Yet Another China Foreign Policy Stumble: The South China Sea

China has had a number of foreign policy gaffes over the past couple of years and its very recent attempt at imposing a fishing ban in the South China Sea (known to the Vietnamese as the “East Sea”) is yet another stumble.  Attempting to protect and encourage the replenishment of fishing stock during the spawning season, China announced on May 11, 2011 a fishing ban to run from May 16 through August 1 over an area hotly contested by several South East Asia countries, most notably by Vietnam.

While replenishing the fishing stock may well be a noble ideal, China’s unilateral action is guaranteed to gin up a firey defiance by the Vietnamese, with fishermen ignoring the ban, boat seizures and violent confrontations– all too predictable.

Vietnam has a 1000 mile coastline to protect and its Eastern Sea is an essential part of its defense perimeter that it has, and will continue to jealously protect. China knows this all too well– given its historical battles and scrapes with Vietnam in these same waters over the millennia.

China’s unilateral muscle-flexing in the South China Sea is hardly simply to protect the  fishing stock which Vietnam’s marine industry depends upon. China had to know full well that its fishing ban would necessarily force a response from Vietnam  and give the PRC an opportunity to reinforce its imprimatur over the disputed waters.

For Vietnam, the Eastern Sea is its “line in the sand.”  Vietnamese public opinion will not stand for any moves by China to nip bites out of Vietnamese waters. China knows this but its policymakers blundered ahead anyway.

Defiance by little colorful Vietnamese fishing boats is one thing. China did not anticipate, however, the announcement by the Vietnamese Navy that it now intends to conduct live firing exercises off of Vietnam’s central coast directly into waters affected by the fishing ban.

Such are the perils of unilateralism–especially when you have a little sleeping tiger to the south.

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Pieces are being put into place for the Transistion of Power in North Korea

Pieces are being put into place for the Transistion of Power in  North Korea

June 29,  2010 by davidfday

Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un

North Korea’s Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong Il’s brother-in-law , was recently promoted to vice-chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission. This is significant because the heir-apparent in North Korea, Kim Jong Un, is Jang’s nephew and, as a top North Korean military official, Jang provides a critical KPA military brass support network for Jong Un.  To stabilize the transistion of power from Kim Jong Il to his youngest son, Jong Un, it must be remembered that Jong Un has no military leadership experience; he does not have the “smoke of the revolution” about him, and will need the military support network provided by his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, if he is to carry any credible authority with the KPA.

The regime transistion of power is  extremely delicate for North Korea. The last transition in this feudal, Stalinist regime took place over a period of some 14 years. Kim Jong Il had years to nuture relationships and leadership credibility within Pyongyang circles as the mantle shifted from his father, Kim Il Sung.

As  the grandson of the revolution, Kim Jong Un does not have the luxury of  time given his father’s ailing health. The support of the senior KPA will be critical for him to assume and hold power. Uncle Jang’s appointment, then, is an important step in this transition.

See, also Blog article called, North Korea: “The Cheonan Was Bait for an Internal Propaganda Frenzy “ also located on this website.

 

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China Takes a Swing at Corruption, Executing One of Its Al Capones

China Takes a Swing at Corruption, Executing One of Its Al Capones

July 16, 2010 by davidfday

The senior judicial official for the huge metropolis of Chongqing in Southwestern China was executed by lethal injection during the first week of July, 2010. Wen Qiang’s indictment, arrest, trial, sentencing and now execution this Spring and early Summer exploded into the public consciousness and media, opening up the dirty underbelly of China’s corruption-plagued legal system. Wen was convicted of multiple rapes, protecting underworld gangs & mobsters, bribery and had large unexplained amounts of cash and luxury villas. He was emblematic and symptomatic of big political bosses in the Judiciary and the CCP on the take. His sister-in-law, Xie Caiping, known in Chongqing as “The godmother of organized crime in Chongqing,” was sentenced to 18 years for running illegal casinos.

China’s corruption has become so rampant that the credibility of the CCP has been called into question. One commentator has noted that if China “wants to maintain the pace of rapid development, there needs to a purge to wipe out all the corrupted officials in the Communist Party.”

The Chinese courts are controlled by the Communist Party, and the massive corruption in the judicial system reflects directly upon the Party. With the credibility of the Party at stake, Chongqing’s massive anti-corruption crackdown has been led by an ambitious local party chief, Bo Xilai, who initiated a crackdown in Chongqing, arresting several other top judges for graft, including Huang Songyou, formerly vice president of the country’s highest court, The Supreme People’s Court (earlier this year, Huang received a life sentence for bribery and embezzlement).

The Chongqing anti-corruption crackdown has not only resulted in the execution of Wen Qiang, the former Director of the Chongqing Justice Bureau, but also to the prosecution of 90 other local officials. Of that number, interestingly, 42 were found guilty of sheltering mafia-like criminal gangs just like their big boss, Mr. Wen Qiang.

An intense, sustained anti-corruption effort over a generation or two (perhaps more) will be required for China to significantly curtail its endemic and systemic corruption problems. It remains to be seen whether the Wen Qiang execution will mark the beginning of that quest or whether it is eyewash.

For a short preview of a televised program on this topic, click on this picture. 

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North Korea: “Juche and Kimilsungism Block Effectiveness of Any Sanctions Against North Korea ”

 

North Korea: “Juche and Kimilsungism Block Effectiveness of Any Sanctions Against North Korea “ May 27, 2010.

Pyongyang plays by a vastly different rulebook. Economic sanctions vis.a.vis the DPRK only serve as political pablum for constituencies in Seoul and in the U.S. The North Korean philosophy of Juche (originally created by North Korean academic Hwang Jang-Yop who later defected) as modified by Kim Jong Il into Kimilsungism will never permit Pyongyang to knuckle under to economic sanctions imposed by outsiders. If you thoroughly understood that philosophy you would know that economic sanctions are an exercise in futility. In fact, the Dear Leader just demonstrated for the world last year that the regime was all too ready, and did, in fact, shoot itself in the economic foot by completely shutting down the economic zone at Kaesong and trade with South Korea in the wake of its 2009 missile and nuclear tests.

The burden of economic sanctions will not scratch the elite ruling class in Pyongyang or the DPRK military—it will be borne by the North Korean people. They are the weakened, impoverished child that will have to take the brunt of any further economic spanking.

 

 

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