Archive for the ‘China’ Tag

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But first here is my take. As Moscow continues to send its forces into Ukraine, it seems clear that Putin’s Russia presents America and the West with a frontal challenge. But in the longer run, it is not Russia’s overt military assault, but China’s patient and steady nonmilitary moves that might prove the greater challenge. Russia is a great power in decline. Its economy amounts to just 3.4 percent of global GDP. China’s is nearly 16 percent and rising. Now almost four times the size of Japan’s and five times that of Germany’s according to the World Bank.

Presidents Obama and Xi deserve the accolades they are receiving for their historic agreement on climate change and it seems to suggest that America and China are moving toward a new, productive relationship. Except that even while signing these accords, Xi Jinping’s government has been taking steps that suggests it is developing a very different approach to its foreign policy, one that seeks to replace the American-built post-1945 international system with its own.

If it continues down this path, it would constitute the most significant and dangerous shift in international politics since the end of the Cold War. It’s been widely reported that Xi has presided over a rise in nationalist rhetoric in recent years, much of it anti- American. While nationalism has been circulating in China for a while, the quantity seems to have risen sharply.

One count done by the “Christian Science Monitor, found that the number of anti-western polemics in the official “People’s Daily” in 2014 so far has tripled compared with the same period last year.

Perhaps more important, however, is that China has begun a low-key but persistent campaign to propose alternatives to the existing structure of international arrangements in Asia and beyond. It’s moved from being anti-American to post-American.

This summer Beijing spearheaded an agreement with the other BRICS countries to create a financial fund that would challenge the IMF. In October Beijing launched a $50 billion Asian infrastructure bank explicitly as an alternative to the World Bank. And last year President Xi declared that China would spend $40 billion to revive the old silk road to promote trade and development in that region.

For China to fit into an international system rubs against its deepest historical traditions. In his recent book Henry Kissinger notes that China has never been comfortable with the idea of a global system of equal states. Historically China considered itself in a sense the sole sovereign government of the whole world.

Diplomacy was a series of carefully contrived ceremonies in which foreign societies were given the opportunity to affirm their assigned place in the global hierarchy. One in which China sat on top. These are worrying signs not because Beijing’s efforts will surely succeed. They may not. Many of its efforts have run into opposition, but if China continues down this path using its growing clout to ask countries to choose between the existing set of arrangements or new ones, it might create conditions for a new kind of cold war in Asia.

It will certainly help to undermine and perhaps eventually destroy the current international order, one that was created by the United States after 1945 and which has been a platform on which peace and prosperity have flourished in Asia for seven decades.

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But first, here is my take. Despite this week’s elections, President Obama has the opportunity to do big things over the next two years, but they will have to be in the world beyond Washington. Next week’s trip to Asia would be a good place to start. In fact, it’s odd that Obama has not already devoted more time, energy, and attention to foreign policy.

It’s been clear for a while now that there is no prospect of working with the Republican Party on any major domestic policy, but if Obama seeks some kind of foreign policy legacy, he will first have to maintain the discipline with which he began his presidency.

If he ends up with incremental, escalating interventionism in Syria it will absorb fully the White House’s mind share, the public’s interests and the country’s resources. It will also not succeed if by success we mean the triumph of pro-democratic forces in the Syrian civilian war.

Obama’s biggest foreign policy initiative is powerful and intelligent — the pivot to Asia. The greater threat to global peace and prosperity over the next decades comes not from a band of assassins in Syria but from the rise of China and the manner in which that will reshape the geopolitics of Asia and the world.

If Washington can provide balance and reassurance in Asia, it will help ensure that the continent does not become the flash point for a new Cold War.

But the Asia pivot remains for rhetoric than reality. Having promised a larger U.S. military presence in the Philippines, Singapore and Australia, there is little evidence of any of this on the ground. The most ambitious element of the Asia pivot is the Transpacific Partnership. The idea is simple. To lower trade barriers and other impediments to commerce among 12 large Pacific economies comprising 40 percent of the global GDP.

This will provide a boost to global growth but, more importantly, shore up the principles and practice of open markets and encourage open economies at a time when state capitalism like the Chinese model and new nationalist barriers are creeping up everywhere. The good news is that the Republican victory this week actually might make this more likely. Trade is one of the few issues on which the GOP agrees with the president.

Obama has one other major foreign policy initiative — nuclear negotiations with Iran. Again, here the basic strategy has been smart, sanctions plus talk, but it has not received presidential attention and focus.

It remains unclear whether Iran is ready to make peace with America and the West, but if it is, Obama should present Washington and the world with the deal, even though it will surely be denounced as treason by Republicans and attacked by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

I know the world looks messy and the administration is now on the defensive, but recall what the world looked like when Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger were conducting foreign policy. America was losing a war in Asia in which it had deployed half a million troops. The Soviet Union was on the march. Domestic opposition and troubles were mounting.

Nixon and Kissinger had to initiate a major retreat, but as Robert Zoellick has pointed out, they combined this with the seize of bold, positive, assertive moves, arms control deals was the Soviet Union, the opening in China, shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East. The result was that by 1973 people were dazzled by the energy and ingenuity of American foreign policy.

The historian John Gaddis has described this as one of the most successful reversals of fortune for American foreign policy in modern history.

To achieve a similar kind of legacy, it’s now time for a foreign policy presidency.

Posted November 10, 2014 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But first here’s my take. Vladimir Putin might be a 19th century statesman using old fashioned muscle to get his way but this week it has become that China’s president, Xi Jinping, goes one step further, comfortably embracing both the 19th and the 21st century. This also means that the challenge from China is going to be more complex than one the United States has ever faced before.

Let’s start with the 19th century aspect, the huge Sino-Russian natural gas deal signed this week is perfectly understandable in terms of old-fashioned real politics. Beijing has long sought secure energy supplies and it places that vital interest above any desire to punish Russia for its annexation of Crimea or strengthen global norms against aggression. In fact, the Chinese recognize that the Russians facing sanctions were anxious to diversify away from their dependence on European customers and so Beijing probably got a good deal.

While the gas agreement has received all the attention, it’s also worth studying Xi’s future Shanghai, given the same day that the deal was struck. The venue was the gathering of an obscure Asian regional group, the one that includes Turkey, Iran and Russia, and not the United States. His message was that Asians should take care of their own security. Xi presented the Chinese view of the region, which he calls Asia and never the preferred U.S. term Asia Pacific. That term excludes the United States and implies that Washington as an outside power should not play a major role in Asian affairs. But this week, we also saw a new world of great power intrigue. The Justice Department filed former charges against five officials in the Chinese military and detailed the economic espionage that they allegedly have conducted against American companies over the last eight years.

The action is unprecedented, especially since these officials are never going to be arrested and will probably never leave China, and no one believes it will make a difference because the Chinese officials aren’t likely to face any kind of sanction at home. In fact if anything, they might regard being on this list as a badge of honor.

Now some experts believe that the scale of China’s cyber espionage is staggering. Quote, “It is the largest theft in human history,” unquote, says Peter Singer of the Brookings Institution. And he points to one specific example. The United States will spend about a trillion dollars developing, operating and maintaining the F-35 fighter which will be its most advanced weapon system.

Singer says, “We can now see clearly that elements of the F-35 have made their way into a similar Chinese plane. American investments that were meant to give it a 15-year battlefield advantage have been totally undermined.”

And Singer points out, China targets everyone from defense contractors down to small furniture makers whose chair designs get stolen and copied within a year.

Cyber attacks are part of a new messy chaotic world fueled by globalization and the information revolution in a wired networked world, it is much harder to shut down this kind of activity and it certainly will not be possible to do it using traditional mechanisms of national security. Notice that Washington is using a legal mechanism, which will be ineffective and largely symbolic for what is really a national security issue.

The Sino-Russian gas deal reminds us that traditional geopolitics is alive and well and Washington knows how to work its way in that world, but cyber espionage represents a new frontier and no one really has ideas, tools or strategies to properly address this challenge.

CNN.com – Transcripts

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Almost a fifth of China’s soil is contaminated, an official study released by the government has shown.

Conducted between 2005-2013, it found that 16.1% of China’s soil and 19.4% of its arable land showed contamination.

The report, by the Environmental Protection Ministry, named cadmium, nickel and arsenic as top pollutants.

There is growing concern, both from the government and the public, that China’s rapid industrialisation is causing irreparable damage to its environment.

The study took samples across an area of 6.3 million square kilometres, two-thirds of China’s land area.

“The survey showed that it is hard to be optimistic about the state of soil nationwide,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.

“Due to long periods of extensive industrial development and high pollutant emissions, some regions have suffered deteriorating land quality and serious soil pollution.”

One fifth of China soil contaminated

Posted April 18, 2014 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST:

But, first, here my take: I was in Malaysia this week and I expected a volley of complaints. The country was one of the stops on President Obama’s planned trip to Asia this month that was canceled because of Washington’s manufactured budget crisis.

The country’s Prime Minister Najib Razak told me, We were disappointed, but we understood the situation.

Others were less diplomatic, pointing to the cancellation as evidence of America’s dysfunctional political system and general decline. But many in Malaysia and across Southeast Asia told me that they were mostly puzzling not about what’s happening in Washington but rather in Beijing.

This is partly the product of power. As China has grown in importance, its neighbors have become increasingly attentive to the Middle Kingdom. In the past, the only politics that these countries followed outside of their own was in Washington. Today they feel they must also understand Beijing.

And there’s much to understand. China is in the midst of great political change. Last month, the country watched on national television as President Xi Jinping sat in on a meeting at which senior Communist Party officials publicly engaged in “criticism and self- criticism.”

It is part of the party’s “mass-line” campaign, designed to address concerns that the party is out of touch, elitist and corrupt.

The campaign includes a strong anti-corruption drive, most visibly involving the humiliation of Bo Xilai, the former party boss of Chongqing. Many in China have worried that anti-corruption is a mechanism that is being used to eliminate political opponents.

“There is so much corruption in China that whom you choose to prosecute is really a political decision.” Those are the words of a Beijing businessman to me.

More surprisingly to many, the new leadership has begun a sweeping crackdown on dissent. Chinese media and human rights groups say that hundreds of journalists, bloggers and intellectuals have been detained since August, charged with the crime of “spreading rumors” among others.

China scholars have noted in recent years that the Communist Party is deeply concerned about its legitimacy and grass-roots appeal. That led many to believe it would address these issues by opening up its political system, with political reforms that would accompany economic reforms.

Instead, it appears that the Communist Party is choosing older, Mao-era methods’ crackdowns, public confessions and purification campaigns.

The people I talked to in Southeast Asia were not approaching these issues from the perspective of human rights activists. They were really just trying to understand what was going on in China.

Above all, they wondered what the internal changes meant for Beijing’s foreign policy. “China is being very friendly with us these days,” an Asian politician told me, “More so than it was a few years ago, but it still pushes its own interests very strongly.”

Diplomats have worried that China has been circulating new maps of the region in which a previously dotted line demarcating Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea now appears as a solid line.

Last month, China’s foreign minister denied any such change in its claims when he was publicly asked about it at a Brookings Institution forum by the former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen. Yet, the concerns highlight the nervousness felt in the region.

The United States washes its dirty linen vigorously and in public. When Washington messes up, it does so in prime time, with politicians, journalists and commentators describing every gory detail with delight.

China, by contrast, has an opaque political system, which makes it far more mysterious. But China, too, has its share of crises, controversies and change. And because of its newfound clout, the world is watching and wondering what to make of the black box that is Beijing.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1310/27/fzgps.01.html

 

 

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Jay Leno “Secretary of State John Kerry said that Arab countries have offered to pay the entire cost of unseating Syria’s president, if we take the lead militarily. They will pay for the whole thing. See, this is how global politics works. We invade Syria, to get money from Saudi Arabia, that they got from us, from putting their oil in our Japanese cars, so we can pay back China all the money we owe them.”

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Sandra Day O’Connor “The more I read and the more I listen, the more apparent it is that our society suffers from an alarming degree of public ignorance….Less than 1/3 of eighth graders can identify the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence, and it’s right there in the name.”

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3036697/#52967458

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST:

But, first, here my take: We are all going to watch over the next year or two one of history’s great political experiments. It will test the proposition does authoritarian capitalism work?

For the past few decades, the Chinese economy’s meteoric rise, faster than any large economy in human history, has dazzled the world. It has made many people wonder if China’s model of a pro-growth dictatorship is the best path for developing countries.

Some have questioned whether Western democracies, with their dysfunctions and paralysis, can ever compete with China’s long-range planning.

Now, as its growth slows to almost half its pace in 2007, its political system faces its most significant test.

Over three decades, China’s growth has averaged 10 percent a year. Crucial to Beijing’s success has been its ability not to pander to its people to gain votes or approval.

You see, unlike most developing nations, China spends little subsidizing current consumption, food and fuel subsidies for example. Instead, it spends massively on export-free zones, highways, rail systems and airports.

It is also investing in education and training and soon will turn to health care. No developing democracy has been able to ignore short-term political pressures and execute a disciplined growth strategy with such success.

But the Chinese model is no longer working that well. Partly, this is the product of success. China has become the world’s second- largest economy; its per capita income is that of a middle-income country. It cannot grow at the pace it did when it was much poorer.

But growth has dropped faster and deeper than many had predicted and it could slow further because the truth is, China’s authoritarian system has made significant mistakes in recent years.

When the financial crisis hit in 2007 and growth began to drop from a giddy 14?percent, Beijing responded with a huge expansion of credit and a massive stimulus program. As a percentage of gross domestic product, it was twice as large as the 2009 stimulus bill in America.

These two forces have created dangerous imbalances. To economists, the solution is obvious. Stop favoring state-owned behemoths and exporters, open up the economy, encourage the Chinese people to spend more money at home.

But all the subsidies to companies over the past decade have created entrenched industries and sectors that will resist any change. Can Beijing turn off the tap in the face of opposition from economically powerful groups, many of whom are politically well- connected, even related to members of its Politburo?

Now, to be fair, the above critique could have been made by China’s new leaders. Li Keqiang, an economist who became premier in March, has given several surprisingly frank and critical speeches.

The reforms he outlines in detail would open important sectors of the economy to market, reduce the state’s role and provide incentives for domestic consumption. The question is whether these goals can be met and whether the reforms will be implemented after opposition gathers, as it surely will.

Reform is hard in any country as can be seen from Italy to Brazil to India. Countries are very reluctant to impose short-term pain for long-term gain. China had been the exception to this rule, but now it faces its biggest test.

Success will suggest that there is still life in its unique brand of authoritarian capitalism and will extend the power of its ruling Communist Party. And if it fails, well, China becomes just another emerging market with a model that worked for a while

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1307/21/fzgps.01.html

Posted July 22, 2013 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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