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Biden can reset with China

Written By: - Date published: 10:36 am, March 5th, 2021 - 43 comments
Categories: China, Joe Biden, us politics - Tags:

I’m fully on record that New Zealand should resist China’s authoritarian ways, and U.S. President Biden should too. But it’s all in how he does it.

President Biden is clear there’s a new attitude from his CBS interview on February 7th saying that the two countries “need not have a conflict. But there’s going to be extreme competition. … I’m not going to do it the way Trump did,” he added. “We’re going to focus on international rules of the road.”

The two leaders have actually usefully engaged since, and you can get the tenor of the interaction between the two leaders in this BBC commentary.

China has  emerged from the early stages of the pandemic emboldened, with its factories and businesses outpacing those in the United States and Europe where the virus continues to hamper their economies – and their societies’ cohesiveness. While Chinese leaders are seeking to reset relationships with Washington after a tumultuous period under President Trump, they have continued to make hard-edged statements.

As long as China’s leaders remain convinced that all of their problems stem from Washington’s ill will, reform is unlikely. Today, they seem to completely buy into their own narrative that the United States is a petulant former superpower too proud to gracefully stand aside while China takes its rightful place in the world.

But as China finds itself at odds with nearly every country it surrounds and many others in the world – even those with very little U.S. influence – maybe its leaders will get the message. That depends if they are seeking more than cold instrumental rationality in foreign affairs.

I’m certainly not proposing Biden generate some pose of masterly inactivity indistinguishable from any other 78 year old guy having an afternoon nap. But there’s plenty of evidence that China is making all the moves to isolate itself with its aggressive and surly foreign policy without much help from the United States.

Besides listing the degree of offence China’s recent actions have caused with nearly every country it borders, China’s aggression to U.S. allies hasn’t needed much U.S. encouragement either. Australia’s fight with China over the former’s efforts to restrict foreign influence , Japan’s standoff with China over the Senkaku Islands, India’s actual battle with China over Ladkh – none of these were prompted by U.S. arrogance. Nor was the South China Sea dispute, which pits China against no fewer than five of its Southeast Asian neighbours.

Beyond its own immediate sphere, China is now also arguing with European countries about human rights, with Latin American countries about illegal fishing, and with African countries over development debts. Whether or not the Chinese central leadership ever wakes up to the fact that these problems are not the doing of the United States but are in fact because China’s government is just shit to deal with, well, that’s kinda immaterial. Indeed the grim anti-United States forebodings of John Pilger’s 2016 The Coming War On China never worked out even under Trump. Instead it looks like the real China story is being told – by multiple countries on multiple continents.

President Biden doesn’t have to go too hard at them when China can’t rise when it’s Chinese belligerence that destroys the chance of allies to form. Nearly all of the countries that surround China – and particularly those mentioned above – have good reason to engage with China solely on a mercantilist basis. There’s not much need for the United States to step in and try and solve other countries’ China problems. It is quite likely that a few years of tough love requiring aggrieved countries to stand up for themselves will form new communities of international interest all by themselves. Covid responses will also push different cross-national alliances over the next few years too.

Biden has already differentiated himself from Trump’s ineffective bellicosity. He’s got more on his plate than he needs domestically without generating grief with Xi Jinping. Also, Xi himself has only two years to work with Biden once the U.S. electioneering kicks in.

The more interesting question between China and the United States is: what is Vice President Kamala Harris’s position on Xi Jinping? We’ve less than two years to figure that one.

43 comments on “Biden can reset with China ”

  1. RedLogix 1

    Biden sent a crystal clear message to Beijing when he appointed Katherine Tai as his Trade Negotiation czar. Although it's too soon to know exactly what her impact will be, we know two important things about her.

    One is that she has relatively little experience as a trade deal negotiator. Nor does she have the decades of experience in leading large teams and building major deals her predecessor Lighthizer had. Rather her background is as a trade lawyer. Expect to see the US trade machine become a lot more aggressive in pursuing legal remedies under her guidance.

    Secondly – while born and educated in the US, she is ethnically Taiwanese. This may not feel very important to us here in NZ, but in Beijing – think sound of emergency dive klaxons.

  2. Populuxe1 2

    There’s not much need for the United States to step in and try and solve other countries’ China problems. It is quite likely that a few years of tough love requiring aggrieved countries to stand up for themselves will form new communities of international interest all by themselves.

    Are they all going to chip in for an aircraft carrier? Even if all the countries affected by China's Nine Dash Line combined their navies it still wouldn't offer a credible counter to a rapidly expanding PLAN. Vietnam has a GDP of 261.9 billion USD and a defense budget of 4.6 billion USD versus China's GDP of 14.34 trillion USD and a defense budget between 178 and 261 billion USD. Or do you expect half of Asia to quietly withdraw from the NPT and enter an arms race?

    • RedLogix 2.1

      It's a reasonable question … individually the nations of SE Asia don't stack up on paper against China.

      But collectively SE Asia, including Japan, India and Australia amount to a very substantial economic bloc, and more importantly one with almost all the strategic and geographic advantages.

      • Populuxe1 2.1.1

        Most of the SEA nations don't trust each other. Duterte can't make up his mind if he's friends with China or not. SEA hates Japan for obvious reasons. It's all India can do to not go to war with China at the moment and no shared strategic interests with SEA. And if you're involving Australia, who has it's own territorial and strategic beefs with Indonesia, there is no reasonable excuse to exclude the US and its extant defense agreements. Guam is a lot closer to China than Australia is.

        • RedLogix 2.1.1.1

          You might enjoy this really well done backgrounder to SE Asian geopolitical history – while I agree with you that right now SE Asia has immediate issues like Duterte, in the medium to longer term I'd argue that a fear of China's expansionist ambitions would be the greater force:

          The young guy who does this channel has a huge amount of respect from me.

          • Populuxe1 2.1.1.1.1

            Maphilindo does rather typify why I don't see SAE getting it's crap together any time soon. Kennedy actually encouraged it in the 1960s, when they were making moves in that direction, as a bulwark against domino theory. Malaysia won't soon forget that the Philippines and Indonesia tried to use Maphilindo to prevent the formation of Malaysia, Malaysia and Indonesia see themselves as independent regional powers, The Philippines is terrified of what would happen in Mindinao if it was part of a Muslim superstate, and all of them have ongoing competing territorial claims.

            • RedLogix 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Think of Europe as a parallel example – every time Germany becomes powerful enough to dominate the rest of Europe, all of the other states set aside their bickering and differences to confront Germany and take it down.

              It's an old cycle that the EU was designed to break.

    • Stuart Munro 2.2

      They don't need aircraft carriers – they're all within strike range of China and/or disputed borders like the Sprattleys/Senkoku etc.

      Both Korea and Japan have been expanding their navies for a decade or so, partly with an eye on China, and partly North Korea.

      Vietnam is not China's objective – it's more an expansion of their zone of influence than a direct military effort they have in mind.

      The US will likely wait till they overextend, then punish them with sanctions – much as they punished Russian aggression in the Ukraine.

      • Populuxe1 2.2.1

        China has more and nastier things than the SAE to strike back with, and both Japan and Korea have their own agendas which have as much to do with nationalism as they do North Korea and China. I can't see anyone going to war over the Sprattleys, and both Japan and Korea still rely on the US as their nuclear deterrent. As for it being an expansion of China's zone of influence, with that also comes control of vital resources like fisheries and trade routes, vital to the survival of small nations.

  3. RedLogix 3

    Just as an aside I'm a bit dubious about Pilger's claim that 'the USA has China surrounded by 400 bases'.

    A quick search suggests that the total number of US overseas bases is around 800, and given the large majority of them are in Europe, the ME, and Africa – the idea that the balance of bases, mostly in Japan and Sth Korea that date back to WW2, are somehow designed to 'surround' China is a theatrical claim at best.

    Besides China has borders with 14 nations, including Russia, Nth Korea and Vietnam for example, many of which quite explicitly do not have US bases.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_military_bases#/media/File:American_bases_worldwide.svg

    And we shouldn't be too overawed by what a base might constitute; given that the US overseas total troop deployment is at it's lowest since the 1920's and is on course to decrease even further, the average 'base' might have barely a few hundred service people stationed.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 3.1

      Another relevant link, again from Wikipedia – what a great public resource/service.

      The military of the United States is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world, with more than 160,000 of its active-duty personnel stationed outside the United States and its territories.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_deployments

      160,000 active personnel / 800 overseas bases = 200 per base (average), so (as you say), not huge, although maybe US personnel are supplemented by trusted locals in some cases?

      • RedLogix 3.1.1

        Another good reference:

        The number of active-duty U.S. military troops stationed overseas has dipped below 200,000 for the first time in at least 60 years. The decline, reflecting a broader one in active-duty U.S. forces, has occurred in multiple countries – including South Korea, which has become a focus of attention amid escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea.

        And every source I'm looking at suggests that the large majority of troop deployments are in Europe and the ME. The only nation with large numbers in Asia is really Japan, and if you set that aside, then Pilger's implication that 'China is surrounded by vast numbers of huge and threatening US bases all armed to the teeth and threatening imminent destruction' is kind of ludicrous.

        Indeed as I've pointed out numerous times the default security guarantee that the US has provided globally since the end of WW2, is in fact the very basis on which China was able to engage the modern world in it's huge economic and trade expansion over the past four decades.

        Now of course as the numbers suggest, the US is pulling back from this stance (all the reflexive anti-US types here can take a moment to cheer this) – the question that no-one wants to answer is, who exactly will provide the security and stability necessary for a global economy to function? Because it won't be the pixies.

        • Drowsy M. Kram 3.1.1.1

          …the question that no-one wants to answer is, who exactly will provide the security and stability necessary for a global economy to function?

          Surely global security and stability will be just some of the many sustainable conditions stemming from the hyper-energisation of civilisation. Have a little faith.

        • Pierre 3.1.1.2

          I would note that the workers on the sharp end of western imperialism probably don't consider 'US security guarantees' as reassuring as you do.

          Meanwhile the People's Republic is committed to a multi-polar order and cooperation with the global south. See this article in the Morning Star:

          China is a politically independent country and a Third World power. Unlike Europe, Japan and the Anglosphere, China can’t be told what to do; it won’t sacrifice the interests of its people for the sake of helping the US maintain the “post-war liberal order” — a system of international relations that primarily serves the US.

          As a developing country, China is pushing for an end to hegemony and for a multipolar world in which the sovereignty of all countries is respected. As a non-white power that has constructed its own path to progress and prosperity, China is helping to destroy the ideology of white supremacy so intimately bound up with the imperialist world system.

          While the 92 million people in the Chinese Communist Party make their own mistakes, it makes no sense to me that anyone on the left should consider the world's leading socialist country as some kind of… malign enemy.

          • RedLogix 3.1.1.2.1

            a system of international relations that primarily serves the US.

            Two points.

            From a pure economic point of view the US fraction of GDP involved with trade is rather small. If you set aside their trade within NAFTA, it becomes less than 5%. The reality for North America is that the rest of the world could sink beneath the waves tomorrow and aside from a few specialised metals and odds and ends they'd barely notice.

            Prior to WW2 if you wanted to trade you had to build a navy or army to provide the necessary security. After WW2 it's been the US Navy that has provided this security for everyone by default. That includes the Chinese. The truly idiotic thing is that people who've grown up in this era, where freighters can sail around the world from any port to any other with little hinderance, take this extraordinary benefit – utterly for granted.

            The reality is the exact opposite of your claim, far from getting much benefit from the system they created, since the end of the Cold War the US has gotten rather little from it. While at the same time the rest of the world has demonstrably benefited enormously – human progress and development extending across continents and nations as never seen before in all of our history.

            Yet from Clinton onward, no President has fully, intelligently engaged with this global liberal trade order – other than on an ad-hoc reactive basis to events. The whole system has been running on inertia with very little in the way of fresh principle or policy to guide it for almost three decades now.

            And we've reached the point where the US post-Trump is really only interested in a handful of free trade agreements, Mexico, Sth Korea, Japan, Canada and the UK. The Five Eye nations will remain close allies – and with some exceptions like Taiwan, the rest of the world is on it's own. They simply don't care much any more. This should make reflexive anti-US bigots like yourself very happy.

            China is helping to destroy the ideology of white supremacy so intimately bound up with the imperialist world system.

            As soon as I see racist provocation like this I know I'm reading a propaganda piece. Dismissed.

            • Subliminal 3.1.1.2.1.1

              As soon as I see racist provocation like this I know I'm reading a propaganda piece. Dismissed.

              Did this hit a nerve then? Is it really necessary to quote the screes of evidence that show the whole of European colonial expansion to be based on this premise. How else can you view a war on Iraq based on lies in any other light? And this is but one example. A good history can be got here from an American Indian with a world perspective but a focus at the time of writing on the upcoming war on Iraq. Its a longish read but it certainly raises the question of who are the real victims of propaganda

              • RedLogix

                Is it really necessary to quote the screes of evidence that show the whole of European colonial expansion to be based on this premise.

                The era of colonial expansion came to an end 70 years ago with WW2. It was based – like all the empires of history (including numerous Chinese ones) on the necessity to expand territory in order to reliably access more energy and resources. While all conquerors tend to regard themselves in an unjustified heroic light, and the global dominance of European colonisation for 400 odd years was no exception, it's scarcely the fundamental motive.

                How else can you view a war on Iraq based on lies in any other light?

                And Xi Xinping's repeated commitments to absorb Taiwan are exactly what? It's been a fully independent nation since 1949 and much of China's massive military build up is clearly intended to force the issue by invasion.

                Take your hypocritical mewlings elsewhere.

                • Drowsy M. Kram

                  Take your hypocritical mewlings elsewhere.

                  Quite unpleasant, and unnecessary imho. Would it be fair to characterise your response to Subliminal's question about the war on Iraq as 'Whataboutism'?

                  If we’re being honest, we’re all guilty of whataboutism. It’s often a knee-jerk response or a last-resort defense when we’ve got no good way to answer a criticism or charge. It’s also a pretty good way to shift the attention off your mistake and onto your accuser.

                  • RedLogix

                    The invasion of Iraq was almost 20 years ago, and is now widely regarded in the West as a terrible mistake made in the crazy aftermath of 911.

                    The CCP's open aggression against Taiwan is happening right now, with military aircraft threatening incursions on an almost daily basis. And far from being considered a mistake – the CCP leadership and their state controlled media are whole heartedly embracing the prospect.

                    Using 'whataboutism' as a figleaf to deflect from the rankest imaginable hypocrisy is a complete fail.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      Subliminal asked you a question, and your response did not address their question, imho. You didn't like my question about whether your response could be characterised as 'Whataboutism' and, intriguingly, your response ("a complete fail") did not address my question. Others can make up their own minds about who is deflecting here.

                      Your repeated characterisation of Subliminal's brief (and only) comment @3.1.1.2.1.1 as hypocritical ("your hypocritical mewlings"; "the rankest imaginable hypocrisy") seems OTT, again imho.

                    • RedLogix

                      Sublimal's very question on Iraq is a perfect example of the 'whataboutitism' that you object to.

                      Take it up with them if it’s so important to you.

                    • Subliminal []

                      You made a statement about propaganda that is demonstrably false. Iraq proves it and no amount of "it was a mistake" can change that. If you read the linked article above you would find many examples of "oh it was a mistake" with the expectation that that can move things along then. Do you not ever think about the mayhem and blood and trauma these "mistakes" cause? It isnt possible to "just move on" and you say its all 20 years ago except that its also right now, every day in Iraq because all their clean water and sanitation was obliterated and all they get every day is more bombs. Your whole attitude is one of superiority

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      Sublimal's very question on Iraq is a perfect example of the 'whataboutitism' that you object to.

                      Well you could have said that, instead of choosing to fling this shit: "your hypocritical mewlings"; "the rankest imaginable hypocrisy". Up to you, of course.

                      Some might perceive your retrospective 'whataboutism' critique of Subliminal's question (about the Iraq war being based in lies) to be a tad hypocritical, given that your reply didn't mention Iraq at all.

                      And it's true that I see no merit in 'whataboutism'; whatabout you?

                    • RedLogix

                      @DMK
                      given that your reply didn't mention Iraq at all.

                      That would be where I didn't say this then?

                      "The invasion of Iraq was almost 20 years ago, and is now widely regarded in the West as a terrible mistake made in the crazy aftermath of 911."

                    • RedLogix

                      @Subliminal

                      You claimed that the European colonial era was "the whole of European colonial expansion to be based on this premise" of 'white supremacy'. This is little more than a cynical ploy, an exploitation of intellectually faddish and bankrupt 'critical theories' I personally deplore in the extreme.

                      The most cursory scan of history is littered with empires. Quite a few of them Chinese in origin.

                      The basic motivation for all of them was little to do with any sense of racial or cultural supremacy (even if this was often invoked as justification after the fact) – and everything to do with the pre-Industrial era necessity to expand your territory in order to reliably access more energy and resources than your homeland could sustain.

                    • Subliminal []

                      I take it youve never read any peoples histories then. Only those written from the top looking down. Two I would suggest areThe Many Headed Hydra by Peter Linebaugh and The world Turned Upside Down by Christopher Hill. Also, anything by Ward Churchil who is the author of the above article. The colour hierachy took a while to develop fully but it is impossible to look at the American Indian genocide and the treatment of India without acknowledging white supremacy. It took a while but the British owned the African slave trade by the mid 1700s. To believe that the treatment of the Aborigines in Australia arose from anything else is absurd and it can still be found in the British promotion of hatred against Chinese in the slaughter of communists in Indonesia in the 60s:

                      One of the more successful things which the West wished on to the non-communist politicians in Indonesia was to transfer the whole idea of communism onto the Chinese minority in Indonesia. It turned it into an ethnic thing. It is a terrible thing to have done to incite the Indonesians to rise and slaughter the Chinese

                      The world looks different from the bottom looking up

                    • RedLogix

                      You're the native expert on China here – how about enlightening us on all the terrible aspects of their history? Because I would do a really bad job of it if I tried.

                      And as for your nice reading list – got a recent one from a Uighur or Tibetan author? An upside down one that is.

                    • Subliminal []

                      First, you could get a less hysterical view of Tibet from a man, Chas Freeman, who spent a large part of the 80s as US ambassador to China. He talks about Tibet and Tiananmen from about 25 mins. There is much of interest prior to then on Taiwan and the relationship between China and the USA built up during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. There is also admittance of successsful CIA involvement in Tibet, financial payments to the Dalai Lama and persuasion to trek out to Dharamsala in India.

                      Second, from a bottom up perspective it would seem obvious that a Theocracy led by celibate priests is not going to be much fun for a lot of the boys conscripted from their peasant homes. We understand the dangers posed by children in the care of celibate Catholic priests so what magical property does Buddhism possess that blinds you to the same dangers in a Tibetan monastery? If you want more information on what Tibet was really like, rather than the Shangri-la portrayed in movies such as Seven Years in Tibet you could start here. It was fuedal, and heavily taxed, with slaves and serfs. Tibetan peasants have expressed a desire to have the Dalai Lama back but not the old system.

                      On Uighurs, the million in concentration camps story is still traceable to a single man Adrian Zenz who is a fundamentalist Christian of the same sort as Mike Pompeo. He has publicly stated that he is on a mission to destroy China. New Zealand introduced a law under urgency to deal with extremists from jihad organisations. France has the worlds largest problem with returning jihadis and has also introduced laws to deal with returning jihadis as well as re-education camps. It is internationally recognised that China also has a large problem with returning Uighur jihadis and has experienced a level of internal terrorism associated with returning jihadis on a level similar to France. So China also, like France and New Zealand, has laws relating to returning jihadis and like France has re education camps.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      RL @3:50 pm.

                      @DMK
                      given that your reply didn't mention Iraq at all.

                      That would be where I didn't say this then?

                      "The invasion of Iraq was almost 20 years ago, and is now widely regarded in the West as a terrible mistake made in the crazy aftermath of 911."

                      I really don't understand you at all RL.

                      I'm going to be as clear as possible, and if you still choose to misunderstand me or continue with your well-worn fabrication routine then that's entirely on you.

                      I hope that we can agree that Subliminal's first comment (a reply to you) @3.1.1.2.1.1 (12:58 pm) asked this question:

                      How else can you view a war on Iraq based on lies in any other light?

                      And I hope we can agree that your reply @1:14 pm included this 'answer' to Subliminal's question (which you had quoted):

                      And Xi Xinping's repeated commitments to absorb Taiwan are exactly what? It's been a fully independent nation since 1949 and much of China's massive military build up is clearly intended to force the issue by invasion.

                      And I hope we can agree that your answer to Subliminal's question about Iraq made no mention of Iraq – zip; nada.

                      And, finally, I hope we can agree that your reply (to Subliminal's question about the war on Iraq being based on lies):

                      And Xi Xinping's repeated commitments to absorb Taiwan are exactly what? It's been a fully independent nation since 1949 and much of China's massive military build up is clearly intended to force the issue by invasion.

                      is textbook 'whataboutism' – textbook.

                      Tbh, it was the ‘tone’ of your comment that I found most offensive.

                      Take your hypocritical mewlings elsewhere.

                    • RedLogix

                      Still waiting for you to address Sublimal's classic textbook whataboutitism on Iraq. I merely served him back his own tactic.

                      As for the tone policing – if you don't understand the deeply manipulative and cynical nature of the water army yet, you really haven't been paying attention.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      Still waiting for you to address Sublimal's classic textbook whataboutitism on Iraq. I merely served him back his own tactic.

                      When it comes to 'whataboutism', you and Subliminal appear to be equal partners in 'crime'. Subliminal, however, has the edge when it comes to common courtesy; maybe they hit a nerve.

                      And I’ll admit to being a bit puzzled about your effort @3:50 pm to fabricate the idea that your reply @1:14 pm had mentioned Iraq – bad form RL, bad form.

                    • RedLogix

                      It (Tibet) was fuedal, and heavily taxed, with slaves and serfs.

                      Oh fair enough, but so were most other cultures in the world when the Europeans first colonised them hundreds of years back. (As was China itself in that era.)

                      But of course you ascribe all of that to 'white supremacy', and I guess if we're going to be consistent, I get to call the PRC colonisation of Tibet as motivated by 'Han supremacy'. And all this occurring in our lifetimes, not hundreds of years ago.

                      As for Adrian Zenz being the sole source of the fake story on Xinjiang – that’s excellent news. In that case there would be absolutely no objection to the PRC opening the region up to international journalists and investigators to prove the PRC innocent of the allegations. Surely not?

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrian_Zenz

                    • Subliminal []

                      Or Adrian Zenz Is an extreme far right Christian fundamentalist who believes that armageeddon is a necessary condition for the rapture and his ascension to heaven. As stated above, he is on the public record as saying he is on a mission from god to destroy China.

                      On Tibet, a good long read by Anna Louise Strong on the ground in Tibet describes the experience of serfs before Chinese intervention and just after the rebellion. A chapter or the whole book

                • Subliminal

                  Right. So nothing to sdd to the war on Iraq except a classic redirection. Taiwan has not been destroyed and hence nobody has died. Iraq has been destroyed with millions dead (more than 1) and kept as a failed state by a US force that has been asked to leave by the recognised government of Iraq. All this has ocurred after your arbitrary decision that ended colonialism after WW2. Again I ask, how do you explain Iraq if not on an ideology of superiority?

                  • RedLogix

                    You're the one who started the deflection with Iraq, an event I personally protested against at the time (legally and I didn't get arrested or shot for doing so) – and I have no desire or intention of defending it. It was a massive mistake made in the aftermath of 911 and now widely condemned in the West.

                    Taiwan has not been destroyed and hence nobody has died.

                    So you are assuring us that the CCP leadership has no intention of 'absorbing' this independent state as they have done with so many others?

                    And that they haven't explicitly and repeatedly threatened military invasion to achieve this end?

                    You're in no position to lecture anyone on 'moral superiority'.

                    • Subliminal

                      I was under the assunption that the absorption rate had not yet gone beyond one and that was far longer ago than 20 years. Longer ago even than Vietnam. About the time of Korea I believe and have you ever read any descriptions of the devastation that was dealt to Korea. Planes were returning from sorties with their bombs still on board because they couldn't find anything to drop them on!! Think I'd rather have been in Tibet at the time!

                    • RedLogix

                      I'll leave it to DMK to respond to your deflections and 'whataboutitism' here. He's the one who gets all concerned about them.

                    • Subliminal []

                      Whataboutism

                      Whataboutism cannot be used as a “get out of jail card” for hypocrites and reprobates who demand to limit the boundaries of a debate. If we are to understand international relations we can never forget context and nuance. For those chauvinists who casually use the term wumao we must stress that defaming the speaker does not defame the argument.

                      Most of all though, we need a term to describe the scoundrel, the incompetent, the lazy and the indoctrinated who so flippantly use these two terms.

                    • Subliminal

                      Again, from Chas Freeman, someone with an actual grip on reality, who has lived in both Taipei and Beijing, has an affection for Taiwanese even if that affection is not reciprocated due to the shifting nature of US politics, speaks both Taiwanese and Mandarin fluently and has spent a large number of years as a US diplomat

                      To normalize relations with Beijing, successive U.S. presidents gave specific commitments in three carefully negotiated joint communiqués. These documents – issued in 1972, 1979, and 1982 – are the foundation of Sino-American relations. In them, the U.S. government promised that it would no longer maintain official relations with Taipei, that it would have no troops and military installations on the island, and that it would sell only carefully selected defensive weapons to Taiwan on a restrained basis. In the third communiqué, the United States agreed to limit the quality and reduce the quantity of its arms sales to Taiwan.

                      Over the succeeding decades, Washington has progressively eroded or set aside every one of these strictures. Members of the U.S. Cabinet now meet with Taiwan officials and travel to Taiwan. There they are supported by a newly constructed $250 million quasi-embassy guarded by U.S. marines. The United States has returned to Cold War-style championing of Taipei’s diplomatic relations with third countries, punishing those that switch relations to Beijing. There are reports that there are once again American military personnel in Taiwan teaching its armed forces how to conduct operations against the mainland. Taiwan has reemerged as a major purchaser of U.S. weaponry. On November 12, 2020 (nine days after the U.S. presidential election made his boss a lame duck), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo completed the trashing of the “one-China” stipulation by declaring (inaccurately) that “Taiwan has not been part of China.”

                  • Ad

                    Nice article from Chas Freeman there on Taiwan. Cheers.

  4. barry 4

    Where on earth did you get the idea that China blames all its foreign disagreements on the US?

    Why does Biden want to base his relationship with China on "extreme competition"? Perhaps he could try a little "moderate cooperation".

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