Today’s China Readings July 17, 2012

"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner

China’s maritime disputes continue. A CCTV crew has embedded with a flotilla that is now fishing around the Nansha Islands, Global Times rails against Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines in Provocative neighbors disgrace themselves and Shao Feng, director of the International Strategy Division at the Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, recently wrote in Caixin (Security Strategies for China’s Maritime Domain / 周边安全挑战与战略应对 ) that:

China must make appropriate foreign policy adjustments to respond to shifting geopolitical realities.

First, cooperation is not China’s only strategy in the maintenance of territorial concerns. Only by combining cooperation with credible commitments to use of force can peaceful coexistence with neighboring countries be achieved.

Cooperation is the main policy driver for China’s relations with neighboring countries, but cooperation isn’t the bottom line. The principle of sovereignty and long-term national interests is China’s top priority. Conflict is a necessary component to China’s commitment to cooperation with foreign countries.

Therefore, China must reassess its South China Sea strategy. On the one hand, the strategy is aimed at the maintenance of peace and stability in the South China Sea. On the other hand, the key objective is to safeguard China’s legitimate maritime rights and interests. China’s “good neighbor, good friend and good partner” policy is not unconditional and unidirectional, but requires the sincere cooperation of neighboring countries. Blind compromise would only be beneficial to U.S. strategic interests in Asia. But if China uses timely, appropriate, justified and restrained force to fight back, the U.S. will act to restrain its allies in order to not upset the balance of the U.S.-China relationship.

In short, confrontation should play a larger role in maritime security strategy. Cooperation must be in good faith, competition must be strong, and confrontation must be resolute.

It would be nice to think that Shao is only speaking for himself…

China has already proven that the Philippines will cave quickly in the face of economic warfare, any clash with Japan would be very complicated given the US-Japan alliance, so if China wants to prove resolve in a confrontation in the South China Sea the likely opponent is probably Vietnam. Given their shared history and enmity, and Vietnam’s military strength, expect Vietnam to fight. Any PRC-Vietnam conflict would be a boon for US-Vietnam relations, US standing around the region, and defense contractors, especially those with strong naval warfare “solutions”. A conflict might also be a good excuse for Hu Jintao to remain chairman of the Central Military Commission after the 18th Party Congress.

In another move sure to upset its neighbors, China’s Jiaolong submersible is planning to dive in the South China Sea and “China plans to eventually build a deep sea station, where submersibles can dock undersea and oceanauts can stay to work.” Oceanauts?

The Japanese ambassador has returned to Beijing after a brief recall over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands issue, and a wooden replica of Zheng He’s ship will navigate ancient routes in 2014, no doubt making friends along the way…

Take the following with a grain of salt. Duowei reports that a list of 7 candidates for the 18th Party Congress Politburo Standing Committee has been submitted to Jiang Zemin for review–独家:常委7人名单送江审阅 北戴河会议拍板. Remember, this blog was the first to reveal that Jiang Zemin was in Beijing and active, in April’s is Jiang Zemin meeting foreign delegations in Beijing?. Later a photo surfaced of Jiang Zemin and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

US-listed Sina is now in the habit of deleting Weibo accounts of American organizations. In the last month the Sina censors have erased official accounts of the New York Times, Bloomberg and the US Consulate in Shanghai. Sina’s once overhyped stock has struggled and is now near a 52-week lowInstitutional investors are unlikely to care about the moral issues around censorship, but they may have finally realized that the cost of maintaining an army of net nannies is significant and Weibo still lacks a credible plan to make money.

On July 13 the Congressional Research Service issued an interesting report on China, Internet Freedom and US Policy (PDF).

China’s Olympic athletes are wary of eating Chinese food, as Caixin explains in why eating in China is no game:

The General Administration of Sports prohibited all of the country’s sports teams from eating pork, beef or lamb, except for the meat provided from known safe sources at the athletes’ training bases.

China’s has had countless serious issues with food in recent years. In the sports sector, where doping is of particular concern, it’s no wonder the sports authority keeps a very close eye on what the members of its national teams put in their mouths.

Before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese swimmer Ouyang Kunpeng received a lifetime ban. He was believed to have eaten barbecue at a roadside stall and thus had a serious level of clenbuterol in his blood. Farmers in China illegally add clenbuterol to pig and sheep feed to keep the animals lean. In the sporting world, the chemical is a performance-enhancing drug.

The recent economic news has been quite negative. Tom Orlik and Bob Davis provide a glimmer of something potentially positive in Labor Shortage May Help China Adjust to Slower Growth, writing in the Wall Street Journal that:

Wages are still climbing rapidly in China and many companies are having trouble filling jobs despite the sharp economic slowdown here—evidence of a structural shortage in the labor market that may help China adjust to slower growth without political instability and whet consumer appetites for foreign goods.

China is not pleased by US lawmakers making a fuss over made in China Olympic uniforms. In a commentary the official Xinhua news agency says the US uniform row is Olympic blasphemy. If these lawmakers are really so sincerely concerned about the American textile worker, perhaps they can require that all Congress members and lobbyists “wear American”?

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