CONTENTS COVER STORY
Who Cares about Years of China-US Relations?
Editor’s Message – The Politics Issue
Japan's Slide to the Right Interview with Dr. Clifford Kiracofe China Opinion on the US Pivot The Diaoyu Islands in the Context of the Pivot P7
Afghanistan - What's in it for China?
The Energy Long-game
China Steps up International Coordination in Crackdown on Illegal Ivory Trade
A Conversation with F. William Engdahl
China is constantly assuming a greater role in the international arena due to its economic status and the growing strength of its military. The government is also learning the ropes of international diplomacy at a rapid pace as the country increasingly finds itself caught up in international politics both willingly and unwillingly at times. The Chinese norm of noninterference is sacrosanct in Beijing and constantly governs the country’s foreign policy. But the growing size and stature of China means that the international community often expects the Middle Kingdom to fulfill its growing responsibilities when it comes to settling international disputes or helping to foster stability. This issue of MESSENGER, among other things, provides a snapshot of China’s position within the international world order; outlining the precarious and difficult situation that China’s leaders currently face when it comes to maintaining their approach while staying true to their words.
The Other Anniversary
Relationships Resting on Definitions - Defining China-US Power Relations - Loose Language in International Diplomacy
Altering Minds: The Power of US TV
Breaking New Ground
A Simple Economic Calculation
Why is the China-US bilateral relationship fraught with mistrust when both sides are aware of its importance? The architects of the initial bilateral relationship between China and the United States could never have foreseen the scale of relations between the two countries 35 years on. Though the 35th anniversary of US-China relations provides a great springboard from an editorial standpoint for this issue of the MESSENGER, one pertinent question to ask is who really cares about it? China clearly cares, or at least the Chinese media as a whole does, as evidenced from the coverage of this topic by the organization that produces this publication; China Radio International (CRI). The American media, however, will likely not be devoting many column inches to the subject mainly due to indifference on the part of the American public. This has led some within Chinese academic circles to question whether this feeling of indifference runs throughout the US political establishment, and thus whether the relationship is of equal importance to both the US and China. Characterizing the state of bilateral relations between China and the US at present, Joseph Cheng, Chair Professor of Political Science and Coordinator of the Contemporary China Research Project at the City University of Hong Kong, told CRI, "There is an acute awareness that (the US and China) need to work together in order to maintain the sustainability and prosperity of the international community. But there are serious differences in values, leading to serious mutual distrust, which have to be resolved or at least reduced."
The attention paid to the 35th anniversary of bilateral relations within China might suggest, albeit superficially, that Chinese officials might be working harder than their American counterparts to address or identify the differences alluded to by Cheng. A lack of media focus from the States tells us very little about the importance of the relationship from the American government's perspective. It does, however, provide a telling insight into the focus of the Chinese media. As columnist and author Einar Tangen pointed out to CRI, "America realizes China is very much on the rise. But I would guarantee you that there is no (television or radio) show currently on in the US examining the 35 years of relations between the two. That is the difference; it's being discussed here, it's probably not being discussed in the US." According to Cheng, "(the) Chinese leadership has a much sharper focus on the bilateral relationship," compared to their US counterparts. (This sharper focus also translates to the approach of China's state media.) American politicians, Cheng points out, have to worry about domestic politics in order to gain reelection and therefore cannot devote the same amount of attention to foreign policy. As a result, foreign policy takes a back seat in the US, whereas it is amplified in China; often seen as a unifying force to promote patriotism and harmony among the population. But because of this sense of amplification in China, when electioneering US politicians jump on China issues, mostly related to trade, the Chinese press takes notice and the mutual distrust is seemingly exacerbated despite the fact that everyone is implicitly aware of what is going on. As Dr. Ann Lee, adjunct professor of economics and finance at
New York University points out, "Whenever you have a country like China that's growing rapidly economically, whereas a country like the US is feeling vulnerable because the growth there is extremely sluggish, and a lot of people are still unemployed and therefore the politicians are prone to figure out how stay elected and stay in office, it's easy for them to basically use the foreign players as targets and trade disputes would be one wayâ€Ś whether they're justified or fair or not, they're going to still do this just to sound nationalistic and patriotic. These issues are unlikely to go away and are likely to actually increase." Of course, the US also has trade disputes with a number of other countries, and this is by no means just a China issue. But there is a danger that trade disputes between the US and China, and the rhetoric which is produced as a result, are magnified tenfold in China as they feed into this preexisting idea of mutual distrust. Furthermore, these disputes are viewed as such in the vacuum of US-China relations rather than in the international context in which they should be viewed. This is ultimately a problem with media coverage, but the results can be damaging when it comes to public perception. Whether there is a media focus or not, the bilateral relationship remains equally important to both parties. But if it is of equal importance to both countries, why is the relationship fraught with so much distrust. Public perception matters very little when it comes to the vitality of the bilateral relationship. Instead, one has to look higher up the chain. The actions, or in-action, of the US in relation to China's territorial issues certainly impact upon the state of relations between the two countries. As Dr. Clifford Kiracofe, former senior staff member of the US senate foreign relations 5
committee, has pointed out, "strained language and posturing on the US side" in regards to the US-Japan alliance, has proved to be rather counterproductive. (See Page 22) But without lingering on territorial issues, it should be emphasized that the value sets of both sides are at loggerheads with one another despite the awareness that both countries need to work together for the good of the international community. As Joseph Cheng told CRI, "Both sides are trying to take a more active role in shaping the future international order. And that's where the competition comes along. Both countries have to attract support from other countries. So it is not just a matter of competition between the US and China. It is a matter of competition between the two of attracting supporters to their respective views of the future international order," while at the same time hopefully narrowing the differences in relation to their respective views. Yet the ability to narrow these differences is curtailed by the ideological approach of the US versus the pragmatism of Chinese policy makers. Tangen sees Obama's inability to articulate a clear vision as one of the main reasons for continuing mistrust between the two countries. "I think
"Soaring rhetoric does not get things done" - Einar Tangen on Obama's use of policy language
it's very difficult for someone like Xi (Jinping), who is a very pragmatic (person) who draws lines and get things done, versus Obama who has not been able to do that," explains Tangen. "Obama is not clear on what he wants. He's been going back and forth; yes he wants to have a pivot to Asia, but he doesn't know exactly what that entails other than a kind of check and balance with China. His failure to articulate that has been a large part of the problems and the continuing mistrust. If he could just say this is what we want and sit down with Xi, I think they could come to a reasonable [understanding]." The bilateral relationship is undoubtedly crucially important to both sides and to suggest that one side views it with more importance than the other would be a ridiculous assertion. But just because both countries care about the relationship, and realize the massive implications of the relationship vis-a-vis the prosperity of the international community, doesn't mean that it will be any less fraught in the future.
Defining China-US Power Relations
Throughout the history of International Relations, the world has never been in the position whereby two global superpowers have been able to coexist peacefully and maintain their status indefinitely. A reversion to a unipolar world has always been the eventual result when two powers rise; the most recent example being the Cold War, which saw the collapse of the Soviet Union and the assumption of global power by the United States. But the world is in a very unique situation as China continues to ascend and America flounders as a result of political stalemating and economic sluggishness. Both sides are, and have been acutely aware of the need to work together in the interests of maintaining peace within the world. The mechanisms required for this to work are still a work in progress and the relationship has stalled despite the knowledge that tensions must be diffused and conflict avoided at all times. The United States has been comfortable with its ability to shape and define the international order through its process of democratizing nations further afield. China and its leaders are not necessarily comfortable when it comes to openly pronouncing that they are the second of the world's only two superpowers. In an attempt to frame the current state of power relations between the two countries, China, last year, formulated a new definition which not only conveyed their view of the current international order, but also highlighted their approach when 8
it comes to forming relationships with other countries alongside their bilateral relationship with the US. China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi and China's Vice Premier Wang Yang wrote articles in the Washington Post and in the Wall Street Journal respectively prior to the 5th Round of the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue in 2013. Both men characterized the US-China relationship in their commentaries as a "new model of the major country relationship." This term has since been adopted by state-run media in China when referring to the relationship.
ă€Ž the American side
prefers to translate it as a new type of great power relations; meaning that it is special for us. But then for China we have to be very careful about that, [do] we really treat the US special?
-Yan Xuetong But why is it so important to strictly define the terms of a relationship and then implement that definition throughout the country? The need to strictly define the relationship may seem especially trivial for those in the US. Speaking at the previous annual conference of the Chinese Community of Political Science and International Studies, Paul Haenle, director of the CarnegieTsinghua Center confirmed this view when he pointed out, "I don't
really think that it's that important. I think that the process is more important. I think that the United States actually communicating and identifying areas where they can work on together to make progress, and areas where they can reduce differences, I think that's the most important aspect. President Obama used [the term] 'new model of cooperation'; personally I think that's just fine." However, definitions matter greatly for China as Yan Xuetong, dean of Tsinghua University's Institute of Modern International Relations explained. "If it's translated into a new type of major power relations, then it [can also refer to] China's relations with many other major powers; with India, with Russia, with other countries." Yan elaborated by referencing the stance of the US with regards to the definition, stating, "From my understanding, the American side prefers to translate it as a new type of great power relations; meaning that it is special for us. But then for China we have to be very careful about that, [do] we really treat the US special? [Is] our relationship with the US special and overwhelms all our relationships with other countries?" "This is a political issue," Yan added, "we must make all the other major powers understand that that the China-US relationship is not that special; it's not that special from my relationship with you. Otherwise we would offend all of the other [powers]. We dare not to sacrifice our relationship with many other countries to improve our relationship with the US."
Loose Language in International Diplomacy Fighting Words: How to Complicate an Already-complicated Relationship
By Tom Plate
Recently I have noticed two horrible phrases in particular befouling the Sino-U.S. vocabulary, like unwanted bats buzzing in on bad radar. They add stress to the relationship by emphasizing an unpleasant past instead of moving forward. On the U.S. side, I call your attention to the phrase "containment of China." On the Chinese side, the phrase they sometimes use is "peaceful coexistence." I hate both of them. Let me explain that in international diplomacy, which traffics in issues of war and peace, loose language can cause problems. It is better to use careful language than risky stuff. CHINA CONTAINMENT The "containment" concept famously emerged from the tense and extended Cold War with the former Soviet Union. It was the core operational idea behind the Western alliance's strategy to push back on the Soviet Union's fearsome propensity to annex contiguous provinces, such as all of Eastern Europe, by force or threat of force.
But that's not the situation today. China is not the same as the former Soviet Union, and it never has been. Millennia of history inform us that China ticks to a different clock, aiming to be viewed (and in fact to become) the undisputed geopolitical and honorific center of East Asia. It's not more territory for which it lusts but belated respect and, in some modern sense, economic tribute: Beijing, after all, is looking at 1.3 or 1.4 billion mouths to feed. So let us make sure we know what we are talking about. A policy of pulling "containment" out of the Cold War fridge to defrost it for new recycled usage strikes me as intellectually lazy and dangerously misconceived. It might lead the West to slip and slide on a basic misconceptions and thus misunderstand motives and misinterpret methods. For example, China's quarrels with neighbors over neighborhood islands may seem silly and indeed foolishly provocative to us, and at
ă€Ž In international
diplomacy, which traffics in issues of war and peace, loose language can cause problems. It is better to use careful language than risky stuff.
our level of analysis they are just that. But on their level the effort represents not expansion but restoration. In his perceptive book "On China," Henry A. Kissinger cites as an illustrative example China's military brushes with Vietnam as a strategy of trying to avoid being ganged up on again. It feared Hanoi's control of all of Southeast Asia (note: not unlike the domino-theorists of the West). His view is that Beijing uses the tactic of "preemptive deterrence" early on in a dispute to prevent a serious blow-up later on. Whether this tactic is wise or even fair is a good question. But if we want to understand why the Chinese are doing what they are doing, we had better read our Kissinger --- in other words, do our homework. But have we? 9
PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE Here's another phrase I hear these days that's adding to my anxiety. No one in my experience in the States now uses the two words "peaceful coexistence" any more, as they are so unpleasantly redolent of the Cold War. And in fact I thought the phrase had been buried long ago in Stalin's tomb. But a recent trip to China proved me wrong. And so again -- I worry. Americans, you see, have a faint and extremely negative recollection about the phase. We recall how Soviet officials often used it - and used it with enormous insincerity. How can we ever forget, right? Then Mao's China picked up on it. The legendary Zhou Enlai, China's most famous premier, had it inserted in the concluding 1953 agreement with India over Tibet. So when I heard it used by highlevel Chinese figures I met earlier this month in China, I almost fell over. To my mind "peaceful coexistence" gives you little more than the mere jungle minimum in a bilateral relationship. And that is far from ideal in this new world of extensive economic interdependence and minute-by-minute interconnectedness. If relations between China and the U.S. have no more lofty a goal than "peaceful coexistence" - if that is the best we are going to be able to do --- then, my friends, the world is in very serious trouble. My dear friends in China: If you throw the term "peaceful coexistence" at the average American, they will think of the Cold War. But what China understandably wants is for the U.S. to abandon Cold War thinking. It will help, then, if they will cease using phrases that remind Americans of what the Chinese want them to forget.
Altering Minds By Liu Yuanhui
How American Film and Television is winning the battle for hearts and minds as China and the US seek to enhance their Soft Power. There's no doubt about it, American cinema and television is extremely popular in China. US television series constantly top the most watched list and licensed providers in China are calling the trend "an opening era". But does this era signal defeat for China's cultural and artistic industries when it comes to enhancing China's soft power? The government has long been committed to promoting its image abroad. However, for one reason or another, Chinese film and television has altogether failed to have any kind of significant impact stateside. Chang Jiang, lecturer at the College of Journalism and Communication under Renmin University explains that American films and television are far better at presenting the superiority of the American economy and the
American way of life compared to their Chinese counterparts. Meanwhile, US film and television emphasizes the American spirit, which is established and based on a complicated and mature system known as the "celebrity system", whereby actors and actresses are carefully crafted for American films and television. Meanwhile, Chang highlights the fact that American TV is extremely good at tackling prominent issues, and coming up with immediate resolutions which satisfy audiences. When talking about the muchvaunted concept of Soft Power, International Relations scholars are unlikely to pay much attention to film and television as a main driver of such power and influence. However, one only need look at the amount of content that Chinese viewers have access to, mostly for free, to realize that US TV is playing a huge part in the lives of many young Chinese. Dai Jianping, professor at the College of Journalism and Communication under Guangzhou
University claims that American television and film poses as a powerful opposing culture towards Chinese culture, and the US view of life and the normative values portrayed in cinema and television are often praised highly. Conversely, US television and film also ridicules certain elements of American life; something that Chinese film and television producers are simply unable to do. Taking the blockbuster film "Avatar" as an example, Dai points out that there is an obvious phenomenon whereby all the earthmen are of western descent, but the aliens represent Native Americans and even Oriental peoples. From a cultural perspective, Dai says the film is a very strong promotion of American power as it illustrates the power of American culture to the audience. What Dai failed to mention is that this promotion of power takes place even though the dominant US culture is portrayed in a negative light during James Cameron's film. The influence of American film and television upon the Chinese youth is reducing, especially for those born in the 1980s and 90s. The reduction is not a result of people watching less US TV; if anything they are watching more. But their viewing is now being diluted by quality offerings from British cinema and Japanese and South Korean television. This of course poses a different problem in the fact that viewers may then become more receptive to the values of these countries. Nonetheless, America is not the only player in town any more. Chang believes social media has been the main factor for driving interest in foreign television and film, as more young Chinese people can get access to various
Chinese people have come to realize the differences that exist between the two societies. Though these shows and films do not necessarily ask viewers to make a choice as to which one is better, by allowing Chinese people a window into the world's most dominant culture they are now rethinking their own situation.
cultural options. More and more young Chinese viewers prefer other cultures to their own because Chinese audiences are becoming more mature in their viewing habits and now have the choice and ability to choose whether to watch American films or not. In general, social and cultural development led to the rise of a dominant-hegemonic position for American film and television across the world. Nowadays, that same American cultural dominance is unshakeable. As a result of such dominance, US cinema and television has had a profound impact on Chinese people, especially at a conceptual level. Since the 1980s, when Chinese people first watched American TV shows, the American notion of sex changed Chinese viewers' opinions and ideas on the topic. Dai says, historically speaking, Chinese people are quite conservative and shy when it comes to talking openly about sex. Since the influx of US culture via their television screens, Chinese people have shifted to a more open perspective. Besides the notion of sex, Dai says that Chinese people unconsciously compare Chinese culture with the cultures being portrayed on their television screens; "Why are they different from us? Why can they do this and we cannot?" When watching American TV shows,
Though Chinese cinema and television makers produce thousands of films and TV series every year, the influence of these products in America is negligible. On the contrary, with little marketing in China, American TV shows have attracted great attention across the country. So, why has China been so unsuccessful when it comes to exporting their products to America? Dai Jianping claims that any attempts to replicate US success simply cannot be successful. Dai points to the difference in values between China and America. American values focus on individualism while Chinese people praise collectivism. When Chinese films and television attempt to learn from American entertainment success, they must still pursue a path of localization that integrates Chinese culture and values. Obviously, censorship is a much bigger issue in China than it is in the States. Chang believes that censorship is much stricter in China than it is in America. As a result, some American films and television shows are attractive to Chinese people because they broach issues that cannot be discussed via such mediums in China. For this reason alone, Chang says that Chinese film and TV cannot compete with the US and it will take a long time to explore a mode which suits the Chinese social context while also being able to compete internationally. 11
China overtook the US as the world's biggest trading nation last year. A spokesman for China's customs administration announced at the start of this year that the country's imports and exports figures totaled a staggering 4.16 trillion USD for the year 2013, up 7.6 percent year on year. This growth rate, whilst astounding, still missed the mark in relation to the government's fullyear target of 8 percent. Nonetheless, the figures stand as another testament to China's unbelievable growth; but do they tell us the whole story? 12
Some academics have debated whether the title of the world's largest trading nation is significant news or simply a symbolic sound bite. According to Zhao Changhui, senior analyst at the Export-Import Bank of China, the news is not symbolic at all. "Actually it's very realistic. We see China as the largest trading nation because the country has actually traded very progressively and actively for the last decade with many developing nations in Latin America, all countries across continental Africa and most countries in Asia." Unlike the EU and the US, which have experienced economic slowdowns, Zhao points out that, "As the number one trading nation in terms of capacity and volume, China created the largest market, if you like, and also has the leverage to actually trade with most of the nations in the world." But there remain doubts regarding the reliability of Chinese data and thus whether the figures can accurately present the reality that Zhao Changhui insists upon. Many point towards a lack of statistical accuracy due to the widespread use of fake invoices within Chinese industry. Whilst such doubts are valid, some commentators see talk of fake invoices as part of a wider set of doubts related to China's emerging position. Kerry Brown, Professor of Chinese Politics and Executive Director of the China Studies Center at the University of Sydney, is one such individual. "[Talk of fake invoices] is a sign of doubt about what do these raw figures really tell us." Brown told CRI, "GDP figures, raw bits of data, we have to make a story from them; that's the most important thing. This latest group of statistics reaffirms the story that China is now deeply integrated into the global economy. But I suppose there's now a much more complicated
story that we have to get used to and that is that China owes and is owned (sic) more than it ever was before." Brown identifies what he refers to as a "narrative of integration" whereby "China is influencing as it is being influenced." Alongside doubts of statistical accuracy therefore, Brown informed CRI that, "The data shows us that China is still an enormous manufacturer and yet it also tells us that China is not the creator of innovative products that really conquer foreign markets. At the same time, the Chinese government is accruing vast amounts of capital in foreign reserves." This rather pessimistic interpretation of the trade data means that there may not be as much to celebrate about, in regards to China's number one status, as was originally thought. Such pessimism is heightened when one assesses the quality of China's exports. Liu Baocheng, Associate Professor at the Business School of the University of International Business and Economics, notes, "Over 50 percent of Chinese exports are really generated by Foreign Invested Enterprises in China. These are contributing to job opportunities in China, particularly to those migrant workers, but they do not really contribute substantially to the strength of the Chinese economy and manufacturing capacity, and of course export earning power." So, on the one hand China has become the number one trading nation in the world, but at the same time, the Chinese government is hoping to increase innovation within the country and ultimately move up the value chain. There is a danger, hidden when one looks purely at the 4.16 trillion dollar total, that
China is relying too heavily upon its preexisting models to spur growth. As Professor Liu states, "Added value is very much in question if we continue to put our resources substantially in the OEM model," and the growing amount of imports of soy beans and grain have a direct impact on the country's food security. Nonetheless, China's newest accolade still holds a certain amount of weight and as Zhao Changhui of the Export-Import Bank of China correctly points out, being the number one trading nation in terms of capacity helps China gain more leverage in negotiating power. With increased leverage and a new status thanks to its economic size, it is likely that other countries may feel as if their existing comfort zones are being infringed upon, especially as China attempts to continue to meet its enormous need for raw materials. As Professor Brown succinctly summed up, "The idea of [China] being self-sufficient has long, long gone; it's going to continue to be a very big resource user and will need to get a lot of resources, not only energy but also food resources from outside its borders. This is going to need a big new framework for all of us to work out, who can go where to get what, what sort of ways can we compete. And the difference between that and then trying to leverage our political links with places to get advantage; this is a huge new challenge for this period that we're moving into." China approaches this challenge from the position of number one in regards to trade. Whether that title is significant or merely symbolic, it does have an impact upon the terms of future negotiations and most likely China's ability to help shape the international order. 13
Breaking New Ground The Political Ramifications to a Relationship of Trade
Between 2003 and 2012, trade between Europe and China doubled, to the amount of 434 billion Euros. Tensions often bubble to the surface and trade disputes are a new and permanent feature of the China-EU relationship. However, with the EU making up China's biggest export market and as China also becomes more important for EU exports, the political aspect to a relationship that was initially geared towards trade is slowly becoming more prominent. Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi visited Brussels at the start of this year to attend the fourth China-EU Strategic Dialogue; a meeting focused on strategic and security issues against the backdrop of the huge trade commitments that exist between China and the Eurozone. As both sides attempt to achieve goals set out in the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation, agreed upon in November of last year, it is becoming clear that China-EU relations encompass more than just huge trade flows. At the third Europe-China Forum, hosted shortly after the 2020 Strategic Agenda was agreed upon, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council stated that the level of cooperation in the field of international security has, "Undoubtedly made progress in the last years." But despite praising cooperation on the issue of Iranian nuclear negotiations and naval cooperation in combatting piracy off the coast of Somalia, Van Rompuy stated that, "More 14
dialogue is necessary to continue communicating EU positions on Syria, on the Arab Spring process or even on actions in the Sahel." Furthermore, Van Rompuy emphasized his desire for greater cooperation in addressing African crises in partnership with the African Union and the United Nations. There is a desire from both sides to strengthen the ties that exist between the EU and China for the purpose of economic benefit. However, issues away from trade pertaining to the strategic interests of either the EU or China present a stumbling block to achieving deeper ties. As John Armstrong of the Center for European Studies at Fudan University points out, "There's still a bit of a lag unfortunately between political and economic dynamics." Armstrong notes that it is "a matter of necessity" for both sides to deepen their relationship as the respective economies attempt to rebalance and reform. However, he adds, "At the same point, you have emerging strategic issues that are putting pressure on the political relationship, and they don't have the mechanisms in place to really address those political divergences; at least not yet. Consultations in politics versus cooperation in economics means you've got very different dynamics playing out here." It is a certainty that both sides view the challenge of strategic issues differently. As seen from Van Rompuy's comments above, the EU is hoping for more understanding from China on issues such as Syria or the
Arab Spring. Chinese officials meanwhile will most likely view such topics through the lens of China's official foreign policy stance, and will no doubt see these issues as being redundant and entirely unnecessary in the context of China-EU relations. But neither side will be able to force the other to subscribe to their respective approach with regards to strategic issues that appear relevant to one but not to the other. When taken as a whole, the EU forms the biggest economy in the world and is highly advanced. China needs access to the kind of technology that the EU has to offer while the EU needs China in order to stimulate exports. Furthermore, as Zhao Changhui, senior analyst at the Export-Import Bank of China notes, the EU is taking notice of China's increasing clout within world politics. Increasing Chinese clout on the international scene, coupled with the current framework of the EU means that efforts to enhance relations and deepen ties may come to a grinding halt with regards to strategic issues. What was once a bilateral relationship is increasingly being played out in a multilateral setting. Issues such as the Diaoyu islands, the G20, China's relations with Africa, or European efforts to create a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) mean that both sides need to try to orchestrate their policies together. But as Armstrong explains, "The problem is, the EU lacks leverage against China, and China isn't necessarily subscribing to the same sort of vision of a global concept built on an international rule of law that the EU is trying to prescribe. There's strong momentum on investment and trade but there's a disconnect between the broader game which is basically a global compact that the EU is trying to create." For
example, recent EU sanctions against Russia following the debacle in Ukraine's Crimea are unlikely to gain any kind of support from China for a multitude of conflicting reasons. Meanwhile, many economists and academics within China view EU attempts to forge a TTIP as part of a wider strategy targeting China; the aim of which is to force Beijing into making concessions on issues concerning trade. Xiang Songzuo, chief economist with the Agricultural Bank of China believes that any form of TTIP is doomed without Chinese involvement and is a counterproductive bargaining strategy on the EU's part. Xiang infers that the creation of a TTIP would reduce the amount of political goodwill between the EU and China; something that is already in short supply. Zhao Changhui of the ExportImport Bank of China explains that a lack of goodwill, real or imagined, from the EU towards China prevents any kind of wider strategic relationship from being formed. "For many years in the past, countries in the west, European countries in particular, have treated Chinese politics and the Chinese political system and the government policies here in a very doubtful way, at least. The political goodwill, let's say, has not been such a thing that we can rely on for fostering that larger, more strategic, more long-term cooperation."
nations that will have to alter its stance in order to work more closely with China in areas of strategic cooperation in the future. The language of the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation appears vague in its outline for improving the strategic relationship. It will be hard to quantify how successful either side will really be in "Promoting," "Supporting," "Intensifying," Reinforcing," and "Facilitating" ideas and methods of cooperation. Developing joint activities to promote maritime safety and security might be easier to assess, but the language and goals in general set out within the agenda are purposefully vague simply because achieving concrete goals is such a hard task in light of the opposing norms governing both China and the EU bloc and the alliances that exist outside of these norms.
The solution, according to Zhao, is for "European political leaders (to) reestablish their political framework when dealing with China." While this may be wishful thinking on the part of China, this view is however the reality that the EU faces when Van Rompuy talks about expanding the level of cooperation in the field of international security. As far as the Chinese government is concerned, it is the EU and its 28 member 15
A Simple Economic Calculation Economic and Trade ties between Great Britain and China are increasingly defining the terms of relationship between the two states. "China sits upon this massive, massive source of growth, which is domestic consumption rising, and this is probably the greatest economic asset the world has at the moment and everyone is thinking of ways of getting access to that and being part of that story," says Kerry Brown, professor of Chinese Politics and Executive Director of the China Studies Center at the University of Sydney. For countries who have seen their stock decline following the financial crisis that plagued both developing and developed nations from 2008 onwards, China provides many countries with an avenue for growth either via exports or investment within Chinese industry. Meanwhile, Chinese investment itself is still a huge boon for countries struggling to ignite their
own local industries and keep unemployment down.
Center for the Study of Globalization and Regionalization at the University of Warwick. Speaking to CRI, Breslin For British investors, the Chinese laid out why China is so important market is easily one of the most to Great Britain going forward, lucrative in the world. Already, especially in the current context of many Chinese companies have Britain's economic recovery. made significant progress in expanding their investments in Finance is the name of the Game the UK, having extended from traditional sectors to high-end The City of London is banking on manufacturing and infrastructure. becoming a major offshore trading hub for China's currency, the Underscoring the growing Renminbi. Britain also stands to importance of China for Britain's benefit from the possible opening up future, British Prime Minister of China's financial system and nonDavid Cameron's visited the banking sector. country in December, 2013. The visit was directly geared towards "High tech companies are very keen fostering closer economic on seeing whether they can break ties between the two nations. into the Chinese market, they think Cameron himself noted that about the possibility of working his visit aimed to open the together with Chinese innovation. way for UK companies to But one of the big sectors is benefit from China's vast the financial sector, and varying market. It was of course the City very much a 'cap in of London is known hand' visit, and throughout the was ultimately world for being portrayed a financial as such, center. There's sometimes a lot of financial rather expertise in the unfavorably, by UK; there's a the Chinese lot of financial press. companies in the UK. And Shaun Breslin up to date, is an Associate penetrating Fellow of the Chinese the Chatham House Asia Programme, and director of the
financial system has been really quite difficult. Some companies have been in for quite a long time and still have not made much headway. So, there is great hope in the UK, particularly after the changes that seem to be in place after the Third Plenum, that the financial system might open up a little bit more, making it easier for foreign companies to participate in the financial boom that people expect to take place in the nonbanking sector in China. Because as people know, the banking sector's been so dominant in the Chinese financial system." A Simple Economic Calculation Deals signed to build the UK's first nuclear plant in a generation and Chinese plans to invest in the UK's high speed rail network highlight the importance of Chinese investment for Great Britain's recovery. "Quite simply, China is one of the few places that has the money, huge amounts of money necessary, to invest in these projects at the moment. Austerity programs, not just in the UK but across
Europe, mean that the old centers, if you like, of the global capitalist system don't have the money to invest. And it's the new centers of economic growth, like China but also the other emerging economies that have. It's a quite simple economic calculation. But I think what is interesting about the British case is there seems to be much less political sensitivity to investment from China than there is for example in the United States or even in Australia. Huawei has been welcomed into investment in the UK by London. So, there's less political sensitivity in the UK I think, that makes the partnership going forward perhaps more profitable than Chinese investment in other countries might be." Chinese investment is still small, but is it welcome? "I think they are. There was some concern when Rover was sold off and the factory closed down and that this was a form of asset strippingâ€Ś There was some concern in the local economy (in the West Midlands) about that. But in general, I think people are just being very pragmatic, very open to any forms of foreign investment that might generate jobs and lead to new patterns of growth. I think it's just a more pragmatic approach to seeking investment to fund development and fund growth." Staying Ahead of the Pack
internationalization of the Yuan. So, why is UK showing such interest in the Chinese currency? "I think it's an attempt to locate the UK as the financial center as others compete, Frankfurt in Europe for example, but also developing in Asia and elsewhere. The City of London is almost like a separate financial entity from the UK. If the City of London can identify itself and establish itself as the trusted place for the ongoing internationalization of the Renminbi, then it puts the UK in a strong position not just in terms of relations with China but also as a bridge as it were between China and the rest of Europe and China and the US as well. I think the process of the Renminbi internationalization is probably going to be a bit slower than some people are suggesting because it has big implications for Chinese trade policy, it has big implications for financial policy, it has potential implications for inflation, so on and so forth, and it's something that has to be handled carefully but it is being handled in a relatively incremental manner at the moment and I think it will continue like that. So, I don't imagine a big splash or a rapid big-bang in the internationalization of the Renminbi, but a slower, incremental process and I think the City of London is going to play an important part in that."
London is becoming a major off-shore market for the trading and
Japan's Slide to the Right Explaining Japan's slide to the right and exploring how it may impact stability within the Asia Pacific region. The historical and strategic issues between China and Japan are sensitive enough to mobilize public opinion en masse within China and dangerous enough to destabilize the entire Asia Pacific region should one side push too far. Japan's slide to the right, or rather that of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is undeniable. There are differing views as to why Abe has said some of the things he has said, and done some of the things he has done, but it is useful to explore the varying motives behind Japan's revisionist drive and what effect this could have upon the wider region. 2014 had not even begun and Abe had already drawn the ire of Japan's regional neighbors, not least China, by
carrying out a year-end visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which memorializes a number of war criminals from the Second World War. The visit took place against the backdrop of a tense situation in the South China Sea and has been accompanied by denials of Japan's wartime aggression by a number of high profile individuals within government. To top it all, a continued push to reassess Article 9 of Japan's pacifist constitution in order to seek the right of so-called collective defense has sounded a warning to the governments of China and South Korea, who now have worries about Japan's intentions. From the standpoint of the Chinese public, and certainly from a media perspective in China, Japan's actions are often seen as part of a wider strategy aimed at reasserting dominance within the region and thus appear to target China directly. Some political scholars are not surprised by Japan's rightward trend of late, especially in the context of the anarchical situation of international relations. As Zhang Baohui, Professor of Political Science at Lingnan University in Hong Kong explains, "Abe's efforts to return Japan to the rank of a great power is not that strange or
exceptional. And he's behaving like leaders of other great powers; they all try to exert their influence on the international system." But this explanation is not widely touted within China. Zhang Baohui explains that the perspective that gains credence in China is that "(Abe) is too nationalistic; he has been socialized by the right wing political culture of Japan. They want to remove the so-called guilt aspect of Japan's national identity because they think removing this identity is very much the first step for Japan to restore its self-esteem and its position in the international system. In China, people tend to focus on (this) perspective, which is that he's a nationalist. But I think we should also see the other perspective, which is that great powers always want to be great powers and Abe's efforts merely reflect that." From a realist stance therefore, Japan's efforts to reassert dominance are almost inevitable. Furthermore, Abe has always been to the right of the political spectrum regarding foreign policy issues and his attempts to address the limits imposed on the military by the nation's pacifist constitution are not particularly surprising especially given the fact that he now possesses a majority in both houses of parliament. Mel Gurtov, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University and also editor-in-chief of Asian Perspective outlines this fact, noting, "Over the years, many people in Japan, including Abe, have wanted Japan to move closer to becoming a so-called 'normal nation', which really means removing the constitutional restriction on Japan having a regular armed forces, rather than a so-called self-defense force; and being in a position to contribute to collective self-defense." Gurtov adds that China's rise and its creation of a "more
robust military with a willingness to assert territorial claims in the East China and South China Sea have given Abe a further rationale for Japan becoming a normal nation and getting rid of the shackles that people like him feel have been imposed by the US ever since the end of World War Two." But it appears as if Japan is overstepping the mark in its efforts to reassert its dominance on the international scene and making unnecessary moves that cause further tension within the region. It is hard to rationalize any visit to a shrine memorializing war criminals, and it is even more confusing when one realizes that in doing so at the end of 2013 Abe angered Japan's biggest ally, the U.S. It is understood that the American government had strongly urged Abe not to make such a visit via diplomatic back-channels. After all, some of those memorialized by the Yasukuni shrine took part in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Despite America's best efforts, Abe continued with his decision to make the visit, much to America's, South Korea's and China's chagrin. Yul Sohn, Professor of International and Japanese Political Economy at Yonsei University in Seoul told CRI that by visiting Yasukuni, Abe hit virtually all of his targets for his first year term. "(It) started with the economic policy, the socalled Abenomics to stimulate the economy. He (ran) a successful campaign for the upper house election in the summer (of 2013), followed by the military expansion plan approved domestically and internationally, with the US. And he also introduced a consumption tax increase. All these are major decisions. And finally, Yasukuni; it is a culmination point of the first year of major decisions he's made. In that sense, the visit was planned and politically calculated." Yet there appears to be another aspect to the apparent rightward
slide which suggests that it could have been prevented if China and South Korea had pushed harder to achieve high-level meetings. Zhang Weiwei, Assistant Research Fellow of the Department for AsiaPacific Security and Cooperation Studies at the China Institute of International Studies believes that Abe's shift to the right is as much a result of frustration as it is political belief. Zhang explains, "Japan's relations with both China and South Korea have been stuck for one or two years, or even three years. So, even though Shinzo Abe has this strong, personal, political belief, he didn't visit the Yasukuni shrine earlier. He said he would like to open talks and meet personally with the high leaders of China and South Korea. However, there is no sign that this kind of summit meeting would ever (be) realized." In explaining Abe's choice to visit the shrine, Zhang believes that Abe is "impatient with the scenario of improvement with China and South Korea. He thinks that the visit will cost him very little in terms of diplomatic relations because the two bilateral relations have already (come to a complete stop). So, I think that is another political calculation, because he thinks it can't get worse." Meanwhile, Zhang Baohui posits another theory, suggesting that the visit reflects Abe's nationalist identity in that "he wants to take off the shackles imposed on him by the US ever since 1945." In the context of the US urging Abe not to visit the shrine behind the scenes, Zhang Baohui notes, "I think (the visit was) actually directed against the US rather than China or South Korea. It's not a historical related behavior, it's a foreign policy behavior and the target is actually America." Whether Abe is pursuing normal nation status, hitting political
targets, opposing the US, or simply working under the assumption that things can't get any worse, the net result is that the general public in both China and South Korea is becoming angrier with Japan's actions and rhetoric. But while visits to the Yasukuni Shrine always prompt public outrage from Japan's neighbors, it is the Liberal Democratic Party's efforts to change the country's post-war pacifist constitution that are truly worrying. Regardless of public sentiment in China, or how the media portrays the words of Japan's politicians, the notion of constitutional amendment is not a popular one among the Japanese general public. As Zhang Weiwei notes, "the Japanese populace are still very supportive of the constitution of Japan, as they think the constitution has brought Japan all these years of peace and prosperity." Furthermore, Abe was not elected as a result of his foreign policy beliefs, but rather because of his liberal economic policies. His credibility therefore, relies on the success of traditional liberal economics. Should the economy stagnate, and as the tax hike takes effect at the start of April, Abe may begin to lose credibility. An urge to fall back on foreign policy in order to bolster his legitimacy could lead to dangerous political maneuvering given the fact that Abe traditionally speaks for a highly conservative element within the country. In attempting to redefine the post-war constitution and outline Japan's so-called right for collective defense, Abe would give Japan the power to engage in military scenarios far beyond its own borders. Such a thought truly worries China and South Korea, especially given the fact that leading figures within Japan still openly deny the country's aggressive past. 21
But there is hope according to Zhang Weiwei despite the fact that Abe is clearly in favor of revising the constitution. Following objections last year to the passing of a state secrecy law, which harked back to Japan's militaristic past, Abe realized the extent of opposition he would likely encounter in attempting to alter the constitution further. Zhang Weiwei points out that this realization led to Abe changing his strategy from amending the constitution to revising the interpretation of the constitution. Revising the interpretation would not require parliamentary voting or parliamentary approval, and appears altogether as if Abe is simply attempting to sidestep democratic procedure. However, if Japan and its people were openly in favor of amending the constitution and thus taking on a greater militaristic role in the region, Abe would easily be able to pursue a legal revision via parliament or through a referendum. As it turns out, the public opposition to such a move would likely be too great; especially if it were put to a referendum during the vote for the Upper House in 2016. Furthermore, Abe is not openly seeking to gain consensus with the major opposition party within the Diet and is unlikely to gain support for bending the rule of law rather than following the rule of law with regards to suddenly changing the constitution's interpretation. Nonetheless, Abe is intent on realizing his vision somehow, and despite all the obstacles, if he were to achieve either an amendment or a reinterpretation of the constitution, it could throw the region into turmoil.
INSIDE VIEW: Through the Lens of US Policy Makers CRIENGLISH.com speaks with Dr. Clifford Kiracofe, former senior staff member of the US senate foreign relations committee, on China-US relations and China-Japan relations from a US perspective. How would you characterize the current state of the China-US relationship? "I think there's been a process of developing constructive engagement in many areas; economic ties for sure. But also in more recent times, in recent years, we have military-to-military cooperation, communication; we're starting more people-to-people exchanges. So, the state-to-state relationship is stable and developing. Relationships at the people to people level, I'd like to see them be strengthened. How is this idea of a new model of major country relations, in order to avoid conflict between a rising power and the established power, being understood from the US side? Susan Rice, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations and a member of President Obama's cabinet, at the start of the year stated that the US side hopes for now to operationalize the agreement between President Xi and President Obama. The issue for both countries now, and scholarly communities in each country, and diplomatic communities also, is to work out some practical implementation of this concept and take some practical steps to begin to operationalize the concept. I think on the Chinese side, among many scholars that I have talked to there's a great scholarly interest in this topic. Chinese colleagues have told me they're concerned that their counterparts on the US side haven't been as productive in coming up with new suggestions or scholarly theories or practical advice on how to operationalize or implement the agreement at the presidential level.
What concrete steps can be taken to operationalize and implement this concept? The first necessity is more communication and dialogue exactly on the topic; 'ok let's sit down, how do we go forward?' Here we have some issues. For example, in power transition theory, some scholars talk about this idea of an inevitable war, or something like that. But if we look at 19th Century Europe for example, after the Congress of Vienna in 1815, there was major agreement between major powers in Europe, which led to a peaceful Europe, more or less, for a century. So, major powers can get together and form a consensus and work together to minimize and avoid conflict and also work
We may have to reexamine our present, maybe outdated alliance structures in East Asia, and move more towards major power cooperation. These alliance structures are left over from an earlier period and now we're in a transition period in history. Should the US distance itself from Japan in order to strengthen US-China relations? As we try to develop the China-US relationship, we shouldn't allow third countries, whether it's Japan, or the Philippines or Vietnam, to interfere or come between China and US relationship. The issue of Japan is a little trickier these days because we see a rightward trend in Japanese politics and leadership. And this can call into question the utility of the alliance with Japan. Why do we need this alliance if we're moving to a multipolar world, we're
on issues that are Overseas Chinese protest against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo controversial and try Abe's shrine visit, in front of the to reduce frictions. Japanese Consulate General in New York, January 8, 2014. My thinking is that [Photo: Asianewsphoto] it's not difficult to operationalize. What it requires is dialogue at the very highest level. And also on the US side, it's developing a US-China relationship, going to require the US to have a a major power relationship; all of different approach than the current these cold war alliances, including semi-cold war approach. And the the Japanese alliance, could be United States needs to recognize obsolete in 5 or 10 years. We China as an equal partner in global shouldn't allow Japan to interfere governance issues, you could say or try to play the United States if you want to use that political against China, or these sorts of science term, so it's going to games. We should develop our require more dialogue at the very relationship with China directly. highest level. Naturally at some point, we'll have to get into more trilateral dialogue;
US, China, Japan. But then also later, we have to expand, maybe bring Russia in to the dialogue, a quadrilateral dialogue, major power dialogue. The Japanese situation recently is cause for great concern. Many talk about a possible flash point in China Japan relations during 2014. How would you assess the security situation in the region as both countries seem to be gearing up militarily? The US interest is for a reduction of tensions and avoiding conflict, particularly over the island issue. The US has made, I think, some mistakes over the island issue because we've included those islands, we say, in the defense perimeter in the treaty arrangement with Japan. We also say that those islands are a matter of international legal dispute, and that we don't take a position on that. But by placing the islands inside the security perimeter, it does look like we take a position. That could encourage adventurism, provocation on the part of Japan,
who might expect the US to back them up. In my view, those islands need to be removed from the security perimeter and the status of the islands needs to be discussed directly between the two sides that are concerned about them; China and Japan, through diplomatic dialogue rather than a military incident of some kind or provocation of some kind. Start a process. The process may take a 23
while; you may not solve the issue immediately. But at least there will be a diplomatic dialogue, a process going. And the islands will be outside the security perimeter. Even if they remain inside the security perimeter we need to certainly indicate to Japan not to make any provocative action and don't expect the United States to back you up if you start something stupid. Was Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine earlier in the year a political blunder? Well, actually it's provocative to the United States. Let's think about this, they bombed Pearl Harbor. Some of the people who are buried at that shrine were involved in the decision to bomb Pearl Harbor and go to war with the United States. I think Americans will wake up to the significance and symbolism of that visit. First of all, the United States has sent a very prestigious and fine ambassador, Caroline Kennedy, to Japan. So, the United States has made an incredibly friendly gesture to Japan by sending her as our ambassador. The United States, President Obama and Vice President
Biden and the Embassy in Japan have, I think behind the scenes, encouraged Abe not to engage in controversial action by making a visit like that. But he defiantly went anyway. The United States had asked, in a friendly manner, that he shouldn't raise tensions. But defiantly he went anyway with no apologies with very short notice. So, the US reacted I think in a very proper manner; in a very low-key manner. When we said we were disappointed with his action, that's a very powerful word in diplomacy. It's actually a very strong signal of disapproval. What I think is happening in the United States, in the White House, is there is starting to be a reflection about Japan, its direction; the alliance. What are the costs and benefits of the alliance if right wing-type politicians are dragging Japan into a more provocative posture in the region? Will the US lose soft-power if we're associating with Japan who may want to create some new co-prosperity sphere? I think the United States needs to make it fairly clear to the Japanese that they need to be responsible allies, or why should we bother with an alliance?
What role does Japan's military play within the region? In the back of the mind of some of the leaders like Abe, they want to try to alter the situation in the region. I personally think that some of these alliances are obsolete; we're in a new world, an emerging multipolar world. The security situation is linked to that and changing. And the US economically cannot sustain hard power in this region forever. Our economy can only take so much. So, I think it's inevitable that there will be some changes in rebalancing in Asia by Asians themselves. But let's not discount the power of (Japan's) so-called self-defense force; that's just a label. Japan has very formidable military forces. They're configured for certain purposes and can be reconfigured, but right now, the so-called self-defense forces are quite powerful. The issue for the US is going to be, are we going to face some sort of a foreign policy crisis with respect to East Asia in the alliance structure, is Japan going to be a reliable ally or is it going to be an albatross around its neck?
Chinese Opinion on the US Pivot By Fu Yu
MESSENGER spoke exclusively with Yuan Peng, Vice Dean of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, and Dong Xiuli, Professor from the School of Law and Politics at Beijing International Studies University to gain Chinese academia's view on the Pivot to Asia. With the war in Iraq over and conflicts in the Middle East showing signs of abating, the United States has realized it needs to play a pivotal role in the Asia-Pacific region if it wants to cast a stronger influence there. In an effort to revitalize its economy after the global economic downturn, the United States sets its eyes on the Asia-pacific where the world's most robust economic activities are taking place. While the United States remains committed to its pivot to this region, the government is still in the initial stages of carrying out this strategic rebalancing since the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared "We are back" in 2009. It has since established stronger bilateral ties with a host of countries. Meanwhile, with concerns that China's rise and increase in power will challenge its role in the Asia-Pacific, the United States has strengthened alliances with Japan, South Korea and the Philippines to contain China's expanding influence. Experts say the United States and its allies are taking advantage of each other's relations with China. Yuan Peng, Vice Dean of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations says that by
endorsing Japan's stance on the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands and jointly conducting military drills with allies in the South China Sea, the United States is offering opportunities for its allies to "kidnap" Sino-US relations and turn it into their advantage. Yuan states that by pursuing an act of "cowardice" and hiding behind its allies when it comes to relations with China, the United States has avoided direct conflict but managed to contain China at the same time. Yuan believes that China can turn the tables by establishing open communication with the United States in order to check the moves made against them. Furthermore, the scholar notes that China should assert its stance and take the initiative to manage affairs within the region by working closely with the United States. To prevent third parties from preying on Sino-US relations, Yuan insists that both China and the United States need to reach an agreement on maintaining stability in the Asia-Pacific region, which will enable the two countries to seek mutual benefit through a long-term development plan. The pivot to east Asia has become a challenging task for the Obama administration, after having met pressure from both home and abroad. Dong Xiuli, Professor from the School of Law and Politics at Beijing International Studies University, explains that Asian countries are hesitant to join the United States to rein in China's power because they do not want to risk their trade relations with China. As evidenced by US involvement in the Middle East and Europe, such as the most recent crisis in Crimea, East Asia is no longer the United States' sole focus, with its attention increasingly being diverted elsewhere.
The economic situation in the United States and a divide in opinions towards China also pose considerable difficulties for its pivot to the Asia-Pacific region. But despite having a trade deficit for four years in a row, the United States has increased its military presence in the region as it ramps up its withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Both Chinese scholars highlight the fact that since becoming Secretary of State, John Kerry seems to have taken a different approach to the pivot than his predecessor Hilary Clinton, in that he views the situation in the Asia-Pacific far more broadly. Yuan and Dong note that because Kerry has focused a great deal on the Middle East, he appears rather vague in regards to his task in the Asia Pacific and is not as committed to working on the issues that command attention within East Asia. But the goal is essentially the same and will last throughout the Obama administration. As Professor Dong explained to MESSENGER, Kerry believes that the pivot is best delivered through cooperation with ASEAN countries, which will spur economic growth and create more opportunities for China. Also, close military cooperation between the United States and countries within the Asia-Pacific region will combat terrorism and guarantee a peaceful, stable environment for China's development. However, the United States' military alliance system will further polarize the division of powers in Asia and the US will also drive apart economic cooperation with its Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement; both of which remain the most pressing issues to be achieved by the US and its allies within the region. 25
The Diaoyu Islands in the Context of the Pivot MESSENGER speaks exclusively with members from China’s academic community, Zhao Changhui – Senior Analyst at China Eximbank, and Da Wei, Director of American Studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, to learn more about the US stance on the Diaoyu Islands and how this impacts China-US relations. What is the current US stance on the Diaoyu Islands issue? Zhao Changhui The Obama administration (has) downgraded the importance of the China-Japan dispute since the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis. Some high-ranking US officials, including Richard Lee Armitage (former Deputy Secretary of State under George W. Bush), announced that if Japan failed to properly handle its historical issue or carry out a reasonable adjustment of its foreign policies, previous efforts to claim itself a country that adores peace would have been made in vain.
Asia mainly depends on Japan to tame and contain China. The Diaoyu Islands is a phenomenon which reflects the US taking sides with Japan as part of its East Asia strategy, with the aim of containing China via Japan. The US believes that China strengthens its enforcement over the Diaoyu and Huangyan Islands through maritime surveillance in recent years, and is gradually changing the present situation of the Diaoyu Islands via nonmilitary means. The US shows strong concern over what it sees as China’s “revisionist” acts. Does the Diaoyu issue impact other areas of cooperation between China and the US?
The US will not show its position over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands; The Japan-US Security Treaty applies to the Diaoyu Islands; the United States opposes a unilateral change of the status quo in terms of Japan’s exercising administrative jurisdiction; and the US demands that China and Japan settle disputes through peaceful dialogue.
The Iranian issue is now half settled, but Russia and China’s stance is of vital importance. However, the US and Russia are hostile towards one another now, so the Obama administration does not want to irritate their last hope, namely China, the biggest investor and trading partner of Iran. The US knows that if China doesn’t help out on the Iran issue, all sides would reach a stalemate.
Will the US stance lead to a more bellicose Japan? Zhao Changhui The US doesn’t want to become involved in a conflict, because this is the worst outcome for the US. But the Japanese politicians are overly hasty and their policies often go against the common will. So the US will first push Japan to calm down and hold it under control, for it’s obvious that China will not tolerate Japan touching its bottom-line, as conflict would arise. Da Wei From China’s perspective, the US stance is always in sort of a conflict. On the surface, the US will not show its position over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands, but in the meantime, the US opposes a change of status quo regarding the islands which are within Japan’s administrative jurisdiction. The US attitude in essence supports the protection of Japan’s actual control over the islands. From a broader point of view, the US stance indicates its definition of diplomatic relations with China and Japan respectively. Japan is an ally of the US, so the US would try its best to ensure Japan’s security. China is one of the US biggest opponents and the US strategy in East 26
Da Wei The Diaoyu Islands issue obviously does nothing to benefit the mutual trust between China and the US. China has not yet linked this issue with other areas of cooperation with the US. Hence I believe the US stance over the Diaoyu Islands will not hinder China-US cooperation. But China’s distrust, which stems from this issue, would generate negative impact on the cooperation between the two sides. In particular, China’s depth of cooperation and its enthusiasm would be somewhat hindered.
Afghanistan is rich in minerals but high in instability. What can China gain by helping Afghanistan gain control of its domestic situation? Though many observers might not think to associate China with atetmpts to relieve the plight of Afghanistan, the two countries are geographically linked to one another through a shared border. As the US prepares to withdraw its troops from the failing Afghan state, the geographical proximity of China will no doubt become more apparent as China will seek to ensure stability within the region and follow through with its plans for a Silk Road revival (See page 29). Afghanistan is a mineral-rich country yet to be fully exploited; something that China is keenly aware of as seen by its high level of investment within the country. However, an insecure Afghan state not only threatens Chinese investment, it also threatens the security of China and thus could pose difficult problems for policy makers as they attempt to adhere to the country's norm of noninterference. Linked by the Wakhan Corridor, a leftover remnant of the strategic rivalry of the Russian and British Empires in the 19th Century, China's border with Afghanistan stretches a mere 92.45 kilometers.
Though this distance may be minute in comparison to the borders China shares with other countries, the China-Afghan border lies alongside the restive Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The possibility, whether it be real or imagined, of radicals fermenting separatism within Xinjiang will drive any future involvement that China has with Afghanistan in the context of a post-US withdrawal. Any Chinese involvement, however, will almost certainly be at arm's length. Security is undoubtedly the name of the game as economic considerations will take a back seat when it comes to ensuring regional stability, and thus ensuring the safety and security of western China. There is however a broader security issue to address regarding Afghanistan, away from the immediate headline generating world of terrorists and separatists. Greg Barton, Acting Director of the Center for Islam and the Modern World at Monash University, Australia believes that China's interest in Afghanistan is also part of a wider interest in Pakistani and Indian relations. "China's interests very much depend upon Pakistan and India getting along and developing well and not falling back into a period of cold war or even hot war; and what happens in Afghanistan plays into it as well."
The possibility of increased militant activity within Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US and NATO troops will no doubt worry the Chinese government, not least because of the unrest that has been occurring for the past several years in the neighboring Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Nick Fielding, editor of China Outlook, suggests that it is hard to assess whether militants within Afghanistan, or even Pakistan, have a direct effect on restive elements within Xinjiang.t "Xinjiang undoubtedly is of great concern," Fielding said when speaking to CRI. "It's an area of enormous reported social instability of various different kinds; there have been many incidents mentioned over the past year for example. There's clearly tension in that region. Whether it is being directly stoked by those militants based in either Pakistan or Afghanistan is very difficult to say. They undoubtedly have a presence, whether they have any command or control over other militants in that region is less easy to predict." Whilst difficult to predict, the presence of militantminded groups nearby or inside Xinjiang will no doubt give leaders in Beijing fits. The Chinese government will therefore be keen to work with whoever comes to power as a result of the Afghan elections. Furthermore, the Chinese 27
government is also open to working with the Taliban, through political channels, should they end up assuming a role in the political system once more. A pragmatic approach from China, with the hope of making deals that would benefit both sides, was something that the US was not keen on pursuing especially with regards to an outfit like the Taliban. However, the Chinese side will be wise to approach with caution, for as Jia Xuedong, Senior Research Fellow from the China Institute of International Studies points out, when the Taliban was previously in power, despite promising that they would not allow Afghanistan to become a base for destabilizing the region and China's northwest border, there was a discrepancy between what they said and what they did. Barton believes that a pragmatic approach could be key in getting a handle on the security situation. Accepting that the Taliban are going to play a political role in the future "is something which may well stand them in good stead in the period to come." And there's certainly a lot to gain from nurturing a secure and stable Afghanistan. Chinese investment within the region is high partly due to the massive potential of the country's mineral deposits. The country is rich in gas reserves, copper, lithium and other minerals which China are hungry for in order to fuel their continued economic development. With regards to copper alone, the state-owned China metallurgical group along with two other Chinese companies won the contract to develop the copper field in Aynak, which is believed to be the largest undeveloped copper reserves in the world, with an estimated 88 billion dollars worth of reserves. 28
game there." Jia points out that China and the US have already worked together on a joint project training Afghan diplomats but calls for more cooperation between the powers.
A US helicopter flies above Kabul, Afghanistan. [Photo: Asianewsphoto]
The rewards are, therefore, huge; but so too is the gamble. The mine in Aynak was attacked 17 times in 2012 and as Fielding rightly points out, "(China) are not going to try to mine in a near war situation; they want stability before these major, massive investments can really take off." So, it really does all boil down to security. A secure Afghanistan could help prevent extremism from filtering through the China/ Afghanistan border, while Chinese investments within the country require security in order to create viable returns. But Afghanistan isn't a make or break country for China as far as economics are concerned because as Barton notes, the whole region of central Asia is mineral-rich, meaning that China has options.ă€€ But the thought of Afghan militants having a bearing upon what happens in the west of China will guarantee that the Chinese government will assume some kind of role within Afghanistan going forward. Furthermore, Chinese involvement should be complemented by American assistance. Jia Xuedong, Senior Research Fellow from the China Institute of International Studies explains that China and the US can and must work together; "There should not be a zero-sum
But observers should not expect any rapid movement on the issue of Afghanistan from China. As Nick Fielding explains, China's pragmatic approach means "it will allow trade to expand just as fast as the Afghans want it to expand. If the Afghans are able to guarantee security and safety then those mining operations, the drilling operations and so will go ahead at full speed. But I don't believe China will want to risk men or material in Afghanistan over any period of time if there's any sort of instability." Ultimately, despite Chinese assistance, it will be up to the Afghan government itself to ensure prosperity and stability for the future.
Getting Involved China reaches out to Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which face increasingly volatile security situations, amid the backdrop of reviving the Silk Road Economic Belt. Towards the end of February, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Afghanistan and Iraq; two countries that could destabilize peace within the region if not assisted by their neighbors both economically and politically. The visit highlighted the growing importance of the two nations in regards to safeguarding regional security. It also highlighted the fact that China continues to increase its role as a responsible international actor regardless of self-interests. The increasing levels of contact that are likely to occur in the future between China and Iraq and China and Afghanistan will be framed as part of China's efforts to promote peace, stability, national reconciliation, economic recovery and development of the two countries. There is a tendency, especially within the Chinese media, to report these things in a very black and white manner, in the sense that Chinese assistance, be it economic or political, will help move the needle in the areas mentioned above. However, Chinese assistance alone is unlikely to make the needle flicker. The situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are extremely volatile, and external actors, unrelated to the political or economic systems in these countries, can derail any and all efforts to help create an order of semblance. Dong Manyuan, Deputy Director at the China Institute of International Studies spoke to CRI about the challenges that both countries pose to regional security.
In the case of Afghanistan, Dong explains that, "the announcement of the withdrawal of US and NATO combat troops from (the country) strongly encouraged the Taliban to launch a full-scale Islamic Jihad to overthrow the secular government in Kabul, no matter who will be the next Afghan new president. The next Afghan presidential election is coming (and) the Taliban will start the spring offensive to send a deterrent signal to the new president and government." Though posing similar threats to the region, Iraq's situation is altogether different from that of Afghanistan, Dong explained. "In Iraq, the spillover effect of the Syrian war caused a lot of trouble in this Arab country. The foreign jihadists from the Al-Nusra Front, and ISIS, the Islamic state of Iraq and Levant, can cross the Syrian/ Iraqi border freely and can conduct large-scale military campaigns against Iraqi government troops, and can even capture the capital city of Anbar province. The jihadist groups in both Afghanistan and Iraq belong to the radical faction of the Islamic fundamentalist movement in the Islamic world. Their goals are the same, that is, to topple the secular governments in both countries and set up Islamic fundamentalist regimes." Security is clearly the key problem for both states, and China has pledged to continue to provide training and assistance to Afghan and Iraqi security forces. As with any country attempting to provide assistance to the two countries, Dong points out that, "the major challenges facing China's engagement with Afghanistan and Iraq is the so-called three vices, (namely) religious extremism, ethnic separatism, and regional terrorism. They pose security threats to the safety of Chinese enterprises and personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq." The stakes are already high for
China within the region, due to the fact that the country imports large quantities of oil and gas from the Gulf. The stakes could become even higher should China finally realize its ambition, recently endorsed by President Xi , of reviving the Silk Road Economic Belt by strengthening ties with nations to the west of China. If implemented successfully, the initiative would benefit countries in south Asia, central Asia and the Arab world. However, stability would be necessary in order for such a project to function properly. Bill Jones, Bureau Chief of the Executive Intelligence Review and someone who has been involved with the development of the idea of the Silk Road Economic Belt since the early 1990s, told CRI that the initiative is "an idea that represents a picture of a future in which mankind is no longer involved in poverty and misery but also moves towards economic development." According to Jones, a Silk Road Economic Belt would not only benefit China's economic relations with countries in the "Silk Road region," it would "build a road or a corridor into Europe and further on from Europe into Africa and also into the Middle East." Jones firmly believes that economic development could help to override many of the divisions within Iraq and Afghanistan and the Silk Road project could be the key to unlocking such development. However, as Jones points out, "China of course cannot do it alone; it doesn't have the resources to develop the entire region at the same time as they are developing their own country. But it represents a pathway in which other nations, if they would get their act together and begin to understand their own longterm interests, in particular the European countries and also the United States, would cooperate and collaborate in some way with China on accomplishing this 29
tremendous project." But at the end of the day, the security problems in both countries could damage or even derail the implementation of any such scheme, though Bill Jones is optimistic about Chinese involvement in Iraq; more so than in Afghanistan. "In Iraq there's really a greater possibility of economically trying to bring to bear what China can bring in that respect to help develop the Iraqi economy. There are specific areas that are targeted by the terrorists; there are other areas that remain relatively calm. In Afghanistan the security problem is really paramount. It would be important to try and develop with the Afghan regime, which is very difficult to deal with, some kind of measures that may be helpful to them in terms of what they have to do which is build up their own security forces." As Jones rightly points out, the US has a lot to gain from seeing a peaceful Afghanistan, especially given the fact that so many American lives were lost as a result of their involvement. "There are many people in the US and within the political establishment of the United States who certainly would not be averse to having China doing something to try and deal with this Afghan situation." In Iraq, too, the US has a lot to gain, as do other countries within the region who could, alongside China bring to bear influence that could help foster stability; such as Russia, India, and Iran. However, the US pursuit of a policy of regime change in Iraq, which initially promoted insurgency and has now fallen back towards a diplomatic mode, could hamper collaborative efforts with China. And if major countries allow political orientations to get in the way of viable economic solutions, then Afghanistan and Iraq may languish in their current states for a long time to come. 30
The Energy Long-Game
Looking beneath China's FTA with Iceland By Bejan Siavoshy Iceland finalized its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China at the end of January, making it the first developed European country to have an FTA with the East-Asian economic and geopolitical powerhouse, according to a statement issued by China's Ministry of Commerce. However, the implications of the new deal, which goes into place later this year, for both countries go deeper than what's stipulated on paper. Under the agreement, China will enjoy tariff-free industrial and fisheries exports to Iceland, about 99.8 percent of China's total exports to the island-nation. Iceland's customs figures show that China exported about 425 million USD worth of goods to Iceland in 2013. This is a meager sum compared to China's 2.21 trillion USD in overall exports for 2013, according to the General Administrations of Customs of China. However, what Iceland does give China is a launching point for the East-Asian nation to make its way into the Arctic Zone. As China's economy grows, so too does its thirst for energy. British Petroleum's (BP) most recent
Statistical Review of Global Energy, which was published in July of 2013, states that China consumed about 11.7 percent of the world's oil in 2012, with no signs of that consumption reducing in the face of the country's growing economic development. In 2008, a report by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that there are about 90 billion barrels of undiscovered, recoverable oil, along with 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, in the Arctic region. If accurate, this figure represents about 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil. Creating closer ties with Iceland could lead to access to newly-available energy resources for an energy-hungry China. While China has made similar business maneuvers in Canada, Sweden and northern Russia to gain access to Arctic resources, Iceland being a member of the Arctic Council makes it a key ally for China's aspirations in the region. The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum that addresses environmental, political and economic concerns in the region, according to the governing body's website. The council consists of all states that have territory in the Arctic: Canada, Denmark (which represents Greenland, as well), The Faroe
Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. After applying twice and being rejected, China was finally granted "permanent observer status" last year. Iceland is keen on working with China in its resource acquisition, as well. During the Economist's Arctic Summit 2014 in London, England, on March 4, Iceland's minister of foreign affairs and external trade, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, said "Our good relationship with China has been lasting for many years, and we see China as an important player in the world," during an interview with Chinese statemedia news agency Xinhua. "We seek opportunities to work closer with China when it comes to do research and even do business in the Arctic. In fact, a Chinese company has been granted license to explore oil and gas resources in the Dreki area, which is located between Iceland and Jan Mayen Island," Sveinsson added. This isn't a one-sided deal, however. Iceland finalizing the FTA with China shows that it is looking east to alleviate the pains caused by the country's economic collapse in 2008 after the government defaulted on over 70 billion USD in bank loans, according to the Central Bank of Iceland's annual debt figures. China's state-media news agency, Xinhua, said that China will impose zero tariffs on 7,380 kinds of goods from Iceland, about 81.6 percent of the country's exports to China, which includes aquatic products. Aside from its exports to China, which Iceland's trade statistics say accounted for about 62 million USD in 2013, the island nation can use its expertise in developing geothermal energy solutions to help China diversify its energy consumption. As a volcanic island, about 25 percent of Iceland's energy output is generated through geothermal
means, with the rest coming from hydro-electric power sources, according to Iceland's National Energy Authority. As China eyes cleaner energy solutions in the face of mounting environmental destruction due to over a decade of unchecked economic development, Iceland could play a key role in the East-Asian nation's aspirations to "go green." Bloomberg News ran a report in 2010 that said China's stateowned energy giant, China Petrochemical Corp., planned to make geothermal energy one of its main businesses by 2015. Its subsidiary, Sinopec Star Petroleum Co., China's second-largest oil and gas producer, signed an accord with Iceland's Geysir Green Energy to work hand-in-hand developing renewable, underground heat. This could go a long way toward alleviating the growing air pollution problem in China from coal burning. China used coal for over 65 percent of its energy needs in 2013, according to a separate story by Bloomberg. A 2013 study on China's potential geothermal resources by Stanford University estimated that total recoverable geothermal energy in the country, excluding that coming from hot dry-rock, has the energy yield of about 256.34 billion tons of coal per year. Hot dry-rock alone has the potential annual recoverable energy output of about 5300 times that of the total amount of coal China consumed in 2010, even though only about 2 percent of the country's hot dryrock potential had been explored at the time of the study. China vowed to supplant at least 15 percent of its energy consumption to renewable, alternative energies by 2020, according to Bloomberg. The business news outlet quoted China's vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, Xie Zhenhua, as
saying that the country may allocate over 294 billion USD to develop renewable energy through 2015. Iceland could be poised to pocket a nice portion of China's clean energy budget if the island nation has a major hand in harnessing the Middle Kingdom's geothermal capabilities. The FTA comes into effect during the second half of 2014, almost eight years after talks between the two countries regarding the agreement began in 2006. However, negotiations on the FTA stalled when Iceland made a bid to join the European Union (EU) in 2009. Discussions began again between Reykjavik and Beijing over the FTA in 2012 and a deal was struck after six rounds of talks. Beijing finalized the FTA on its end last April, when Iceland's Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing. While both sides offered generally positive sentiments when asked about the FTA by media outlets, there were detractors within the Althing, Iceland's parliament. The Reykjavik Grapevine ran a story, citing Icelandic news outlet Visir that read as such: "Two MPs [Members of Parliament] - Birgitta Jónsdóttir and Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson of the Pirate Party - voted against the agreement, whilst fellow Pirate Jón Þór Ólafsson abstained, along with Left-Greens Bjarkey Gunnarsdóttir and Ólafur Gunnarsson." Still, the majority of the Althing were optimistic about the agreement. Icelandic Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ossur Skarpheoinsson told Visir that the FTA was "the most important foreign policy agreement Icelanders have made since we joined the [European Economic Area]."
China Steps up International Coordination in Crackdown on Illegal Ivory Trade By Katharine Xu As China continues to deepen its socio-economic partnership with Africa, it is also beginning to recognize the key role it can play in combating the illegal wildlife trade that is both destroying biodiversity and fuelling civil unrest in the continent. Chinese authorities made their first arrest of a Chinese wildlife smuggler overseas this February, as part of a transnational anti-trafficking operation codenamed 'Cobra 2'. The sting, which saw the extradition of an alleged ivory kingpin and Shandong native named Xue from Kenya, involved 28 countries and concluded with over 400 arrests and more than 350 seizures of illegal goods. China's leading role in organizing and funding the operation is an encouraging signal that it is ready to strengthen its cross-border cooperation with other nations in order to confront the powerful criminal networks driving the $19 billion illicit wildlife trade. Wildlife poaching in Africa has surged in recent years, with the forest elephant population in central Africa witnessing a decline of 65 percent between 2002 and 2013. In China, soaring demand for ivory has driven prices for the so-called 'white gold' up to $2,000 per kg and the country now accounts for over 70 percent of the world's ivory market. The legal ivory trade in China is regulated by the country's State Forestry Administration which authorizes a limited number of ivory-carving companies and dealers to sell ivory products made prior to 1989. However, due to the difficulty of dating ivory, 32
the illegal trade continues to flourish on the sidelines; in 2011, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) found that 101 out of 158 ivory-selling shops and carving factories in Beijing, Shanghai, Fuzhou and Guangzhou, were either unlicensed, or selling smuggled ivory. China has strengthened its anti-trafficking policing and confiscated over 17 tonnes of illegal stockpiled ivory in the past three years. One of the main areas of concern is smuggling between Kenya, home to the world's largest ivory export port, and the key trans-shipment point of Hong Kong. Last year, an IFAW study revealed that 95 percent of illegal wildlife smugglers arrested in Kenya's Nairobi Airport were Chinese and the majority were headed towards Hong Kong. The Cobra 2 operation uncovered that the Chinese national Xue had been paying couriers up to $1,600 per smuggling to carry ivory into China, while his collaborator Zheng was found to have been carrying nearly 9kg of ivory beads in his luggage alone. Due to the difficulty of coordinating crossborder policing, the vast majority of such smugglers remain undetected. Those identified are mostly able to avoid sentencing; a 2013 Wildlife Direct study indicated that only 4 percent of convicted wildlife offenders in Kenya went to jail between 2008 and mid-2013. As Grace Ge Gabriel, China director for IFAW emphasizes,
"Wildlife crime has always been a high profit, low-risk endeavor, and that is why it has always attracted syndicates. Kenya has just recently improved its wildlife protection act, making penalties much stronger. In the past, the ivory smugglers caught basically just got a slap on the wrist, a fine of $300 for instance and a confiscation of the smuggled ivory." Following the success of Cobra 2, China endeavors to strengthen its interdiction and law enforcement capabilities to crack down on the trafficking that is undermining African institutions. Ivory poaching funds militia groups including the Lord's Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony and a recent study by the Elephant Action League estimates that illicit ivory sales pay for up to 40 percent of the monthly expenses of the Somali Al-Qaeeda-backed Al-Shabaab militant group. The ivory poached in Kenya is said to be paid for at the Kenyan-Somali borders by AlShabaab officers before being exported to China. Li (Aster) Zhang, director of Programs of Conservation International in China and an associate professor at Beijing Normal University observed that poaching is closely related to social instability in Africa: "According to our analysis of over 40 elephant sites in Africa, carried out under the Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants programme, where we compared the proportion of elephant poaching on the ground, together with other economic and social indicators, we found that poaching in the field is correlated with indicators of corruption, indicators of poverty and indication of demand from consumer countries. So it is not simply a matter of providing funding to support anti-poaching in the field in African countriesâ€Ś. China and other countries should consider this carefully." In January, China destroyed a six-tonne illegal ivory stockpile in Guangzhou in a notable symbolic move which marked its first public act of this kind. Meanwhile, the sheer size of the stockpiles that have also been destroyed by the US in November and France in February, point to one of the most immediate concerns for all the countries along the wildlife trade route, the corruption that is facilitating the smuggling of these illicit goods at massive scales. The Cobra 2 operation has demonstrated the effectiveness of a more open approach to strategic information sharing between governments working together to deal with the masterminds behind the trade. The landmark signing of the London Declaration in February further saw 46 nations including China and African States pledge to strengthen crossborder cooperation whilst treating the illegal wildlife trade as a serious crime within the UN Convention Against Organized Crime. Dr. Jan Schmidt, Asia-Pacific Senior Wildlife and Veterinary Advisor to the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) stressed that the promises made in the agreement must be upheld to enable progress: "Sharing data on intelligence regarding wildlife trade and enforcement activities that have been carried out in other countries is quite crucial in order to respond to these illegal trade activities. Multilateral agreements may help with avoiding bureaucratic delay. We need fast action; if governments are slow in sharing data we may miss out on opportunities to catch those behind it."
Of course, another major part of China's battle against the illegal wildlife trade is curbing the demand fuelling the trafficking. National communication campaigns fronted by Chinese celebrities such as Jackie Chan, Li Bingbing and Yao Ming in partnership with Wild Aid against both rhino horn and elephant ivory purchasing have brought the topic to the forefront of public attention in recent months. Li Zhang is hopeful about the potential effectiveness of such campaigns in raising public awareness and emphasizes that much of the current appetite for ivory in China stems from "new business" activities which only emerged after 2008, when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), allowed China and Japan to make a one-off purchase of illegal ivory stockpiles. Zhang emphasizes that China's ivory market had decreased significantly in the early 2000s prior to this point due to lack of access to resources. He asserts that the country's current ivory market is primarily enabled by a few "businessmen" and "is not centered on traditional culture like ten or twenty years ago, it is a new businessâ€Ś there is no reason for us to rely on this kind of new market because it's not really related to our daily lives". The move by the Chinese government-owned retail chain Chinese Arts & Crafts to suspend its sale of elephant ivory products in mid-March is a sign that China is ready to further stigmatize the consumption of illicit wildlife products on a wider scale. In addition to the achievements the country has made in its seizures and collaborative efforts so far, continued international coordination and systematic enforcement of anti-trafficking laws will be key to tackling the global security threat posed by the billiondollar industry in the long term. 33
INTERVIEW with F. William Engdahl MESSENGER presents a conversation with historian and economic researcher F. William Engdahl on issues related to China's rise and the US response. Engdahl has lectured in economics at the Rhein-Main University in Germany and is a Visiting Professor in Economics at Beijing University of Chemical Technology. (Messenger does not endorse the views of
F. William Engdahl and presents them here only as a conduit for further discussion.) Your book "Target China" was released a little over a year ago in 2013. What is the book's main thesis? The book "Target China" takes the entirety of pressures that have been gradually escalating toward China, not merely to contain China but ultimately to threaten China's energy security, its military security, its health security, its food security and its financial security. So, there are circles in the west who are determined, just as they were over the last 25 to 30 years, to exploit the cheap labor pool in China. Now that China has become an economic giant on the world stage and the American economy is in what I would call an economic depression and debt crisis, as well as many European economies, the emergence of a strong stable China is seen by certain financial interests primarily and also certain military interests in the west as a threat. How would you characterize these socalled strategies of the US, and what are the implications of these strategies for China and the rest of the world? I refer to it in the book by going back to the ancient proverb, 'if you want to boil a frog, you don't put it in a pot of boiling water directly, it'll just jump out. You put it in a pot of cold water and ever-so-gradually turn up the heat until it's unaware it's being boiled and it's too late. So, I think since the time of the Beijing Olympics, in March of 2008 before the Beijing Olympics, you had the first of a series of incidents, kind of pin pricks directed towards China indicating that China was increasingly on the NATO radar if you will, or the US radar and some circles within the US and Washington, with the riots in Tibet and the role of certain US government-sponsored NGOs in those events designed in my view to embarrass Beijing before the summer Olympics of '08. And since that time, you've had a gradual escalation of events that only can be seen from the standpoint of putting increasing pressure on China. Look at Africa, where China since 2006 has made a major, actually brilliant in my view, series of diplomatic initiatives toward various African countries which are financially strapped and under pressure from the IMF with huge foreign debts in dollar denominated areas, and
China comes in with the overtures of soft loans and agreements for resources against infrastructure investment in countries like CAR, Chad, Nigeria, Libya was one of them before the toppling of Gaddafi, and Sudan of course. So, you've had the creation in 2008 by the Bush administration then of AFRICOM, the Africa Command, dedicated precisely to the growing Chinese economic presence in Africa. Then you had the Arab Spring. Well, the US' hand in that is quite well documented. It's been somewhat behind the scenes, but it's definitely the guiding hand in that, not simply the French government's role, especially against Syria, which is the doorstep to the toppling or isolating of Iran; a crucial energy source partner for China and the Chinese economy. So, all of these various measures have been ineluctably directed towards tightening the noose around China; what the Pentagon calls the string of pearls that protect the oil supply lines from the Persian Gulf and from Africa to China through the Malacca Straits. The US is arguably the dominant media power throughout the world. Do you think that the Chinese image is correctly reflected in the US media? No, there's been a distinct shift over the past several years towards a hostile portrayal of China as this looming giant, this brute that's going to threaten peace in Asia and so forth. But the declaration of the Asian Pivot by President Obama and the shift of focus of the Pentagon deployments towards a circle of ballistic missile so-called defense, they're really offensive placements that threaten a nuclear war by preemption in effect, but doing the same thing that they did to Russia several years ago by surrounding Russia with anti-missile installations in Poland, Czech Republic and Turkey and elsewhere, that's now being done in Japan and there are adjuncts of that in Australia; in effect China is finding itself militarily surrounded suddenly by its supposed friend, the United States. So, it's definitely being portrayed in a hostile light in the mainstream US media and that mainstream US media is not simply restricted to the US because there have been a series of joint ventures between CNN and various partners in Western Europe and so forth so that there's
a globalization and cartelization of the mainstream western media that's taken place over the last 10 or 15 years similar to what it is in the oil industry or the food industry; so that's quite a potent weapon. If you control the information flows, as Hitler's information propaganda minister Goebbels once said, if you simply repeat a lie again and again and again enough times, people will accept it as the truth. That's been done against Bashaar Al Assad in Syria, it was done against Gadaffi in Libya, it was done against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, again and again and again that this is the new Adolf Hitler, and that's a very, very powerful machine that's been developed and it's been tightly integrated in many cases with the Pentagon agenda. How would you characterize popular opinion in relation to China's stance towards the US? It's very clear that the Chinese leadership wants to pursue peaceful, diplomatic dialogue and economic dialogue with Washington, with President Obama. I think China, in terms of world opinion, needs to get its message across much more clearly and much more effectively. I think English language radio broadcasts through the internet and so forth are certainly one way perhaps of doing that. Agencies such as international broadcasts of CCTV create a more balanced picture of what's really going on in China, which I find fascinating and in many cases worthy of the respect of the world. And in some cases there are very serious problems, such as the corruption of the various political officials that are being addressed by the new government in China as I can see so far. But showing the honest struggles of China - that China is genuinely trying to bring itself into the modern economic world in a peaceful way and a dynamic way; that's something that would be positive for the rest of the world. I think the German economy would not be the booming export engine of the world, were it not for the existence of China. That's something that should be understood in Germany more clearly; the same in many European countries. So, its China's communication of the positive side of what's going on in China that I think can definitely be enhanced.
the other anniversary President Xi Jinping recently travelled to France to mark celebrations for the 50th anniversary of bilateral ties between China and France; one anniversary that is gaining the attention it deserves. Despite the fact that the 35th Anniversary of China-US diplomatic relations hasn't gained much attention outside of China (See page 5), there is one anniversary which is being recognized by both of the countries concerned, namely the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and France. The event is significant as France was the first major western country to establish diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level with China. At the start of the year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and French ambassador to China Sylvie Berman addressed the media in Beijing, in anticipation of the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties. At the time, Wang Yi reiterated that both countries value their strategic partnership. "The two countries have always resolved to be devoted to promoting multilateralism, and encouraging the international community to develop in a more equal and balanced direction. We have also promoted collectively setting international rules through equal consultation." France has been looking to China for more investment, to help boost its economy and create investment. It also established a 48-hour visa system at the end of January this year so as to guarantee visitors from China a speedy completion of the visa application process, and thus attract more free-spending Chinese tourists.
In congratulatory messages sent to one another to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties, Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Francois Hollande promised to deepen the relationship between the two countries. There have been flashpoints in the China-France relationship, most notably prior to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. But China clearly values the relationship with France, as evidenced by the words of Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, who noted that "The 50 years of Sino-French relations have seen plentiful and substantial achievements and valuable experiences, of which the most important is mutual political trust based on mutual respect." France provides China with an important political ally in the international arena and is an extremely important and influential ally when it comes to developing relations with China's biggest trading partner, the European Union. Feng Zhongping, Director of European Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, characterizes France as a "valuable partner" in the context of strengthening ties with the European Union. As Feng explains, "(China) needs some strategic pillars within the EU to make China-EU relations stronger," and France is probably the most well placed to serve such a purpose. Feng also highlights China's need to develop relations with major western nations as China steps up to its responsibilities with regards to the international order. "We have agreement (with France) in some areas, and disagreement in (others), but on the
whole I think as China is going to play a larger role in the international arena, we need some partners, like the US and Russia. For example, in Africa and in the Middle East, these are areas where France has a clear, major interest and also a long experience in these regions. And these are going to be very important regions for China. I expect to see more cooperation in these important regions for both sidesâ€œ. Zhang Dejiang's French counterpart, Claude Bartolone, President of the National Assembly of France, has also spoken of France's desire to broaden the level of cooperation between these old friends; clearly aware of the economic benefits that China could bring to bear for France. "Beside some traditional areas, we are also exploring new areas for economic cooperation. It is important to Chinese people, the Chinese market as well as French enterprises. The French government is simplifying administrative procedures a great deal, and at the same time, taking new measures to make a better environment for Chinese investors." Meanwhile, China sees France as an important source of high technology imports; an aspect of trade between the two countries that it is keen to develop. Out of all the western powers with which China has relations, it seems that France is best placed to take advantage of the bilateral relations so as to realize the Chinese principle of "win-winâ€? cooperation. 35
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