The Sinocism China Newsletter – November 9, 2015

Bill Bishop , November 10, 2015 11:42am


1. Taiwan Debates Its President’s Meeting With Xi Jinping of China – The New York Times Eric Chu, the Kuomintang’s presidential nominee, told Taiwan’s Economic Daily News that only if the party stayed in power would cross-strait relations continue to see heights like the Ma-Xi meeting. Mr. Chu heads to the United States on Tuesday, where he is likely to press further his case that the Kuomintang is better prepared to handle relations with China. The United States said that it welcomed the meeting of Mr. Ma and Mr. Xi.

Related: [视频]习近平同马英九会面新闻频道央视网( Xi-Ma meeting 5th story on Saturday CCTV evening news

Related: 人民日报评论员:坚持两岸共同政治基础不动摇–评论-人民网 People’s Daily commentary 11.9 on Xi-Ma Meeting  //  固本强基,方能行稳致远。要和平不要冲突、要交流不要隔绝、要协商合作不要零和对抗,已成为两岸主流民意。台海动荡紧张,两岸冲突对抗,民众深受其害;走和平发展之路,谋互利双赢之道,利在两岸当下,功在民族千秋。两岸领导人此次会面昭示,只有坚持“九二共识”,两岸才能进一步增进政治互信、深化和平发展,才能共同携手迈向中华民族伟大复兴的美好未来。

Related: DPP International Site » Dr. Tsai Ing-wen reacts to The Ma-Xi Meeting I have confidence in Taiwan’s democracy and the Taiwanese people. Together with the Taiwanese people, we will use democracy to reverse the damage caused by the Ma-Xi meeting.  //  How exactly was Taiwan’s democracy damaged? If anything its vibrancy, and Taiwan’s respect for freedom of speech and the press, have been highlighted by this meeting. And it may be a boon for Tsai after she becomes President, as a precedent has been set for meetings with Taiwan’s President that may lead foreign leaders to be more willing to meet with the President of Taiwan

Related: The Ma-Xi Summit: Democracy is Thicker than Blood | The National Interest To understand why the summit wasn’t such a big deal, and ultimately why it will not have a substantial or impact on the future, we must turn to public attitudes in Taiwan, which are often overlooked by the international community, largely due to the absence of foreign journalists in Taiwan and academia’s subsuming of Taiwan into the field of “China studies.”

Related: Xi-Ma meeting sceptics show narrow minds – Global Times Major countries do not have diplomatic ties with Taiwan. The “One China” principle has been widely recognized in the world, which indicates Taiwan is not a country. International organizations either do not accept Taiwan, or consider it a regional body. Taiwan society should accept reality, being aware that nobody in Taiwan can change it, and no international forces, including the US, can help change reality.

Related: Taiwan and Mainland Leaders Meet for First Time – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace-Doug Paal written before the Xi-Ma meeting, very incisive piece  //  Finally, a word about the broader context:  In reaction to inroads made by the United States with its “rebalance” to Asia — facilitated by China’s neighbors and their discomfort with Chinese assertive behavior — China has for the past two years or so embarked on a policy one can term “counterbalance” in the Asia Pacific region to the American “rebalance.”

Related: Closer Look: Xi-Ma Talks Yield Little, but Could Usher in New Era-Caixin The leaders, who held a closed-door meeting, both expressed a commitment to the 1992 Consensus as a platform for building trust, according to Ma and Zhang Zhijun, director of the mainland’s Taiwan Affairs Office. That consensus refers to a verbal agreement reached during a meeting in Hong Kong between the mainland’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation. The consensus, as Xi interpreted it during his meeting with Ma, is a reflection of the “One China” principle, the idea that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China and that cross-strait ties are not a relationship between two countries or between China and Taiwan. Xi’s interpretation is in line with what mainland authorities have said many times. But by reiterating it in a face-to-face meeting with a Taiwanese leader, he sought to stress its importance, consistency and unambiguity.

2. U.S. patrol sought to avoid provocation, not reinforce China island claim: officials | Reuters The U.S. Navy deliberately avoided military drills or other actions that could have further inflamed tensions with Beijing during a patrol last week near islands China has built in the South China Sea, U.S. officials said. “We wanted to assert our rights under international law, but not to the point where we were poking the Chinese in the eye, or where it would unnecessarily escalate the situation,” said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official said the destroyer USS Lassen turned off its fire control radars while transiting within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef and avoided any military operations during that time, including helicopter launches or other drills.//but the Pentagon and White House have a messaging issue, as evidenced by the stories and posts below trying to explain what really happened….

Related: US Navy operations send muddled message to China – following months of debate inside the Obama administration, the White House had actually chosen the option that involved the least provocative actions by the US Navy, partly to avoid antagonising China too much ahead of a climate change conference in Paris where Chinese co-operation will be crucial. According to five people familiar with the operation, the USS Lassen conducted what is known under international law as innocent passage when it sailed within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef, which could leave the legal significance of the US manoeuvre open to different interpretations. // it appears that the US negotiators are giving Beijing more leverage than it has as they don’t seem to understand that China’s climate moves are rooted in its own desperate need to fix its environmental catastrophes

Related: The U.S. Navy’s Freedom of Navigation Operation around Subi Reef: Deciphering U.S. Signaling | The National Interest Bonnie Glaser and Peter Dutton  //  The U.S. recognizes that Subi Reef is inside a legal territorial sea. Contrary to the claims of many experts, the USS LASSEN (DDG 82) operation was not intended to assert that the U.S. challenges the existence of a territorial sea around Subi Reef. Rather, it was intended to exercise freedom of navigation consistent with international law and to demonstrate that China’s building of artificial islands will not change how the U.S. operates in the waters and airspace of the South China Sea. Additionally, contrary to international law, Chinese domestic law requires prior notification for warships to exercise innocent passage. The U.S. gave no formal prior notification to any of the claimants of the exercise by USS LASSEN of innocent passage in the vicinity of Subi Reef and Sandy Cay. Accordingly, such innocent passage acted as a freedom of navigation operation because it challenged China’s attempt to put illegal restrictions on the movements of warships.

Related: USS Lassen and ‘innocent passage’: The devil in the details-Lowy Interpreter Stepping back from the migraine-inducing minutiae of passage regimes and maritime claims, what are we to make of this ever-thickening legal tangle? The first lesson from the convoluted ex post facto explanations being marshalled in the US to justify the Lassen’s circumscribed FONOP last month is that, where the South China Sea is concerned, the devil lurks unexpectedly in the details. The aim of encouraging China and others to clarify their claims in conformity with UNCLOS is hard to argue against, but, in such a complex setting, clarity brings unpredictable consequences, as the messy post-mortem from the Lassen’s passage is making clear. The second point is that it doesn’t pay to be too clever about sending signals. If they have to be ‘deciphered’ by subject specialists, chances are you’ve already lost the target audiences.

Related: ‘Hope to see you again’: China warship to U.S. destroyer after South China Sea patrol | Reuters not all U.S.-Chinese naval interactions are tense, especially when things are slow on the high seas. “A few weeks ago we were talking to one of the ships that was accompanying us, a Chinese vessel … (We) picked up the phone and just talked to him like, ‘Hey, what are you guys doing this Saturday? Oh, we got pizza and wings. What are you guys eating? Oh, we’re doing this. Hey, we’re planning for Halloween as well’.” The intent, Francis said, is “to show them … that we’re normal sailors, just like them, have families, just like them.” The Chinese sailors, speaking in English, responded by talking about where they were from, their families and places they have visited, Francis said.

3. Xi presses reform, innovation – Xinhua | “Reform and development have achieved a high degree of integration. Further development needs to be based on reforms while progress in reforms gives a strong impetus for development,” Xi said during the 18th meeting of the central leading group for comprehensively deepening reform…The leading group stressed that further reforms on mass organizations would be launched to make them more energetic and efficient. The importance of creating a network of high-standard free trade areas was highlighted during Monday’s meeting, which can better mobilize both domestic and international resources. The leading group emphasized that the market should be allowed to play a decisive role in allocating resources, and the government should play a better role. In addition, China shall open its service sector wider. // CCTV Evening News report on the meeting 习近平主持召开中央全面深化改革领导小组第十八次会议强调 全面贯彻党的十八届五中全会精神 依靠改革为科学发展提供持续动力 

4. Yearbook 2014: Shared Destiny | The China Story In the China Story Yearbook 2014: Shared Destiny, we take as our theme a concept emphasised by Xi Jinping 习近平, the leader of China’s party-state, in October 2013 when he spoke of the People’s Republic being part of a Community of Shared Destiny 命运共同体, officially translated as a Community of Common Destiny. The expression featured in Chinese pronouncements from as early as 2007 when it was declared that the Mainland and Taiwan formed a Community of Shared Destiny. Addressing the issue of China’s relations with the countries that surround it at the inaugural Periphery Diplomacy Work Forum held in Beijing on 24 October 2013, Xi Jinping further developed the idea when he summed up the engagement between the People’s Republic and its neighbours by using a series of ‘Confucian-style’ one-word expressions: positive bilateral and multilateral relationships were to be based on amity 亲, sincerity 诚, mutual benefit 惠 and inclusiveness 容.

Related: Q. and A.: Geremie R. Barmé on Understanding Xi Jinping – The New York Times Under Xi Jinping, the man I like to call China’s C.O.E., or Chairman of Everything, these traditions are being drawn on to build a China for the 21st century. For those used to thinking about China as being a country that “just wants to be like us,” or as one that fits neatly into the patterns of the Euro-American past, the Xi era is a challenge. For the many students of China who haven’t bothered reading Mao, taking the Marxist tradition seriously or familiarizing themselves with the country’s dynastic legacies, Xi’s version of China is positively discombobulating…However, having been educated at Maoist universities in my 20s, in my darker moments I think that a series of regional conflicts may well be the reality in the years to come.

5. Exposed: China’s covert global radio network-Reuters The Chinese government controls much of the content broadcast on a station that is blanketing the U.S. capital with pro-Beijing programming. WCRW is part of an expanding global web of 33 stations in which China’s involvement is obscured.//doesn’t matter that these stations have tiny ratings

Related: US radio company under scrutiny, investigation over China gov’t ties | Fox News The Federal Communications Commission confirmed this week it has launched a probe into the company. The concern, legally speaking, is not so much the pro-Beijing content but the financial connections to a foreign government.  “Based on reports, the FCC will initiate an inquiry into the facts surrounding the foreign ownership issues raised in the stories, including whether the Commission’s statutory foreign ownership rules have been violated,” FCC spokesman Neil Grace said.

6. All Eyes On China as Climate Summit Approaches | The GroundTruth Project With new official data released this week revealing that China is burning significantly more coal than it had previously disclosed, some questioning the potential for success of any global pact to come out of Paris. But those familiar with China’s environmental situation say the country’s release of new figures is not all bad news. In fact, some analysts believe the release of the data — as stark as it is — may actually be an unprecedented step by China toward transparency. And, they believe, the data release reflects rising economic and social pressure within China to finally work toward mitigating further damage to the planet.

Related: The unbearable lightness of Chinese emissions data | Reuters No one currently knows how many tonnes of carbon China emits each year. Its emissions are estimates based on how much raw energy is consumed, and calculations are derived from proxy data consisting mostly of energy consumption as well as industry, agriculture, land use changes and waste.      Many outside observers view the accuracy of those figures with skepticism.

7. China’s Fifth Plenum Yields More Questions than Answers | Center for Strategic and International StudiesChristopher Johnson and Scott Kennedy // Given Xi’s likely belief that controlling personnel assignments in the run-up to the 19th Party Congress in 2017 is critical to the rest of his agenda, stasis on the personnel front may further distract Xi’s attention from pushing forward reform. In fact, the continued inertia could prompt Xi to consider more dramatic moves, such as further takedowns of retired or sitting senior leaders under the anticorruption drive, a more pointed assault on the party bureaucracy, or an effort to stage a bold demonstration of his political power. Such uncertainty, and its possible attendant leadership discord, would only serve to exacerbate doubts in the global community about the leadership’s commitment to prioritizing the economy coming off the turbulence and volatility of recent months.

Related: 中财办副主任杨伟民详解我国“十三五”规划建议-新华网 杨伟民说,党的十八大提出到2020年国内生产总值和城乡居民收入翻番目标,“十二五”前四年我国GDP平均增长8%,如果今年增长7%左右,则“十二五”五年增速是7.8%,要实现翻番目标,“十三五”期间的增长速度可能需要在6.5%以上,因此,6.5%的增速只是一个测算依据,并不是一个目标。 // Yang Weimin of the CFELG answers questions about the 13th Five year plan, says 6.5% GDP growth is not the target but the bottom line based on the centenary goal of doubling 2010 GDP by 2020

Related: Communiqué of the Fifth Plenary Meeting of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party « China Copyright and Media Passed by the Fifth Plenary Meeting of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party on 29 October 2015)

Related: 中共中央关于制定十三五规划的建议(全文)新闻腾讯网 full text of the proposed 13th Five Year Plan

Related: One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment eBook: Mei Fong publication moved up in wake of 5th Plenum decision / An intimate investigation of the world’s largest experiment in social engineering, revealing how its effects will shape China for decades to come, and what that means for the rest of the world

8. U.S. intelligence head: CIA did not pull officers from Beijing after OPM hack – The Washington Post Asked at a Defense One national security conference whether CIA officers were removed from Beijing, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said “No.” He did not elaborate. The Washington Post, citing current and former U.S. officials, reported in September that the agency had pulled officers as a precautionary move.

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Bill Bishop

Author and curator of the daily Sinocism newsletter.