On Tuesday last week, China released the guest list of foreign dignitaries that were to attend yesterday’s military extravaganza.
Most of the heads of state on that list were from former communist countries, many of which are Central Asian nations that gained their statehood after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. China’s face hinges on the number of heads of state that turned out and how much weight they all carry. Domestically, China can exercise fascism, but internationally, diplomacy is needed.
Since the purpose of staging a military parade is to intimidate other nations, leaders of Western democracies boycotted the event; a slap in Beijing’s face.
If the US had approved of Beijing’s saber rattling, China would be invincible. Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is already set to visit the US later this month. Would it really be necessary for Xi and US President Barack Obama to meet twice within a month? Despite that, some Chinese media outlets still fueled rumors that Obama would appear at the military parade. After this was confirmed to be false, the Global Times, a tabloid owned by the People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, ran a disgruntled commentary.
Yesterday’s parade was a public humiliation to Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not attend, although some Japanese media outlets said in July that he might. That was just a tactic to trick other nations into attending, as many Japanese media are pro-China and willing to play the role of a mouthpiece that overlooks China’s vices and speaks highly of its virtues. This is also why young Japanese are opposed to the passage of Japan’s new security bill in the face of Beijing’s threats.
Another person whose attendance was long debated was South Korean President Park Geun-hye. When the Korean War broke out, China invaded South Korea. If the UN force led by the US had not intervened, South Korea would probably not exist today. However, Park could not resist the Chinese lure and she attended the parade despite US opposition. South Korea’s nationalism is a bit strange: There is a stronger anti-Japanese sentiment than in China, but there are also those who have grievances against the US, its protector.
Instead, North Korea was making waves. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was not invited, apparently because Beijing did not want to embarrass Western countries. After Western leaders turned down their invitations, some thought there was still a chance that Kim would attend, but he apparently had more guts than former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) and not only refused to attend the parade, but managed to capitalize on his decision.
On Aug. 20, North Korean troops fired shells at the South and demanded that Seoul cease its propaganda broadcasts. The next day, Kim announced that North Korea was in a semi-state of war and the rest of the world once again thought he had lost his mind.
In fact, this happened around the time that China was pursuing Park to attend its parade. A scene in which Park and Kim both showed up in Tiananmen Square would have been very weird.
With the Korean Peninsula on the verge of war, Beijing had to intervene to defuse the stand-off. Kim must have been given a lot of concessions to agree to stop the saber-rattling, as the absence of Park in the Chinese extravaganza would have done a lot of harm to China’s political interests.
Will the parade have helped Xi’s Chinese dream come true? It is pretty safe to assume that China’s internal and external crises will not be resolved by conducting a military parade, and it probably only made things worse.
Paul Lin is a political commentator.
Translated by Ethan Zhan
During the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum’s third leadership summit on Aug. 31, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said that the US wants to partner with the other members of the Quadrilaterial Security Dialogue — Australia, India and Japan — to establish an organization similar to NATO, to “respond to ... any potential challenge from China.” He said that the US’ purpose is to work with these nations and other countries in the Indo-Pacific region to “create a critical mass around the shared values and interest of those parties,” and possibly attract more countries to establish an alliance comparable to
On August 24, 2020, the US Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, made an important statement: “The Pentagon is Prepared for China.” Going forward, how might the Department of Defense team up with Taiwan to make itself even more prepared? No American wants to deter the next war by a paper-thin margin, and no one appreciates the value of strategic overmatch more than the war planners at the Pentagon. When the stakes are this high, you can bet they want to be super ready. In recent months, we have witnessed a veritable flood of high-level statements from US government leaders on
China has long sought shortcuts to developing semiconductor technologies and local supply chains by poaching engineers and experts from Taiwan and other nations. It is also suspected of stealing trade secrets from Taiwanese and US firms to fulfill its ambition of becoming a major player in the global semiconductor industry in the next decade. However, it takes more than just money and talent to build a semiconductor supply chain like the one which Taiwan and the US started to cultivate more than 30 years ago. Amid rising trade and technology tensions between the world’s two biggest economies, Beijing has become
With a new White House document in May — the “Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China” — the administration of US President Donald Trump has firmly set its hyper-competitive line to tackle geoeconomic and geostrategic rivalry, followed by several reinforcing speeches by Trump and other Cabinet-level officials. By identifying China as a near-equal rival, the strategy resonates well with the bipartisan consensus on China in today’s severely divided US. In the face of China’s rapidly growing aggression, the move is long overdue, yet relevant for the maintenance of the international “status quo.” The strategy seems to herald a new