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The South China Sea's Gathering Storm

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The South China Sea's Gathering Storm

Old 12th Aug 2022, 18:53
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The recent exercises had very little to do with messaging Taiwan, they had everything to do with messaging the Chinese population. After allowing and even encouraging popular outrage over the Pelosi visit Xi backed himself into a corner and had to be seen to be doing something. Therefore a hastily arranged set of Kabuki theatre exercises was carefully designed to look impressive to the locals but had no practical effect on Taiwan. No ports were blocked and shipping was only briefly affected. Trade continued unaffected except for a few meaningless product bans.

Intent and capability are the only metrics that matters and I would suggest neither have manifestly changed on the part of the PLA with respect to a Military invasion of Taiwan.

Personally I do not think that the PLA will ever have the capability to invade Taiwan. Dictators focus military force inward to control the population and disperse power among multiple overlapping security agencies so that no one will become powerful enough to overthrow the leader. Senior leaders will be chosen for political loyalty over military competence and independent thoughts will be discouraged.

All of the above are the exact opposite of the qualities a modern military capable of effective joint and combined expeditionary operations, needs.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter how many ships and airplanes the PLA has if they don’t have the Command and Control and logistics to effectively use them.

Finally Xi can’t afford to lose, it would be the end of him so I would suggest that the lessons of the Ukraine war have not been lost on him and therefore the chance of a Military invasion of Taiwan had actually gone down.
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Old 12th Aug 2022, 19:50
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Originally Posted by Big Pistons Forever View Post
The recent exercises had very little to do with messaging Taiwan, they had everything to do with messaging the Chinese population. After allowing and even encouraging popular outrage over the Pelosi visit Xi backed himself into a corner and had to be seen to be doing something. Therefore a hastily arranged set of Kabuki theatre exercises was carefully designed to look impressive to the locals but had no practical effect on Taiwan. No ports were blocked and shipping was only briefly affected. Trade continued unaffected except for a few meaningless product bans.

Intent and capability are the only metrics that matters and I would suggest neither have manifestly changed on the part of the PLA with respect to a Military invasion of Taiwan.

Personally I do not think that the PLA will ever have the capability to invade Taiwan. Dictators focus military force inward to control the population and disperse power among multiple overlapping security agencies so that no one will become powerful enough to overthrow the leader. Senior leaders will be chosen for political loyalty over military competence and independent thoughts will be discouraged.

All of the above are the exact opposite of the qualities a modern military capable of effective joint and combined expeditionary operations, needs.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter how many ships and airplanes the PLA has if they don’t have the Command and Control and logistics to effectively use them.

Finally Xi can’t afford to lose, it would be the end of him so I would suggest that the lessons of the Ukraine war have not been lost on him and therefore the chance of a Military invasion of Taiwan had actually gone down.

Agree with the above.
Xi is not stupid and has serious problems at home, including an imploding real estate sector (30% of GNP), unprecedented unemployment among the youngest, best educated recent graduates and a failed Covid policy, whose costs mount daily.. Getting his third term confirmed with these headwinds is hard enough, but confirmation while engaged in a war that causes China's customers to gag is a non starter, at least imho.
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Old 13th Aug 2022, 00:56
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Originally Posted by Big Pistons Forever View Post
The recent exercises had very little to do with messaging Taiwan, they had everything to do with messaging the Chinese population. After allowing and even encouraging popular outrage over the Pelosi visit Xi backed himself into a corner and had to be seen to be doing something. Therefore a hastily arranged set of Kabuki theatre exercises was carefully designed to look impressive to the locals but had no practical effect on Taiwan. No ports were blocked and shipping was only briefly affected. Trade continued unaffected except for a few meaningless product bans.

Intent and capability are the only metrics that matters and I would suggest neither have manifestly changed on the part of the PLA with respect to a Military invasion of Taiwan.

Personally I do not think that the PLA will ever have the capability to invade Taiwan. Dictators focus military force inward to control the population and disperse power among multiple overlapping security agencies so that no one will become powerful enough to overthrow the leader. Senior leaders will be chosen for political loyalty over military competence and independent thoughts will be discouraged.

All of the above are the exact opposite of the qualities a modern military capable of effective joint and combined expeditionary operations, needs.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter how many ships and airplanes the PLA has if they don’t have the Command and Control and logistics to effectively use them.

Finally Xi can’t afford to lose, it would be the end of him so I would suggest that the lessons of the Ukraine war have not been lost on him and therefore the chance of a Military invasion of Taiwan had actually gone down.
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Jingxi is the Peking (Beijing) opera form, which kind of compares to Kabuki.... Not as detailed as Potemkin Villages. The Big Cheeze of the PRC has a domestic audience to play to, and has not made friends with his PLA buddies by impacting their livelihood. Interesting paradox.
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Old 13th Aug 2022, 03:33
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Originally Posted by etudiant View Post
Agree with the above.
Xi is not stupid and has serious problems at home, including an imploding real estate sector (30% of GNP), unprecedented unemployment among the youngest, best educated recent graduates and a failed Covid policy, whose costs mount daily.. Getting his third term confirmed with these headwinds is hard enough, but confirmation while engaged in a war that causes China's customers to gag is a non starter, at least imho.
Not to mention bank problems in Henan.
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Old 13th Aug 2022, 22:35
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Hal Brands:
The greatest geopolitical catastrophes occur at the intersection of ambition and desperation. Xi’s China may soon be driven by both. An excerpt in @ForeignPolicy from our new book, Danger Zone, on what China wants and why it may not get it.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/08/13...s-us-conflict/

What Does China Want?

Beijing’s ambitions are about to crash into its problems.

By Hal Brands, the Henry A. Kissinger distinguished professor of global affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and Michael Beckley, an associate professor of political science at Tufts University.

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Old 13th Aug 2022, 23:26
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Originally Posted by ORAC View Post
Hal Brands:
The greatest geopolitical catastrophes occur at the intersection of ambition and desperation. Xi’s China may soon be driven by both. An excerpt in @ForeignPolicy from our new book, Danger Zone, on what China wants and why it may not get it.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/08/13...s-us-conflict/

What Does China Want?

Beijing’s ambitions are about to crash into its problems.

By Hal Brands, the Henry A. Kissinger distinguished professor of global affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and Michael Beckley, an associate professor of political science at Tufts University.
An interesting and insightful article. It however does not address one development that has no historical analog, the ubiquity of social media. Chinese leaders can control the message in a way that is unprecedented. Ultimately to stay in power the Chinese Communist Party only has to have the population believe they are the only possible legitimate government. The reality is meaningless, it is only the received message that matters.

This dynamic works against foreign adventures and focuses everyone and everything inwards. The truly profound change in China in the last 5 years is the ubiquity of the surveillance state. More money, people, and energy been focused on this than any external initiatives.

Putin has provided an object lesson on the dangers of over reach, one that I am sure will influence Xi profoundly.

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Old 14th Aug 2022, 07:17
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An interesting and insightful article. It however does not address one development that has no historical analog, the ubiquity of social media.
They David the same about the printing press, the radio, the newsreel, the television…

Marshall McLuhan was particularly astute…

http://clok.uclan.ac.uk/5556/1/5556_...%20version.pdf

https://americainclass.org/the-radio...a-1929-debate/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_medium_is_the_message
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Old 14th Aug 2022, 16:36
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Originally Posted by ORAC View Post
They David the same about the printing press, the radio, the newsreel, the television…

Marshall McLuhan was particularly astute…

http://clok.uclan.ac.uk/5556/1/5556_...%20version.pdf

https://americainclass.org/the-radio...a-1929-debate/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_medium_is_the_message
I respectfully disagree. Information Technology as a whole gives the state the power to dictate the message in a way that is simply unprecedented. In the past the message was generally controlled by isolating the population, the North Korea model if you will.

However the economic miracle that is at the heart of the Communist Parties compact with its people demands engaging the world, yet they have leveraged IT to keep a tight control on the message and manage it in real time. This has never been possible at other than the local level in the past.
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Old 17th Aug 2022, 22:51
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Latest warning ref Taiwan Straight

China envoy warns US against sailing warships through Taiwan Strait | Al Arabiya EnglishChina called on the US to refrain from sailing naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait, saying Beijing would take further action in the wake of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.

China’s ambassador to Washington, Qin Gang, said on Tuesday that China viewed such Taiwan transits as an escalation by the US and an effort to support the “separatist government” in Taipei. He delivered the warning after Senator Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, wrapped up the second trip to the island in less than two weeks by a US congressional delegation.

“The US side has done too much and going too far in this region,” Qin said in response to a question about potential naval patrols. “I do call on our American colleagues to refrain, to exercise restraint, not to do anything to escalate the tension. So if there’s any moves damaging China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, so China will respond. China will respond.”

The Biden administration has said it would conduct air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait after China responded to Pelosi’s trip with a series of military drills around the island, including likely firing ballistic missiles over Taipei. The US has long held that such transits, like congressional visits, are consistent with its “one China policy” not to formally recognize the democratically elected government in Taipei.

The Navy has conducted an average of about nine trips annually through the strait over the past decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, far fewer than the “100 navigations” Qin said the US makes each year. The most recent known trip came on July 19, when the destroyer, the USS Benfold, sailed through the waterway.

Similarly, Pelosi was only the most senior of 149 members of Congress who have visited Taiwan over the past 10 years.

The Biden administration shouldn’t underestimate China’s resolve on the issue of US congressional visits to Taiwan, Qin said, rejecting White House arguments that lawmakers could act independently. He added that such trips violate the agreements underpinning US-China relations.

“Congress is part of the government of the US -- it’s not an independent, uncontrollable branch,” Qin said. “Congress is obliged to abide by the foreign policy of the United States. That’s why we feel very frustrated and dissatisfied with Senator Markey’s visit to Taiwan. It’s provocative, it’s unhelpful.”

Separately, a bipartisan group of Japanese lawmakers plan to visit Taiwan next week, Kyodo News reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The Defense Ministry in Tokyo had previously said that Chinese ballistic missiles landed in what Japan considers its exclusive economic zone after Pelosi’s trip.

Qin defended the Chinese military’s response to the trip, saying the drills were “open, transparent and professional.”

“We are handling a serious fallout from Pelosi’s visit,” Qin told reporters in Washington. He warned the US not to “underestimate the strong resolve, determination and the capability of the Chinese government and the people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Qin also downplayed the threat of an imminent Chinese attack on Taiwan, saying he wasn’t aware of a specific timeline.

“People are over-nervous about it,” he said, adding that speculation China had moved up the timeline for an invasion was “baseless.”
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Old 17th Aug 2022, 23:20
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Originally Posted by havoc View Post
China called on the US to refrain from sailing naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait, saying Beijing would take further action in the wake of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
I see what you did there ...
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Old 17th Aug 2022, 23:42
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Originally Posted by havoc View Post
China envoy warns US against sailing warships through Taiwan Strait | Al Arabiya EnglishChina called on the US to refrain from sailing naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait, saying Beijing would take further action in the wake of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.

China’s ambassador to Washington, Qin Gang, said on Tuesday that China viewed such Taiwan transits as an escalation by the US and an effort to support the “separatist government” in Taipei. He delivered the warning after Senator Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, wrapped up the second trip to the island in less than two weeks by a US congressional delegation.

“The US side has done too much and going too far in this region,” Qin said in response to a question about potential naval patrols. “I do call on our American colleagues to refrain, to exercise restraint, not to do anything to escalate the tension. So if there’s any moves damaging China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, so China will respond. China will respond.”...

...Qin also downplayed the threat of an imminent Chinese attack on Taiwan, saying he wasn’t aware of a specific timeline.

“People are over-nervous about it,” he said, adding that speculation China had moved up the timeline for an invasion was “baseless.”
Thats an interesting denial of the UNCLOS... Presumably PRCians know the consequences of asking the US not to conduct freedom of the seas exercises. It is pretty much like China asking the USA not to use the I-95 in LAX as it is too close to ChinaTown in SFO. Spoken for the domestic market presumably, if they assume the US would take heed of such a reach they really are living the dream. Can they interdict the USN? sure!; as an act of war...

I'm more nervous of the crumbling of the Chinese economy that continues unabated, and in fact, appears to have been accelerated by PRC manglement interventions in recent months. If they want to crash the economy, they are on the right road. The consequences of the overt belligerence however masked and their own trashing of their economy may lead to redistribution of production and logistic structure that leave the PRC dependent on their own internal market. The internal economy has rather grown since my first visit in 86, where there was one store in Beijing for foreigners and precious little else beside from frozen spittoons in the forbidden city, however, the reliance on foreign trade and the bizarre domestic property market and questionable international programs seem to add a large rod to their backs. The PRC govt made great strides towards resource security by sidling up to various countries in the world, and providing cash for carry, however, that is all well and good so long as they were not belligerent, at which point there may be some buyers remorse and return to sender on the largesse that was provided, with strings.

China is a fantastic country, and could so easily have been a miracle, had the govt of the people, been for the people, and by the people, etc... Seems to be a lot of that going around, and even the shining city on the hill seems to be having some identity crisis issues, as they appear to toy with whether the experiment in democracy should be taken over by a failed, criminal shyster who has an apparent cult following. So much for the party of law 'n order....

We live in interesting times, Chinese proverbs seem to maintain relevancy.
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Old 18th Aug 2022, 04:45
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Chinese Ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian lays down the law, grovel if you please.

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Old 18th Aug 2022, 19:37
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Originally Posted by havoc View Post
Qin Gang,
“Congress is part of the government of the US -- it’s not an independent, uncontrollable branch,” Qin said. “Congress is obliged to abide by the foreign policy of the United States. That’s why we feel very frustrated and dissatisfied with Senator Markey’s visit to Taiwan. It’s provocative, it’s unhelpful.”
Qin Gang:
Yet another foreign moron who presumes that the American government and the American system functions like theirs.
No, QinGang, it doesn't. Congress can do stuff that the President doesn't care for -, and often does. That's by deliberate design, not by mistake.
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Old 18th Aug 2022, 20:44
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Originally Posted by Lonewolf_50 View Post
Yet another foreign moron who presumes that the American government and the American system functions like theirs.
No, QinGang, it doesn't. Congress can do stuff that the President doesn't care for -, and often does. That's by deliberate design, not by mistake.
That really does show how far away from a democracy and a state under the rule of law they are. It is absolutely beyond their imagination that there can be independent parts of a government that control each other. And a legal system that controls all of them totally independent of the government. And worse: They consider this counterproductive. The problem in China is that for the last 20+ years that worked quite OK for a large part of their population. But there are more an more signs that this system will be facing a first serious test (overinflated housing market about to blow up, no idea how to get out of Corona Lockdowns, a LOT of manufacturing leaving China for cheaper places, generally weak economic figues and a demographic time bomb) in the not so distant future. And I guess that is what makes them so nervous. And nervous they obviously are.
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Old 18th Aug 2022, 20:50
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Not sure I would call the Supreme Court “totally independent” of government. Given they are all political appointees.
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Old 18th Aug 2022, 23:04
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Originally Posted by Jonty View Post
Not sure I would call the Supreme Court “totally independent” of government. Given they are all political appointees.
That just adds you to the list of folks who don't get it.
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Old 19th Aug 2022, 02:13
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Originally Posted by havoc View Post
China envoy warns US against sailing warships through Taiwan Strait | Al Arabiya EnglishChina called on the US to refrain from sailing naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait, saying Beijing would take further action in the wake of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
Originally Posted by fdr View Post
Thats an interesting denial of the UNCLOS... Presumably PRCians know the consequences of asking the US not to conduct freedom of the seas exercises.
From the Chinese viewpoint, UNCLOS doesn't apply.
Taiwan is part of China, so the Taiwan Strait is from the PRC's point of view an internal Chinese waterway.
That's their story and they're sticking to it.
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Old 19th Aug 2022, 04:19
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Originally Posted by kiwi grey View Post
From the Chinese viewpoint, UNCLOS doesn't apply.
Taiwan is part of China, so the Taiwan Strait is from the PRC's point of view an internal Chinese waterway.
That's their story and they're sticking to it.
Suggest then that UNCLOS be sent to the PRC'ians with Article 3 highlighted in dayglo.




PRC'ia can argue the toss as they may wish, they don't have a legal leg to stand on; they do have the might of arms as an aggressor and non-compliant nation to the UNCLOS.

If the water between the Glorious paradise of China, and the perfidious Taiwanese, sitting atop their rather beautiful isle, was less than 24.0nm, then they could bitch 'n moan and complain. But it ain't.

Presumably if that argument had merit, the shipping that goes in 'n out of Taipei Kaohsiung port, Anping, Keelung, Su-ao, Taipei port, Mailiao port, Hualien, Taichung... would be needing dip clearance from the PRC's.

It's a good shot, but it is a long bow to draw, and would get up the USN's nose pretty quickly.

A point that is occasionally missed by Russia at least is that
Article 19 defines Innocent Passage “Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State.” When Russia drives a fleet into Japanese territorial waters and hovers there, they are being naughty. “Innocent passage” implies two prerequisites: that passage be “innocent,” i.e., "not of such a nature as to affect the security or welfare of the coastal state"; and that “passage” only may be exercised, to the "exclusion of such acts as “hovering” or anchoring in the territorial seas".

The USN conducts its FONOPS to ensure the letter of the law of UNCLOS is applied, except when they are driving a sub around the 'oggin without a valid navplot, and have to replace their divots, but, hey, stuff happens.

China doesn't try to declare itself an archipelagic state... it has a bit of a problem unless it ditches mainland "China" from the moniker "China".


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Old 19th Aug 2022, 12:40
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Originally Posted by Jonty View Post
Not sure I would call the Supreme Court “totally independent” of government. Given they are all political appointees.
They are initially nominated by the President. Once appointed they are completely untouchable by the Government (also all subsequent ones). Their decisions can't bring them benefits or disadvantages for their further career. That alone makes them independent. In contrast to this in Countries like China (or Russia) a decision any time can end the career of high judges. That is a significant difference.
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Old 19th Aug 2022, 13:29
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Originally Posted by henra View Post
They are initially nominated by the President. Once appointed they are completely untouchable by the Government (also all subsequent ones). Their decisions can't bring them benefits or disadvantages for their further career. That alone makes them independent. In contrast to this in Countries like China (or Russia) a decision any time can end the career of high judges. That is a significant difference.
The nominees are only able to be appointed with the Advice and Consent of Senate; that is per the Constitution. A nominee can be rejected. (Robert Bork being one case in recent memory). The same is true for the major Cabinet officers. We are getting off topic here.

@fdr I am reminded of the never ending shenanigans between the Greeks and the Turks as regards which rock/island in the eastern med is whose and thus where one measures territorial waters from.
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