Xi Pledges ‘New Era’ for China, Vows to Counter Taiwan Independence Drive


President Xi Jinping made a pledge on Wednesday to transform China into a modern socialist country, vowing to counter challenges, ranging from corruption, climate change and Taiwan’s separatist drive.

During the opening of the twice-a-decade Communist Party Congress, he painted a vision of a “new era” that will be proudly Chinese, steadfastly ruled by the party but open to the world.

“Through a long period of hard work, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, this is a new historical direction in our country’s development,” Xi said, using the term “new era” 36 times.

In his nearly three-and-a-half hours speech, Xi envisioned China developing into a “basically” modernized socialist country by 2035, becoming one of the world’s most innovative countries with the income gap between urban and rural residents significantly reduced, and its environmental woes fundamentally eliminated.

By 2050, Xi said, China would become a modern socialist “strong power” with leading influence on the world stage.

But he signaled there would be no political reforms.

The Communist Party Congress is a week-long, mostly closed-door conclave that will culminate with the selection of a new Politburo Standing Committee that will rule China’s 1.4 billion people for the next five years, with Xi expected to consolidate his grasp on power.

He addressed more than 2,000 delegates in Beijing’s cavernous Great Hall of the People, including 91-year-old former President Jiang Zemin, under tight security on a rainy, smoggy morning.

China’s political system was the broadest, most genuine, and most effective way to safeguard the fundamental interests of the people, said Xi, who has overseen a sweeping crackdown on civil society, locking up rights lawyers and dissidents.

“We should not just mechanically copy the political systems of other countries,” he said. “We must unwaveringly uphold and improve party leadership and make the party still stronger.”

Xi praised the party’s successes, particularly his high-profile anti-graft campaign, which has seen more than a million officials punished and dozens of former senior officials jailed, and warned the campaign would never end as corruption was the “gravest threat” the party faces.

“We must remain as firm as a rock in our resolve to build on the overwhelming momentum and secure a sweeping victory,” Xi said.

On Taiwan’s separatist drive, he stressed that Beijing has the will and power to thwart any attempts at independence.

Beijing claims Taiwan as its own.

Xi warned that China has “the resolve, the confidence, and the ability to defeat separatist attempts for Taiwan independence in any form”.

“We will never allow anyone, any organization, or any political party, at any time or in any form, to separate any part of Chinese territory from China,” he said.

Taiwan’s mainland affairs council called the Communist Party congress’ comments “regrettable”, saying “China cannot win over the people” through its “one China” policy.

Ties between Taiwan and China have turned increasingly frosty since the election of Tsai Ing-wen as president last year.

Beijing cut off official communication with her government shortly after it took office due to her refusal to publicly accept the “one China” concept.

The two sides split after a civil war in 1949, and while Taiwan sees itself as a sovereign nation, it has never formally declared independence.

Xi made no mention of independence movements in China’s semi-autonomous city Hong Kong.

Beijing has tightened control over the city’s affairs in response to high-profile calls for democracy that have increasingly turned to calls for self-determination or even full independence.

On the economic front, Xi said China would relax market access for foreign investment, expand access to its services sector and deepen market-oriented reform of its exchange rate and financial system, while at the same time strengthening state firms, he said.

As expected, the speech was heavy on aspiration and short on specific measures, but during Xi’s first term, China disappointed many expecting it to usher in more market-oriented reforms.

Xi promised, in what was likely an indirect reference to US President Donald Trump’s “America first” policy, that China would be fully engaged with the world, and reiterated pledges to tackle climate change.

China Gears up for National Congress as Xi Seeks to Consolidate Power


China’s ruling Communist Party is preparing to hold its national congress on Wednesday where President Xi Jinping is expected to consolidate his power and head on a second five-year term in office.

Amid the stability he has achieved in China during his term in office, beyond the borders, the situation is not so calm.

There, he is at the mercy of two unpredictable men, US President Donald Trump and North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un – a predicament that points to the limits of China’s bid to project soft power, said an Agence France Presse report.

Some analysts say Kim could try to cause a stir by testing another missile or nuclear bomb in the middle of China’s most important political event, which is held every five years.

A new test could trigger another 140-character salvo by Trump, who has alternated between prodding and praising Xi’s response to North Korea.

Trump’s mercurial Twitter diplomacy has contrasted with Xi’s unemotional style. The US leader has also pointedly left Xi hanging over whether he will hit China with tariffs over trade grievances.

Despite the mixed messages, Xi has professed his friendship with Trump, confirming an invitation for the US president to come to Beijing next month, when they will discuss trade and North Korea face-to-face.

His relationship with Kim is also complicated.

The North Korean leader has already interfered with two international summits that the Chinese president has hosted this year, by staging headline-grabbing provocations.

In May, as Xi prepared to address world leaders gathered in Beijing on his signature Belt and Road initiative – a Chinese-led trade infrastructure program – the North successfully launched a new ballistic missile.

Then in September, it conducted its most powerful nuclear test to date, hours before Xi took the stage for a speech before leaders of the developing world at the annual BRICS summit.

The timing was seen as a slight towards Xi and an attempt by Kim to strongarm his Chinese neighbor into convincing Trump to sit down for talks.

A new nuclear test during the party congress “would be more than a loss of face. It will harm the ruling party of China,” said Cheng Xiaohe, an associate professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing. “It will harm Xi Jinping at this crucial moment.”

On Wednesday, Xi will address the nation to lay out his political and economic vision for the world’s second-largest economy over the next five years.

Villages will broadcast news of the congress over loudspeakers, a security crackdown has been extended and monitoring of dissidents strengthened.

Xi, who is expected to get a second five-year term as party leader at the gathering, will kick off events with an address indicating whether his personal political theory will be entered into the party constitution alongside those of predecessors such as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

Xi’s speech is also expected to recommit the party to achieving the goals of a “moderately well-off society” by 2021 — the 100th anniversary of the party’s founding — and even greater national power and prosperity by 2049 — the centenary of the founding of the Communist state.

Those achievements will depend on continued economic growth and the lifting of millions out of poverty, alongside the continued rapid expansion of Chinese military and political power, including its growing ability to dominate the Asia-Pacific region.

While the nation’s presidency is limited to two five-year terms, the office of party general secretary is bound by no such restrictions. Xi, 64, could step aside for a younger leader while maintaining ultimate control from behind the scenes.

Whatever the outcome, most analysts say Xi has largely completed the task of sidelining his competitors in other cliques, including those surrounding his immediate predecessor, Hu Jintao, and former leader Jiang Zemin.

“Xi has been extremely successful in purging political rivals,” said Feng Chongyi, an expert on Chinese politics at Sydney’s University of Technology. “There will be only one faction left after the 19th congress.”

The 2,287 carefully hand-picked delegates to the congress are drawn from 40 constituencies, including the 31 provincial-level administrative districts, the government, the military, state industries and grass-roots organizations representing most of the party’s 89 million members.

China’s Communist Party Makes Final Preparations for Major Congress

A man takes photos of a party flag of Communist Party of China made with flowers, which promotes the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, in Shanghai

Beijing- China’s Communist Party opened a meeting on Wednesday to make final preparations for the 19th National Congress that begins on Oct 18, state media said. During the congress, President Xi Jinping is expected to be re-elected as the party’s leader.

The seventh plenary session of the party’s Central Committee will review draft reports on the work of the party, its discipline and anti-corruption commission, and amendments to be made to the party’s constitution, all of which will be delivered at the twice-a-decade party congress on Oct. 18, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The congress will “summarize historical progress and precious experiences” in advancing socialism with Chinese characteristics gained with Xi at the party’s core, Xinhua said.

“The congress will also thoroughly examine the current international and domestic situation and draw out guidelines and policies that respond to the call of the times,” the news agency said, without giving specifics.

Details of the speech that Xi, the party’s general secretary, will give at the opening session of the congress are confidential, although the event is more about ideology than concrete policies.

Shrouded in secrecy, the five-yearly gatherings have marked key events in the party’s tumultuous 68-year reign over China and remain a source of intrigue today.

It is unclear how long the plenum will last, but it could be just a single day. It will end with a long communique, issued by Xinhua, that is usually full of party phraseology but could be short on specifics.

Last October, the party gave Xi the title of “core” leader, a significant strengthening of his position ahead of the congress, at which a new Standing Committee, the pinnacle of power in China, will be constituted.

The party’s constitution will be amended at the end of the congress, likely to include a reference to Xi’s thinking or ideology as a guiding party principle.

Serbia Reaps Benefits, With Strings Attached


SMEDEREVO, Serbia — When President Xi Jinping of China chose an industrial town on the Danube River to announce that Serbia was at the center of a $900 billion “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure initiative, it was a bold declaration that his country had set up shop on Europe’s southeastern flank.

Standing on the grounds of a Communist-era steel plant here in Smederevo, about 28 miles east of Belgrade, the capital, Mr. Xi promised last year to pour money into roads and railways to create a transport corridor for Chinese goods to flow to West European markets.

Called the New Silk Road, the route would run from China to Germany, via the port of Piraeus in Greece, passing through the Balkans.

Mr. Xi’s decision to extol his signature policy in Serbia, one of the poorest countries in Europe, was a canny move that put the initiative on a collision course with the European Union’s projects in the region.

His strategy also exploited the European Union’s troubled relations with the West Balkan countries seeking to join the bloc, and signaled that — as the United States retreated from the world stage — China was aiming to expand its influence right into the heart of Europe.

But what was in it for Serbia?

During Mr. Xi’s state visit, he said China would bring more jobs, improve living standards and lift the country’s economic growth. More important, by opening its economy to China, Serbia cemented Beijing’s support against European Union pressure to recognize Kosovo’s independence.

“It would not be immodest or wrong to say that Serbia is China’s main partner in Europe,” Serbia’s minister for construction, transportation and infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlovic, declared about Mr. Xi’s overtures.

Some in China have questioned the economic viability of Beijing’s investment spree. And outside of China, some fear that China’s ambitions would keep the authoritarian leaders of countries like Serbia in power and leave the nations deep in debt and stuck with environmentally flawed projects.

But Mr. Xi’s words saved 5,200 jobs in Smederevo, a city of 100,000 that has depended on the steel mill for decades. China’s state-owned HBIS Group bought the steel mill, the only one in Serbia, for 46 million euros, or nearly $55 million at current exchange rates. Its previous owner, U.S. Steel, sold it to the Serbian government in 2012 for a symbolic $1.

“We want to create a win-win situation,” Mr. Xi said, shortly after the sale.

Now, China’s ambitions in the Balkan region have set up a potential clash with the European Union’s plans — with countries like Serbia placing themselves in the middle.

Promises Not Kept

Mileta Gujanicic, a steelworker and union leader, is one of those who hope China fulfills its vision for the Smederevo mill: He has worked there for 40 years and says he got used to the ways of the Americans, whom he called “the aristocracy of the industrial world.”

“All my life I have been told that capitalism, particularly the American type, was bad,” Mr. Gujanicic, 63, said. “But we workers have been valued, well paid and respected when the Americans ran this place.”

The Chinese approach to running the mill, he said, is sharply different. So far, the new owners have maintained their pledge to retain jobs. But none of the promises Mr. Xi made during his visit have been kept.

Workers’ contracts are veiled in secrecy, safety standards have fallen, maintenance is at the bare minimum, and contact between the owners and the employees does not exist, he said. The erosion of workers’ rights and the employers’ disregard of labor laws are troubling, he said.

Serbia’s ambitious president, Aleksandar Vucic, has embraced Mr. Xi’s visions. Mr. Vucic was elected in May with a stated goal of bringing the Slavic nation of seven million people closer to the West.

He has vowed to transform a country that was once part of the Communist-ruled Yugoslavia into an attractive destination for foreign investment, after years of international sanctions for Serbia’s role in the Balkan Wars during the 1990s.

Corridors of Power

While China sets its eyes on the region, the European Union is still the most powerful force there, and the bloc’s projects are surging ahead. The styles of the two powers could not be more different.

For example, to prevent a new round of conflict in the Balkans, the Europeans drew up a plan in 2014 to connect old foes like Serbia and Albania with new highways and rail lines to speed travel and the flow of goods.

The initiative, known as the Berlin Process and championed by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is part of a broader European integration plan for the Balkan countries. The plan aims to align the countries’ national transport laws with those of the European Union and strengthen cooperation across contested Balkan borders.

At the last regional summit meeting, in July in Trieste, Italy, the participating countries — Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, all seeking to join the European Union — also agreed to create a regional economic zone as part of an effort to consolidate a market of 20 million people.

But Balkan officials have long complained of a protracted bureaucratic process, taking as long as a year, for getting funds from Brussels for the work. Crucially, while Serbia’s president has embraced the initiative, Albania and Kosovo have political reservations, fearing that the infrastructure project and a common regional market would become a substitute for full membership in the European Union.

In Serbia’s case, its traditionally most generous patrons — Russia and European Union members such as Germany — have demanded that Belgrade alter its governing style in exchange for funds.

Brussels has stipulated a series of judicial, political and economic changes before Serbia can join the 28-member bloc. And Russia, seeking to keep Serbia as far away from the West as possible, has promised weapons and energy at discount prices as a deterrent against NATO forces in Kosovo and Montenegro, which joined the alliance in May.

Russia also controls much of Serbia’s energy sector and has commanded considerable influence over successive leaders in Belgrade elected since the fall of the strongman Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

Balkans Novice

Now comes China, a relative novice in the turbulent Balkan region, offering cash with what appear to be only a few — but important — strings attached.

For China, the attraction to Serbia is evident in its high state subsidies, lower environmental standards and diminished pressure for transparency in business dealings. But Serbia must embrace Beijing’s model of state-led development.

Serbia is also likely to be saddled with huge debts. Most of the investments are loans from Chinese banks, typically for 20 to 30 years with a 2 percent to 2.5 percent interest rate. So far, China has lent Serbia about €5.5 billion for the construction of bridges, highways and railroads.

China is also pouring money into Serbia’s neighbors, raising fears that Beijing’s largess in the Balkans is not just about business, but also about geopolitics. Ms. Mihajlovic, Serbia’s infrastructure minister, bluntly said that it was both — a sign to officials in Brussels that their Balkan headache had now become a migraine.

Ms. Mihajlovic said Beijing was defending Serbia’s interests in the world, and she praised China for not recognizing what she called an “illegally declared independence of Kosovo.” Recognizing the sovereignty of Serbia’s former and majority-Albanian province is a key requirement for Belgrade to join the European Union.

Elsewhere in the Balkan Peninsula, China has lent Montenegro hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of its workers to build a strategic but costly highway between Belgrade and Montenegro’s Port of Bar on the Adriatic Sea.

China first tested its construction model in Serbia in 2010, when it brought hundreds of workers from the state-owned contractor China Road and Bridge Corporation to build a mile-long bridge over the Danube.

In 2014, Premier Li Keqiang inaugurated the €170 million bridge, built with a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China and named after the Serbian scientist Mihajlo Pupin.

Another major infrastructure deal is a planned high-speed rail line connecting Belgrade and Budapest. The 217-mile link will include a cargo track along the old passenger line that once carried the trains immortalized in the Agatha Christie novel “Murder on the Orient Express.”

But some European countries view with skepticism China’s leadership role in economic integration in their own backyard, fearing that the “One Belt, One Road” initiative’s new norms, along with the Balkans’ old governing values, will challenge those of the European Union, according to Michal Makocki, an expert in Europe-China relations.

“Chinese economic corridors and infrastructure projects replicate China’s preference for state-led rather than market-based decisions, with the politicization of investment, subsidy and contract decisions, rejecting the E.U.’s model of open and transparent bidding procedures,” Mr. Makocki wrote in a policy paper for the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Mr. Gujanicic, the union leader from Smederevo, says Serbia’s leadership has bulldozed labor laws in exchange for foreign funds.

“I can’t say I understand Chinese Communism, but what they’re doing here is destroying us,” Mr. Gujanicic said of Serbia’s leaders. “They are collecting points for the next election with other people’s money. All they care about is to stay in power on the back of our hard work.”

The New York Times

China to Welcome Foreign Investment, Says Xi during BRICS Opening


Chinese President Xi Jinping announced on Sunday that Beijing will continue to invest across the world, adding that it “warmly” welcomes foreign investment.

He made his remarks at the opening of a meeting of business representatives of the BRICS nations.

The BRICS nations are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. They are meeting in southeast China on a three-day summit.

Xi said these countries should enhance global economic governance because “only openness delivers progress.”

He stressed that major emerging economies should stand up against protectionism. He made his remarks at a time of rising American and European pressure on Beijing to lower market barriers.

China has long been accused of creating unfair barriers to foreign companies. But Xi has been speaking out in favor of globalization at a time when protectionist sentiments are on the rise in Western countries, including in the US under President Donald Trump.

Xi added that the BRICS countries must promote trade liberalization and an open world economy.

BRICS leaders will be joined by observer countries Thailand, Mexico, Egypt, Guinea and Tajikistan, and officials will discuss a “BRICS Plus” plan to possibly expand the bloc to new members.

Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto is set to be in China to discuss trade and investment, as Trump has renewed threats to scrap the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that he has labeled a killer of US jobs.

“We should push for an open world economy, promote trade liberalization and facilitation, jointly create a new global value chain, and realize a global economic rebalancing,” Xi told BRICS business leaders and senior officials.

Xi said he still had “full confidence” in BRICS countries’ development despite claims that the bloc’s relevance had faded due to slower growth.

“The development of emerging market and developing countries won’t touch anyone’s cheese, but instead will diligently grow the world economic pie,” he said.

Earlier, Chinese vice trade minister, Wang Shouwen, said the BRICS meeting was expected to “reach consensus for actions” to oppose trade protectionism. He added that China was interested in possibly establishing a free trade agreement with Mexico.

In July, Xi called on members of the Group of 20 (G20) nations to champion an open world economy, and at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January offered a vigorous defense of globalization.

In Xiamen, Xi closed his 45-minute speech by saying that Beijing encouraged Chinese companies to continue going abroad, and “warmly welcomed” other countries’ firms to invest in the world’s second-largest economy.

The BRICS summit comes just a week after China and India agreed to end a more than two-month standoff between hundreds of troops in a Himalayan border area, which had put a sidelines meeting between Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in question.

The standoff was the latest example how BRICS countries, while sharing certain development goals, are far from unified.

Set up in 20l5 as an alternative to the World Bank, the Shanghai-headquartered NDB was seen as the first major BRICS achievement after the group came together in 2009 to press for a bigger say in the post-World War Two financial order created by Western powers.

The bank aims to address a massive infrastructure funding gap in the member countries, which account for almost half the world’s population and about a fifth of global economic output.

The NDB’s president on Friday said it aims to make about $4 billion in loans next year. To date, it has invested in 11 projects, lending $1.5 billion in 2016 and $2.5 billion in loans set for this year.

China Bans ‘Winnie the Pooh’


London – Chinese authorities have banned social media users from using the “Winnie the Pooh” character to criticize President Xi Jinping.

Censure bodies in China have intensified their oppression by banning people from criticizing the president, as the ruling Communist Party Congress is expected to renew his term in its upcoming meeting.

Since 2013, social media users have often used the famous animated bear to express political criticism against the president.

People are still able to share Winnie the Pooh’s picture on the Chinese version of Twitter “Weibo”, but without writing any comment. An “inappropriate content” warning is displayed each time people tried to comment on a post.

On the widely used “WeChat” service, the character’s pictures were omitted, however, users have been able to post old ones from their archives.

Created by British author A.A. Milne in the 1920s, Winnie the Pooh has since become famous worldwide after the books were adapted into a cartoon franchise by the Disney company.

North Korea’s Ballistic Gift’ To the US


Seoul- In a gesture considered as a “gift” for the US on the eve of its Independence Day, North Korea announced on Tuesday it successfully test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile.

US experts warned that the missile, Hwasong-14, is powerful enough to reach Alaska, and therefore, puts large parts of the US mainland in range.

Using a tough rhetoric against North Korea’s missile test-launch, US President Donald Trump called on Beijing, Pyongyang’s main ally, to “put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”

The US request coincided with the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow where he met with his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin.

As the two presidents condemned the new test launch, they both called for self-restraint.

Putin and Xi said Pyongyang’s latest missile test was “unacceptable.”

Later, a joint statement issued by the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers said “North Korea is called to declare a moratorium on testing nuclear explosive devices and ballistic rocket launches, while Washington should refrain from large-scale military exercises, along its South Korean ally.”

Earlier, the two Russian and Chinese presidents had called on the US to withdraw its anti-missile system from Europe and its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) from South Korea, saying the deployment of US missile defense systems in the region “damages strategic security interests of regional powers, including Russia and China.”

Following their meeting on Tuesday, Xi and Putin are both set to attend the G20 summit convening in Hamburg, Germany on July 7.

Meanwhile, David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said the assessments of the flight time and distance suggested the missile could reach a maximum range of roughly 6,700 km on a standard trajectory.

“That range would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska,” he wrote in a blog post.

On Tuesday, Japan’s Defense Ministry said the missile launched by North Korea “greatly exceeded” an altitude of 2,500 kilometers.

Is War Between a Rising China and a Dominant America Inevitable?

Chinese President Xi watches during a gift handover ceremony at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva

Let’s imagine a Chinese “applied history” project, similar to the one at Harvard’s Belfer Center that helped spawn Professor Graham Allison’s widely discussed book “Destined for War.”

Allison’s historical analysis led him to posit a “Thucydides Trap” and the danger (if not inevitability) of war between a rising China and a dominant America, like the ancient conflict between Athens and Sparta chronicled described by the Greek historian Thucydides. A study by the Belfer Center’s Applied History Project identified 16 similar “rising versus ruling” cases over the past 500 years, 12 of which resulted in war. What would the Chinese say about the lessons of past interactions with the West?

Chinese analysts, from President Xi Jinping on down, have nominally rejected Allison’s pessimistic analysis. “There is no Thucydides Trap,” Xi has argued, claiming that he had devised an alternative “new type of great-power relations” that would avoid war by recognizing that each Asian giant had its own legitimate interests. More recently, he has shifted to arguing that “China and the US must do everything possible to avoid [the] Thucydides Trap.”

Similar protestations have reportedly been offered privately in recent months by a string of senior Chinese officials, and China’s modest cooperation with the United States in dealing with the North Korean nuclear threat provides some hope that this is indeed a “win-win” game, as Xi and other Chinese leaders so tirelessly repeat. (Of course, if you’re a hawkish “Trap” advocate, these are just more soothing blandishments to encourage the United States to avoid reckoning with the potency of Chinese power.)

An interesting thought experiment would be to imagine a Chinese version of Allison (though one of their weaknesses is they don’t have such a prominent, independent scholar), who decides to examine the ledger from their side. What would such applied history teach the Chinese about their looming intersection with the dominant power of the United States?

I’m no expert on Chinese history or foreign policy, so I’ll simply sketch some areas of possible study for a hypothetical Sino-Thucydides analysis. In each case, my imaginary Chinese scholars would apply Allison’s rubric for applied history (developed by the late Professor Ernest May), which asked how each case was like its historical antecedent, how it was different and how that evidence might produce a net assessment.

Here’s my list of testable propositions, from a Chinese perspective.

Economic and cultural power is no substitute for military power. China was a dominant economic and intellectual force when it first encountered European power, but it lacked technologically backed military muscle. Mistake.
Weakness breeds contempt. Western powers made a show of pledging loyalty and tribute to China’s rulers and warlords, but this masked hostile intent. The Chinese were wooed and corrupted by the West’s influence. Mistake. Allison quotes Thucydides’ precept: The weak (and by extension, the corrupt) suffer what they must. Rooting out (or at least controlling) corruption is a central Chinese task.

The West preached openness as the way for China and other Asian nations to absorb advanced technology and Western know-how. But the West exploited that openness to create dependence. Even Japan, which built an astonishing manufacturing base, remained dependent on Western raw materials and energy supplies. Mistake. The result was a catastrophic war.

Networks of aid and assistance are good covers for expanding influence and military power. The Marshall Plan was a sublime scheme for spreading US influence and blunting the Soviet Union, in the name of relieving humanitarian suffering. China is devising similar outreach through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the cooperative development project known as “One Belt One Road.” The United States has done everything it can to prevent other nations from signing up to China’s initiatives. Mistake. Asian development is the handmaiden of Chinese power.

The United States argues that transparency and an international rules-based order are the best guarantee of security for all sides. But what this really means, through modern history, is that the United States makes the rules and others obey the orders. Adherence to the “rules” would have checked China’s expansion into the South China Sea (allowing perpetual US domination). And if last year’s Philippine arbitration ruling had been enforced, it would have rolled back China’s projection of power through reclaimed islands and military bases. Mistake. History teaches that China should proclaim that its intentions are limited, benign and non-military — even as its power expands and it creates the military bases that will allow it to challenge US naval power in the South China Sea.

I’ve stacked the deck here, a bit, with some of the cases that lead many analysts to assume that a rational China, seeing these lessons of history, will opt for a course that increases the likelihood of confrontation. But maybe I’m wrong; maybe there really is an alternative “new type of great-power relations” that would posit different outcomes. I await such an analysis from my imaginary Chinese counterpart to Graham Allison.

(The Washington Post)

China Vows to Continue Helping Myanmar Achieve Peace


China’s President Xi Jinping voiced to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday his country’s commitment to help its neighbor achieve peace as fighting along their shared border forced thousands to seek refuge in China, state media said.

Fighting in March in Myanmar prompted Beijing to call for a ceasefire between ethnic militias and the security forces there and carry out military drills along the border.

Xi met Nobel laureate Suu Kyi – who serves as Myanmar’s foreign minister while also being de facto head of its civilian government – following China’s Belt and Road Forum on Sunday and Monday.

“China is willing to continue to provide necessary assistance for Myanmar’s internal peace process,” China’s official Xinhua news agency cited Xi as saying.

“The two sides must jointly work to safeguard China-Myanmar border security and stability,” Xi said.

The news agency did not elaborate on what assistance China would provide.

China has repeatedly expressed concern about fighting along the border that has occasionally spilled into its territory, for instance in 2015, when five people died in China.

Xi also said China would work to enhance cooperation with Myanmar on his Belt and Road development plan, which aims to bolster China’s global leadership by expanding infrastructure between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond.

Suu Kyi told Xi that Myanmar was grateful for Chinese help and that it would work with China to safeguard stability in the border region, Xinhua said.

Beijing last month offered to mediate a diplomatic row over the flight of around 69,000 minority Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh to escape violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, according to officials from Bangladesh.

Myanmar has been sharply criticized in the West over violence against the Rohingya.

Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency under Myanmar’s army-drafted constitution, but effectively leads the government through the specially created post of “state counsellor”.

Meanwhile, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday that he and Xi resolved to strengthen their countries’ friendship during their meeting in Beijing, with China pledging to speed up infrastructure projects it is funding in the Philippines.

“We renewed our resolve to strengthen our friendship and mutually beneficial partnership on a broad range of areas,” Duterte said in southern Davao City on his return from Beijing. “We resolved to fully use the mechanisms we have established to dialogue openly, monitor progress and ensure implementation of projects.”

Duterte, who took office last June, has worked to repair relations with China that have been strained by territorial conflicts in the South China Sea and an international arbitration ruling on a case filed by his predecessor that invalidated Beijing’s claims to the disputed territory. Duterte met separately with Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang after attending last weekend’s “Belt and Road” trade initiative.

Duterte said both he and Xi were looking forward to officials from both countries meeting later this week for inaugural bilateral talks on the South China Sea. Philippine officials have said the meeting will be held Friday in southwestern China.

Four agreements were signed during the visit, including a Chinese grant of 500 million yuan ($72.5 million) for feasibility studies of infrastructure projects in the Philippines and construction of a drug rehabilitation center.

Also signed were memorandums of understanding on cooperation in human resources development and personnel exchanges, energy cooperation, and enhancing government capabilities in communication and publishing.

Duterte thanked China for its generosity, including providing grants and loans, promising to build two bridges for free in metropolitan Manila and increasing imports of Philippine agricultural products.

Trump Praises China for Helping on North Korea Crisis

Tokyo – US President Donald Trump has hailed China for assisting the US in exerting pressure on North Korea.

In an interview with Fox News aired on Tuesday, Trump talked about his strong relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping and explained the reason behind dropping his past criticism of the Asian country.

“Now, what am I going to do? Start a trade war with China while in the middle of him working on a bigger problem, frankly, with North Korea?” Trump said.

“So, I’m dealing with China with great respect. I have great respect for him. Now, we’ll see what he can do,” he added.

During his presidential campaign, Trump attacked Beijing as a currency manipulator and threatened to impose 45 percent tariffs on Chinese imports.

“What am I going to do? In the middle of him talking with North Korea I’m going to hit them with currency manipulation? This is the fake media that just does a number,” he told Fox News.

Asked whether he had ruled out the possibility of launching a military strike against North Korea, Trump said he did not wish to reveal his plans.

“I don’t want to telegraph what I’m doing or what I’m thinking,” he stated.

“I hope there’s going to be peace, but they’ve been talking with this gentleman (Kim Jong-un) for a long time. You read (Bill) Clinton’s book and he said ‘Oh, we made such a great peace deal’ and it was a joke. You look at different things over the years with President Obama. Everybody has been outplayed. They’ve all been outplayed by this gentleman and we’ll see what happens,” Trump noted.

US experts believe that China enjoys the adequate economic and political influence to prevent Pyongyang from developing a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead.

Meanwhile, US Vice President Mike Pence reiterated his country’s commitment to guarantee the security of Japan in facing North Korea’s threats.

Pence met in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, focusing on the US resolve to defend Japan and persuade China to assume a larger role in dealing with North Korea.

For his part, Abe called for a peaceful solution to the crisis with North Korea, as reported by AFP.

He also underlined the importance to exert diplomatic efforts and reach a peaceful compromise to the crisis.

“The era of strategic patience is over and while all options are on the table, President Trump is determined to work closely with Japan, with South Korea, with all our allies in the region and with China to achieve a peaceable resolution and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Pence said.