US interference in sea disputes strengthens power of China’s reformists

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) talks with Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera as they wait for South Korea's Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin to arrive to begin their meeting in Singapore May 31, 2014

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) talks with Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera as they wait for South Korea’s Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin to arrive to begin their meeting in Singapore May 31, 2014

In my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements” (its expanded second edition will soon be released with heavy discount for two weeks in memory of the Tiananmen Protests), I said that when the major reformist Zhao Ziyang fell into disgrace due to the Tiananmen Protests, reform seemed doomed. Deng Xiaoping had to reinvigorate the reform by his Southern Tour.

What if Deng had passed away?

Jiang Zemin, a true reformist, had to pretend to be conservative, as he had no powerbase at that time to carry on Deng’s reform.

The fear created by the Tiananmen Protests throughout the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) greatly helped Jiang to carry on the reform.

However, to be a real leader in China, one has to control the troops. I described in my book how the US helped Jiang to gain control of Chinese troops:

It was impossible for an intellectual with no military experience or achievement to control the Party’s troops. Fortunately, there was the Gulf War.

America’s sudden rapid victory in the Gulf War in 1991 shocked Chinese troops, and made them realize the urgency of modernisation. At that time, the nominal leader of the troops, Jiang Zemin, came out to prove that with his wide-ranging knowledge of science, technology and the art of war, he was the qualified leader with the expertise to transform and modernise Chinese troops. For years, assisted by talented scholars, Jiang made efforts to successfully transform and modernise the troops, and thus gradually gained control of the troops.

Now, Xi Jinping is in a much worse position. He seems to have great power in punishing powerful corrupt officials and generals. That is because he has the support of China’s paramount leader Jiang Zemin, but Jiang is 87 years old now. What if Jiang dies before Xi Jinping has obtained the power necessary to carry on his fight against corruption and official despotism, and his thorough reform that may make China the greatest economic power in the world?

Two thousand years ago, Shang Yang’s reform made the State of Qin the strongest among the various states in China, and finally enabled Qin to unify China. However, as his reform harmed powerful aristocrats’ vested interests, when the sovereign who supported his reform died, he was cruelly executed by being torn asunder by five carts.

If Xi fails to establish his position as paramount leader, he will have a similar fate. However, to be a paramount leader, Xi first has to control the troops. Like Jiang, he has no military experience or achievement.

This time the US again comes to the Chinese leader’s aid. In my book “China’s Winning Strategy,” soon to be released, there is the following description of US help:

Now, by interfering with China’s territorial disputes at the South China Sea, the United States helps Xi Jinping to rally all Chinese people, including diehard conservatives, around him, to support his anti-corruption and mass-line campaigns and thorough reform.

Previously, the large conservative faction, though it had lost its charismatic leader Bo Xilai, remained a powerful opponent to Xi Jinping, especially his thorough reform. However, they had the desire to make China surpass the US militarily. They supported Xi’s struggles against corruption, official despotism and luxurious life style, but strongly opposed Xi’s thorough reform.

US interference has infuriated the Chinese people, and given rise to a surge of patriotism. It has enhanced conservatives’ desire to make China militarily powerful. That makes it easier for them to accept Xi Jinping’s reform that aims at making China economically strong, so that China will have more resources to surpass the US militarily. Contrary to US intention, US efforts to contain China help Xi Jinping establish his position as paramount leader of both civilians and troops with indisputable authority. As a result, Xi will be able to successfully carry out his struggles and reform, and make China much richer and more powerful than the US.

In this respect, the US is its own enemy.

When the US realises that, it will be too late. Now, US Defence Secretary Hagel continues to help China by interfering in China’s maritime disputes. The help is even more vigorous as Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines have joined him.

Reuters gives a vivid description of the US helping Xi Jinping in its recent report titled “Snubs, harsh words at Asia security meet as U.S. and Japan rile China

The following is the full text of Reuters report:

When Japan’s defence minister greeted the deputy chief of staff of China’s army at a regional security forum this weekend, he was undiplomatically snubbed.

Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong said he was incensed by comments from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe implicitly holding China responsible for territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas and later by U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel’s accusations that Beijing was destabilising the region.

“When Mr Abe spoke just now, there was veiled criticism targeted at China,” Wang told Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, according to the semi-official China News Service. “These accusations are wrong and go against the standards of international relations.”

The exchange between the world’s three biggest economies at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, a security forum for government officials, military officers and defence experts, were among the most caustic in years at diplomatic gatherings, and could be a setback to efforts to bring ties back on track.

It was the first such major conference since tensions have surged in the South China Sea, one of Asia’s most intractable disputes and a possible flashpoint for conflict.

Tellingly, despite around 100 bilateral and trilateral meetings taking place over the week, officials from China and Japan did not sit down together.

China’s Wang had rejected an offer of talks with Japan and said: “This will hinge on whether the Japanese side is willing to amend the erroneous policy towards China and improve relations between China and Japan. Japan should correct its mistakes as soon as possible to improve China-Japan ties.”

Wang later accused the United States of hegemonism, threats and intimidation.

China claims almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Sea, and dismisses competing claims from Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. Japan has its own territorial row with China over islands in the East China Sea.

Riots broke out in Vietnam last month after China placed an oil rig in waters claimed by Hanoi, and the Philippines said Beijing could be building an airstrip on a disputed island.

Tensions have been rising steadily in the East China Sea as well. Japan’s defence ministry said Chinese SU-27 fighters came as close as 50 meters (170 ft) to a Japanese OP-3C surveillance plane near disputed islets last week and within 30 meters of a YS-11EB electronic intelligence aircraft.

On Sunday, Wang stepped up the rhetoric.

“Mr Abe, as the head of a country and as someone the organisers have invited to give a speech, is supposed to stick to the event’s aim in boosting security in the Asia Pacific region,” he said. “However Mr Abe went against the aim of the event by instigating disputes.”

Despite the heated words, analysts do not believe relations have deteriorated beyond reach.

“In the past, there was a sense we were sailing towards stability,” said Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

“Now people worry. Overall, things are going in the right direction. Nobody thinks there will be war, but there is a level of unease which is new.”


China has been particularly aggrieved by Japan trying to woo Southeast Asia.

In his keynote address to the conference, Abe pitched his plan for Japan to take on a bigger international security role and said Tokyo would offer its “utmost support” to Southeast Asian countries in their efforts to protect their seas and airspace. It is part of his nationalist agenda to loosen the restraints of the pacifist post World War Two constitution and to shape a more muscular Japanese foreign policy.

Philip Hammond, the British defence minister, said Abe’s agenda was well know but provoked a response because it was laid out publicly.

“It’s certainly the first time I had heard him articulate it on a public platform in that way,” he said.

Japan’s growing proximity to Washington is also a worry for Beijing.

“What really worries them is that Japan and the U.S. are in a very strong alliance and seem to be pulling closer, that was clear at this year’s dialogue,” said Tim Huxley, executive director of the International Institute of Strategic Studies in Asia, the organiser of the forum.

“Rightly or wrongly, that will be seen by the Chinese as threatening them because it will mean they will be facing a more coherent alliance.”

Still, the row is not likely to spill over. The three nations have deep economic and business ties, which none of them would like to see disrupted.

“Relations are definitely not at a breaking point,” said Bonnie Glaser of the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies and a regular visitor to the dialogue.

“Leaders are aware that their countries have huge stakes in this relationship and they are committed to trying to find areas where interests do overlap, where they can work together.”

Beijing, she said, had compartmentalised various aspects of its relationship with Japan and the United States. “There is a wider strategy from China, though we don’t see that here, partly because it’s a security forum.”

William Cohen, a former U.S. secretary for defence, said the strong words from the United States and Japan were necessary.

“China is growing, it’s maturing, it’s also feeling its oats a bit and throwing its weight around. That is normal if they see no counterweight. It’s incumbent upon us to say, okay, there are limits. These things have to be said.”

Sources: Chan Kai Yee “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements” and “China’s Winning Strategy”

Source: Reuters “Snubs, harsh words at Asia security meet as U.S. and Japan rile China”

Categories: Politics & Law

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4 replies

  1. Reblogged this on News You May Have Missed and commented:
    US interference in sea disputes strengthens power of China’s reformists


  2. The world does not revolve around China and its interests and problems. China needs to understand that a number of Asian and non-Asian countries are naturally coming together for mutual protection against CHINA’S INCREASED BULLYING. Affected countries aren’t going to wait around for the Chinese masses to “throw off the yoke” of the CCP’s propaganda machine and to plan their actions according to what they speculate to be China’s internal struggle de jour. China is ALWAYS having some kind of momentous (and often violent) internal power struggle. It’s hard to keep up. If the Chinese people are being “riled up” into a nationalistic fervor as a result of some Asian and non-Asian countries allying against China’s hegemonic moves, it’s their own fault for being taken in by the CCP’s and their military’s propaganda. It is up to the masses in the PRC to see through the propaganda and not have their emotions manipulated! The masses need to understand that if you start punching various people in the stomach (e.g. set up an ADIZ here, or an oil rig there, or sail daily into another country’s territory, or grab a disputed reef or two) sooner or later those people will ally against you. But I ask myself, maybe China is spoiling for a fight so it can test out all its new military toys? Or maybe a nice little war will distract the people from standard of living and democracy issues.



  1. Prelude to Conflict: Asia, June 9 | China Daily Mail

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