The U.S., high and mighty as it is, is blunted by China’s economic and military muscle. That being the case, its ability to influence Chinese Policy, especially in the South China Sea dispute is severely checked. However, instead of the usual way the U.S. deals with its enemies (guns blazing) or outward directed force, it pursues domestic or inward directed reforms that aim at outcompeting China.
While the U.S. is at its self-assessment, which is boring at best, let’s see what else it has up its sleeves to annoy China.
Here’s what I have gathered so far:
- Naval Patrols in the guise of Freedom of Navigation;
- Naval military exercises with China’s enemies;
- Domestic reforms aimed at beating China at its own economic game; and
- Repatriating China’s most problematic Citizens.
As sarcastic as it is, this reminds me of Sun Tzu’s Art of War. To wit, it says:
“If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him.”
U.S. Briefing Asian Allies on Plans for Naval Patrols in South China Sea
October 12, 2015
BEIJING — The United States has been briefing its allies in Asia on plans to conduct “freedom of navigation” naval patrols near artificial islands built by China in the disputed South China Sea, a move that could escalate tensions with Beijing after President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Washington, American and Asian officials have said.
The patrols, which would come within 12 nautical miles of at least one of the islands, are intended to challenge China’s efforts to claim large parts of the strategic waterway by enlarging rocks and submerged reefs into islands big enough for military airstrips, radar equipment and lodging for soldiers, the officials said.
Though China claims much of the South China Sea as sovereign territory, the 12-mile zone around the new islands is particularly delicate because international law says such artificial islands do not have sovereign rights up to the 12-mile limit.
India, U.S., Japan kick off naval drills likely to annoy China
October 12, 2015
India, Japan and the United States will hold joint naval exercises each year, Indian government sources said on Monday, as the three countries kicked off the first such drills in the Bay of Bengal in eight years, a move likely to concern China.
The last time New Delhi hosted multilateral drills in its waters in 2007 prompted disquiet in China where some saw it as a U.S. -inspired security grouping on the lines of NATO in Europe.
But Prime Minister Narendra Modi has signalled a more robust security policy, seeking stronger strategic ties with the United States and Japan while keeping a lid on border tensions with China.
The United States is deploying the aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and a nuclear-powered submarine in the week-long exercises that the Indian navy said will cover the full spectrum of manoeuvres.
“These exercises are all-encompassing, starting from one spectrum to the other including anti-piracy operations, board, search and seize and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” said Indian navy spokesman Captain D.K. Sharma.
The decision to expand the Malabar exercises that the U.S. and India conduct each year to include Japan comes days after a Pentagon official said it was considering sailing warships close to China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea.
The Financial Times newspaper last week cited a senior U.S. official as saying U.S. ships would sail within 12-nautical-mile zones that China claims as territory around islands it has built in the Spratly chain, within the next two weeks.
India has kept away from the tensions in the South China, but has stood with the U.S. in calling for freedom of navigation in the region.
For America, The Key to China Is Closer to Home
October 12, 2015
China’s economic and military muscle has blunted the United States’ ability to influence Chinese policy. Instead of just considering direct counter-measures, however, the U.S. should pursue domestic reforms that ensure it will outcompete China. The U.S. should focus on what it can control: Drive domestic reforms that strengthen its competitive advantages, pressuring China to either accept reform or be left in the dust.
Chinese president Xi Jinping’s state visit with U.S. President Barack Obama brought little action on key concerns for Americans and American companies; the U.S. lacks the leverage to influence China’s behavior on key issues such as market access for American companies, cyber theft, sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea, and intellectual property protection. While Xi’s state visit did produce the standard rhetoric from Beijing about dedication to reform, the U.S. again must wait to see if China’s actions match its words.
Many China experts struggle with appropriate solutions because each response comes with significant drawbacks. Push China too hard, and risk retaliation in the form of pressure on American companies in China, further cyber intrusions, and unilateral actions in the South China Sea. If the U.S. doesn’t push hard enough, China will continue to flex its muscles. By its very nature, U.S. policy towards China is reactive and more about adapting to new challenges that China creates. The United States should instead prioritize and achieve commercial and cultural goals that force China to get on board with real reforms for fear of being outcompeted.
The Chinese Communist Party derives its legitimacy from its ability to deliver economic opportunities to its massive population. The U.S. should continue to confront China on issues that affect its core interests. However, outcompeting China will force the Party to pursue the economic and political reforms necessary to catch up in a way that U.S. military or economic containment could never achieve.
China: U.S. has repatriated ‘most wanted’ fugitive Yang JinjunHong Kong (CNN)
September 15, 2015
Yang Jinjun, who is suspected of corruption and bribery, had been in the United States since 2001, according to a Friday statement from China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
The repatriation comes days before President Xi Jinping embarks on a visit to the United States and suggests that Washington is willing to help Beijing in its corruption crackdown.
Since coming to power, President Xi has netted hordes of government officials and company executives suspected of corruption. Some critics say it’s merely politics and that Xi is removing his opponents, but the crackdown has continued to widen.
Why are the United States and China frenemies?
Why are the United States and China frenemies? 02:25
In April, China published a list of 100 most wanted fugitives and has launched campaigns dubbed “Operation Foxhunt” and “Operation Skynet.”
The “most wanted” list includes photos and identification numbers of former local government officials, police officers, accountants and more, who are suspected of taking bribes, embezzling funds and laundering money.
Yang’s forced return marks the first time that China has succeeded in getting the United States to comply since it published the list.
Twelve others have been repatriated from other countries.
While the U.S. doesn’t have an extradition treaty with China, the State Department can still return fugitives to China.