Why China’s Exports to North Korea are Growing

China’s exports to North Korea grew nearly 20 percent in the first half of the year, according to the Korea International Trade Association on Wednesday, despite its promises to crack down and impose international sanctions.China’s exports to the

Source: Beijing’s exports to Pyongyang swell 18%-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

 

This should come as a surprise to no-one.

Beijing’s endgame with North Korea is clear: drain Pyongyang and its leadership regime – the Kim family – of every last penny of hard currency or valuable goods possible. Then, and only then, bring down the boot, and on Beijing’s terms, not Washington’s.

On The Global Times

There is some debate as to what degree The Global Times, the relentlessly jingoistic English-language daily published in Beijing, is in sync with the government and the party. While some China-watchers suggest that the GT is a pure party mouthpiece, others believe that it Zhongnanhai’s leashed pit-bull, useful to scare the neighbors, but in no way representative of the leash-holders true nature.

Fine.

Let us stipulate the following:

  • The Chinese government is not monolithic, and thus does not hold a single unified viewpoint on anything;
  • Opinions expressed in the media are often trial balloons; and
  • State media have, in the past, often represented minority points-of-view in the party.

All the above said, it is also true that Xi is wont to visit key media outlets – including The Global Times – to underscore that it is the duty of all media “love the party, protect the party, and closely align with the party leadership in thought, politics and action.” It is apparent to anyone watching the media in China – and that’s a lot of what we have to do in my business – that whatever tolerance there might have been for a degree of editorial heterodoxy is evaporating fast, if it has not already turned to fog.

Thus the assertion that The Global Times is offering opinions at odds with the thinking in Zhongnanhai to be far less credible today than three years ago. Lacking evidence to the contrary, we can only believe that the GT speaks with the voice and support of the highest party leaders.

Is China’s Navy hiding its real secret weapon?

The Chinese navy has in recent times focused much attention upon a decidedly more mundane and nonphotogenic arena of naval warfare: sea mines. This focus has, in combination with other asymmetric forms of naval warfare, had a significant impact on the balance of power in East Asia. In tandem with submarine capabilities, it now seems that China is engaged in a significant effort to upgrade its mine warfare prowess.

Source: Chinese Mine Warfare: A PLA Navy ‘Assassin’s Mace’ Capability | Andrew S. Erickson

The prolific and insightful Andrew Erickson suggested in 2009 that by focusing on aircraft carriers and anti-ship missiles, we may be missing the hidden secret of China’s maritime strategy: huge investments in mine warfare.

Is the Liaoning nothing more than a showy distraction, meant to invigorate nationalists at home and deceive observers abroad? This study makes an implicit argument that the received wisdom on China’s strategy is probably a false trail.

If nothing else, Erickson’s study should serve as a reminder that China will use a full spectrum of weapons in its efforts to control the seas, and that we have to be imaginative about what they will do, rather than allow ourselves to be sucked into a seductive narrative about carrier-killing missiles.

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Philippines sends six Coast Guard vessels to South China Sea

Move to guard Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal

Source: Philippines sends six Coast Guard vessels to South China Sea | GulfNews.com

So the Philippine Coast Guard is going to protect Filipino fishing vessels.

There are yachts and fishing boats in any given marina in the US that are more heavily armed than your average Philippine Coast Guard ship. It’s a fairly good bet that the PLA(N) is unfrightened, which suggests that these ships are aught more than a tripwire, a means to provoke an incident.

There will be much to watch in the coming weeks.

New Imperial China and the US-Japan Alliance

The rise of China poses many questions, foremost of which is will a powerful China be a responsible member of the international community, complying with established rules and norms of the current global system? Or will it defy global standards, and strive instead to project its own rules and norms, thereby challenging the world order established by the United States?

Source: New Imperial China: A Challenge for the US-Japan Alliance | East-West Center | www.eastwestcenter.org

Short but good, this sharp piece offers some interesting – and still relevant – perspective on the escalating tensions in Northeast Asia.

A Peaceful Racist Rise: China, Africans, Race, and International Relations

Last summer there were a spate of articles documenting the sometimes latent and often blatant antipathy that many Chinese feel toward people of African descent. In Foreign Policy, Fulbright Scholar Viola Rothschild described her findings while conducting research on African entrepreneurs in China. Ayo Awokoya offered this cogent exposition of anti-African racism on line in China. Promotional posters for Star Wars: The Force Awakens were modified in China to minimize or eliminate non-white actors. And shrill government mouthpiece Global Times published a cartoon showing President Obama in a way that would, in the United States, be beyond the ken for even those publications in most vigorous opposition to the President.

My point is not to suggest that China is alone in its attitudes – indeed, the candidacy of Donald Trump in the current U.S. Presidential campaign has demonstrated that America is far from ridding itself of ethnic hatreds. Rather, it is to highlight several important points around the dialogue of China and its role in the world.

  • First, that China’s status as a nation of “color” (i.e., predominantly non-white in ethnic makeup and dominated by non-whites) does not excuse it or individual Chinese for racist behavior,
  • Second, that words or policies that favor or disfavor one race or another are no less racist in China than they would be elsewhere;
  • Finally, that neither the Chinese nor the peoples around the world with whom they have increasing contact have yet to reckon with that racism, its policy implications, and its potential impact on the world as a whole.

As China emerges as an international power, it faces the danger that latent racism in its relations with other countries will undermine its efforts to win friends beyond its borders. Veteran journalist Howard French, author of China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa, notes that Chinese operating in Africa are racist to the point that they are unconscious of the aspects of their behavior and speech that cause offense.

Provoking local resentment, though, is only the beginning of the dangers implicit in Chinese racism. Racism can fester all too easily into the kind of cultural chauvinism that propelled the worst elements of Japan’s foreign policy between 1868 and 1945. For the sake of both the nation and the world, China cannot be allowed to fall into that trap. The example of Japan – and those of the great European empires – offers a surfeit of reasons to fear a world power convinced of its own ethnic superiority.

One friend suggested to me that authoritarian regimes are naturally less racist. Even if we leave aside the extreme systemic racism of the USSR and the Third Reich, one would be hard pressed to prove that authoritarian regimes are better at eliminating de facto racism (or what I call “social racism”) than their pluralist counterparts. As the articles linked above attest, there is certainly social racism in China. And as for systemic racism in China, one need explore no further than its immigration policy, which makes attaining citizenship in China fairly straightforward for an ethnic Chinese applicant, but practically impossible for a caucasian, an African, or a Latino.

If we are going to call out our own governments and institutions for their racist behavior, we cannot afford to give other governments a pass. This is not imposing our standards or culture on another: it is, rather, compelling China to eschew a behavior that is inimical to its own interests.

And it would do us well to contemplate the implications for the world if a fundamentally racist nation were to win its bid for global leadership. Would such attitudes mellow? Could they? Or would they instead sow a value system where “diversity” became an obscenity?

A thought for the National Day holiday. Enjoy, and see you after the break.

Innovation and Standardization in China

The study examines defining characteristics of the evolving Chinese innovation and standards system and explores possible impacts for China as well as the global economy. China considers standardization to be an essential tool for improving its innovative capacity, yet very little is known about this critical building block of China’s innovation system.

Source: Indigenous Innovation and Globalization: The Challenge for China’s Standardization Strategy | East-West Center | www.eastwestcenter.org