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China Policy Institute: Analysis

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Sino-American relations

China’s anti-ship missiles threaten an arms race in the western Pacific

Written by James Samuel Johnson.

China has a new generation of stealthy, supersonic anti-ship missiles, and the US is clearly worried about them. Former US rear admiral Eric McVadon described them as the “strategic equivalent of China’s acquiring nuclear weapons in 1964”. He wasn’t exaggerating.

The missiles can evade US missile defences and undermine the effectiveness of the carrier strike groups the US operates in the Western Pacific. By deploying them, China could be changing the future military balance in Asia, pulling the centre of power away from Washington and its allies and towards Beijing. If the US can’t sustain its monopoly on the development of precision missile systems, it will struggle to project its current level of power in the western Pacific – and its forward forces and bases in the region will be increasingly vulnerable. Continue reading “China’s anti-ship missiles threaten an arms race in the western Pacific”

Trump Swings for the Fences on Taiwan

Written by Wayne Pajunen.

When U.S. President-elect Donald Trump respectfully referred to China’s debased “leader on Taiwan” as “President Tsai Ing-wen” in a historic phone call that still rings around the world, controversy over China–U.S. relations stepped up to the plate.

Why would Trump in the spring training of his presidency choose confrontation with Beijing in his first at-bat in the ballpark of international diplomacy? Continue reading “Trump Swings for the Fences on Taiwan”

Parsing the Significance of the Tsai-Trump Call

Written by Courtney Donovan Smith.

The news that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump took a call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文)  – breaking over 40 years of precedent of no direct contact – exploded across the internet here in Taiwan and around the world with seemingly everyone having something to say about it. The international news media went into a tizzy speculating on China’s reaction, frequently repeating the standard Chinese propaganda line on Taiwan in the process (an excellent analysis here).  Many on the American left are already hand-wringing at this 10-minute conversation, calling it “risky” and “provocative.” in spite of praising Obama for breaking previous diplomatic precedent in Cuba.  Some supporters of Taiwan, however, are ecstatic, calling the call a “major breakthrough” in U.S.-Taiwan relations, but others openly questioned Trump’s abilities: “More likely is that he doesn’t fully understand cross-Strait relations, and is completely, bumblingly, unaware of what he’s just done.” So what does this portend for U.S.-Taiwan-China relations under the Trump administration? Continue reading “Parsing the Significance of the Tsai-Trump Call”

Defining China’s Identity

Written by Chen Jimin.

In recent years, the development of Sino-US relations has increasingly concerned the international community. It can be explained by the growing importance of Sino-US relations, which have gone beyond the scope of bilateral relations to have global impact, and the inherent complexity of the relationship. The competitiveness in their relations has been highlighted via issues such as the South China Sea disputes, cyber security, and overall global rules-making. This is not necessarily a bad thing for the United States. Indeed, according to Huntington’s argument, one defines the “self” – and from there our own interests and strategic orientation – precisely because the “other” exists. However, this state of affairs will inevitably produce negative impacts on US primacy in global affairs if the United States defines China’s own identity improperly.

Continue reading “Defining China’s Identity”

China’s strategic confusion in the South China Sea

Written by Nie Wenjuan.

Since Xi’s ascendancy many observers have noted a growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea (SCS). Among other developments, China has increased the size of some of the land features in the islands it controls and created completely new land features that had previously been submerged reefs.

However, from China’s perspective, these actions are at most a kind of “passive assertiveness”. Put differently, China’s assertiveness stems from a natural response to challenges posed by the rival claimants, which include the international arbitration lodged by the Philippines in 2014 as well as the joint submission made by Vietnam and Malaysia to CLCS to extend their continental shelves beyond 200 nm in 2009. Of course, there are good reasons to believe that the rhetoric of “passive assertiveness” coming from Chinese elites and policymakers is partly self-serving in justifying its behaviour.

Continue reading “China’s strategic confusion in the South China Sea”

Responsible Stakeholder with Chinese Characteristics

Written by Beverley Loke.

In September 2005, Robert Zoellick urged China to become a ‘responsible stakeholder’ in the international system. The basic premise of his speech was that China should be more heavily invested in strengthening and sustaining the system from which it has benefited. This involved global stewardship: providing public goods, upholding existing norms and rules, and contributing to the maintenance of international order.

More than a decade on, the concept of responsibility has very much continued to frame China’s rise and impact on the international order. This is evident both in terms of US projections as well as China’s self-claims to be a responsible power. The Obama administration has at various junctures called China a ‘selective stakeholder’ or ‘free rider’ in the international system. And during Xi Jinping’s first state visit to the US last September, Obama had this to say: ‘we can’t treat China as if it’s still a very poor, developing country, as it might have been 50 years ago. It is now a powerhouse. And that means it’s got responsibilities and expectations in terms of helping to uphold international rules that might not have existed before.’ Continue reading “Responsible Stakeholder with Chinese Characteristics”

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