do you marginalize them for “their own good,” because being marginalized in a moderate society is better than being slaughtered in a radical one? Or do you bring them to the table and incorporate them into the process, finding a role for them in society that makes the entire society stronger?

 

Here is the full text of the Chinese Communist Party’s message to Hong Kong

Here is the full text of the Chinese Communist Party’s message to Hong Kong

David Wolf:

The official Party Line on what is taking place in Hong Kong is a must-read for anyone following this situation.

Originally posted on Quartz:

Quartz has examined the harsh message that the Chinese government sent to protesters in Hong Kong in an editorial warning them of “unimaginable consequences.” Now we have translated the full text of that editorial.

It’s a classic Communist Party political screed, full of vague terms, veiled threats, and arguments that are logically sound but rest on untenable assumptions. The piece was published on Oct. 1 in the People’s Daily, an official state newspaper and the same publication responsible for the government’s notorious April 26, 1989 message to Tiananmen Square protesters in Beijing. That message preceded the brutal crackdown on demonstrations on June 4, which killed hundreds or thousands, depending on estimates. As we note in our analysis, there are some striking similarities between these two documents.

We have also included a translation of the 1989 piece (by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, a now-defunct part of the US Central Intelligence Agency) for comparison, below.

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Cherish positive…

View original 1,698 more words

Hong Kong, Police, and a Legacy of the Square

For China, Limited Tools to Quell Unrest in Hong Kong”
Edward Wong and Chris Buckley

NYTimes.com
September 29, 2014

Ed Wong and Chris Buckley explain how China’s leadership has very little at their disposal to mollify the protesters filling the streets of Hong Kong’s financial districts and shopping neighborhoods. Strategically, Beijing may have backed itself into a corner. 

But tactically, Xi Jinping has more, better choices for handling this unrest than his predecessors did a generation ago. 

We know precious little about the decisions that led to the People’s Liberation Army retaking Tian’anmen Square from the Chinese people who occupied it 25 years ago. But we do know that one of the reasons that China formed the People’s Armed Police (Wu Jing) in the early 1990s was to ensure that in the case of severe unrest, the government would not have to turn the guns of the Army on the people ever again.

Today, China has at its disposal the Hong Kong Police, who remain one of Asia’s more professional law enforcement agencies. If the local cops can’t handle things, China has Wu Jing units that it can send in to bolster them – and they probably already have. They have the weapons that are appropriate for the containment of demonstrations and riots – tear gas, bean bag shotguns, water cannons, and other non-lethal means – and that are designed to avoid heavy casualties.

The question now comes down to tactics. How will the commanders go about dispersing a protest that is not only peaceful, but polite as well? Because Wong and Buckley make clear that the concessions required to send the people home are not forthcoming, and Beijing’s patience with disruption is not infinite.

 

The New Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere

Professor Seiichiro Takagi of the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIAA) explains how Xi Jinping’s “New Asian Security Concept,” introduced by the Chinese president in May, is designed to place China in the dominant position in Asia, not only from a security standpint, but on political and economic bases as well.

Reading between the lines (Japanese scholars are not always as blunt as they could be), Takagi is suggesting that the NASC is little more than a Chinese version of the Warsaw Pact, brought to Asia. It suggests, therefore, that China is attempting to stake out a share of the world over which it exercises dominance, if not control.

As a Japanese scholar, Takagi is hardly a disinterested third party: Japan and China have been squaring off with increasing regularity, and Tokyo is seen by many in Beijing as America’s running dog. At the same time, Takagi’s point is worth noting, and it invites closer scrutiny of exactly what Xi Jinping is trying to accmplish with his NASC.

 

 

Understanding “Tao Guang Yang Hui”

A phrase that is making the rounds among China watchers is “tao guang yang hui.” I will not attempt to explain the concept: any brief explanation would hide too many nuances, and nuances are important here. I just watched an online debate amongst some of my more scholarly friends, and the battle was about different interpreteations of of the phrase.

One interpretation of the phrase is captured in Deng Xiaoping’s maxim “keep a low profile and bide your time, while also getting something accomplished.” Given the noises China has been making in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, the Indian frontier, and Hong Kong, it appears to some that China has abandoned the tao guang yang hui strategy altogether.

Others, however, suggest that the strategy was not abandoned, but that Deng’s intention all along was to wait for a time when China was ready to assert itself in the global sphere, not simply lay low forever.

Yang Wenchang, President of the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, offers his interpretation in “My Views about ‘Tao Guang Yang Hui.” It is a worthwhile read, and an important one: not only does he provide an erudite explanation of the idom’s roots, his interpretation of the phrase seems to be at odds with China’s current foreign policy.

The entire debate may seem a petty tempest among the cognoscienti. If China is becoming more assertive globally, what does it matter whether this is Xi’s own policy or a continuation of the past?

In truth, it does matter: the answer to the question of whether this is part of a long-standing plan or whether this is Xi rejecting Dengist strategy would help us better predict where China is likely to jump next. We are unlikely to get clarification from the leadership compound at Zhongnanhai: Xi will want to seem unpredictable so as to keep his percieved opponents, both at home and abroad, guessing as to his intentions, leaving him with the initiative. Hence a better understanding of his strategic approach is essential to ensure that Asia and the west are not caught unawares by China’s next Great Leap Outwards.

 

China and the Limits of History

Some things we used to know about china’s past and present but, now, not so much” 
Alice Lyman Miller
Proceedings of the USC US-China Institute Symposium, “History and China’s Foreign Relations: The Achievements and Contradictions of American Scholarship”,
Feb. 16-17, 2008

Stanford’s Alice Miller is one of those China scholars who prefers not to mince words. Whether it was her sixteen years with the CIA or the cumulative effect of four decades studying China, she is direct and still unfailingly scholarly in her assessments and, as a result is, a joy to read.

Her paper at a USC symposium above is an excellent example. There is a school of China scholarship that attempts to parse Beijing’s politics and foreign policy through a prism of China’s imperial past. To those scholars, the CCP is just another dynasty in China dynastic cycle, its current leaders just emperors in new clothes, and China wants to turn the rest of the world into tributary powers.  As a history buff with late-life aspirations to historianship, these parallels are appealing to me, and they are clearly appealing to others, else Miller would not feel the need to debunk the approach.

And debunk she does. Offering ample examples from current scholarship and public discourse, she makes a convincing case that while the history has some general value as background in understanding Chinese strategic thinking, past behavior is no template for current or future action.

A must-read for any China-watcher, it surprises me that this paper has not received more attention, but perhaps it shouldn’t: as a longtime purveyor of the “China is more nuanced than that” approach, I know that people are not looking for nuance: they’re looking for easy. Miller makes it clear that this sort of intellectual laziness is a hazard to be avoided.

History, however, is not the bunk that Henry Ford thought. I side with Cicero: ignorance of history is the hallmark of intellectual immaturity. Miller is correct in saying that we should not rely on history too much. It is important to caution that we ignore it at our peril.