Thu, 30 Nov 2023

Hong Kong, November 21 (ANI): Whether it is Australia, the Philippines or the USA, the government or the military, Beijing is intent on bluntly testing others' resolve to the utmost limit. This has been seen time and time again, most recently in dangerous activities by China's naval and law enforcement agencies, even while "dictator" Xi Jinping mouths soothing words of assurance to his Western counterparts.

The bottom line is that the words that flow so glibly from China's mouthpieces cannot be trusted. Recently, after meeting with Xi in California, President Joe Biden again termed him as a "dictator".

While China's government swiftly condemned this as "wrong and irresponsible political manipulation," the description was apt.Theresa Fallon, Director of the Centre for Russia Europe Asia Studies in Brussels, remarked: "The fact that Biden said that Xi is a dictator and that it made headlines demonstrates how effective the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) con has worked.

Wumao [the 50 Cent Army, a propaganda force paid by the Chinese government to post comments online] are pushing, 'We aren't really communist.' Meanwhile foreign business executives have to spend 30 per cent of their time studying Xi Jinping thought and are expected to read four Xi books a month and write book reports on them."The CCP loves to mirror the language of democratic institutions and to describe Xi as a president. However, China is an authoritarian state, with Xi at its head. China does not hold elections. Ironically, the CCP describes China as a form of "advanced" democracy - one so advanced that the prescient party knows what the people want long before them! In fact, China is a panopticon surveillance state over which Xi exercises absolute control.

In the wake of last week's Biden-Xi meeting in the USA, Ian Hall, Professor at the School of Government and International Relations at Griffiths University in Australia, shared: "...I don't think Beijing has any intention of normalizing things with the US or allies or partners. They want the photoshoots that make Xi look like a statesman, while they work to undermine and unravel the West's interests, wooing the developing world in parallel. Western CEOs cozying up to Xi whilst democracy activists are getting beaten up by CCP thugs on US soil: welcome to our brave new multipolar world."Three hundred of America's business elite - such as Elon Musk of Tesla, Tim Cook of Apple and Albert Bourla of Pfizer - crowded into the Hyatt Regency to meet Xi in San Francisco. Welcoming him with a standing ovation, they uncritically went into raptures when Xi proceeded to say that "China is ready to be a partner and friend of the US". This is so obviously not true, but little does the business community care. The problem is that too many put profits before principles, with such business leaders willing to toss aside their morals in order to make money.

Such adulation for Xi is inappropriate, especially when it so contradicts efforts by the US government to dissuade China from aggressive behavior. Furthermore, Xi arrived in California in a position weaker than what he is used to thanks to China's underperforming economy.

Ironically, China's business elite are not as gullible as America's. In the WeChat Index, a term for "run", which is widely used for emigrating out of China, experienced a remarkable surge on the same day that Xi met with Biden. On that day, the term's appearance rocketed 4411% in a single day! Moving out of China remains a cherished dream for many there.

In a telephonic briefing on 17 November, Daniel Kritenbrink, US State Department Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told ANI and other media: "The president and Xi Jinping have known each other for quite some time. They had frank and candid conversations in the bilateral meeting...Now, obviously, there are many areas where we disagree, but we find this direct leader-to-leader diplomacy is critical for maintaining channels of communication and responsibly managing competition."Kritenbrink continued: "Exchanges covered a wide range of important issues, including many difficult issues on which the United States and the PRC have differing views. President Biden raised concerns regarding the PRC, dangerous and unlawful actions in the South China Sea and the East China Sea ... President Biden underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait." Indeed, Biden said he expected cross-strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means, and he called for restraint in China's military activity near the Taiwan Strait.And what difference did such leader-to-leader talks on 15 November make? The following day, ten People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft and five PLA Navy (PLAN) vessels were detected around Taiwan, rising further to 21 aircraft and seven vessels by 20 November. In other words, there was no discernible decrease in PLA coercion against Taiwan.

The same pattern of a contradiction between Chinese words and actions was evident in Beijing's treatment of Australia. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited Beijing last week, a first visit by the country's top politician in seven years, but it attracted only lukewarm interest from Chinese media. Compared to 63 English-language and 90 Chinese-language articles that mentioned Albanese, there were 600 articles in Australia's press. Chinese articles reflected a controlled, top-down approach, many of which were cynical and questioned whether Australia would sacrifice its relations with China on the altar of friendship with the USA.

Alarmingly, even as Xi was hobnobbing with world leaders at the APEC summit in California, his navy was aggressively acting against an Australian naval vessel inside Japan's exclusive economic zone. Defence Minister Richard Marles accused the PLAN of "unsafe and unprofessional conduct" concerning the frigate HMAS Toowoomba. She had stopped to allow divers to clear fishing nets that had fouled her propellers on 14 November. This was communicated clearly to a Chinese destroyer, which approached closely and operated its hull-mounted sonar. These sonar pulses injured the naval divers and forced them to exit the water.

Chinese "naval expert" Zhang Junshe, quoted by the Global Times, made a mockery of his title when he ridiculously said, "Australia said it had fishing nets that had become entangled around its frigate's propellers. It shows that such a close-in reconnaissance attempt not only posed threats to China's national security, but also to the normal maritime work of fishing boats." Any seafarer knows that loose fishing nets are a common hazard on the high seas.

Dr. Malcolm Davis of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute fumed: "If it's not a deliberate attack by the PLAN/PRC against the Australian navy in international waters, then by all means allow China to make things right by apologizing. If that doesn't happen, then we must assume that in spite of the Australian navy giving the Chinese ship multiple warnings of diving operations under way, the Chinese deliberately attacked our personnel, knowing the impact it would have on them. The question then is how does the Australian government respond after our people have been attacked? Does trade matter more than national security? How do we prevent more aggression from Beijing, noting past incidents? How do we respond next time?."One positive sign to emerge from the Biden-Xi meeting was the reestablishment of military ties after Beijing cut them in the wake of former US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taipei last year. Kritenbrink noted: "The leaders agreed to establish military-to-military communications at high levels, at operational levels and between our theater commanders. These types of channels of communication are absolutely critical for reducing the risk of a military accident that could spark a broader conflict. This is a critical part of managing competition and, again, ensuring we don't veer into conflict."However, how long will it be before China starts sulking and refuses to pick up the phone? Andrew Erickson, Professor of Strategy at the US Naval War College, lamented, "Sadly, this won't work...Before long, the PLA under Xi will blame the US and fail to communicate clearly and openly."Although meetings and communications between military or government leaders are helpful, personal bonds with Chinese officials do not hold any sway. Personal ties hold little value in China's strategic decisions, since all hold to the party line and obey Xi at all costs.

In California, Xi spoke enigmatically of the "accelerating evolution of the profound change unseen in 100 years". Considering that the past century included a world war and a decades-long Cold War, it reflects Xi's penchant for empty and exaggerated slogans. Xi has similarly promised that China "has no intention to challenge the US or to unseat it ... China will never pursue hegemony or expansion, and will never impose its will on others ... China does not seek spheres of influence and will not fight a cold war or a hot war with anyone."However, these are hollow words. Instead, China is utterly intent on its struggle against the USA and the Western-led order. As Chinese analysts reflected on Xi's visit to the USA, they smugly said "China has pointed out the correct direction for how to develop China-US elections, it is time to see how much the US can do, and to what extent the uncertainties in Washington will impact the future".

Such hubris was also reflected in a Global Times tweet: "Considering the US side repeatedly expressed its concern about a potential war in the Taiwan Strait, it's necessary for China's top leader to let the US understand that if one day a war breaks out in the region, it means China has completely lost hope for reunification. So if the US doesn't want to see a war, the correct solution is to support China's efforts to realize reunification peacefully."This is typical of the twisted logic that the CCP imposes on its own populace and on the rest of the world. It is blaming its own violent tendencies on the peaceful efforts of others!The Philippines has become far more vocal about Chinese wrongdoings in the South China Sea too. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr met with Xi on November 17. Although the topic of easing tensions in the South China Sea came up in their meeting, at-sea confrontations by PLAN, China Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels of Philippine resupply vessels near the Second Thomas Shoal have become routine.

Again, it is another example of Xi saying one thing, but having absolutely no intention to reduce coercion on the ground.

This is why countries need to stick together to tell China that its bullying is unacceptable. Kritenbrink told media: "President Biden made absolutely clear that the United States under his leadership remains committed to an affirmative agenda across the Indo-Pacific that is focused primarily on strengthening our ties with allies and partners...It's not an agenda aimed at any one country. It's about us, it's about our values, our shared values with partners, and it's about our desire to strengthen the rules-based international order from which we all benefit. I think the president made clear again, we're always going to focus first and foremost on our allies and partner relationships."The US State Department Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs added: "I think the important point here is that we're going to remain focused on our commitment to this region. We think our future security and prosperity is inextricably tied to the Indo-Pacific region, and will continue to support work going forward and of course, within that larger context, it's important that we also continue to manage our important relationship in competition with the People's Republic of China."In sharp contrast to American business heads that are like moths drawn to a flame, US Republican Chairman Mike Gallagher displayed a clearheaded understanding of Xi's bait-and-switch games.

He recently tweeted, "Deterrence by diplomatic scolding doesn't work. Deterrence by economic punishment doesn't work. You need the capability to deny your adversary their objective in real time. To deter Xi and preserve peace, we must move heaven and earth to arm Taiwan and turn the island into a porcupine. Peace is not easy - it requires the consistent efforts of our men and women in uniform to secure our interests and deter our adversaries from choosing the violent path. But while deterrence may be hard - war is hell." (ANI)

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