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The world's top banks are Chinese: ICBC, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of China hold the top four positions for the fourth year in a row. ICBC has been at the top of the table for nine consecutive years. Its Tier 1 capital has grown to $439.9bn, the highest individual bank total on record and a $59.7bn increase YoY. Capital levels continue to grow significantly, up 18.6% YoY compared to the global average of 12.7%. They now account for 30% of global aggregate Tier 1 capital in the Top 1000 compared with 11% in 2011 and 5% in 2001. Read full article →

Only China has all categories in the UN's industrial classification system: 41 major industrial categories, 191 medium categories, and 525 subcategories. Read full article →

Of world’s 100 most valuable brands (US $7.1 trillion) in 2020, China's account for 14%, surpassing Europe (8%). 56 US brands account for 74% of top 100, while Chinese tech giants Pinduoduo (US $9.5 billion) and Tiktok (US $16.9 billion), liquor maker Moutai (US $53.8 billion) doubled in value (2020-21). Read full article →

Auto exports rise 103%: Chinese carmakers exported 760,000 units between January and May, up 103% from a year ago, buoyed by a strong recovery in production arising from successful containment of the Covid-19 pandemic, said Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA). Read full article →

As rural internet access expands to 255 million people, e-commerce boom creates new market for peasants. Strategy includes state support to stimulate consumption and alleviate poverty, popularizing live streaming and short videos on digital platforms in the countryside (200 million users) and creating a direct relationship between rural producers and consumers. Read full article →

Fast & Furious 9 earned $187 million at China’s box office last month, boosting Hollywood, but a far cry from the franchise’s previous films. Its eighth instalment took in $450 million, and its seventh, in 2015, grossed $400 million. Nowadays, domestic films break box office records year after year. Wolf Warrior 2 took in $1 billion in 2017, The Wandering Earth earned $700 million, eclipsed by the $750 million Nezha  in 2019. Read full article $ →

Trade & Travel

China replaced the UAE as India’s second-biggest export destination, with outbound shipments to the neighboring country rising 27% to over $21 billion despite the pandemic. Iron ore, organic chemicals, and oil were the top exports to China. China’s share of India’s export basket increased to 7.29% from 5.3% in the previous year. The US remained the country’s top export partner. Read full article $ →

“Our goal [in resolving the Boeing/Airbus dispute] was to forge a new, cooperative relationship so that our companies can compete on a more level playing field. The agreement includes a commitment for concrete, joint collaboration to confront the threat from China’s non-market practices, and it creates a model we can build on for other challenges.” Read full article  →


Speech by Xi Jinping at the ceremony marking the centenary of the CPC.  Read full speech →

Western, Greco-Roman governments have always better at politicking than governing. Oratory and good looks always trump solid governance. Confucian governments have always shone at governance and flunked politics. Western governance is now reaching its nadir just as Confucian governance approaches its zenith.

China's centennial celebration opens with a manned Chinese space station in orbit, an advanced probe on the dark side of the moon, and a sophisticated mission on Mars, while America has more hungry children, drug addicts, suicides and executions, more homeless, poor, and imprisoned people than China. China's infant mortality, 5.4 per thousand births is lower than America's 5.69 and Chinese children's healthy life expectancy is longer than American kids and they will graduate high school three years ahead of them.

Next up is the opening of the 21st century’s first modern city, XiongAn New Area, sixty clicks from downtown Beijing. The first of its six million bureaucrats and knowledge workers have begun moving into their 100% State owned homes, doubtless excited about working in a city 70% of which is woodland and water, whose loudest sound will be birds chirping. Automated everything, including driverless EVs to whisk you to one of two international airports, or six high speed rail stations, or your office. Whatever your destination will all be expected and whisked to your destination based on your face–without your needing to ask. Your elevator knows which floor your office is on. You will be paid with digital central bank currency, as XiongAn’s construction contractors have been.

Technology & IP

Most supercomputers are Chinese: China continues to dominate the number of supercomputers on the newly released Top500 supercomputer list in 2021, with a total of 186 Chinese supercomputers showcased on the list.  Read full article  → 

Robots plant trees in the desert 24x7: Developed by undergraduate students from the East China Normal University, the robot can plant trees in a desert automatically 24 hours a day, seven days a week, supported by the Kunpeng AI chip, satellite positioning, the Internet of Things, automatic route planning, and cloud control. It is employed in the Ala Shan Desert. Read full article  →

Huang Sanwen has developed hybrid potatoes. The first plot trial produced 40 tons per hectare, indicating a huge yield potential. In addition, the hybrid potatoes are rich in dry matter and nutrient value. Read full article  →

The first 120-ton electric mining dump truck starts trial operation at the mine in July. The lithium iron phosphate battery can operate continuously for eight hours on a full charge. It saves 1500 tons of CO2 emissions per year, per vehicle. It reduces energy cost by 50% and the  repair and maintenance cost by 20%.  Read full article  →

Liuzhou, in Guangxi Province, rolled out free EV test drives, established free, designated parking for new-energy cars, and free charging. Liuzhou is now China’s EV capital, with 30% of its cars sold electric. Tiny, cut-price EVs made by Chinese-U.S. venture SAIC-GM-Wuling (which is based there) are a hallmark of the city’s (much quieter!) roads. Read full article  →

Space station propelled  by ion thrusters. The International Space Station's thrusters consume four tons of rocket fuel to stay in orbit for a year. Ion thrusters, using electricity, need just 400 kg to stay in orbit for the same amount of time. Using the same file load weight, a trip to Mars could be cut down from eight months to just 39 days. Read full article  $→

China's space plans to 2025: Lunar, interplanetary and near-Earth asteroid missions, space station construction, a national satellite internet project and developing heavy-lift launch vehicles and reusable space transportation systems are major projects for 2021-2025. Read full article →

Two smart guys talk about AI in China and information asymmetry between Chinese and Western practitioners. Listen now. Listen now  →

The top 100 smart manufacturing firms for patent applications come from 11 counties. The United States tops the list with 34, Japan has 27 and China 20, followed by South Korea, Germany and the United Kingdom. The list is based on infrastructure, data platforms, production modeling, and manufacturing cloud. State Grid leads, ranking number six with 804 patents. Ping An Technology ranks 26, Gree 29, Huawei 34, TSMIC 38, Alibaba 44 and Tencent at 46. Read full article  $→

China’s e-yuan kick starts a rush to mint digital currencies all along the new Silk Road. Cambodia launched the digital bakong last October, describing it as a hybrid CBDC that supports transactions in both the riel and the US dollar. Indonesia’s central bank governor confirmed in May that Southeast Asia’s largest economy would launch a digital currency. Read full article  $→


Quarantine village for 5,000 international travelers and local residents: Guangzhou is building an oasis for people from high-risk areas, because local hotels cannot cope with highly transmissible Covid-19 mutations such as the Delta variant.  Read full article $ →

Researchers found evidence of a coronavirus epidemic in east Asia 25,000 years ago and detected 42 genes in East Asians with antiviral mutations, suggesting they had adapted to the emergence of an ancient coronavirus that swept the region and probably lasted for generations. Read full article  →

China certified malaria-free. It had 30 million annual cases in the 1940s but has now gone four consecutive years without an indigenous case. WHO recognized two key Chinese contributions to fighting malaria: The discovery of artemisinin, a core compound in the most effective antimalarial drugs The early “use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) for the prevention of malaria [in the 1980s], well before nets were recommended by WHO for malaria control.” Read full article  →

Dr. Danielle Anderson was working in the Wuhan lab weeks before the first known cases of COVID-19 emerged in central China. The scientific director of the biosafety lab and an expert in bat-borne viruses says, “It was a regular lab that worked in the same way as any other high-containment lab. What people are saying is just not how it is.” Anderson says no one she knew at the Wuhan institute was ill towards the end of 2019. Moreover, there is a procedure for reporting symptoms that correspond with the pathogens handled in high-risk containment labs. “If people were sick, I assume that I would have been sick – and I wasn’t. I was tested for coronavirus in Singapore before I was vaccinated, and had never had it.” Many of Anderson’s collaborators in Wuhan came to Singapore at the end of December for a gathering on Nipah virus. There was no word of any illness sweeping the laboratory, she says. Read full article $ →

China's top epidemiologist, Zhong Nanshan, said on Friday that Chinese vaccines are effective against the COVID-19 Delta variant, and he urged more people to be vaccinated. Read full article  →


Beijing wants to raise the proportion of scientifically literate citizens from 11% today to 15% by 2025, and 25% by 2035. Proposals: boost scientific instruction in basic education; Improve resources for scientific education in rural areas; Reform scientific education in universities, including providing entrepreneurship training; Improve the quality of science teaching staff. Read full article  →

China accounted for 25% of global growth in leaf area from 1990-2020, turning deserts and farmland to forests and grasslands. UN's FAO ranks China as global leader in reforestation (1,937 ha/year); since 1950s, anti-desertification efforts transformed one of country's four largest deserts, Maowusu (42,000 km²), to 93.24% green area, reducing annual sand/dust storm days (169 to 28). Read full article  →

Tibetans now enjoy their mountainous views at high-speed. A 250-mile rail line connecting Lhasa with Nyingchi entered into service on June 25, giving all 31 provincial-level regions of mainland China access to high-speed train travel. 90% of the route, which took six years to construct, sits 10,000 feet above sea level and features 47 tunnels and 121 bridges. Read full article  →



Above: The CPC has 95m members, 25% under age 35. The number of primary-level Party organizations has increased from 195,000, when the PRC was founded, to 4.86 million, an increase of about 24 times. 52.0% of Party members now have (at least) an undergraduate degree – up from 50.7% in 2019 and 40% in 2012. Read full article →

Four million government and party officials have been punished for graft since President Xi Jinping launched the anti-corruption campaign in 2012. Authorities investigated 392 officials at or above the provincial and ministerial level, 22,000 department and bureau level officials, 170,000 at the county and division level, and 616,000 at the township level. Read full article $→

The PBOC and top financial authorities ordered reductions in payments processing fees following calls from Beijing earlier in the year for cuts to the operating costs for small businesses, forecasting $3.7B in savings for them. Read full article →

New Farm Subsidies Reflect China's Farm Worries. Chinese leaders announced new farm subsidies this month that reflect worries about shrinking profits for scaled-up grain farms and farmer cooperatives. With costs escalating year by year, officials worry that newly-minted commercial farmers may abandon their land if grain prices fail to keep rising. Read full article →

Victor Shih and Young Yang's China Data Lab visualizes key characteristics of 1700 Party elite, including age, party rank, education level, gender, birth province, and alma mater. Among the 1021 current elite, there are only 19 Tsinghua undergraduates and 37 from Peking University(!). Within five years of the 20th Party Congress, most of the 176 pre-1962 CC members will have to retire.  Read full article $→


"Cuddly elephants are the latest propaganda weapon in President Xi Jinping’s propaganda offensive to present a more ‘lovable’ global image of China. The elephants are just one manifestation of Beijing’s decade-long obsession with boosting what it calls its ‘discourse power.’”  Sydney Morning Herald. Read full article →

The fact is that censorship against the left never had anything to do with defending historical truth and the influence of scientists or historians. It is about ensuring that war propaganda goes unchallenged. Read full article →

Reuters Story: Duterte, who turns 77 next month, told a news briefing that, though he wants to be vaccinated, his doctor wants a different Chinese brand of vaccine for him. Read full article →
Above: How Bloomberg Makes The U.S. Look Great: In October 2019 the Global Health Security Index published a report about global preparedness for epidemics and pandemics. It led to this graphic with was flogged by various news sites and the World Economic Forum. The U.S. and Britain were claimed to be the leaders in pandemic preparedness. Then came the pandemic and Britain and the U.S. turned out to be leaders in cumulative deaths per million people. Read full article →

One might think that the above discrepancy would have led to some humility and restrain in those who create such rankings. But no:

The Bloomberg tweet is somewhat inexplicable. It was evidently much better to be in China, Vietnam, or New Zealand during the pandemic than to be in the U.S. - at least if one wanted to be free to travel within the country, stay employed and alive. So what explains that nonsense ranking in the tweet? Evidently the Bloomberg authors who came up with this have put their fingers on the scale:

Now, the ability to essentially turn back the clock and return to pre-pandemic times is taking on an even greater significance.

Central to that is an economy’s openness to the world, and that’s why we’ve introduced a new element—Reopening Progress—to Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking. Two new metrics capture the ease of moving in and out of a place and how much air travel has recovered, alongside our 10 other measures tracking mortality rates to infection counts, freedom of movement to economic growth.

This pivot has ushered in dramatic changes to the ranks. The U.S. is now No. 1, ...

"We added two arbitrary criteria with little relevance that now let the U.S. look great. U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A."

Their methodology shows that they mix discretionary criteria that change from month to month with others that cover the last eighteen month. The ranking in total death per capita is one of twelve criteria in their ranking but so is the number of currently open flight routes to foreign countries. These criteria are given equal weight!

The ranking in a forecast for GDP growth in 2021 is included but not the 2020 drop in GDP that the pandemic has caused in the first place. A country with a steep drop in its 2020 GDP that is now recovering will thus look better, and will be ranked higher, than one that had no 2020 GDP drop at all. Long story short: The ranking is utter bullshit. Moon of Alabama.


The Wall Street Journal 6/22/21: We cannot persuade or force [China's] leaders to abandon their drive for technological and military superiority (China's military budget is one-third the size of the US's) .. It remains to be seen whether we can agree on the investments and strategic decisions that an effective military response to the Chinese challenge will require—and whether we can restore a sense of common purpose across partisan lines without which such a response cannot be sustainedRead both articles $ →

Wise Road Capital, a Beijing private equity firm, received approval from Chinese regulators to acquire Magnachip, a world-leading manufacturer of driver chips in smartphone displays, producing circuits controlling other components like organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays. In 2004, Magnachip purchased by US firm Citi Venture and went public on the NYSE in 2011. The US blocked China's acquisition on June 15 and blocked Magnachip from delisting in the US stock market, which the Chinese firm reportedly said it planned to do after the acquisition. [This sets up a test of China's new laws permitting retaliation for unwarranted political interference–Ed] Read full article →

China and Russia will extend a 20-year bilateral treaty of strategic cooperation that would have expired this year. A key provision: “When a situation arises in which one of the contracting parties deems that…it is confronted with the threat of aggression, the contracting parties shall immediately hold contacts and consultations in order to eliminate such threats”. Read full article →

Lawyers fighting the extradition of Huawei’s CFO from Canada presented internal emails from British bank HSBC showing that at least two senior HSBC leaders were aware of connections between Huawei and its Iranian subsidiary, Skycom, countering US charges that Meng misled HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran and may have caused the bank to break US sanctions. Prosecutors representing the Canadian government argued that the evidence and arguments were beyond the scope of an extradition hearing. Read full article →


By far the most distinctive feature of China's new submarine is the sail. This has an angled upper section with an angled chine running along it. The angles created resemble the fuselages of stealth fighter planes and may reduce its radar cross-section when it is on the surface. This would make it more stealthy when entering or leaving port. We can speculate that it may have hydrodynamic advantages, such as reducing the wake while at periscope depth. Read full article →

China's Story

Zhang Weiwei on Telling China's Story
Translation by David Ownby
China's rise is a miracle in human history; never before have so many people changed their destiny in such a short time. This miracle was achieved by the Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and by their continuous exploration and struggle along the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics.  Thus the political story of China should be the most exciting story in the world.

However, things are not so simple. First of all, there are challenges from the outside, especially the never-ending attacks on China by Western discourse, because the West is in a sense more fearful of the rise of Chinese soft power, which could bring to an end the myth of the Western system and the discursive hegemony that the West has constructed over several centuries.

In addition, China also faces internal challenges: many officials and scholars lack the "four matters of confidence."[2]  We talk about politicians running newspapers, politicians running schools, and politicians running media, but there are still too few of such politicians.  Many officials still have the problem of "stereotyped Party writing党八股 (lit. Party eight-legged essays),"[3] and their words are neither friendly nor convincing.  Many scholars still have the problem of "stereotyped foreign writing 洋八股, (lit. foreign eight-legged essays)," and they can’t open their mouth without talking about ancient Greece, and as a result, they understand neither China nor the world.  The new social media have the problem of "pandering to the lowest common denominator." All of this prevents us from telling China’s political story well.

A lack of ideologically penetrating thinking and discourse is a further difficulty in telling China’s political story well. With the exception of official discourse, our other discourses, such as academic discourse, popular discourse, and international discourse, also fail to meet the needs of telling China’s political story well. In short, the process of building our discourse is still clearly lagging behind the scale and speed of China’s rise.

Still, there is no need for pessimism, because China's rapid rise has shaken the world.  It is a tangible presence that is felt by the people of the world, and there is a growing demand to understand China's rise and its political narrative, so what we need to do is to enhance the quality of our product. In a sense, this is another a kind of supply-side structural reform.

We have every reason to believe that as we do a thorough job of constructing China’s discourse, our ability to tell the Chinese political story will eventually be able to keep pace with China's rise, ultimately becoming a complete story of how China became a modern socialist great power.

For the past few years, I have been carrying out innovative research on Chinese political discourse. I would like to bring together some of my research results and experience in sharing them, and offer some personal views on how to better tell China’s political story.

Telling the story of China’s politics well depends to a large extent on whether we can truly deconstruct the discourse of the West, and particularly the mainstream China narrative in Western discourse, and establish our own political narrative. Such a narrative should be a new discourse that combines official, academic, popular, and international discourse, a discourse that can truly be widely disseminated so that it will penetrate into the hearts and minds of the people.

Destruction comes first, in the course of which construction occurs, and we must promote the construction of a new Chinese political discourse while deconstructing Western political discourse and discursive hegemony. In this process, the following five points are particularly important.

Paradigm shift: Abandon the analytical paradigm of "democracy versus dictatorship" and employ the new paradigm of "good governance versus bad governance"

We need to have an overall grasp of the mainstream narrative of Chinese politics in the West, and we should seek to pull out this discourse by its roots.  In my own research and practice I have found this to be effective, and indeed often subversive and shocking, and of course it is based on a breakthrough in basic theoretical research.

For a long time, the mainstream Western narrative of China’s politics has been based on an extremely shallow and biased analytical paradigm, the so-called "democracy versus dictatorship" argument, where both democracy and dictatorship are one-sidedly defined by the West.

They define the multi-party and universal suffrage system practiced in the West as a democratic system and believe that only by adopting this model can China become a "normal country" and be accepted by the so-called "international community" led by the West. In this discourse, the Chinese political system is portrayed as "authoritarian" and as the antithesis of democracy.

For this reason, the West keeps asking:  when will China carry out political reforms?  If you don't accept this Western political logic, then you are supporting dictatorship. If you don't move towards the Western political model, then you are not carrying out political reform.

This paradigm of "democracy versus dictatorship" has in fact long been an ideological tool for the West to foment color revolutions and overturn non-Western regimes. Although this discourse has been able to fool some people and has even led to regime change in more than a few countries, today, as the color revolutions fade, as the “Arab Spring” turns into the “Arab Winter,” and as Western people themselves realize that the Western political model is increasingly problematic, many people around the world have begun to reflect on and even question the Western political model.

I first shared my main insights on this issue in an international setting in late 2008, when I was on an observation and speaking tour in India. There was a massive terrorist attack in Mumbai that November, but it took India's elite counterterrorism forces nine hours to reach the scene of the attack.

I was giving a lecture on China's development model at the University of Delhi, and during the discussion an Indian scholar asked me:  How would China respond if it encountered such a terrorist attack? I said, "China has not encountered a terrorist attack of this magnitude so far, so it's hard to say, but I can say one thing.  In May of 2008, a massive earthquake hit Wenchuan, China. The epicenter was in a mountainous region of China, far from the country's economic and financial center, but our military began relief efforts within 20 minutes, our leaders were on the plane to the disaster area within 2 hours, and our medical teams covered all of the more than 1,000 affected towns and villages within 3 days, providing direct relief to more than 20 million victims.

The Indian scholar then asked, "Are you trying to prove that 'dictatorship' is more efficient than 'democracy'?"

Good Governance Beats Bad Governance

I answered, "No. It is not that ‘dictatorship’ is more efficient than 'democracy', but that 'good governance' is more efficient than 'bad governance.'  The success of China's development model proves that no matter what the political system is, it ultimately must result in 'good governance,' the kind of ‘good governance’ which, as the Chinese say, ‘exerts itself to make the country prosperous.’  ‘Good governance' can be achieved by Western political systems or by non-Western political systems, and although China has shortcomings in this respect, it does far better than most countries.  'Bad governance' can also occur in Western political systems, such as Haiti, Iraq, the Philippines, etc.,  it can also occur in non-Western political systems, such as Myanmar."

When I stopped speaking, the room fell silent, and the chairman noted:  “It seems that we Indians are also thinking about this.”

The paradigm of "good versus bad governance" has now been embraced by many influential Westerners, for example, by Nicholas Berggruen (b. 1961), president of the 21st Century Council, and Nathan Gardels (b. 1952), editor-in-chief of Global Viewpoint, in their book Intelligent Governance for the Twentieth Century.  Global strategist Parag Khanna (b. 1977), author of the best-selling book Connectography:  Mapping the Future of Global Civilization, also affirms this paradigm.

We are more than willing to discuss democracy with the West, but such a discussion might proceed as follows:  we might first ask the West how it defines democracy, and if they think the concept can only mean multi-party + universal suffrage, we should point out truthfully that the kind of democracy you are talking about is at best one form of democracy and is not universal. We prefer to talk first about substantive democracy, that is, what formal democracy aims to achieve. Formal democracy is not the same as substantive democracy, just as formal justice is not the same as substantive justice, just as taking an exam is not the same as getting a good grade.

The Western paradigm of "democracy versus dictatorship" has long been obsolete, and we need to employ the new paradigm of "good governance versus bad governance," according to which "good governance" is essentially "substantive democracy," i.e., the goal that democracy seeks to achieve. In this way, we combine the new paradigm of "good or bad governance" with democratic discourse.

We can begin with the pursuit of good governance, that is, the pursuit of substantive democracy, and introduce a large number of Chinese experiences and practices, discussing how each country explores and practices democratic systems according to its own popular and national conditions, in the process exchanging experiences with each other, learning from one another’s strengths and complementing one another’s weaknesses, thus creating a better model of national governance.

This paradigm shift is very helpful in telling the story of Chinese politics, Chinese political parties, and Chinese governance. It can be a positive and detailed theoretical exposition, or it can be a "down and dirty" tool in discussion or debate, which can shift one’s position from passive to active and produce the happy effect of "the good move that wins the game."

Cross-country comparison

Comparing China's institutional performance with that of three types of countries: developing countries,  countries with transitional economies, and Western countries

International comparisons can only make China's political story stand out more clearly. We can focus on international comparisons of institutional performance.
I focus on this point in my speaking and writing both at home and abroad. My usual method of comparison is to divide the world's countries into three broad categories—developing countries, countries with economies in transition, and Western countries—and then compare China's institutional performance over the past few decades with countries from these three categories in order to draw some solid conclusions.

First, comparisons with developing countries. The achievement of China's political system is greater than those of the rest of the developing world combined, because the biggest challenge for developing countries is all about poverty eradication. Over the past 40 years, according to the United Nations, about 80% of the world's poverty elimination has occurred in China.
When we compare China with countries with economies in transition, especially the former socialist countries and regions of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, the basic conclusion is the same:  China’s overall achievements have surpassed the sum of the achievements of all of these countries. Our foreign exchange reserves alone exceed the combined gross domestic product of these countries and regions.

Prior to reform and opening, the Soviet economy was larger than ours, and now Russia's economy is only the size of Guangdong province.  Russia's industrial structure has not changed much when compared with the Soviet era, and is still based mainly in resources and military industries, while China started from scratch and built any number of newly strong industries.  Russia has a lower life expectancy and a higher Engel coefficient than China.

In comparison with the West, there are actually many places where China is already ahead.

Take Shanghai and New York, for example, two cities that belong to the developed segments of their respective countries. Shanghai's “hardware” has fully surpassed New York's, whether it be the airports, ports, docks, high-speed rail, subway—China’s are the product of a completely different era.  We can also compare “software:”  the median net worth of Shanghai people is higher than that of New York; the life expectancy in Shanghai is 4 years higher than that of New York; urban security in Shanghai is much better than that of New York; the infant mortality rate is lower than that of New York. In fact, the developed parts of China, with a population exceeding that of the U.S., is fully comparable to Western countries.

I'm not saying that we're good in every way. We still have many problems, but today China really does not have to look up to the West anymore.  We can look them straight in the eye, and of course there is no need to look down on anyone.  This should be sufficient to establish our confidence in our chosen path.
In addition, we can also make direct comparisons of the contents of political systems. For example, we can compare the Chinese meritocratic system of "selecting the wise and appointing the capable 选贤任能" with the Western system of so-called popular elections.

In many Western countries, democracy has long since become a kind of "game," in which democracy means the election campaign, the election campaign means political marketing, and political marketing means money, resources, public relations, strategy, image, and acting.  Politicians in such a system do not have to keep their promises; all that matters is that they help to win the election. Many of the leaders produced by this kind of "democratic game," which lacks the notion of "selection and appointment," know how to talk a good game, but few know how to get things done. The legitimacy of the Chinese government's decision-making process and the overall quality of its decisions are far superior to those of the U.S. government.

Chinese and foreigners find horizontal international comparisons persuasive. Frankly speaking, the Chinese model is not perfect, but it clearly wins in international comparisons.

The Cultural narrative

Revealing the deep cultural heritage behind China's political choices

The story of Chinese politics is often more convincing when told through the narrative of cultural traditions. Revealing the deep cultural heritage behind China's political choices will help us better establish the "four matters of confidence," which is an attitude urgently needed to tell China’s political story well. This also confirms General Secretary Xi Jinping's statement that cultural confidence is "a more fundamental, broader, and deeper confidence.”

The claim in my book, The China Wave, that China is a “civilizational state” is part of this effort.  My attempt to present China’s rise and the Chinese path from the perspective of the combination of an ancient Chinese civilization and a mega-modern state is both a statement of objective fact and a new perspective on the cultural narrative of China's political system.

In terms of effective communication, this is more accessible to most people than telling the story of Chinese politics from a purely political or ideological perspective.

For example, regarding the so-called "one-party system," which is not easily understood in the West, and which in matter of fact consists of both one-party rule and multi-party cooperation, we can introduce this from the perspective of China's political and cultural heritage: China is a supersized civilizational country, "the sum of a hundred countries," a country where hundreds if not thousands of countries have slowly integrated throughout history.

Since the initial unification of China by China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BCE), Chinese political culture has developed the tradition of unifying the ruling group, because otherwise the country might split apart, and the opposition to the division of the country has been one of the most important traditions of Chinese political culture. After the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, China tried the Western multi-party system, but the country soon fell into fragmentation and warlord chaos. The Chinese Communist Party is also a continuation and development of the political and cultural tradition of the unified ruling group in Chinese history, as well as an inheritance and development of the Marxist-Leninist party tradition.

The CCP has profoundly changed the direction and course of development of the Chinese nation over the course of the modern era, has profoundly changed the future and fate of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation, and has profoundly changed the direction and course of development of the world. The CCP today must be the largest and most organized political party in the world.
China has studied some useful experiences from Western political parties and built a strong modern party system, but at the same time has a unique political and cultural tradition. The combination of the two allows us to rise above the serious problems of populism, short-sightedness, and legalism 法条主义 that come with the Western model of party politics.

Of course, there are still many problems in the construction of our ruling party itself, and we need to continuously improve the party's leadership and governance level through comprehensive and strict oversight,  and ensure that the Party continues to be the strong leading core of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

We can also compare the Chinese Communist Party with political parties of the Western model from a political and cultural point of view, where most Western parties are openly "partial interest parties" (which most Western parties themselves do not deny), while the Chinese Communist Party is a "general interest party" representing the overall interests of the people. Most political parties in the Western model are campaign parties that do not take ultimate responsibility for the overall interests of their own people. In contrast, the ruling party in China is ultimately responsible for the rise and fall of Chinese civilization.
The Chinese political narrative can also be interpreted in the context of China's "people-based 民本主义" political and cultural tradition.
With its fundamental purpose of serving the people wholeheartedly, and its governing philosophy of building a party that serves the interests of the public and governs for the people, on questions of development, the CCP has always insisted that development is for the people and relies on the people, and that the fruits of development are shared with the people. From its formulation of the "three-step" strategy of modernization[4] to the realization of its "two centenaries"[5] goal and the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, this reflects to a large extent the Chinese historical and cultural heritage of being rooted in the people, especially the idea and practiced captured in the sentence "the people are the foundation of the country, and if foundation is solid, the country is at peace.”

China's people-centered cultural heritage rejects the idea of the political machine running in place, or marking time (which is one of the biggest problems of the Western political model), and insists that politics be put into practice to improve the people's livelihood, and as development continues, the improvement of people's livelihood includes not only the improvement of material life, but also the improvement of spiritual life and human rights.
Because the CCP is of a piece with the people, and because China's modernization is a modernization for the people, it has stimulated the people's enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity and has brought about an increase in the people's happiness. As a result, the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics becomes wider as it develops, becoming increasingly attractive to the outside world.

China's current institutional arrangements have managed both to preserve China's own cultural heritage and to keep pace with the times in terms of reform and innovation. Based on this knowledge and research, excellent works like "How Leaders Are Made," the video clip[6] produced by Fuxing Road Studio, became popular after being released online.

In discussing the relationship between the roles of government and the market in the Chinese model, we can also start from the perspective of Chinese political and cultural traditions, pointing out that the role of the Chinese government in economic activities can be traced back to Yu the Great’s flood control efforts more than 4,000 years ago and to the "Discourses on Salt and Iron Theory" more than 2,000 years ago.[7] In the relationship between the forces of  politics, society, and capital, we can also trace the indigenous cultural genes of Chinese socialism, such as the tradition of restraining capital.

Explaining many of the arrangements of the Chinese political system from the perspective of Chinese political and cultural traditions will not only help us achieve a deeper understanding of China's contemporary political system depth, but will also allow the vitality of our traditional culture to flourish even more brightly. This vitality can both inspire the nation to an even greater love for its motherland and her rich cultural traditions, and more easily impress audiences in other countries.

A Modern perspective

Looking at many of China's modernization achievements that are ahead of the West today, and revealing the links between these successes and the Chinese political system, can make the Chinese story more persuasive and compelling

The rise of China is the most dramatic event of the 21st century. Although the Western mainstream media is still doing its best to slander China for ideological reasons, but the truth will out [lit., you cannot cover fire with paper 纸毕竟包不住火]. Wherever you go in the world today, you can feel China's rise.  Chinese goods, Chinese tourists, Chinese investments are found almost everywhere.

Likewise, with the spread of the Internet, many foreigners have been moved by the rapid development of China's modernization and impressed by the country's four new inventions[8] (high-speed rail, e-commerce, mobile payment systems, and the sharing economy). China is already significantly ahead of the West in terms of mobile Internet, and only in China can you truly get everything done on your cell phone.

Starting with China's many modernization achievements that are ahead of the West today and revealing the connection between these successes and the Chinese political system can make the Chinese story more persuasive and compelling. This is something that works particularly well with young people, who are naturally attracted to what is new, and since China is bubbling over with new things, explaining the political reasons behind it all can often have prove to be very effective.

Western countries turned the Internet into a political tool to achieve "regime change" in other countries in the name of freedom of information and expression, resulting in the "Arab Spring" and the ensuing "Arab Winter" as well as the refugee crisis in Europe.  The refugee crisis in turn deepened various conflicts in Europe and gave rise to populism, as Europe shot itself in the foot.  In a sense, the new social media has begun to subvert the West's own political ecology, as illustrated by Brexit and the election of Trump in the United States.

By way of contrast, the general policy of China's Internet governance is people-oriented.  As General Secretary Xi Jinping said, "Internet must meet the expectations and needs of the people, accelerate the spread of information services, reduce costs, provide the people with accessible, affordable, and functioning information services, so that hundreds of millions of people have the sense that they are sharing the fruits of Internet development."  "New technology is the fruit of the development of human civilization, and as long as it is conducive to improving the level of social productivity in China and to enhancing the people's lives, we will not refuse it."

Allowing the people to enjoy the many tangible conveniences created by new technological revolutions like the Internet is an important aspect of China's new era of Internet governance, and it is under the guidance of this people-oriented model that China's e-commerce has developed quickly.  Ten years ago the volume of China's e-commerce transactions accounted for less than 1% of the global total, whereas today they account for more than 40% and have surpassed the combined volume of the five countries of the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, France, and Germany. As early as 2018, mobile payments in China were already 90 times higher than in the United States.

With the deepening of globalization and networking, with hundreds of millions of people traveling abroad every year, and with the continuous promotion of the "One Belt—One Road" initiative, more and more foreigners are beginning to understand the great achievements of China's modernization as it has developed in leaps and bounds. These achievements often move ordinary people in foreign countries, especially the young generation, who, like Chinese young people, have embraced the Internet.  They are more open than the older generation and are more willing to learn about the real China.

China's modernization achievements, represented by high-speed rail, 5G, mobile communication, artificial intelligence, etc., have already made a great impression on the outside world. Through research, we can identify the political logic behind these achievements, which is undoubtedly a more effective way to tell China's political story.

Conveying Chinese standards to the world

Behind China’s rise is China’s own set of proven ideas and methods, which we must refine so that they gradually become international standards that can be compared across borders

Systemic competition matters, as does discursive competition, but in the end, competition over standards is the key.

There are three approaches to competition over standards.  The first is the follower’s approach, which means adopting others' standards and following them; the second is the participant’s approach, which means participating in the development of others' standards; and the third is the leader’s approach, which means setting your own standards to influence others and eventually getting them to follow yours. On the stage of international discourse, the West has always pursued the leader’s strategy, promoting Western political standards globally, virtually without competition, until it ran into China.

Behind China’s rise is China’s own set of proven ideas and methods, and we must to refine these ideas and methods so that they can gradually become international standards that can be compared across borders. Socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, which should also be a new era for the rise of "Chinese standards."

We should be good at doing the original research necessary to distill China's successful experience into a discourse that the international community can understand.  The key to this is the distillation and formulation of core concepts.

I have made a number of attempts in this area in the past few years. For example, I summarized the most important feature of the Western political system as "elections," and then, by way of contrast, characterized the main feature of the Chinese political system as "selection + election," and suggested that, based on the comparison of the performance of the two models, that an "election" based society will not be able to compete with a society that combines "selection" and "election.”

I have characterized the Western democratic model of governance as an increasingly populist model (i.e., a model that follows "popular opinion 民意") and the Chinese experience of governance as a combination of "popular opinion" and the "people’s heart 民心" (i.e., representing the overall and long-term interests of the people), arguing that a state that governs by "popular opinion" will not be able to compete with a state that combines "popular opinion" and the "people's heart.”

I summarize Western democracy as an institutional model dominated by a "regime 政体" (i.e., formal democracy), and the Chinese model as a model that combines the "Way of politics 政道" (i.e., substantive democracy) with a "regime" (which is in constant evolution). I argue that a model that focuses solely on the "regime" will not be able to compete with a model that integrates deeper political concerns with regime form.

As the British statesman Winston Churchill famously said, " democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." I think this may be true in a Western cultural context, but it is what the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu called a "least bad policy下下策," which is nothing more than a way for a leader to get out of a tough spot when democracy does not produce optimum results. However, in the Chinese political tradition of "choosing the worthy and naming the competent," the state pursues the goal of "the best possible plan 上上策," i.e., doing its utmost to select the best possible leaders.

This is surely not easy, but we will certainly keep trying. Through innovations in its political system, China has produced an institutional arrangement that combines, to a large extent, a "best possible plan" (electing proven leaders) with a minimalist, "least bad policy" (ensuring that those who should leave leadership positions do so). This goes  beyond the Western institutional arrangement of the "least bad policy."

Americans like to talk about the "separation of powers" when they talk about political systems, but I suggest that the key to analyzing modern politics is not the "separation of powers" (because the legislative, judicial, and executive powers are all in the political sphere), but whether the larger relationship between the forces of politics, society, and capital is conducive to the long-term and fundamental interests of the vast majority of people in a country and the common interests of humanity as a whole.

The greatest challenge facing the American political model is that the power of capital is dominant and can almost completely control the three powers within the political sphere, which is the root cause of many problems such as the financial and social crises in the United States. China stands in stark contrast to this. The power of Chinese capital is in general limited by political and social forces. It is impossible for the 100 richest people in China to sway the Politburo of the Communist Party of China, while the 50 richest people in the United States should be capable of swaying the decisions of the White House.

Capital has no homeland, and in recent years a new phenomenon has emerged: the desire of the forces of capital to seek improvements in their own political systems and social structures has diminished significantly, because through globalization and networking, the source of their greatest profits is often no longer their own country, which a new institutional dilemma facing the West.
In contrast, although the gap between rich and poor has widened in China, Chinese political forces have generally remained committed to a significant improvement in the living standards of those in need, Chinese social forces have continued the Chinese tradition of egalitarianism, and the mainstream of society has almost always tended to rein in capital. This equilibrium could be the main reason why China has been able to avoid U.S.-style financial and debt crises, and probably the main reason why, for ordinary people, the prospect of the "China dream" has become more exciting than the prospect of the "American dream.

Over time, I have also come up three criteria,  based on China’s experience, by which we can judge the ability of countries around the world to govern: (a) whether a country has the political power to represent the overall interests of its people. China has it; the United States and many other Western countries have long since lost it. (b) Whether the government's ability to readjust and reform is strong or weak. (c) Whether the role of the market and the role of the government can be integrated in a functional way. These three criteria can be used to measure a country's overall competitive ability and its future prospects.

In short, as long as we work on five levels: paradigm shift, transnational comparison, cultural narrative, the modern perspective and Chinese standards, and international representation, we have every possibility to tell the Chinese political story in a more accurate and exciting way, thus providing more Chinese wisdom to enrich the political civilization of humanity. Follow David Ownby's excellent translations here.


[1]张维为, “完全有可能把中国政治故事讲得更透彻、更精彩,” originally published in the Peking Daily on June 21, 2021.

[2]Translator’ note: "Confidence in our chosen path, confidence in our guiding theories, confidence in our political system, and confidence in our culture."

[3]Translator’s note:  “Eight-legged essays 八股文” refers to a formal, elaborate style of writing associated with China’s traditional examination system that over time came to be condemned as an example of “form over substance.”  Mao Zedong wrote an essay entitled “Oppose Stereotyped Party Writing” in 1942.

[4]Translator’s note :  The three-step modernization process was proposed by the 13th Party Congress in October 1987.  Step one aimed to double China’s GNP between 1981 and 1990 and to solve the problem of the people's food and clothing, which was basically achieved in the late 1980s; step two aimed to double China’s GNP yet again between 1991 and the end of the 20th century, and for the people to achieve a moderately prosperous life; step three will aim to modernize China by the middle of the 21st century, with the GNP per capita reaching the level of medium developed countries and the people living a relatively affluent life.

[5]Translator’s note:  I.e., the hundred year anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921/2021, and that of the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949/2049.

[6]Translator’s note:  I highly recommend watching the video, as it is an excellent example of the kind of “friendly propaganda” produced by the regime, both in terms of aesthetics and content.  You do not need to understand Chinese to get the gist of it.

[7]Translator’s note:  Both of these are references to “interventionist” policies by China’s central government.  Yu was a sage king who solved a serious flooding problem by channeling the flow of the water in useful ways instead of attempting to dam it.  The Discourses on Iron and Salt were a series debates held following the reign of Han Wudi (156-87 BCE), which had been marked by considerable government activism and intervention into various markets.  These innovations led to opposition, hence the debates, which were inconclusive; the central government preserved the right to intervene when necessary.

[8]Translator’s note:  As opposed to the four great inventions of China’s classical civilization:  paper, printing, gunpowder, and the compass.

War with China

Who Authorized Preparations for War with China?

By Amitai Etzioni


Abstract—The Pentagon has concluded that the time has come to prepare for war with China, and in a manner well beyond crafting the sort of contingency plans that are expected for wide a range of possible confrontations. It is a momentous conclusion that will shape the United States’ defense systems, force posture, and overall strategy for dealing with the economically and militarily resurgent China. Thus far, however, the military’s assessment of and preparations for the threat posed by China have not received the high level of review from elected civilian officials that such developments require. The start of a second Obama administration provides an opportunity for civilian authorities to live up to their obligations in this matter and to conduct a proper review of the United States’ China strategy and the military’s role in it.

The U.S. Military/Civilian Relationships in Facing China

The United States is preparing for a war with China, a momentous decision that so far has failed to receive a thorough review from elected officials, namely the White House and Congress. This important change in the United States’ posture toward China has largely been driven by the Pentagon. There have been other occasions in which the Pentagon has framed key strategic decisions so as to elicit the preferred response from the Commander in Chief and elected representatives.

A recent case in point was when the Pentagon led President Obama to order a high level surge in Afghanistan in 2009, against the advice of the Vice President and the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. The decision at hand stands out even more prominently because (a) the change in military posture may well lead to an arms race with China, which could culminate in a nuclear war; and (b) the economic condition of the United States requires a reduction in military spending, not a new arms race.

The start of a new term, and with it the appointment of new secretaries of State and Defense, provide an opportunity to review the United States’ China strategy and the military’s role in it. This review is particularly important before the new preparations for war move from an operational concept to a militarization program that includes ordering high-cost weapons systems and forced restructuring. History shows that once these thresholds are crossed, it is exceedingly difficult to change course. In the following pages I first outline recent developments in the Pentagon’s approach to dealing with the rise of China; I then focus on the deliberations of the highest civilian authorities. These two sides seemed to operate in parallel universes, at least until November 2011 when the pivot to Asia was announced by the White House—though we shall see their paths hardly converged even after that date. I conclude with an outline of what the much-needed civilian Have the White House and Congress properly reviewed the Pentagon’s approach—and found its threat assessment of China convincing and approved the chosen response?

In the Pentagon review ought to cover. I write about the “Pentagon” and the “highest civilian authori- ties” (or our political representatives) rather than contrast the view of the military and that of the civilian authorities, because the Pentagon includes civilians, who actively partici- pated in developing the plans under discussion. It is of course fully legitimate for the Pentagon to identify and prepare for new threats. The question that this article raises is whether the next level of government, which reviews such threats while taking into account the input of the intelligence com- munity and other agencies (especially the State Department), has adequately fulfilled its duties. Have the White House and Congress properly reviewed the Pentagon’s approach—and found its threat assessment of China convincing and ap- proved the chosen response? And if not, what are the United States’ overarching short- and long-term political strategies for dealing with an economically and militarily rising China?

Since the Second World War the United States has maintained a power-projection military, built upon forward deployed forces with uninhibited access to the global commons—air, sea, and space. For over six decades the maritime security of the Western Pacific has been underwritten by the unrivaled naval and air power of the United States. Starting in the early 1990s, however, Chinese investments in sophisticated, but low-cost, weapons—including anti-ship missiles, short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, stealth submarines, and cyber and space arms—began to challenge the military superiority of the United States, especially in China’s littoral waters. These “asymmetric arms” threaten two key elements of the United States’ force projection strategy: its fixed bases (such as those in Japan and Guam) and aircraft carriers.

Often referred to as anti-access/anti-denial capabilities (A2/AD), these Chinese arms are viewed by some in the Pentagon as raising the human and economic cost of the United States’ military role in the region to prohibitive levels. To demonstrate what this new environment means for regional security, military officials point out that, in 1996, when China conducted a series of missile tests and military exercises in the Strait of Taiwan, the United States responded by sending two aircraft carriers to the South China Sea, a credible display of force that reminded all parties of its commitment to maintaining the status quo in the region.1 However, these analysts point out, if in the near future China decided to forcefully integrate Taiwan, the same U.S. aircraft carriers that are said to have once deterred Chinese aggression could be denied access to the sea by PLA anti-ship missiles. Thus, the U.S.’s interests in the region, to the extent that they are undergirded by superior military force, are increasingly vulnerable.

Two influential American military strategists, Andrew Marshall and his protégé Andrew Krepinevich, have been raising the alarm about China’s new capabilities and aggressive designs since the early 1990s. Building on hundreds of war games played out over the past two decades, they gained a renewed hearing for their concerns following Pacific Vision, a war game conducted by the U.S. Air Force in October 2008. The game was financed in part by Marshall’s Office of Net Assessment, a division of the Pentagon focused on identifying emerging security threats to the United States. Air Force Magazine reported at the time that the simulation convinced others in the Pentagon of the need to face up to China, and “[w]hen it was over, the PACAF [Pacific Air Force Command] staff set about drawing up its conclusions and fashioning a framework for AirSea Battle”—a plan to develop the new weapons and operation capabilities needed to overcome the challenges posed by A2/AD.2 With Marshall’s guidance, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates instructed the Chiefs of Staff to begin work on the AirSea Battle (ASB) project and, in September of 2009, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead signed a classified Memorandum of Agreement endorsing the plan.3 ASB received Gates’ official imprimatur in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review which directed the U.S. military to “develop a joint air-sea battle concept . . . [to] address how air and naval forces will integrate capabilities across all operational domains—air, sea, land, space, and cyberspace—to counter growing challenges to U.S. freedom of action.”

In late 2011 Gates’ successor, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, also signed off on the ASB and formed the new Multi-Service Office to Advance AirSea Battle. Thus, ASB was conceived, born, and began to grow. AirSea Battle calls for “interoperable air and naval forces that can execute networked, integrated attacks-in-depth to disrupt, destroy, and defeat enemy anti-access area denial capabilities.”5 The hypothetical battle begins with a campaign to reestablish power projection capabilities by launching a “blinding attack” against Chinese anti-access facilities, including land and sea-based missile launchers, surveillance and communica- tion platforms, satellite and anti-satellite weapons, and command and control nodes. U.S. forces could then enter contested zones and conclude the conflict by bringing to bear the full force of their material military advantage. One defense think tank report, “AirSea Battle: A Point-of-Departure Operational Concept,” acknowledges Summer 2013 that “[t]he scope and intensity of U.S. stand-off and penetrating strikes against targets in mainland China clearly has escalation implications,” because China is likely to respond to what is effectively a major direct attack on its mainland with all the military means at its disposal—including its stockpile of nuclear arms.6 The authors make the critical assumption that mutual nuclear deterrence would hold in a war with China.

However, after suggesting that the United States might benefit from an early attack on Chinese space systems, they concede in a footnote that “[a]ttacks on each side’s space early warning systems would have an immediate effect on strategic nuclear and escalation issues.” “However,” they continue, “this issue lies beyond the scope of this paper and is therefore not addressed here.” 7 Addressing the risk of nuclear war might The United States’ development of ASB will likely accelerate China’s expansion of both its conventional forces and its nuclear, cyber, and space weapons programs. be beyond the scope of that paper, but not of a proper review of ASB. Although the Chinese nuclear force is much smaller than that of the United States, China nonetheless has the capacity to destroy American cit- ies. According to leading Australian military strategist Hugh White, “We can be sure that China will place a very high priority indeed on maintaining its capacity to strike the United States, and that it will succeed in this.”8 Given this, the United States’ development of ASB will likely accelerate China’s expansion of both its conventional forces and its nuclear, cyber, and space weapons programs.

Joshua Rovner of the U.S. Naval War College notes that deep inland strikes could be mistakenly perceived by the Chinese as preemptive at- tempts to take out its nuclear weapons, thus cornering them into “a terrible use-it-or-lose-it dilemma.” That is, ASB is prone to lead to nuclear war.9 As current U.S. technologies and force structures are unable to carry out this hypo- thetical campaign, its architects urge investments in penetrating, long-endurance ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) and strike capabilities; aerial tankers; and forward base hardening. Strategists have also encouraged the Navy to “develop and field long-range/endurance UUVs [Unmanned Undersea Vehicles] for multiple missions germane to intelligence preparation of the undersea battle space” and rec- ommended that the Air Force and Navy stockpile precision-guided munitions (PGM) “in sufficient quantities to execute an ASB campaign.”10 ASB also involves a con- siderable shift of budgetary priorities from the Army and Marines to the Navy and Air Force. A review of the FY 2013 Defense budget finds that “[t]he new budget also shifts the balance of funding among the Services according to the new strategic guidance, which calls for a greater reliance on air and sea power as part of the pivot to the Asia-Pacific region.” 11 While all branches face spending cuts, the Army will experience the steepest reduction (8.9 percent); the budgets of the Air Force and Navy/ Marines shrink by 5.8 and 4.3 percent respectively. Although this force restructuring initially led to strong protests from the Army, in late 2012 it began carving out its role in the ASB plan.12 40 Yale Journal of InternatIonal affaIrS

AirSea Battle is already beginning to shape acquisition decisions. General Schwartz writes that, “The first steps to implement Air-Sea Battle are already underway here at the Pentagon. In our FY 2012 and FY 2013 budgets we increased investment in the systems and capabilities we need to defeat access threats.” 13 Admiral Greenert points to the investments in anti-submarine warfare, electronic warfare, air and missile de- fense, and information sharing, that were included in the President’s 2012 budget as one aspect of ASB’s implementation and notes that the 2013 budget “sustains these investments and really provides more resilient C4ISR [Command, Control, Commu- nications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] investments.” 14

The New York Times reported that the new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), which is able to deftly navigate shallow coastal seas, is “central to President Obama’s strategy of projecting American power in the Pacific.” 15 So far, two of the planned fifty-five LCSs have been completed, and the first will be deployed in Singapore in 2013. A press report in August 2012 stated that “the Air-Sea Battle concept has prompted Navy officials to make significant shifts in the service’s FY2014-FY2018 budget plan, including new investments in ASW, electronic attack and electronic warfare, cyber warfare, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the P-8A maritime patrol aircraft, and the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) UAV [Unmanned Aerial Vehicle].” 16

Some point out that many of these weapons would have been ordered even if there was no ASB, and that some purchases merely constitute technology updates. However, it is also true that a smaller defense budget means making choices about the allocation of resources, and evidence suggests that the Pentagon has made the hardware of ASB a high priority. In addition, a 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service on the implications of Chinese naval modernization disclosed that there has been a “redeployment of various advanced U.S. nuclear submarines and Aegis SM-3-based missile defense vessels to the Pacific in close cruising distance to China and North Korea. Other vessels in the Pacific were recently moved to Guam and Hawaii to presumably cut transit time to areas of possible conflict. All of this would be helpful if AirSea concepts are employed.” 17 Some argue that ASB is merely a limited ‘operational concept.’ However, insofar as it is influencing the Pentagon’s ‘hardware’ purchases and is transforming force structure, ASB is moving beyond its conceptual stage. Moreover, even if it is merely a highly influential concept, it still merits high-level review.

One should note that several officials also maintain that ASB is not aimed at China. At a background briefing on ASB one Pentagon official stated, “It is not about a specific actor. It is not about a specific actor or regime.” 18 General Norton Schwartz has said that questions about China’s place in the concept are “unhelpful.”19 However, the consensus of most observers is that “Air-Sea Battle is billed as the answer to growing anti-access/area-denial capabilities generically, but as everyone knows, specifically China,” as former Marine Corps officer J. Noel Williams put it.20 And according to a senior Navy official overseeing the forces modernization efforts, “Air-Sea Battle is all about convincing the Chinese that we will win this competition.” 21 Summer 2013 41

As far as one can determine, the Pentagon decided to embrace the ASB concept over alternative ways for sustaining U.S. military power in the region that are far less likely to lead to escalation. Indeed, as far as one can determine, the Pentagon decided to embrace the ASB concept over alternative ways for sustaining U.S. military power in the region that are far less likely to lead to escalation. One such is the “war-at-sea” option, a strategy proposed by Jeffrey Kline and Wayne Hughes of the Naval Postgraduate School, which would deny China use of the sea within the first island chain (which stretches from Japan to Taiwan and through the Philippines) by means of a distant blockade, the use of submarine and flotilla attacks at sea, and the positioning of expeditionary forces to hold at-risk islands in the South China Sea. By foregoing a mainland attack, the authors argue that the war-at-sea strategy gives “opportunities for negotiation in which both sides can back away from escalation to a long-lasting, economically disastrous war involving full mobilization and commitment to some kind of decisive victory.”22

In the same vein, the “Offshore Control Strategy” put forward by National Defense University’s T. X. Hammes, “seeks to use a war of economic attrition to bring about a stalemate and cessation of conflict” by establishing a distant blockade and a maritime exclusion zone within the first island chain, while dominating the sur- rounding waters “to ensure the continued flow of trade to our allies while tightening the blockade against China.” 23 This would not bring a decisive victory, but would allow the United States to achieve its objectives of protecting its allies and maintaining free access to sea lanes, while giving China space to back down. Several defense analysts in the United States and abroad, not least in China, see ASB as being highly provocative. Former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright stated in 2012 that, “AirSea Battle is demonizing China. That’s not in anybody’s interest.” 24 An internal assessment of ASB by the Marine Corps commandant cautions that “an Air-Sea Battle-focused Navy and Air Force would be preposterously expensive to build in peace time” and if used in a war against China would cause “in- calculable human and economic destruction.” 25

Several critics point out that ASB is inherently escalatory and is likely to accelerate the arms race in the Asia-Pacific. China must be expected to respond to the imple- mentation of ASB by accelerating its own military buildup. Chinese Colonel Gauyue Fan stated that, “If the U.S. military develops AirSea Battle to deal with the [People’s Liberation Army], the PLA will be forced to develop anti-AirSea Battle.” 26 Moreover, Raoul Heinrichs, from the Australian National University, points out that “by creating the need for a continued visible presence and more intrusive forms of surveillance in the Western Pacific, AirSea Battle will greatly increase the range of circumstances for maritime brinkmanship and dangerous naval incidents.” 27 Other critics argue that ASB operates in a strategic vacuum. Hammes maintains that “ASB is the antithesis of strategy. It focuses on the tactical employment of weapons 42 systems with no theory of victory or concept linking the Air-Sea approach to favorable conflict resolution.”28

Dan Blumenthal of the American Enterprise Institutes agrees that, “ASB is an operational concept detached from a strategy . . .. As a result, the U.S. is both making commitments to Asia that it may not be able to afford and articulating a high-risk operational doctrine that does not answer basic strategic questions.” 29 As I see it, the implied strategy is clear: ASB planners aim to make the United States so clearly powerful that not only would China lose if it engaged militarily, but it would not consider engaging because the United States would be sure to win. Krepinevich holds that ASB achieves both deterrence through denial, “designed to convince a would-be aggressor that he cannot achieve his objective, so there is no point in trying,” as well as deterrence through punishing, “designed to persuade him that even though he may be able to achieve his objective, he will suffer so much as a result that his anticipated costs will outweigh his gains.” 30

The imagined result of ASB is the ability to end a conflict with China in much the same way the United States ended WWII: The U.S. military defeats China and dictates the surrender terms. This military strategy, which involves threatening to defeat China as a military power, is a long cry from containment or any other strategies that were seriously considered in the context of confronting the USSR after it acquired nuclear arms. The essence of the Cold War was mutual deterrence, and the conflict was structured around red lines that not only the Warsaw Pact forces were not to cross (e.g., by moving into the NATO controlled areas) but that the NATO forces were also committed to respect by not crossing into the Soviet realm that included Eastern Europe and East Germany. (This is the reason the United States did not help the freedom fighters who rose against the Communist regimes in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.)

First strike (nuclear) strategies were foresworn and steps were taken to avoid a war precipitated by miscommunications, accidents, or miscalculations. In contrast, ASB requires that the United States be able to take the war to the mainland with the goal of defeating China, which quite likely would require striking first. Such a strategy is nothing short of a hegemonic intervention. When Andrew Krepinevich suggested that ASB is simply seeking to maintain stability in the Asia-Pacific, he was asked if this “stability” really meant continued U.S. hegemony in the area. He chuckled and responded, “well, the nations in the area have a choice: either we are number one or China [is]—and they prefer us.”

Actually, most of the nations in the area prefer playing the big powers against each other rather than joining a particular camp. They greatly benefit from trade and investment from China and, at the same time, most are quite keen to receive security backing from the United States. And they realize that in a case of conflict between the United States and China, they stand to lose a great deal. (A common saying in the area: “When the elephant and tiger rumble, the grass gets trampled.”) Most important, one must ask if there are other strategies that do not operate on the assumption that our dealings with China represent a zero-sum game. For instance, one should consider if there are strategies in which the superpower pursues its interests by accommodating a rising power—especially when this power is mainly a regional one—by allowing it an increased sphere of influence. This is the way Britain, once a superpower that relied greatly on naval power, accommodated a rising upstart—the United States. Summer 2013 43

The White House and Congress

To judge by several published reports which will be discussed in greater detail below, including those by government “insiders,” there is no indication—not a passing hint— that the White House has ever considered earnestly preparing the nation for a war with China. Nor is there any evidence that the White House has compared such a strategy to alternatives, and—having concluded that the hegemonic intervention implied by ASB is the course the United States should follow—then instructed the Pentagon to prepare for such a military showdown. Indeed, as far as one can determine at this stage, the White House and State Department have engaged in largely ad hoc debates over particular tactical maneuvers, never giving much attention to the development of a clear underlying China strategy. True, some individuals in the State Department and White House pursued engagement and cooperation, and others advocated ‘tougher’ moves that seem to reflect a vague preference for containment. However, neither approach was embraced as an overarching strategy. The November 2011 presidential announcement that the United States was beginning a “pivot” from the Near to the Far East may at first seem to suggest that a coherent stance on China had coalesced within the administration. We will see shortly that this is not the case.

One major source of information regarding the development of China policy in the Obama White House is an insider’s report fully dedicated to the subject at hand, Obama and China’s Rise by Jeffrey A. Bader. Having served as senior director for East Asian affairs on the National Security Council from January 2009 to April 2011, Bader reports in great detail on how the Obama administration approached China policy.

When Obama was still a Senator campaigning in the 2008 election—the same time the Pentagon was launching the ASB mission—his philosophy was to engage the nations of the world rather than confront them; to rely on diplomacy rather than on aggressive, let alone coercive, measures; and to draw on multilateralism rather than on unilateral moves. Following his election, the President’s key staffers report that, with regard to China, containment was “not an option,” nor was the realpolitik of power balancing embraced. Instead, the administration pursued a vague three-pronged policy based on: “(1) a welcoming approach to China’s emergence, influence, and legitimate expanded role; (2) a resolve that a coherent stance on China eventually coalesced to see that its rise is consistent with international norms and law; and (3) an endeavor to shape the Asia-Pacific environment to ensure that China’s rise is stabilizing rather than disruptive.” 32

Once in office, the administration’s main China-related policy questions involved economic concerns (especially the trade imbalance, currency manipulation, and the dependence on China for the financing of U.S. debt), North Korea’s development of nuclear arms and missiles, sanctions on Iran, Tibet and human rights, and counterter- rorism. The fact that China was somewhat modernizing its very-backward military is barely mentioned in the book-length report. There is no reference to ASB or to the strategy it implies as being considered, questioned, embraced, or rejected—let alone how it fits into an overarching China strategy, which the Obama administration did not formulate in the first term. 44 Yale Journal of InternatIonal affaIrS

Moreover, Bader’s account leaves little doubt that neither the Obama White House nor State Department ever developed a coherent China strategy. In effect, key staff members scoffed at the very idea that such overarching conceptions were of merit or possible (as opposed to reactive responses to ongoing developments). The Obama team, Bader notes, “fine- tun[ed] an approach” that avoided the extremes of, on the one hand, relying “solely on military muscle, economic blandishments, and pressure and sanctions of human rights,” and on the other, pursuing “a policy of indulgence and accommodation of assertive Chinese conduct.” 33 Not too hot, not too cold makes for good porridge, but is not a clear guideline for foreign policy.

In May 2013, The Economist summarized the administration’s China policy, or lack thereof, reporting, “First dubbed a ‘Pacific pivot,’ the strategy was later rebranded as a ‘rebalancing.’ Vague references in speeches by Mr. Obama’s administration have not been fleshed out by any document (indeed [ . . . ] the Pentagon has more detail on China’s strategy than its own).” A closer reading of these lines, as well as similar statements issued by the administration that were often fashioned as strategic positions, reveals them to be vague and open to rather different interpretations. They seem more like public rationales than guidelines capable of coordinating policies across the various government agencies, let alone reigning in the Pentagon. The overarching ambiguity is captured by Bader, who first reports that, “[f]or China to directly challenge America’s security interest, it would have to acquire ambitions and habits that it does not at present display.

The Unites States should not behave in a way that encourages the Chinese to move in that direction.” Then, just pages later, he concludes that “the United States needs to maintain its forward deployment, superior military forces and technological edge, its economic strength and engagement with the region, its alliances, and its enhanced relationships with other emerging powers. Chinese analysts are likely to consider all these traits to be hostile to China.” 34 Another book describing the same period, The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Refine American Power, by James Mann, reveals that although President Obama sought to engage China, his administration was increasingly ‘irked’ by various Chinese moves, from its assertive declarations about the South China Sea to the cyber-attacks assumed to originate from within its borders. In response, the Obama Administration is reported to have ‘stiffened’ both its rhetoric and diplomatic stance towards China.

For example, in response to Beijing’s pronouncement that the South China Sea represented one of China’s ‘core interests,’ Secretary of State Clinton told an audience at the 2010 ASEAN meeting that freedom of navigation in the seas was a ‘national interest’ of the United States. She also delivered a speech criticizing China’s abuse of Internet freedom and argued that such nations “should face consequences and international condemnation.” It is reported that State Department officials, who generally sought to avoid conflict with China, “absolutely hated” the speech.35 If such a speech caused Not too hot, not too cold makes for good porridge, but is not a clear guideline for foreign policy. tensions to flare up in the department, it is not hard to imagine the outcry that would have followed had the administration approved ASB—that is, if it was considered in the first place.

Yet in Mann’s account of the period under study there is no reference to either ASB or the strategy it implies—or to what a former Pentagon official called a White House “buy in.” 36 A third book covering the same era, Bending History: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy, confirms with much nuance what the other two books report. It discusses the White House ‘toughening,’ its reaction to what were viewed by many as assertive moves by the Chinese, such as its aggressive action in the South China Sea in 2010, and President Hu Jintao’s refusal to condemn North Korea’s torpedo attack on a South Korean warship.37 Here again, it is reported that the White House and State Department reacted by chang- ing the tone of the speeches. For instance, in a thinly veiled criticism of China, Obama stated in 2011 that “prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty.” 38

The administration also intensified the United States’ participation in ASEAN and the East Asia Summit (EAS) and encouraged—but only indirectly and cautiously—countries in the region to deal with China on a multilateral rather than bilateral basis in resolving territorial disputes. The Obama administration also ramped up U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, a free trade agreement that at least initially would exclude China, and is thought by many to be a counterbalance to China’s ex- tensive bilateral trade relationships in the region. Furthermore, the president paid of- ficial visits to both Burma and Cambodia—two nations that have distanced themselves from China in recent years. All these are typical diplomatic moves, some of which have economic implications, but not part of a preparation of the kinds of confrontational relationship ASB presumes.

The Obama administration never formulated a coherent, consistent, proactive China strategy and its policies were primarily reactive. In his book Confront and Conceal, David E. Sanger confirms what these three accounts suggest: the Obama administration never formulated a coherent, consistent, proactive China strategy and its policies were primarily reactive.39 And, this well-placed source also lacks any mention of a review of AirSea Battle and the military strategy it implies. Congress held a considerable number of hearings about China in 2008 and in the years that followed. However, the main focus of these hearings was on economic issues such as trade, job losses due to com- panies moving them overseas, the U.S. dependency on China for financing the debt, Chinese currency controls, and Chinese violations of intellectual prop- erty and human rights. In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2012, Admiral Robert F. Willard spoke of the potential challenges posed by China’s A2/AD capabilities, but made no sional China Caucus, wrote to Secretary of Defense Panetta in November 2011 that “[d]espite reports throughout 2011 AirSea Battle had been completed in an executive summary form, to my knowledge Members of Congress have yet to be briefed on  its conclusions or in any way made a part of the process.” 40

In the same month, Sen. Lieberman (I–CT) co-sponsored an amendment to the Fiscal 2012 Defense Author- ization Bill that required a report on the implementation of and costs associated with the AirSea Battle Concept. It passed unanimously, but as of April 2013, such a report has yet to be released.41 In the public sphere there was no debate—led by either think tanks or public intel- lectuals—like that which is ongoing over whether or not to use the military option against Iran’s nuclear program, or the debate surrounding the 2009 surge of troops in Afghanistan. ASB did receive a modicum of critical examination from a small number of military analysts. However, most observers who can spell the ins-and-outs of using drones or bombing Iran—have no position on ASB or its implications for U.S.-China relations and the world order, simply because they do not know about it. A December 11, 2012 search of Google brings up 15,800,000 hits for “U.S. drone strikes”; a search for “AirSea Battle”: less than 200,000.

In Googlish, this amounts to being unknown, and suggests this significant military shift is simply not on the wider public’s radar. The Pivot: An Exception that Proves the Rule In November 2011, President Obama announced that, with the wars in the Middle East coming to a close, his national security team was to make the U.S. “presence and mission in the Asia-Pacific a top priority.” 42 At first blush it might seem that this dramatic change in strategic focus was very much in line with the one the Pentagon has been developing intensely since 2008. In reality, this rebalancing can be interpreted in several ways—none of which support the conclusion that the pivot amounted to an endorsement of ASB. One possible view of the pivot is that it was very much in line with the President’s long- standing view—one he expressed even before he was elected—that Asia, as the heart of the global economy, was of growing importance to the United States. Hence, as he was freeing the United States from its engagement in Iraq and from Afghanistan, the time had come to shift priorities.

Moreover, immediately after declaring the Asia-Pacific a top priority, Obama assured that “reductions in U.S. defense spending will not—I repeat, will not—come at the expense of the Asia-Pacific . . . we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.” 43 At the same time, the United States secured an agreement with Australia which provided for the rotation of 2,500 Marines through the northern port city of Darwin and announced that 60 percent of the Navy would be positioned in the Pacific by 2020—up from 50 percent moves highlighting that there were indeed a few military accouterments to the pivot. Critics attacked this take on the pivot from two vantage points. Some saw it as hollow, “all hat and no cattle” as one Texan military officer put it in a private conversation with the author. Sending some 2,500 Marines adds little to overall U.S. forces in the area, which already amount to some 320,000 troops. Some of those Marines are actually being moved away from Okinawa to Australia—some 2,600 miles from China. The re-berthing of a few ships does not display a significant power shift. All the rest of the pivot was—to parrot a criticism often raised against Obama—eloquent talk with little follow-through.

Others see the pivot as merely political maneuvering during an intense election campaign, undertaken to fend off the GOP’s repeated charge that the Democrats are soft on defense. The Obama administration removed U.S. troops from Iraq, but the unstable Iraqi regime—tilting toward Iran and refusing to allow the United States to keep bases in Iraq—made it difficult to present the withdrawal as a victory. The great difficulties the administration encountered in Afghanistan and Pakistan also did not make for a compelling election picture either. Furthermore, the Arab Awakening was looking more and more like a loss for the United States at least in the short run. Nations that used to be reliable allies, in particular Egypt, were (and continue to be) in a state of disarray, and the turmoil in Syria presented the war-weary United States with only poor options. In this context, shifting attention from the Near to the Far East, in which the United States could throw its weight around—at least in the short term—was a safe bet, as long as it involved only a few new outlays and mainly the repositioning of assets already in hand let alone the implementation of the AirSea Battle concept.

Moreover, in November 2012 during the only presidential election debate dedicated to foreign policy, no reference was made to preparations for a war with China. Governor Romney repeatedly stated that he was going to be tougher on China than President Obama by declaring it a currency manipulator on his first day in office—a hard line stance but one focused exclusively on economic matters. President Obama cited the increased trade sanctions bought against China by his administration and said that his “pivot” policy sent a “very clear signal” to China that the United States is and will remain a Pacific power.44 But no more. In short, however one interprets the “pivot” to Asia, it clearly does not constitute an endorsement, let alone the implementation of the AirSea Battle concept, and the strategy it implies. In Conclusion I am not arguing that the U.S. military is seeking out war or intentionally usurping the role of the highest civilian authorities. Information about the rise of China as an economic and military power is open to a range of interpretations. And the Pentagon is discharging its duties when it identifies new threats and suggests ways to respond to them.

Moreover, civilians—including two Secretaries of Defense—have endorsed ASB and arguably the strategy it implies. But while ASB should not be dismissed on the grounds that it is merely an attempt to secure a mission and funds for the military, there is room to question whether the threats have been overstated and to ask if the Pentagon-favored response is the right strategy. The time has come for the White House and Congress to reassess both the threat and the suggested response. Four areas ought to be considered in such a review process: (i) While the economy of China does not by itself determine its military strength, it does constrain its options. One would be wise to take into account that China’s per capita GDP is far below that of the United States, and that to maintain support, the Communist Party needs to house, feed, clothe, and otherwise serve four times more people than the United States—on top of dealing with major environmental strains, an aging population, a high level of corruption, and growing social unrest.45 (ii)

The military modernization of China often provokes concerns that it is ‘catching up.’ Although it is true that China has increased military spending, the budget for the PLA started well behind that of the U.S. military and China’s defense spending is still dwarfed by that of the United States. (iii) Moreover, whatever its capabilities, China’s intentions are rele- vant. China shows little interest in managing global affairs or imposing its ideology on other nations. Instead, China has shown a strong interest in secur- ing the flow of raw materials and energy on which is economy depends. However, the United States can accommodate this core interest without endan- gering its security by facilitating China’s efforts to secure energy deals in the global marketplace and pathways for the flow of resources (by constructing pipelines, railways, and new ports in places such as Pakistan)—rather than seeking to block them. (iv) Finally, it is widely agreed that the United States can no longer afford to fight two major wars. Hence, one must note that the most urgent threats to U.S. security are—almost all of which can be found in the Near and Middle—not Far—East.46 It is up to the serious media, think tanks, public intellectuals and leaders of social political movements to urge for such a comprehensive review, and to counter the gradual slide toward war that the Pentagon is effecting—even if its intention may well be to promote peace through strength.

It is up to the serious media, think tanks, public intellectuals and leaders of social political movements to urge for such a comprehensive review, and to counter the gradual slide toward war that the Pentagon is effecting—even if its intention may well be to promote peace through strength.

Amitai Etzioni is University Professor and Professor of International Affairs at The George Washington University. He is the author of Hot Spots: American Foreign Policy in a Post-Human Rights World, Security First, and From Empire to Community. He has served as a Senior Advisor to the White House and as President of the American Sociological Association. He has taught at Columbia, Harvard and Berkeley. Summer 2013.


1 Ronald O’Rourke, “China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, December 10, 2012, p. 3, available at sgp/crs/row/RL33153.pdf 2 RichardHalloran,“PACAF’S“Vision”Thing,”AirForceMagazine,January2009,availableat com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2009/January%202009/0109vision.aspx 3 Kyle D. Christensen, “Strategic Developments In The Western Pacific: Anti-Access/Area Denial And The Airsea Battle Concept,” Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, vol. 14, no. 3 (2012), 10. 4 U.S.DepartmentofDefense,QuadrennialDefenseReviewReport(WashingtonDC:GovernmentPrintingOffice,February 2010), 32. 5 General Norton A. Schwartz, “Air-Sea Battle Doctrine: A Discussion with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and Chief of Naval Operations,” speech, The Brookings Institution, May 16, 2012, transcript available at http://www.brookings. edu/~/media/events/2012/5/16%20air%20sea%20battle/20120516_air_sea_doctrine_corrected_transcript.pdf 6 Jan Van Tol et al., AirSea Battle: A Point-Departure Operational Concept, (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2010), 66. Summer 2013 497 Van Tol et al., AirSea Battle, 34. 8 Hugh White, The China Choice: Why America Should Share Power (Melbourne: Black Inc., 2012), 78. 9 Joshua Rovner, “Three Paths to Nuclear Escalation with China,” National Interest, July 19, 2012, available at http:// 10 Van Tol et al., AirSea Battle, 90–91. 11 Todd Harrison, Analysis of the FY 2013 Defense Budget and Sequestration (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2012), 4. 12 Kristina Wong, “Foot soldiers march their way into new Air Sea Battle concept” Washington Times, September 30, 2012, available at bat/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS 13 NortonA.SchwartzandJonathanW.Greenert,“Air-SeaBattle,PromotingStabilityInAnEraofUncertainty,”TheAmerican Interest, February 20, 2012, available at 14 Admiral Jonathon Greenert, “Air-Sea Battle Doctrine: A Discussion with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and Chief of Naval Operations,” video, The Brookings Institution, May 16, 2012, transcript available at http://www.brookings. edu/~/media/events/2012/5/16%20air%20sea%20battle/20120516_air_sea_doctrine_corrected_transcript.pdf 15 Elizabeth Bumiller, “Smaller Navy Ship Has a Rocky Past and Key Support,” New York Times, April 5, 2012, available at html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 16 O’Rourke, “China Naval Modernization,” 92. 17 Harry Kazianis, “AirSea Battle’s identity crisis,” The Geopolitical Conflict Report, September 13, 2011, available at http:// 18 U.S. Department of Defense, “Background Briefing on Air-Sea Battle by Defense Officials from the Pentagon,” (news brief) November 9, 2011, transcript available at 19 Philip Ewing, “The rise and fall of Air-Sea Battle,” DODBuzz, May 17, 2012, available at http://www.dodbuzz. com/2012/05/17/the-rise-and-fall-of-air-sea-battle/ 20 J. Noel Williams, “Air-Sea Battle: An operational concept looking for a strategy,” Armed Forces Journal (September 2011), available at 21 Greg Jaffe, “U.S. model for a future war fans tensions with China and inside Pentagon,” Washington Post, August 1, 2012, available at pentagon 22 Jeffrey Kline and Wayne Hughes, “Between Peace and Air-Sea Battle: A War at Sea Strategy,” Naval War College Review, vol. 65, no. 4 (2012), 36. 23 T. X. Hammes, “Strategy for an Unthinkable Conflict,” The Diplomat, July 27, 2012, available at http://thediplomat. com/flashpoints-blog/2012/07/27/military-strategy-for-an-unthinkable-conflict/ 24 Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “Cartwright Targets F-35, AirSea Battle; Warns of $250B More Cuts,” AOL Defense, May 15, 2012, available at 25 Jaffe, “U.S. model for a future war.” (A reviewer of this paper from a military think tank commented that “incalculable” was an over statement, that such a war would be only “very destructive.” I stand corrected.) 26 “Pentagon to Weigh Sending Extra Subs, Bombers to Asia-Pacific,” Global Security Newswire, August 2, 2012, available at 27 Raoul Heinrichs, “America’s Dangerous Battle Plan,” The Diplomat, August 17, 2012, available at http://thediplomat. com/2011/08/17/america%E2%80%99s-dangerous-battle-plan/ 28 T. X. Hammes, “Offshore Control: A Proposed Strategy for an Unlikely Conflict,” Strategic Forum No. 258 (National Defense University Institute for National and Strategic Studies, 2012), 2. 29 Dan Blumenthal, “The US Response to China’s Military Modernization,” in Strategic Asia 2012-13: China’s Military Challenge, ed. Ashley Tellis and Travis Tanner (Washington, DC: The National Bureau of Asian Research, 2013). 30 Andrew F. Krepinevich, “Strategy in a Time of Austerity: Why the Pentagon Should Focus on Assuring Access,” Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, November 1, 2012, available at in-a-time-of-austerity-why-the-pentagon-should-focus-on-assuring-access/3/ 31 Andrew F. Krepinevich, interview with author, December 3, 2012. 32 Jeffrey A. Bader, Obama and China’s Rise: An Insider’s Account of America’s Asia Strategy (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 2012), 7. 33 Bader, Obama and China’s Rise, 3. 34 Bader, Obama and China’s Rise, 147–150. 35 James Mann, The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power (New York: Penguin Group, 2012), 245. 36 Andrew F. Krepinevich, interview with author, December 3, 2012. 37 MartinS.Indyk,BendingHistory:BarackObama’sForeignPolicy(Wasingtonton,DC,TheBrookingsInstitution,2012),38–41. 38 “President Obama Speaks at the University of Indonesia,” DipNote: U.S. State Department Official Blog, November 10, 2010, available at 50 Yale Journal of InternatIonal affaIrS.  39 David E. Sanger, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power (New York: Random House, 2012). 40 J. Randy Forbes, Letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, November 7, 2011, available at uploadedfiles/panetta_asb.pdf 41 None of this prevented the two hawkish senators from championing ASB. See J. Randy Forbes, “AirSea Office Must Battle Through, Or Fail,” AOL Defense, September 13, 2012, available at must-battle-through-or-fail-rep-j-randy-forbes/ andJosephLieberman,“PeacethroughStrengthAmericanLeadership in Asia Pacific,” speech, The Heritage Foundation’s Annual B.C. Lee Lecture on U.S. Policy in the Asia-Pacific, November 2, 2012, transcript available at in-asia-pacific/ 42 “Remarks By President Obama to the Australian Parliament,” The White House Office of the Press Secretary, Canberra Australia, November 17, 2011, available at president-obama-australian-parliament 43 Remarks By President Obama to the Australian Parliament.” 44 “Transcript: Presidential debate on foreign policy at Lynn University,” Fox News, October 22, 2012, available at http:// 45 For more discussion, see Amitai Etzioni, “Accommodating China,” Survival, vol. 55, no. 2 (2013). 46 For more discussion, see Amitai Etzioni, Hot Spots: American Foreign Policy in a Post-Human Rights World (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2012). REFERENCES Bader, Jeffrey, A. Obama and China’s Rise: An Insider’s Account of America’s Asia Strategy. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 2012. Blumenthal, Dan. “The US Response to China’s Military Modernization.” Strategic Asia 2012–13: China’s Military Challenge (2013). Etzioni, Amitai. Hot Spots: American Foreign Policy in a Post-Human Rights World. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2012. Forbes, Randy, J. Randy J. Forbes to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, November 7, 2011, Letter. uploadedfiles/panetta_asb.pdf Greenert, Jonathan. “Air-Sea Battle Doctrine: A Discussion with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and Chief of Naval Operations,” lecture presented at The Brookings Institution, May 16, 2012. Hammes, T.X. “Offshore Control: A Proposed Strategy for an Unlikely Conflict.” Strategic Forum, No. 258 (2012): 2. Harrison, Todd. “Analysis of the FY 2013 Defense Budget and Sequestration.” Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, (2012). Indyk, Martin S. Bending History: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy. Washington, DC : The Brookings Institution, 2012. Jan Van Tol et al., AirSea Battle: A Point-Departure Operational Concept. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2010. Kazianis, Harry. “AirSea Battle’s identity crisis,” The Geopolitical Conflict Report. ( 2011) analysis/194-airsea-battles-identity-crisis Kline, Jeffrey , Hughes, Wayne. “Between Peace and Air-Sea Battle: A War at Sea Strategy.” Naval War College Review, vol. 65, no. 4 (2012): 36. Mann, James. The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power. New York: Penguin Group, 2012. Obama, President Barack. “Remarks By President Obama to the Australian Parliament.” The White House Office of the Press Secretary, Canberra, Australia, November 17, 2011. remarks-president-obama-australian-parliament O’Rourke, Ronald “China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress.” Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, (2008). Shwartz, Norton. “Air-Sea Battle Doctrine: A Discussion with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and Chief of Naval Operations.” Lecture presented at The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, May 16, 2012. events/2012/5/16%20air%20sea%20battle/20120516_air_sea_doctrine_corrected_transcript.pdf U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, (2010). U.S. Department of Defense. “Background Briefing on Air-Sea Battle by Defense Officials from the Pentagon.” http://www. (2011). White, Hugh. The China Choice: Why America Should Share Power. Melbourne: Black Inc., (2012.) Williams, Noel J. “Air-Sea Battle: An operational concept looking for a strategy.” Armed Forces Journal. (2011). http://www. Summer 2013 51.
Daniel Tam Claiborne served as Lead Editor for this article on SSRN

RCEP Trading

Developing Your China Trade with Japan and South Korea Under RCEP

Chris Devonshire-Ellis

China’s tariff commitments to Japan and South Korea under RCEP is expected to boost their bilateral trade flows and create multilateral trade opportunities.

In November 2020, China, the 10 ASEAN members, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia signed the long-awaited Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement.

While most signatory countries have existing free trade agreements (FTAs) with each other – even prior – the RCEP’s multilateral agreement is the first ever FTA between China and Japan as well as between Japan and South Korea. Thus, the conclusion of the RCEP agreement also raises hopes for a trilateral free trade deal between these three East Asian economies, which has been under negotiation for as long as the RCEP.

China, Japan, and South Korea, as the world’s second, third, and 12th largest economies, respectively. Together, they account for more than 80 percent of the total GDP of the RCEP region and nearly 70 percent of the total population of the RCEP signatory countries.

However, the trio’s trade within the RCEP region accounted for only 19.8 percent of their total global trade in 2018; in comparison, this is lower than the 45.2 percent share for other RCEP countries within the region out of their global trade and the 60.7 percent for the EU within the EU region out of the EU countries’ global trade.

Market analysts expect there will be great potential for economic and trade cooperation opportunities among China, Japan, and S. Korea as well as between the trio and other RCEP members with the effectiveness of the Agreement.

Trade flow between China, Japan, and South Korea

China has long been the largest trading partner of Japan and South Korea. Chinese products made up more than 23 percent of the total imports of Japan and South Korea in 2020. And over 22 percent of Japanese exports and 25 percent of South Korean exports flowed into the Chinese market last year.

Japan and South Korea also feature on China’s top five trading partners’ list.

In 2020, Japan and South Korea were the second- and third- largest exporters to Chinese markets, respectively. They were also the third- and fifth-largest export destinations for Chinese goods.

China-Japan trade data and tariff commitments

In 2019, Japanese exports to China were worth US$128 billion. The top five categories of Japanese goods exported to China were machines (US$52.6 billion), chemical products (US$17 billion), vehicles and their parts (US$14.2 billion), instruments and apparatus (US$14.1 billion), and plastics and rubbers (US$9.02 billion).

The most popular Japanese goods for Chinese markets included machinery having individual functions (US$8.5 billion), cars (US$7.51 billion), and integrated circuits (US$7.24 billion).

In turn, China sold goods worth US$152 billion to Japan the year in 2019. The top five categories of Chinese exports to Japan were machines (US$66.6 billion), textiles (US$19.4 billion), chemical products (US$8.76 billion), metals (US$9.32 billion), and foodstuff (US$5.42 billion).

Main Chinese export products to Japan were broadcasting equipment (US$11.5 billion), computers (US$10.1 billion), and office machine parts (US$4.32 billion).

China-Japan tariff commitments

Because Japan and China had never signed an FTA, trade tariffs between China and Japan adopt the most favored nation treatment (MFN) standard stipulated by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

According to data from the World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) in 2018, among China’s imports from Japan, 7.79 percent of the number of tariff items are duty-free; on the contrary, 59.98 percent of the number of Chinese tariff items are free from Japanese tariffs.

After the RCEP comes into effect, under China’s Schedule of Tariff Commitments, China will ultimately cut tariffs to zero on 86 percent of Japanese goods (a big increase from around eight percent, which is the case currently). Under Japan’s Schedule of Tariff Commitments, Japan will eventually cut tariffs to zero on 88 percent of Chinese goods (a fair increase from the current around 60 percent).
Under the framework of the RCEP, each member country, based on their Schedules, will abolish tariffs on specific products imported from other RCEP members, in phases, over a transition period of about 20 years.

According to the Schedules of China and Japan, soon after the RCEP agreement takes effect – a) minerals, textiles and clothing, chemicals, and metals exported from Japan to China and plastics and b) rubbers, textiles and clothing, and chemicals exported from China to Japan – are expected to enjoy zero or reduced tariffs.

China promised to gradually reduce tariffs on imports of Japanese products to zero in the first, the 11th, the 16th, and the 21st year upon the effectiveness of the RCEP agreement.

In the first year, Chinese will further impose zero tariff on 68.7 percent of the number of tariff line items of Japanese minerals, 38.1 percent of the chemical products, 32.8 percent of fuels, and 30.8 percent of metals.

In the first 11 years, 83.3 percent of the number of tariff line items of textile and clothing, 82.6 percent of chemical products, 75.4 percent of mineral products, 74.8 percent of base metals and their products, and 72.6 percent of leather goods, will be gradually subject to zero tariff.

Eventually, after 21 years’ effectiveness of the RCEP, the percentage of newly added duty-free items in all categories of Japanese products, except wood products and transport products, will be above 65 percent.

In return, Japan has also pledged to gradually reduce tariffs on most Chinese imports to zero over a period of more than 20 years.

In fact, so far, most of Chinese machinery, electronics, and transport products have already enjoyed zero MFN tariff rates when exporting to Japan. In the first year after the RCEP enters into force, 99.57 percent of Chinese machinery products and 100 percent of Chinese transport products will receive zero-tariff treatment from Japan, as well as 97.4 percent of the number of tariff line items of mineral products and 85.02 percent of stone and glass products.

In the first 11 years, Japanese tariffs on 53.7 percent of plastic and rubber products, 34.2 percent of textile and clothing products, and 20.3 percent of chemical products will be gradually reduced to zero.

Eventually, within 21 years, 62.1 percent of Chinese textiles, 58.5 percent of plastics and rubbers, 50.0 percent of footwear products, and 41.8 percent of leather products will enjoy zero Japanese tariff. The percentage of the number of duty-free items of the five categories – food, beverage, tobacco, and liquor, animal products, fuels, chemicals, and plant-based products – will reach more than 20 percent.

China, South Korea trade data and tariff commitment

China-South Korea trade data

In 2019, South Korea exported worth US$136 billion to China. The five big categories of South Korean products exported to China are machines (US$70.5 billion), chemical products (US$18.7 billion), instruments (US$11.4 billion), plastics and rubbers (US$10.5 billion), and mineral products (US$8.56 billion).

The main products exported to China are integrated circuits (US$33.8 billion), refined petroleum (US$6.5 billion), cyclic hydrocarbons (US$6.36 billion), machinery having individual functions (US$6.1 billion), and LCDs (US$5.27 billion).

China exported worth US$108 billion to South Korea, including machines (US$52.3 billion), metals (US$11.4 billion), chemical products (US$9.54 billion), textiles (US$7.07 billion), and instruments (US$3.72 billion).

Similar to what are exported to Japan, the main products that China exported to South Korea were integrated circuits (US$15.1 billion), broadcasting equipment (US$4.85 billion), and office machine parts (US$3.69B).

China-South Korea tariff commitment

China and South Korea already have an existing bilateral FTA – the China-South Korea FTA, which came into effect on December 20, 2015. So, there is limited space for the two sides to expand their zero-tariff products or increase tariff cuts under the RCEP.

Nevertheless, South Korea will further cut tariffs on Chinese deer antler, dextrin, and scallop to zero, and reduce tariff on Chinese products, such as clothing and ceramic tiles. China will impose zero tariff on textiles and stainless steel from South Korea, while some tariffs have been reduced on South Korean generators and auto parts.

Chris is the Founding Partner of Dezan Shira & Associates and has a 30-year career advising foreign investors in Asia. He may be contacted at His new book, "Identifying Opportunities Within the Belt & Road Initiative" has just been published and may be downloaded for free from the Asia Briefing bookstore here.


Mao's Regret

Above: Mao & US Ambassador Patrick J. Hurley (back row),1945
How FDR Was Manipulated and Betrayed by His Own Naval Intelligence Chief in the Fateful
Last Months of WWII

James Bradley 

Unknown for decades, declassified documents show that FDR’s mail was deliberately diverted and falsified to prevent a historic meeting with Mao Zedong that might have shortened the war, changed history, and reshaped the modern world.

Historians cite the 1972 meeting between Mao Zedong and Richard Nixon as the original spark for U.S.-China Globalization in which the U.S. and China began cooperating to industrialize China and integrate the two countries’ economies. But a much younger Mao Zedong had tried to interest President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on Globalization 27 years earlier, and history would have turned out differently if Roosevelt had agreed. The Korean and Vietnam Wars—which resulted in millions of deaths—could have been avoided along with the Taiwan Straits crisis of 1958, which nearly resulted in a nuclear apocalypse, and Taiwan would not have been separated from Mother China.

On January 9, 1945, Mao reached out from his headquarter in Yan’an to President Roosevelt. U.S. Army Major Ray Cromley—acting chief of the U.S. mission in Yan’an— forwarded this message to U.S. Army headquarters in Chungking: "Mao and Zhou will be immediately available either singly or together for exploratory conference at Washington should President Roosevelt express desire to receive them at White House as leaders of a primary Chinese party".

At this time Mao Zedong was a vibrant 51-year-old at the height of his powers. Washington officials at this moment knew little about the twentieth century’s largest revolution as it developed from embryo to maturity. Mao had transformed Yan’an, which six years earlier most Chinese had never heard of, into a base which American tanks and airplanes could not threaten and also made it into one of China’s largest educational centers.

Mao founded the University of Resistance, which graduated more than 10,000 students a year. He built primary schools, middle schools, three colleges, the largest arts academy in China, and a vocational training school. A publishing house—hidden deep in the loess hills—printed books, magazines, and newspapers. A factory produced many types of medicines. Mao created the Women’s University, housed in a series of caves connected by internal walkways.

In contrast, Franklin Roosevelt was a sickly 62-year-old just weeks from death, struggling to comprehend events in his administration. Two months after Mao had reached out to him, a grey and worn FDR appeared before a joint session of Congress on March 1 to report the Yalta agreement. Observers were taken aback to see the diminished president seated in his wheelchair, the first time he had done so when addressing Congress.

Roosevelt explained, “I have just completed a fourteen-thousand-mile trip.” When FDR met with Vice President Harry Truman, Roosevelt’s hands shook so much that he could not drink a cup of coffee without spilling it.

General Albert Wedemeyer recorded his thoughts after a meeting in the White House: “I had not seen the President for several months and was shocked at his physical appearance. His color was ashen, his face drawn, and his jaw drooping. I had difficulty in conveying information to him because he seemed in a daze. Several times I repeated the same idea because his mind did not seem to retain or register.”
Chiang Kai-shek, Mayling Soong, and General Joseph Stilwell, Chiang's Chief of Staff. General Stilwell said of Chiang: “The trouble in China is simple: We are allied to an ignorant, illiterate, superstitious, peasant son of a bitch.”

Many American observers—like General Joseph Stilwell and the State Department China Hands—sensed the political reality in China and understood that Mao was much more than a “leader of a primary Chinese party.”

Time magazine’s founder, Henry Luce, was born of missionary parents in China and pushed Chiang’s fake news on America. Chiang employed sharp minds from America’s finest universities in his propaganda unit.  The truth was that Mao was about to claim the Mandate of Heaven and become China’s next Emperor. This was not only because of his revolutionary policies but also because the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had played a central role in the defeat of the Japanese invaders, while Chiang had used U.S. aid to fight the communists.

But back in Washington, Roosevelt—like most Americans—was oblivious to the CCP’s political strength and believed in the China mirage.

America’s China mirage began in the early 1800s. American merchants and missionaries believed that poor China was collapsing like an old barn. And what better way for China to heal than to emulate up-and-coming America and embrace Capitalism and Christianity.

In a Washington press conference with Madame Chiang Kai-shek at his side, President Roosevelt told this whopper to the American people: "The people of China well over a century have been, in thought and in objective, closer to us Americans than almost any other peoples in the world—the same great ideals. China, in the last—less than half a century has become one of the great democracies of the world".

FDR was mouthing gibberish, but maybe the cause was “hopium.” The Soong family had bankrolled Chiang Kai-shek and had convinced FDR that Chiang yearned to be a democrat in Roosevelt’s image and that the Chinese people wished to be just like Americans. The Soong family’s China Lobby understood America’s China mirage, they had all been schooled in East Coast universities, including FDR’s Harvard. They cooed to FDR about the inevitable Americanization of China and presented their front man—Chiang Kai-shek—as FDR’s vehicle to inject trickle-down Christianity and Capitalism into China. Roosevelt was convinced that he would make China America’s best friend in Asia. Others outside the glare of America’s China mirage were more realistic. Prime Minister Winston Churchill referred to FDR’s China dream as “the Great American illusion.”

In England, the British enjoyed a radio comedy program that featured a Chiang Kai-shek character named General Cash My Cheque. Yet FDR expended more taxpayer funds on his Chiang-China mirage than he did on the Atom Bomb. Time magazine referred to the dictator and his wife as “Southern Methodist Chiang” and “Christian Miss Soong.” The late David Halberstam described America’s China mirage of the 1930s and 1940s:

The China that existed in the minds of millions of Americans was the most illusory of countries, filled as it was with dutiful, obedient peasants who liked America and loved Americans, who longed for nothing so much as to be like them. It was a country where ordinary peasants allegedly hoped to be more Christian and were eager, despite the considerable obstacles in their way, to rise out of what Americans considered a heathen past. Millions of Americans believed not only that they loved (and understood) China and the Chinese, but also that it was their duty to Americanize the Chinese. “With God’s help, we will lift Shanghai up and up, ever up until it is just like Kansas City,” said Senator Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska. . . .

Two Chinas 

There was the China in the American public mind, a China as Americans wanted it to be, and the other China, the real China…. The illusory China was a heroic ally, ruled by the brave, industrious, Christian, pro-American Chiang Kai-shek …By 1945, Mao oversaw an empire of one hundred million, about twice the population of Britain, but FDR incorrectly judged that Chiang would be the Chinese people’s choice and Mao a disaffected party.

Mao Zedong had reached out to the American president through FDR’s representatives at Mao’s base, the U.S. Army. Unknown for decades was that confidential U.S. Navy operators commanded by Captain Milton “Mary” Miles of U.S. Navy Intelligence diverted the U.S. Army-generated cable and handed it over to the head of Chiang’s secret police, Mr. Dai Li. Captain Miles and Dai Li rewrote the memo to make it appear that Mao was attempting to discredit U.S. Ambassador Patrick Hurley in FDR’s eyes.

Neither Mao Zedong, Ambassador Hurley nor FDR ever realized that their relations had been manipulated by U.S. Naval Intelligence and Chiang’s Gestapo. FDR was soon dead, and millions would die in preventable conflicts—the Chinese Civil War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War—before the U.S. would embrace Mao’s vision. We know the vision Mao would have presented to FDR because Mao had sketched his dream to a brilliant U.S. State Department representative just months earlier who spent hours with China’s presumptive leader and took copious notes.
Zhou Enlai, Zhu De, John Service, Mao Zedong, unknown. The U.S. State Department later fired all Americans who had spoken to Mao.

In August 1944, Mao and John Service met in Mao’s Yan’an cave home. For eight intense hours—with a break for dinner cooked by Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing—John Service had more substantive conversations with Mao than any other American government official would have for the next quarter century.
John Service was an excellent choice to be America’s interlocutor with Mao Zedong. Born in China, the 35-year-old Service was fluent in a handful of Chinese dialects. Service had dealt often with Chiang and Mao. He had also traveled the country by public transport to plumb the attitudes of the ordinary Chinese. Service and General Stilwell—along with many other Americans in China—understood that continued support of Chiang would put the U.S. on the wrong side of history, that whatever the U.S did in China, Mao was destined to claim the Mandate of Heaven.

In his cave home Mao told Service what was obvious to many American officials in China: “Chiang Kai-shek was elected President by only ninety members of a single party … even Hitler has a better claim to democratic power … fundamentally he is a gangster…. Chiang holds the bayonets and the secret police … The fact is clear … that China’s political tendency is towards us….”

Mao told Service why he preferred Wall Street over Russian borscht: "The Russians have suffered greatly in the war and will have their hands full with their own job of rebuilding. We do not expect Russian help.

Mao then sketched a win-win relationship between the U.S. and China: "China must industrialize. This can be done—in China—only by free enterprise and with the aid of foreign capital…. Chinese and American interests are correlated and similar. They fit together, economically and politically. We can and must work together … we will be interested in the most rapid possible development of the country on constructive and productive lines. America does not need to fear that we will not be cooperative. We must cooperate and we must have American help … we cannot risk crossing you—cannot risk any conflict with you".

Two months after his cable to FDR had been spiked, Mao Zedong met with John Service once more, again pleading for U.S.-China friendship: "Between the people of China and the people of the United States there are strong ties of sympathy, understanding and mutual interest…. China’s greatest postwar need is economic development. She lacks the capitalistic foundation necessary to carry this out alone…. America and China complement each other economically; they will not compete … America is not only the most suitable country to assist this economic development of China, she is also the only country fully able to participate. For all these reasons there must not and cannot be any conflict, estrangement or misunderstanding between the Chinese people and America".

Mao extended the hand of friendship to Roosevelt through the highest-ranking U.S. Army and State Department officials to whom he had access. The vision he described was what we now call Globalization: the U.S. and China cooperating to industrialize China, with Russia a far distant partner.

Historians can argue that Mao was insincere, that he was sweet-talking Moscow at this same time. But Mao was much more a realist in search of power than a political ideologue. Support from the richest country on earth, the most industrialized World War II power with the world’s deepest pools of capital—doesn’t it make sense that a practical and ambitious Mao would have deserted Joe Stalin for FDR any day?

Imagine if Mao Zedong had been able to break through FDR’s China mirage and convince him that American Army and State officials were trying to show him the reality in China? Roosevelt cooperated with Soviet Communists, why not Chinese? Imagine no Chinese Civil War, no Korean War, no Vietnam War, no vexing Taiwan problem still dogging the world today?

One Washington official warned John Service that writing the truth about China was dangerous: “Jesus, Service! I read that thing of yours, and I certainly agree with you, but it is going to get you in a lot of trouble.”

In 1949 Mao shattered America’s China mirage when he claimed the Mandate of Heaven. His rise was a shock to Americans who, for 20 years, had been fed the mirage that China wanted Chiang Kai-shek. Rather than admit they had been self-deluded by the idea that the Chinese wanted to be just like them, Americans asked in shock, “Who lost China?”

John Service and others had accurately reported reality from WWII China, but they then ran head-on into the China mirage, an American belief system about China as old as the Republic. Soon the State Department fired all employees who spoke Chinese. Many years later, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara—the chief whiz-kid architect of the Vietnam War—observed:

Our government lacked experts for us to consult to compensate for our ignorance. When the Berlin crisis occurred in 1961 and during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, President Kennedy was able to turn to senior people … who knew the Soviets intimately. There were no senior officials in the Pentagon or State Department with comparable knowledge of Southeast Asia…. The irony of this gap was that it existed largely because the top East Asian and China experts in the State Department (such as John Service)—had been purged during the McCarthy hysteria of the 1950s.

Popular history credits the birth of U.S.-China cooperation and Globalization to President Richard Nixon. Lost in the mist of time was that the winning combination of American capital and technology and Chinese labor was an idea that Mao Zedong first suggested in 1944. A generation would pass before Nixon—motivated by the American quagmire in Vietnam and competition with Russia — came to a similar conclusion.

In 1971 Nixon announced his upcoming journey to the Middle Kingdom. Chinese leaders graciously remembered their American friends from the cave meetings in Yan’an. Premier Zhou Enlai welcomed John Service back to China. After he returned from China, John Service testified to the Senate:

My recent visit to China convinces me that the root of the current Chinese reality may be found in what we reported from Yan’an in 1944…. I think that our involvement in Vietnam, our insistence on the need to contain China and to prevent what we thought was the spread of Communist influence in Southeast Asia, was based very largely on our misunderstanding and our lack of knowledge of the Chinese, the nature of the Chinese Communist movement, and the intention of their leaders. We assumed that they were an aggressive country, and I don’t believe that they really have been, and, therefore, I think that we got into Vietnam largely, as I say, through the misinterpretation and misfounded fear of China.

If the United States in 1945 had been able to … shed some of its illusions about China, to understand what was happening in that country, and to adopt a realistic policy in America’s own interests, Korea and Vietnam would probably never have happened … We would not still be confronted with an unsolvable Taiwan problem …

No Korean and Vietnam Wars. No conflict now over Taiwan. As I write this, I am 67 years old. Raised in America during the 1950s and 1960s, I was taught that Mao Zedong had an irrational hatred for America. Covert Action Magazine.

James Bradley hosts the podcast Untold Pacific, featuring stories from his decades of experience in Asia. James is the author of the New York Times #1 best-selling book, Flags of Our Fathers (2000) that was made into a movie by Stephen Spielberg and Clint Eastwood. Bradley wrote three other critically acclaimed books about the United States in Asia: Flyboys, The Imperial Cruise and The China Mirage.


Beauty and..

Yoko Choy: In your preface, you write: “There is probably not a single Chinese architect who has not become a devotee of modern architecture after studying French master Le Corbusier’s collection of essays Vers Une Architecture (Towards a New Architecture).” Architecture in China has been developing rapidly over the past few decades; in your opinion, what is the “new architecture” in a Chinese context and how will it develop in the future?

Wang Shu: The question should be seen from multiple perspectives, especially since the “new architecture” that we refer to nowadays is quite different than it was 20 to 30 years ago. At that time, we were determined to pursue something extremely new and disruptive of the status quo because we were so dissatisfied with our reality. However, the concepts of “extremeness” and “disruptiveness” were based on Western architecture’s modernity. Since then, I have been asking the same question – what “new architecture” should we have in contemporary China?

One of the typical debates among architects from as early as the 1930s, as I recall, was about whether we should add a traditional Chinese roof to a new building. These debates are still ongoing, reflecting conflicting values between tradition and modernity. However, I believe the most crucial and urgent question for Chinese architects is spatial typology, which determines the relationship between culture, lifestyle, and space. The 20th century was a turbulent one for China, as society experienced drastic changes under an extreme ideological background. As a result, some architects concluded that past typologies were no longer relevant to the pursuit of “new architecture.”

Whether from the Soviet Union, Western Europe, or the US, the core practice of architecture built at that time was merely copied from the West; it was imported from abroad. We no longer have a typology of our own based on our cultural roots. This serious issue remains unresolved. I believe that an investigation of architectural typologies in a contemporary Chinese context is the starting point for any further development in our current architectural practices. The key question is how to establish a typology that inherits our longstanding traditions while adapting to China’s contemporary lifestyle. More.. Amazon.


The first–and only–book to explain all three elements of China's success: 
  1. Talent at the Top: Only the brightest, most idealistic people are are admitted to politics–a policy unchanged in 2200 years.
  2. Data in the Middle: policies are implemented, tracked, and optimized based on terabytes of data. The PRC is the world's largest consumer of public surveys.
  3. Democracy at the Bottom: ordinary people, all unpaid amateurs, assemble twice a year to check the stats and sign off on new legislation. Policies need a minimum of 66% support to become law. That's why 95% of Chinese say the country is on the right track.
The proof? There are more hungry children, more poor, homeless, drug addicted, and imprisoned people in America than in China.  

Why China Leads the World
investigates why the epidemic accelerated the change of global leadership from America to China and examines China’s bigger, steadier economy, its science leadership, stronger military, more powerful allies, and wider international support.

Crammed with charts, footnotes, and lengthy quotes, Why China Leads the World is a profoundly disturbing book that helps readers understand the tectonic shift and adapt to this new era–and even thrive in it.
The size of China's displacement of the world balance is such that the world must find a new balance. It is not possible to pretend that this is just another big player. This is the biggest player in the history of the world. Lee Kuan Yew: The Future of US-China Relations. The Atlantic.  
The Coronavirus accelerated the pace of change of global leadership from America to China. There are now more hungry children, more poor, homeless, drug addicted, and imprisoned people in America than in China. 

Suddenly, China's larger, steadier economy, its leadership in science, its stronger military, more powerful allies, and wider international support have handed it a lead that widens every day.  Crammed with direct quotes from its movers and shakers, charts, and footnotes, Why China Leads the World tells a remarkable tale, explains a tectonic shift, and helps you adapt to this new era, and even thrive in it. 
If we could just be China for one day we could actually authorize the right decisions. Thomas L. Friedman. The New York Times  

300 pages, 27 charts and graphs. $9.99 on Amazon and in bookstores worldwide.

The ISC Report

The ISC (Needham) Report

The Report of the International Scientific Commission for the Investigation of Facts Concerning Bacteriological Warfare in Korea and China (the ISC report), published at the height of the Korean War, validated claims by North Korea and China that the US had launched bacteriological warfare (biological warfare, BW) attacks against both troops and civilian targets in those two countries over a period of several months in 1952.

The most vilified document of the 20th Century.

The report’s release in September, 1952, brought a withering international attack. It was roundly denounced by American and British politicians of the highest rank, ridiculed by four star generals, accused of fraud by celebrated pundits, misquoted by notable scientists, and scorned by a compliant Western press. Charges were made against the quality and truthfulness of its science. Its “unstated” political agenda was denounced. The ethics of interviewing captured US pilots was excoriated and its authors were publicly flayed as communist dupes. The report was red baited in the US halls of Congress and deemed unpatriotic to read, and therefore went unread and deliberately forgotten over the years, which has been the fate of Korean War history in general. In subsequent decades, volumes placed in American university library collections were quietly and permanently removed from circulation.
When the rare copy came up for auction, it was discretely purchased and disappeared from public view. This critical 67 year old truth commission document from the Korean War was slipping towards oblivion. For these very reasons, historians and truth seekers should exalt the wondrous rebirth of the ISC Report from near extinction with the publication of this new electronic edition. We welcome the sunshine that re-publication brings to a shadowy and suppressed chapter of American Cold War history. (from the introduction by Thomas Powell) 800 pages.  $9.99.


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