Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) visit to Europe has further highlighted the changing world order, especially the relations between China, the US and the EU. It speaks of an audacious, long-term plan by Beijing on the same scale as the US’ post-war hegemonic rise.
These shifts involve issues of national security, international trade and media manipulation, and will have an impact on Taiwan’s security.
US protectionism under the administration of US President Donald Trump is causing jitters among traditional US allies and competitors alike. This is pushing the EU and China closer, or at least accelerating a process that China’s rise has made all but inevitable.
Days after Xi signed a comprehensive memorandum of understanding with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte that saw Italy embrace his Belt and Road Initiative, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the Chinese leader to Paris.
Macron conspicuously invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to his meeting with Xi to put a united face on the proceedings, compared with the country-to-country meeting between Xi and Conte.
Despite Macron’s reservations on issues of trade openness and human rights violations with China, and his caution about joining any Belt and Road Initiative projects, the scale of the trade agreements signed between France and China vastly outstripped those detailed in the Xi-Conte deal. France and China signed 15 contracts, including a 300-airplane order from Airbus, alone worth 30 billion euros (US$33.83 billion).
Within the context of the US-China trade dispute and the issues facing US plane maker Boeing, the huge Airbus contract speaks volumes. It is not mere economics; it is part of a realignment of international trade. The EU will benefit. For China, the implications are part of its strategy to become a world superpower.
Another part of this strategy is the control of perceptions of China in the media, the subject of a report released on Tuesday by Reporters Without Borders, China’s Pursuit of a New World Media Order. The report ties China’s attempts to dominate international media with the Belt and Road Initiative. Both programs are working toward the same end: hegemonic dominance of the international order to rival that of the US.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday criticized Beijing for trying to distort reporting on the Xi-Conte meeting, translating a part in the signed communique confirming Italy’s continued adherence to the “one China” policy to say that Italy now follows the “one China” principle.
The two are not the same thing. The mistranslation is another example of Beijing’s attempts to subtly shift the goal posts to affect international perceptions of cross-strait relations.
Taiwan can take a certain amount of reassurance from the Trump administration’s relatively vocal support. This is part and parcel of a harder stance against Beijing and other traditional allies, but this same stance is pushing Beijing and the EU together, which is concerning in itself.
In the Heartland Theory submitted to the Royal Geographical Society in 1904, Halford Mackinder argued that control over Eurasia — what he called the “World Island” — would eventually lead to world domination. US naval historian and strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan argued that control over the seas meant control over the world.
Beijing has a long way to go before it can challenge the US in terms of economic and maritime power. China’s one-party system means that it can quite happily play the long game.
In November last year, a man struck a woman with a steel bar and killed her outside a hospital in China’s Fujian Province. Later, he justified his actions to the police by saying that he attacked her because she was small and alone, and he was venting his anger after a dispute with a colleague. To the casual observer, it could be seen as another case of an angry man gone mad for a moment, but on closer inspection, it reflects the sad side of a society long brutalized by violent political struggles triggered by crude Leninism and Maoism. Starting
The year 2020 will go down in history. Certainly, if for nothing else, it will be remembered as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuing impact it has had on the world. All nations have had to deal with it; none escaped. As a virus, COVID-19 has known no bounds. It has no agenda or ideology; it champions no cause. There is no way to bully it, gaslight it or bargain with it. Impervious to any hype, posturing, propaganda or commands, it ignores such and simply attacks. All nations, big or small, are on a level playing field
The US last week took action to remove most of the diplomatic red tape around US-Taiwan relations. While there have been adjustments in State Department “Guidelines on Relations with Taiwan” and other guidance before, no administration has ever so thoroughly dispensed with them. It is a step in the right direction. Of course, when there is a policy of formally recognizing one government (the People’s Republic of China or PRC) and not another (the Republic of China or ROC), officials from the top of government down need a systematic way of operationalizing the distinction. They cannot just make it up as
Like a thunderbolt out of the blue, with only 11 days remaining of US President Donald Trump’s term, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday last week announced that the US Department of State had, effective immediately, lifted all “self-imposed” restrictions on how US diplomats and other government officials engage with their Taiwanese counterparts. Pompeo’s announcement immediately triggered a backlash. Criticisms leveled by former US National Security Council director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia affairs Evan Medeiros, who served in the administration of former US president Barack Obama, were representative of the disapproving reaction. “The administration is over in two weeks…