Wednesday, August 07, 2013

UPDATED: Hegemonic Warfare Watch: Taiwan, pivotal or not?

Catholic facility in Tanzih, probably aimed at the large population of Filipino workers in the nearby export processing zone. With what's coming in Asia in a few years, we'll need all the help we can get.

Typing this on my new Nexus 7 tablet with a mobile Bluetooth keyboard. Got it so I'd have a light computer solution for biking and travel. The two together weigh roughly 750 grams....

The resignation of Andrew Yang after only six days as Minister of Defense for plagiarism has rocked the nation. The local media and several longtime observers who know Yang personally are saying it appears to be the result of a power struggle within the Ministry of National Defense.... UPDATE: J Michael Cole has a great post on it pointing out that two DPP politicos sparked it, and he detects the hand of China in it. What purblind stupidity. Not only does this attack on Yang appear to have violated DPP goals and policies but it also appears to have hurt Taiwan. By all accounts Yang would have made a great Defense Minister who was truly committed to the island's defense. The Kuan Bi-ling who brought up the alleged plagiarism charge against Yang also has her name on the credulous "Two Minutes, One Fact" video that went viral during the crisis with the Phils two months ago. Self-promotion, much? Can we have some Party discipline laid down on these people.

The Diplomat says China's new aircraft carrier should be put into perspective... and that perspective should be Sino-Russian cooperation.
There are also long-term regional factors that must be evaluated. While Russia today is considered a regional partner and not a threat to China's borders, history shows that the situation can change rapidly. Beijing has been able to pour tremendous resources into its naval assets in part because Sino-Russian relations have transformed in recent decades.
...this will last only as long as China and Russia are friends. When they break up, then resources will have to shift to the land forces. Meanwhile, Manila expanded its Navy by taking aboard a US coast guard cutter. Which is 46 years old. Beijing must be quaking in its boots.

A former staffer for Cong. Ros-Lehtinen, a strong Taiwan supporter, added another piece to the ongoing discussion inside the Beltway over whether the US should continue to support Taiwan:
Any hint of a diminution of American commitment in the Pacific, however, could trigger a slow unraveling of this very alliance structure that maintains the peace and prosperity of the most economically dynamic region of the world. Imagine the shock waves, from Seoul and Tokyo in the north to Manila and Canberra in the south, which would follow in the wake of an American accommodation to a coercive move by Beijing against Taiwan. The imposition by force of an externally mandated political settlement contrary to the aspirations of the people of Taiwan would not only be diametrically opposed to America's own core values but would raise doubts about the durability of Pax Americana in the Asia-Pacific.

Whatever the restraints placed on Asian capitals' freedom of action by Beijing's coercive “one China” policy, diplomats in most of these capitals look to Washington as a strong counterweight to a re-emerging but still authoritarian China. If this counterweight is brought into question, policy makers in Seoul might conclude that Korea's best, if painful, option would be to return to its traditional, compromised relationship with the resurgent Middle Kingdom. An increasingly isolated Japan, concerned once again with the acquirement of energy resources in a post-Fukushima era, might see a risky go-it-alone strategy as the only option. Southeast Asian nations might also view further accommodation to Beijing's mercantile and territorial demands as the only viable alternative.
Sturdy, familiar language, all true, of course. I wonder if it too strongly echoes the kind of strong claims made about "losing" Vietnam. Not so much a criticism, as a thought about rhetoric and positioning. Yet what other language is there to speak?

USA Today also ran a piece recently on the limits to US engagement with Taiwan:
But three weeks from now, on August 11, the president of another Asian territory with close proximity to China will be slipping as quietly as possible into the United States. Ma Ying-jeou, the Harvard-educated lawyer who is president of Taiwan, will find himself treated to none of the pomp and circumstance of a White House welcome. Indeed, he's not welcome in Washington at all. He'll be touching down in New York, en route to Paraguay where he will be an honored guest for the inauguration of their new president. But in New York, President Ma will be whisked off as quickly and quietly as possible to an undisclosed hotel where folks into whose ears his arrival has been whispered will be allowed to pay him a stealth visit. There'll be no press conference. Not even a press release when he is still in the U.S. And the folks in the Taiwanese consulate in New York, when queried, simply raise a single finger to their lips. On the return trip, he'll repeat the same, stealth-style visit to Los Angeles.
Another one of those don't-they-have-google moments: Ma is not a lawyer. That silliness will never die. It's not much of a piece, merely noting that the US begrudges Taiwan less than it deserves, and that Taiwan is being moved closer to China.

Finally, an interesting recent piece in The Diplomat observes what so many of us have remarked on: that China is basically containing itself:
Today, a new bipolar competition is taking shape. While not a global chess match for influence or a new "Cold War" as some theorize, the United States and the People's Republic of China faceoff in a competitive contest in the Asia-Pacific and larger Indo-Pacific region. In November 2011 in a now famous long form op-ed in Foreign Policy, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out American's strategy of a "pivot" to Asia. Chinese pundits and media have panned the pivot or now respun "rebalance" as a blatant attempt to contain China's rise. One Chinese professor even remarked, “The pivot is a very stupid choice… the United States has achieved nothing and only annoyed China. China can’t be contained.”

I agree — unless China makes the choice to contain itself.
Instead of sweet-talking the region and exploiting its strong opposition to imperialism and colonialism from the west, Beijing's very obvious expansionism has made enemies of would-be friends, driving them to contain it.

Daily Links:
  • Only in Taiwan: making dictators cute.
    "I have remarked elsewhere that he still lords it up in some spectacularly inappropriate locations, such as the Zhongzheng Park (中正公園) in Chiayi (嘉義) opposite the museum dedicated to the artist Chen Cheng-po (陳澄波), a man who Chiang had shot in the street for daring to ask for Formosan participation in government."
  • Legislature agrees to try Hung case in civilian court. This will have zero impact on the military's culture and atmosphere, but it does give the appearance of actually doing something.
  • HSR tix to rise nearly 10%.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Mike Fagan said...

"Not only does this attack on Yang appear to have violated DPP goals and policies but it also appears to have hurt Taiwan."

That may be overstating it, as it presupposes that Yang's term as minister was a good chance for reform of the military - and that a better one might not be possible. Bear in mind the liklihood that Yang would have met resistance to at least some aspects of the reforms he would have wanted - both from within the military and elsewhere (the Cabinet and Ma). By resigning on trivial premises, Yang makes the administration's commitment to military reform look phony; he might simply be folding a bad hand to wait for a better one to play.

R said...

Thanks for the piece. Do you happen to have the link to the editorial J Michael Cole referred to in his writing? I am very interested in knowing what qualification Yang have, but somehow I can't comment on his blog..