Monday, April 30, 2018

The Week in Chinese Belligerence with bonus CNN moment

What happens when the machines stop?

Russell Hsiao at TNI asks What Would Taiwan Do If China Invaded? Hsiao notes:
As one analyst observed in 2003:

… it is not clear how high a price Taiwan is willing to pay to oppose China. Taiwan’s people have generally resisted the sacrifices that go with a high degree of military readiness. Mandatory military service for young men is unpopular, and the government has already cut the length of service several times. Some high-ranking Taiwan military officers admit that the civilian population’s willingness to fight is not beyond question. Opinion polls commonly indicate that a significant proportion of Taiwan’s trained reservists would be reluctant to answer the call to arms in the event of a war with China.
Hsaio then lists polls that show people are willing to fight. I think many analysts are confused on this point. Most people will fight, and that number will rise when China attacks the island and people see their loved ones killed around them.

Taiwanese do not rejecting sacrificing to defend their island. Rather, they abhor the military. The problem is that the military treats its recruits like crap. In a society that runs on chickenshit, the military is the ultimate realization of the chickenshit culture. For the conscripts, who are under the absolute, unchecked authority of the officers, life can be hell. Naturally young males dread joining the organization...

Military service in the old days was a mandatory two years so that males could be constantly indoctrinated with KMT propaganda and so that they would be off the streets and unable to take part in protests, and to keep them under surveillance for their politics and the pro-democracy types identified and perhaps imprisoned. China had no navy in the old days and there was never any threat to take Taiwan back then. It was all about domestic political control.

It would be better if foreign commentators focused on pressuring the military to reform its  culture rather than claiming (falsely) that Taiwanese don't want to defend Taiwan.

This week Chinese belligerence was the theme. CNN "reported" with a fine piece of stenography on China's noisemaking via imagery, propaganda, and air force flights around Taiwan, with the stupidly wrong title:
China's release of images reinforces vow to keep Taiwan as a territory
Yes, that's right, for CNN Taiwan is already part of China, which it is trying to "keep". Thus does a great American news organization align itself with authoritarian power rather than international law, under which Taiwan's status is undetermined. It would be sick but frankly the media's failure to advocate for democracy in Asia is so awful I accept this as par for the course.

Sometimes I don't even understand why the CCP bothers to waste money on Xinhua.

CNN remains mystified by Taiwan's actual status in US policy. After a long piece with many quotes from Chinese sources, CNN ends with a confusing comment on US policy:
While Washington does not challenge Communist China's claim over Taiwan, the official US policy simply states that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait recognize there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.
Very confusing and wrong, twice now. The US acknowledges but does not recognize that people on both sides of the Strait say Taiwan is part of China. US policy is that Taiwan's status is undetermined. Apparently CNN has never heard of Google.

Again the same crap as last time. Quote after quote from China sources, but none from Taiwan or Washington. Even when CNN mentions Washington and Taiwan, as if to apologize for having the temerity to suggest there were places in the world where Beijing's writ did not run, it quickly listed the Chinese reaction:
But under US President Donald Trump, the United States' has appeared enthusiastic to move closer to Taiwan, a move which has caused deep concern in Beijing.

"Every inch of our great motherland's territory cannot be separated from China," President Xi said during a nationalistic speech at the National People's Congress in March, drawing huge applause.

The Trump administration has sought closer ties to President Tsai's government, angering Beijing by recently signing two deals to tighten ties with the island, including a travel act which will allow more official visits between the US and Taipei.
CNN doesn't bother to present any information or quotes on why the US might have this policy and what Taiwan's position is, except to say that the ruling DPP is pro-independence (so is the whole island, CNN). We get lots of Beijing reaction, but no US reaction to Beijing's posturing. This is not a short piece, so CNN cannot plead lack of space.

Is CNN simply pro-Beijing, or censoring itself?

Meanwhile, the US responded with B-52 flights to Pratas Island off China. Someone is paying attention. Jason Diehl's WaPo piece contains a rare tidbit: scuttlebutt is that Trump was angry that Alex Wong visited Taipei. The Administration is complex and Trump is hardly the whole of it.

A lighter moment: China "discovered" a map from 1951. O so conveniently, it addresses some issues with the infamous Nine Dash Line. I expect that ancient texts and modern documents both are going to be undergoing continuous alteration to support PRC expansion, and we are all going to be like Winston Smith watching O'Brien send a photo the memory hole...
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