POSTED on 15 May 2014 by Julia Luong Dinh

Imminent obstacles to China’s great power status

Since the outbreak of diplomatic hassles and incidents in the South China Sea between China and other ASEAN claimants in 2009, China’s charm offensive in East Asia has suffered important setbacks. Amidst rising tensions over maritime territorial claims, China’s oilrig Haiyang Shiyou HYSY- 981 has been deployed in an EEZ claimed by Vietnam under the UNCLOS 1982. This has added fuel to the simmering fire among claimants over territorial sovereignty. China has become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea, even though it has more pressing domestic issues to address. China hails the South China Sea as the sea of peace and cooperation, and calls for self-restraint among parties interested in the region. However, after blaming other countries of violation of the status quo, Beijing has tended to follow on their heels. This paradox of China’s rising power needs to be critically discussed and better understood. China’s dilemma Chinese leaders are facing the dilemma of managing internal and external expectations that the country should behave as a Great Power. On the one hand, as a developing country, China has been grappling with problems such as the need to feed its huge population, address environmental pollution, ensure the security and survival [...]

Since the outbreak of diplomatic hassles and incidents in the South China Sea between China and other ASEAN claimants in 2009, China’s charm offensive in East Asia has suffered important setbacks. Amidst rising tensions over maritime territorial claims, China’s oilrig Haiyang Shiyou HYSY- 981 has been deployed in an EEZ claimed by Vietnam under the UNCLOS 1982. This has added fuel to the simmering fire among claimants over territorial sovereignty. China has become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea, even though it has more pressing domestic issues to address. China hails the South China Sea as the sea of peace and cooperation, and calls for self-restraint among parties interested in the region. However, after blaming other countries of violation of the status quo, Beijing has tended to follow on their heels. This paradox of China’s rising power needs to be critically discussed and better understood. China’s dilemma Chinese leaders are facing the dilemma of managing internal and external expectations that the country should behave as a Great Power. On the one hand, as a developing country, China has been grappling with problems such as the need to feed its huge population, address environmental pollution, ensure the security and survival [...]

POSTED on 30 April 2014 by Stephanie Allport

On John Garnaut’s lecture: The rise of Xi Jinping and destruction of Bo Xilai

Click here to watch the lecture recording. The fall of Chinese politician Bo Xilai had everything a journalist could possibly want in a story they were covering. A handsome, ambitious leading figure, with a slightly shady past (what exactly did Bo Xilai get up to in the Cultural Revolution?); an unstable but beautiful wife who stood accused of murder; a playboy son abroad living it up very visibly in Oxford and then Harvard; and a treacherous deputy who finally shopped his former master. All of this taking place against the backdrop of a hugely significant leadership change going on in one of the world’s most important countries, which the leading figure stood a real chance of coming out a winner in. What more could you ask for? We now know that Bo’s great chance came and went, but details in the story of his fall, as set out very ably by Beijing based journalist John Garnaut, still give rise to many questions. Garnaut has talked to some of the people involved in the story, many of them at the time key developments were unfolding. This gives his account an exciting immediacy. But the questions almost shriek from every page. What [...]

Click here to watch the lecture recording. The fall of Chinese politician Bo Xilai had everything a journalist could possibly want in a story they were covering. A handsome, ambitious leading figure, with a slightly shady past (what exactly did Bo Xilai get up to in the Cultural Revolution?); an unstable but beautiful wife who stood accused of murder; a playboy son abroad living it up very visibly in Oxford and then Harvard; and a treacherous deputy who finally shopped his former master. All of this taking place against the backdrop of a hugely significant leadership change going on in one of the world’s most important countries, which the leading figure stood a real chance of coming out a winner in. What more could you ask for? We now know that Bo’s great chance came and went, but details in the story of his fall, as set out very ably by Beijing based journalist John Garnaut, still give rise to many questions. Garnaut has talked to some of the people involved in the story, many of them at the time key developments were unfolding. This gives his account an exciting immediacy. But the questions almost shriek from every page. What [...]

POSTED on 22 April 2014 by Chong-Pin Lin

Xi Jinping’s bold policies and political capital (Written by Chong-Pin Lin and translated by Sam Hall)

Why has Xi Jinping boldly launched 60 items of reforms and relentlessly campaigned against corruption? The answer may lie in his abundant political capital that surpasses all of his predecessors’ in the six-decade history of the People’s Republic of China. With Xi Jinping having only taken office for one year, already 60 highly ambitious reform packages were announced at the Third Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Party Congress in November 2013. Both the number of new policies introduced and the audacity of these moves are unprecedented in the first years of all previous CCP leaders after inauguration. It makes one dizzy just to think about what he has launched: “Xi’s Eight Rules” which restricted the lavish lifestyle of Party officials, the “Mass Line Education Campaign” which promoted an exemplary and clean image of the Party members,  “Party Democratic Life Meetings” which re-introduced self-criticism of the Party members, various anti-corruption measures, suppression of dissidents, strengthening control of online opinions, declaring the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), sending the Liaoning aircraft carrier to patrol the South China Sea, testing the DF-41 ICBMs, and finally the 60 reform packages themselves.  The Spear and the Shield of Xi’s Reforms [...]

Why has Xi Jinping boldly launched 60 items of reforms and relentlessly campaigned against corruption? The answer may lie in his abundant political capital that surpasses all of his predecessors’ in the six-decade history of the People’s Republic of China. With Xi Jinping having only taken office for one year, already 60 highly ambitious reform packages were announced at the Third Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Party Congress in November 2013. Both the number of new policies introduced and the audacity of these moves are unprecedented in the first years of all previous CCP leaders after inauguration. It makes one dizzy just to think about what he has launched: “Xi’s Eight Rules” which restricted the lavish lifestyle of Party officials, the “Mass Line Education Campaign” which promoted an exemplary and clean image of the Party members,  “Party Democratic Life Meetings” which re-introduced self-criticism of the Party members, various anti-corruption measures, suppression of dissidents, strengthening control of online opinions, declaring the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), sending the Liaoning aircraft carrier to patrol the South China Sea, testing the DF-41 ICBMs, and finally the 60 reform packages themselves.  The Spear and the Shield of Xi’s Reforms [...]

POSTED on 11 April 2014 by Chong-Pin Lin

Deciphering The East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone

by Chong-Pin Lin Translated by Sam Hall On 12 November 2013, a huge package of 60 reforms was announced at the 3rd Plenum of the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress. On the 23rd, the People’s Liberation Army suddenly declared the “East China Sea Air Defense Identfication Zone (ADIZ)”.  There was fierce backlash from Asia-Pacific countries who then intentionally dispatched aeroplanes to pass though the zone. Nothing happened. Beijing’s image was damaged and it was half a month before the commotion calmed down. What does this event signify for China, Japan, and the world? First – China: Xi Jinping’s dual “spear” and “shield” reform moves. During the 80s, the vanguard of CCP reform, Hu Yaobang, was crippled into defeat. The reason was that though he charged ahead with “spear” in hand, he had no “shield” cards with which to defend himself and so was crushed by anti-reform forces. In view of this, Xi Jinping has likely adopted a dual offensive and defensive reform strategy so as to avoid making the same disastrous mistake. The scope of Xi’s reforms is unprecedented, vested interests are being challenged everywhere and, as one can imagine, resistance is enormous. The reforms include diminishing the realm of [...]

Newspaper graphic of original article in Chinese

by Chong-Pin Lin Translated by Sam Hall On 12 November 2013, a huge package of 60 reforms was announced at the 3rd Plenum of the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress. On the 23rd, the People’s Liberation Army suddenly declared the “East China Sea Air Defense Identfication Zone (ADIZ)”.  There was fierce backlash from Asia-Pacific countries who then intentionally dispatched aeroplanes to pass though the zone. Nothing happened. Beijing’s image was damaged and it was half a month before the commotion calmed down. What does this event signify for China, Japan, and the world? First – China: Xi Jinping’s dual “spear” and “shield” reform moves. During the 80s, the vanguard of CCP reform, Hu Yaobang, was crippled into defeat. The reason was that though he charged ahead with “spear” in hand, he had no “shield” cards with which to defend himself and so was crushed by anti-reform forces. In view of this, Xi Jinping has likely adopted a dual offensive and defensive reform strategy so as to avoid making the same disastrous mistake. The scope of Xi’s reforms is unprecedented, vested interests are being challenged everywhere and, as one can imagine, resistance is enormous. The reforms include diminishing the realm of [...]

POSTED on 04 April 2014 by Klaus Heinrich Raditio

Can the tension in the South China Sea be mitigated?

The last five years in the South China Sea have been seen by many scholars in the West as a new period of tension, which is often attributed to China’s assertive or aggressive behaviour. The disputes in the region involve China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and recently Indonesia (based on the recent statement of Indonesian senior military officer, Commodore Fahru Zaini on 12 March 2014).  So far, the tension between China in one side and other parties (the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia) on the other side is escalating.  Whereas, other claimants seem to cautiously eye the developing situation. This writing is aimed at finding some measures that can be taken by any party in the disputed sea, to mitigate the tension and avoid a catastrophic outcome. It begins by assessing the current situation in the region and ends with a policy recommendation in the perspective of an international relations theoretical framework. Does the security dilemma apply in the South China Sea? This article attempts to apply the theoretical framework of defensive realism, promoted by Tang Shiping of Fudan University, Shanghai.  He develops the BHJ Formula, named after the works of British historian Herbert Butterfield, American political scientist John [...]

The last five years in the South China Sea have been seen by many scholars in the West as a new period of tension, which is often attributed to China’s assertive or aggressive behaviour. The disputes in the region involve China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and recently Indonesia (based on the recent statement of Indonesian senior military officer, Commodore Fahru Zaini on 12 March 2014).  So far, the tension between China in one side and other parties (the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia) on the other side is escalating.  Whereas, other claimants seem to cautiously eye the developing situation. This writing is aimed at finding some measures that can be taken by any party in the disputed sea, to mitigate the tension and avoid a catastrophic outcome. It begins by assessing the current situation in the region and ends with a policy recommendation in the perspective of an international relations theoretical framework. Does the security dilemma apply in the South China Sea? This article attempts to apply the theoretical framework of defensive realism, promoted by Tang Shiping of Fudan University, Shanghai.  He develops the BHJ Formula, named after the works of British historian Herbert Butterfield, American political scientist John [...]