Chinese Toys Ejected from Pram

It appears that the Chinese government might have some growing up to do:

President-elect Donald Trump has questioned whether the US should continue its “One China” policy, sparking fury from Chinese state media.

Under the policy, the US has formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province.

This principle has been crucial to US-China relations for decades.

But Mr Trump said he saw no reason why this should continue without key concessions from Beijing.

Indeed.  From all practical, political, and indeed moral standpoints, Taiwan is an independent sovereign state.  China’s claim over Taiwan is based on the rather fanciful idea that a region that the Communists failed to capture from the sitting government in the civil war 70 years ago should nevertheless belong to the Communists, even though they plainly want to be left alone.

In the interview, broadcast by Fox News on Sunday, Mr Trump said: “I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”

Well, I’m not sure the sovereign rights of the Taiwanese should be subject to yet more horse-trading between the US and China.  But I find it hard to fault Trump’s logic here.

No US president or president-elect had spoken directly to a Taiwanese leader for decades. But in the Fox interview, Mr Trump said it was not up to Beijing to decide whether he should take a call from Taiwan’s leader.

“I don’t want China dictating to me and this was a call put into me,” Mr Trump said. “It was a very nice call. Short. And why should some other nation be able to say I can’t take a call?

“I think it actually would’ve been very disrespectful, to be honest with you, not taking it.”

Again, I’m finding it hard to disagree with this.  It’s almost as if Trump has some balls.

His comments prompted an angry editorial in Chinese state media outlet Global Times, known for its hawkish rhetoric.

Titled “Mr Trump please listen clearly: The One China policy cannot be traded”, it labelled Mr Trump’s move “a very childish rash act” and said he needed “to humbly learn about diplomacy”.

It also called for a strong response, saying: “China must resolutely battle Mr Trump, only after a few serious rebuffs then will he truly understand that China and other global powers cannot be bullied.”

If a simple phone call is enough to cause heart palpitations in Beijing, then perhaps this policy isn’t very robust.  As for charges of bullying, Wikipedia tells us:

The PRC has threatened the use of military force in response to any formal declaration of independence by Taiwan or if PRC leaders decide that peaceful unification is no longer possible.

Trump taking a phone call from the Taiwanese leader is a “childish rash act” and constitutes bullying.  Whereas China threatening to invade Taiwan for daring to formally renounce oppressive, Communist rule is none of those things, obviously.

It’s a bold – some would say reckless – gambit, given that for China there is nothing vaguely negotiable about the island’s status.

Except for the fact that they neither own it or control it.

That may now begin to change, with the blow-hard state-run tabloid, The Global Times, true to form in being the first to up the ante, with the talk of retaking Taiwan by force, or of arming America’s foes.

The same old record, in other words.

As China gets richer and more deeply involved in the global economy and world affairs, outdated policies from Mao’s era are going to start doing them a lot more harm than good.  Despite the rhetoric – or perhaps because of it – the Chinese Communist Party is a brittle regime propped up by an economy built on quicksand.  This cannot last forever.  China’s transition to democracy is inevitable in the long term, and they might want to consider that the Soviet Union didn’t survive this and what remained needed an awful lot of assistance.  This might be in short supply if China doesn’t wind its neck in over issues like Taiwan.

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26 thoughts on “Chinese Toys Ejected from Pram

  1. On the subject of the greatest theft in modern history it looks like Putin might finally finger Chubais for his leadership role in the US backed Soviet sell out.

    “On Wednesday, Russian law enforcement agencies searched the offices of Rusnano, the state nanotechnology corporation headed by Anatoly Chubais, architect of Russia’s controversial 1990s privatization program.”

    http://www.voanews.com/a/russian-economics-minister-arrest-part-of-crackdown-on-government-liberals/3602721.html

  2. On the subject of the greatest theft in modern history

    Uh-huh. Well-meaning but naive Americans advised Russians to get their malfunctioning, decrepit state-run enterprises into private hands ASAP in order to get their economy off the ground, and the Russians set about murdering each other over the spoils for a decade until finally one group of gangsters was strong enough to prevail over the rest. That decade is the Americans’ fault apparently, because of their advice.

  3. The danger is that after years of relentless propaganda, the majority of people in China, especially the young, would appear to prefer bombing Taiwan back into the Stone Age and declaring war on the US than to admit any change in the status quo. I’m not sure the dinosaurs in Peking could control events were the US to reject the long-established diplomatic equilibrium unilaterally.

    There are better ways of confronting Peking (their ridiculous claims in the South China Sea for example) than charging into the one issue which could spin out of control.

  4. The danger is that after years of relentless propaganda, the majority of people in China, especially the young, would appear to prefer bombing Taiwan back into the Stone Age and declaring war on the US than to admit any change in the status quo.

    I probably agree with this, but I’m not sure what pandering to the toddlers for another decade or more is going to do to help. If they want to declare war over this, then let them: but it is not America who will be at fault, the blame will be squarely no the shoulders of the Chinese who will have to bear the consequences in the same way the Germans and Japanese did in 1945. I suspect these youngsters will change their tune as soon as they realise all-out war is rather more unpleasant than chanting anti-American slogans and boasting of Chinese superiority on the internet.

  5. “Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.”

    Sun Tzu

  6. Sun Tzu

    I once watched a ninety-minute low-budget Stephen Seagal film which featured feuding Chinese. Almost the entire dialogue consisted of characters quoting Chinese proverbs at one another.

  7. Most ancient Chinese proverbs are like 98.74% of statistics. Entirely made up with wild claims of accurately reflecting the real world.

  8. There is a difference between quoting Sun Tzu, and actually acting on it.

    The whole concept of rapid action is lost on most Chinese, the fact Trump can post 1,000 twitter messages before the Chinese state media have even started turning purple at the first one tells you exactly who has the advantage in this fight.

    The Chinese are completely outgunned, and out maneuvered on this battlefield.

  9. @BIG

    “Most ancient Chinese proverbs are like 98.74% of statistics. Entirely made up with wild claims of accurately reflecting the real world.”

    Indeed. I spent an hour or two a few months ago translating a talk for my (now departed) boss into Mandarin.

    He wanted to use the old Chinese saying “Talk doesn’t cook rice”

    Turns out not to be old or Chinese.

    Advised him on the risks of presenting it as such to a Chinese audience.

    Made no difference.

    Wonder how his job search is going?

  10. “Most ancient Chinese proverbs are like 98.74% of statistics. Entirely made up with wild claims of accurately reflecting the real world.”

    But accepted as genuine, deep and meaningful by the usual type in the West, entirely ignorant of other cultures but desperate to believe all of them are superior.

  11. BiG,

    Entirely made up with wild claims of accurately reflecting the real world.

    That comes as no surprise.

    Rob,

    But accepted as genuine, deep and meaningful by the usual type in the West, entirely ignorant of other cultures but desperate to believe all of them are superior.

    This. Annoying, isn’t it?

  12. David Moore,

    The whole concept of rapid action is lost on most Chinese, the fact Trump can post 1,000 twitter messages before the Chinese state media have even started turning purple at the first one tells you exactly who has the advantage in this fight.

    Heh, exactly.

  13. not too naive to line their own pockets on a humungous scale.

    Well, yes. Some Americans were making out like bandits, literally. And some were getting killed in the process. But to correlate this to overall American policy towards Russia is pushing us into “Germany was betrayed at Versaille” territory.

  14. loves2spooge: they consider themselves for the most part citizens of an independent, sovereign and democratic state, that does have little in common with the totally failed authoritarian kleptocracy just few hundredth miles away. So far everything has been going reasonably well, since both countries managed to treat each other with relative indifference and mind their own businesses, but due to the shaky political situation in Beijing, that may change for the worse in future. For the sake of the friends and the loved one i have there I’d wish Western liberal democracies stand behind the aspiration of the Taiwanese to have their own recognized state, but realistically speaking, US, France, Germany and UK have too much capital sunk in China, so we will continue to put up with undavory lecturing from the communists huge propaganda machine.

  15. “Western liberal democracies stand behind the aspiration of the Taiwanese to have their own recognized state, but realistically speaking, US, France, Germany and UK have too much capital sunk in China, so we will continue to put up with undavory lecturing from the communists huge propaganda machine”

    And that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

  16. “not too naive to line their own pockets on a humungous scale”

    and a little bit of USAID and CIA sprinkled on top.

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