Friday, June 10, 2011

China Military On The Move

The language of policy-making discourse:
Outgoing CIA director Leon Panetta, US President Barack Obama’s pick for US secretary of defense, said China was preparing for “potential contingencies” involving Taiwan, which could include potential military clashes.
China is not preparing for "potential contingencies." China is preparing to attack Taiwan, to maim and murder its people, and to annex its territory. The policymaker's distancing euphemisms soften the real world and make the killing that much easier.

Defense News reports that China says it will conduct military exercises in the western Pacific.
Chinese state media reported June 9 that China would conduct naval training drills in the western Pacific later this month, amid lingering fears among Beijing's neighbors about its military ambitions.

The exercises will take place in international waters and are "not targeted at any specific country," the defense ministry said in a statement carried by Xinhua news agency.
A longtime academic observer of Taiwan affairs, reading the news that China's new carrier, said to be named the Shi Lang after the general who took Taiwan for the Manchus, remarked that the US should respond to the upcoming launch of the vessel with the sale of F-16s to Taiwan. Aviation Weekly reports that China is now the major consideration in Indian Air Force deployments.

Turning south, the South China Sea was once again the site of further Chinese tension-mongering.
China warned Asian neighbors Thursday to stop searching for oil near the disputed Spratly Islands and vowed to assert its sovereignty over the potentially petroleum-rich territory in the South China Sea despite rival claims.

China and the Philippines have swapped diplomatic protests over the islands, with Filipino officials accusing Chinese forces of intruding into Manila-claimed areas six times since February and of firing shots in at least one incident. Beijing denied the allegation Thursday and said it would use violence only when attacked.

Vietnam, meanwhile, has accused China of flaring tensions in the sea by hindering the operation of a oil and gas exploration boat for the second time in two weeks.

The Spratlys, which are believed to be atop vast oil and gas reserves, have long been feared as a potential flash point of armed conflict in Asia.
Sitting in Taiwan and watching Beijing stoking tensions throughout Asia, it is incredible to me the way in which the media treats Beijing as a passive agent when it comes to Taiwan. It's the same expansionist drive that is putting troops in the Himal across from India, giving dissidents prison sentences in Tibet, seizing fishing boats in the South China Sea, and pointing missiles at Taiwan.
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19 comments:

Bozo T. said...

You're a fear monger!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bozo T.

The chances of war between Taiwan and China are lower than they've ever been.

zhuzhusteve said...

It appears it's time to leave Taiwan. And here's why......
You stated: "China is not preparing for "potential contingencies." China is preparing to attack Taiwan, to maim and murder its people, and to annex its territory. The policymaker's distancing euphemisms soften the real world and make the killing that much easier."

Those words are powerful, but what actual information do you have to back such an ugly predication “..maim…murder its people…” Are these words your well-honed opinion or a fact based prediction? As an expat that lives here in Taiwan I am definitely curious and no sarcasm intended: please enlighten me.

Now I know some history of China, mainly the Mao reign and some familiarity with the current government and I can't see China’s goal in “…maiming and murdering…” Taiwan’s people. Seriously.
I don't have specific facts about Taiwan's possible future, but according to the CIA Tiawan is doing well, better than China in its Gross domestic product (GDP). https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2003rank.html
Why would China threaten such a moneymaker and risk war with Taiwan? I am sure there are other reasons not to attack this great republic, which I am sure I could find with some genuine research, but why unless like what you said is true.

Note: I rarely read your blog: just a quick look to read your opinion about Taiwan and "the eternal Chinese threat"…that and your depiction of Taichung’s dark side (gangsters and corrupt politicians). My lack of interest is mainly because you seem too close to becoming a semi-Glenn Beck style fear monger, not on such a massive scale as Beck, but still, spreading fear and painting a dismal future for Taiwan…like this posting.

Well, if you are right you can laugh at all of us who have a brighter view of Taiwan and say, "I told you so." But I hope your wrong because it’s a horrific vision you have (“..maim…murder its people…” ) and honestly, if I was a betting man, I would bet strongly against your prediction and that is "my opinion".

Enjoy the trails and ride forward with a hint of better things to come.

Anonymous said...

Michael's critics above,

Question 1: What is a missile?

Question 2: What is the purpose of a missile?

Question 3: Could you define collateral damage?

Question 4: What is it when you aim 1500 - 2000 missiles at a civilian population?

Question 5: What is it when, despite warming ties, one government fails to withdraw said missiles and embarks on unprecedented military spending programs?

Question 6: Who continues to threaten the use of military force unless one group of people forfeit their sovereignty to be annexed by the PRC?

Question 7: Who is is really fear mongering?

Anonymous said...

Micheal is certainly exaggerating. The PRC is not interested in using force, but they will use their military power + economic leverage + international influence to checkmate Taiwan and arrive at unification. The way I see it, things have moved beyond the point of no return, if the DPP is smart they might have to consider to negotiate with the PRC in order to get a slightly better deal for the island than the KMT would (doing a Nixon...). Maybe formal unification would be enough for the PRC, but then, considering how things in HK go even that remains doubtful.

Michael Turton said...

Anon is right, the PRC is exaggerating. That's why no Vietnamese fishing boats have been seized in the South China Sea, there have been no armed clashes or island seizures by China there, Tibetans travel unmolested in their free nation, and Xinjiang is a model of independence for the whole of Central Asia.

Anonymous said...

Taking Taiwan by force has too many dangerous implications for the PRC. You will create terrorists/insurgents within Taiwan, you will destroy a good deal of Taiwan's economic power, you will damage your international position and trade/investment, etc. If unrest within Taiwan can't be suppressed fast and effective then it could swap over to other regions, etc. In chess it is enough to announce checkmate, you don't have to topple the king.

zhuzhusteve said...

To Anon, respectively, with all the questions.

Question 1: What is a missile? ANSWER: A threat

Question 2: What is the purpose of a missile?
ANSWER: a form of sabre rattling that most powerful countries use to imply a threat or a form of self-defense, like America does with its National Missile Defense system. Other countries do this too I am sure, except America doesn't verbalize our missile threat.

Question 3: Could you define collateral damage?
ANSWER: Why this question? Really, do we have to?

Question 4: What is it when you aim 1500 - 2000 missiles at a civilian population?
ANSWER: Check question 2

Question 5: What is it when, despite warming ties, one government fails to withdraw said missiles and embarks on unprecedented military spending programs?
ANSWER: Sounds like Russia back in the day and look where it got them. So, the actual answer is China, I am guessing.

Question 6: Who continues to threaten the use of military force unless one group of people forfeit their sovereignty to be annexed by the PRC?

ANSWER: Again, China. They do this from time to time I agree. Especially when Taiwan does something that shows independence or buying military items.

Question 7: Who is is really fear mongering?
ANSWER: Who? My statement still stands as to who.
China fear mongering? I leave that up to individual interpretation where it should be left.

Bottom-line: In my opinion, yes, China and Taiwan are at odds and have been since the days of Mao and Chang Kai-shek, except for the time they unified and fought the Japanese. So, enjoy your life in Taiwan, eat a great meal, love your family and friends, read the news, stay updated but please…lighten up. And, no more from me on this comment thread....phew!
All the best.

Anonymous said...

zhuzhu said:<>

Ok, zhuzhu, come back later after you do your homework, Your singular lack of background knowledge is mindblowing, however dire Michael's prediction may be.

John S said...

(Form a post above) "..The PRC is not interested in using force, but they will use their military power + economic leverage + international influence to checkmate Taiwan and arrive at unification..."


Well, who knows what they are actually planning to do with the 1000s of missiles aimed at Taiwan and the official decrees promising to use them if Taiwan is not compliant? But it should be painfully obvious that the missiles and promises to use them are a very real threat to anyone living in Taiwan.


It is no exaggeration to say that this is one kind of terrorism. The whole point of terrorism is to make people afraid to do something, right? If Taiwanese voters feel that their options are blocked or limited on account of this standing threat of attack (or blockade, etc.), then the missiles have already served their purpose of terror.


I guess the question of how comfortable you are to live under a standing threat of attack on your family is sort of a personal thing. I tend to feel angry as hail when someone points missiles at someone I love, or wants them to feel terrorized into making certain choices.


It amazes me how hard that is for some people to understand. How easily a person can excuse or condone such a threat also shows a lot about one's sense of justice and moral character.


It's kind of like my cousin, the armed robber, who carries a loaded shotgun with which he threatens to shoot people who don't do as he tells them. But I don't want you to get the idea that he is an evil person. No, no, he would never actually hurt anyone-- it's just that his livelihood requires him to make people believe that he WOULD do it. But of course you don't need to worry, as long as you do what he tells you.

ALX said...

i agree with the economic power thing, but i don't see the terrorists/insurgents thing happening >< but ya military action would be as a last resort...going by the "art of war" it's best to defeat your enemy without firing a single bullet. But the possibility is always there and you have to wonder as China flexes it's muscles when they will think the time is right.

Robert R. said...

(1) You will create terrorists/insurgents within Taiwan, (2) you will destroy a good deal of Taiwan's economic power, (3) you will damage your international position and trade/investment, etc. (4) If unrest within Taiwan can't be suppressed fast and effective then it could swap over to other regions, etc.

1) China has been quite effective at dealing with insurgents... look at East Turkestan.
2) China's reasoning to take Taiwan isn't an economic one (unlike, say, the Senkakus), as it's been in place since '49 (I think). Regardless if Taiwan is at peak economic performance, it will still add to the GDP of China. [and there's a lot of technology they can just take for use in China]
3)Perhaps, but China's already well embedded in everyone's supply-chains that they've already got everyone by the nuts. You must recall Hillary Clinton's first visit as SoS. Essentially said, "sure, we care about human rights, but we can't let that get in the of our trade!".
4) China's also quite good at managing information to prevent this as well. There is already plenty of local unrest that does not travel far, such as the recent unrest in Inner Mongolia.

And, actually, if wide-spread unrest becomes a problem in China, they may consider to whip up nationalism directed at "Retaking Taiwan" to redirect the energies of the populace away from the government.


And to extend to Michael's list of things China hasn't done, they also haven't passed an Anti-Secession law, which is why he is definitely exaggerating.

Dixteel said...

We can all speculate what PRC's intention is and the high cost of a war etc, but the fact is that China does have considerable arm forces strategically aim to annex Taiwan. Mainly there are two parts: 1. Able to attack/invade Taiwan and end the war quickly. 2. credible threat to 3rd countries/parties to prevent any intervention. If you follow the Chinese army/navy build up you will notice this trend.

We can rationalize who cost ineffective a war is, but remember China/CCP does not think only in economies, but in their political objectives. Also, the recent economic growth have provided China enough money to burn.

We can also speculate how China will not start a massacre in Taiwan once they take over, but there is indeed no guarantee. Once China has control over Taiwan, they can do pretty much whatever they want (look at Tibet etc). If the allies in WW2 knows how f**ked up KMT were, would they have allowed KMT to take over Taiwan? A lot of tragedy is simply result of ignorance and misplaced trust.

D said...

@the comments

Interesting test case for predilections of judgment. Everyone here more or less has the same facts. Everyone knows there are missiles and knows what China says. But then the road splits when it comes to interpreting what those facts will likely lead to, one side insisting that it's "obvious" that "missiles = intention and preparation for invasion", the other side that "intention and preparation for invasion may = something other than actual intention to invade". There is a complexity to China that the first group ignores. But it seems to me that the first group is right that even a complex situation will come down to zero-sum decisions -- war or no war -- and it may be most effective, for defending Taiwan's sovereignty, to focus on those simple decisions.

So @zhuzhusteve, MT generally paints China as a simple Manichean cardboard villain here. You have to accept it like a "known issue" or "congenital defect". But if the portrait of China is too broad, the effect of it may be desirable -- that is, to encourage people to pay attention to the problems that arise as China becomes more engaged in East Asia. In that sense he's probably right to connect South China Sea with Taiwan, even though on many other levels the issues involved are not quite the same.

Anonymous said...

It is no exaggeration to say that this is one kind of terrorism. The whole point of terrorism is to make people afraid to do something, right? If Taiwanese voters feel that their options are blocked or limited on account of this standing threat of attack (or blockade, etc.), then the missiles have already served their purpose of terror.

Then obviously these "terror" tactics have failed because nobody in Taiwan - other than a few people on blogs - is afraid to do things.

As others have said above, rival countries all over the world threaten and point missiles at each other all the time. This is no different.

Michael Turton said...

So @zhuzhusteve, MT generally paints China as a simple Manichean cardboard villain here. You have to accept it like a "known issue" or "congenital defect".

Yes, when I studied for my first PHD, I was cured of the idea that complexity = depth. But by watching the academics around me I did come to understand that people often use the idea of complexity as a legitimating strategy to portray themselves as brighter, deeper, and more insightful than poor benighted souls like myself, as you do here, D.

In that sense he's probably right to connect South China Sea with Taiwan, even though on many other levels the issues involved are not quite the same.

Of course the issues involved aren't quite the same (d'oh). But the source of problem is.

Michael

Anonymous said...

I think the PRC's military power/buildup serves the same purpose a gun does for a bank-robber. Using it will yield negative repercussions in many cases (life-sentence for murder, etc.), but not having it won't allow you to rob a bank!

John S said...

(posted above) "...Then obviously these "terror" tactics have failed because nobody in Taiwan - other than a few people on blogs - is afraid to do things..."


Of course the militarty threat has an effect-- a very real and practical effect. It is this threat --and how it is used by certain groups-- that is the major factor that frames all debate on issues of sovereignty, self-determination, foreign policy and long-term prospects for democracy and civil liberties. Even when it is not explicitly referred to, it still forms the boundaries of what opinions and positions are seen as rational, reasonable or radical in political debate. How many democracies can you think of, where demanding national self-determination is considered an unreasonable fringe position?


The fact that many Taiwanese have more or less come to accept this state which restricts their opportunities for the future shows that the terror works to make people afraid to vote for certain parties, afraid to make certain choices.

What a cop-out to say that "many nations point missiles at each other, it is normal, so get over it..." You can justify anything that way, right?

Anonymous said...

The fact that many Taiwanese have more or less come to accept this state which restricts their opportunities for the future shows that the terror works to make people afraid to vote for certain parties, afraid to make certain choices.

No one is afraid to vote for certain parties. Suggesting that is just silly. People voted for the DPP for 2 administrations, and then the KMT after the DPP f'd up and the KMT offered a better policy platform. Recent elections have swung back toward the DPP due to the KMT's poor performance. I don't get where you say that people are afraid to vote for certain parties - it certainly doesn't bear out in reality over the past decade.