Later this week, President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to convene for discussions on a variety of contentious economic matters. While previous talks on tariffs, intellectual property theft, and cyber security have been disappointing, Saturday’s meeting in Buenos Aires presents a clear opportunity for breakthroughs.
Although much of trade negotiations are fraught with roadblocks and challenges, the issues of international shipping through the Universal Postal Union are far more straightforward. As the Trump Administration has pointed out, American enterprises and small businesses have suffered from an obvious one-side imbalance due to the UPU pricing treaty. The majorly reduced rates from the U.S. Postal Service have allowed businesses from China to drastically undercut U.S. companies on shipping costs.
In October, Frontiers of Freedom president George Landrith praised President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the UPU, adding, “Chinese businesses should pay the reasonable price of their shipping. It is not right that the American taxpayer and postal rate payers have been forced to subsidize them.”
The current below-cost international rates have added to the Postal Service’s beleaguered financial position, producing losses of $410 million since 2015. Thankfully, the administration is now poised to adopt pricing changes that are financial sustainable while also creating a level playing field for domestic shippers.
By Peter Roff • RealClearPolitics
The relationship with Kuwait should be one of the United States’ strongest, but it is starting to fray. There’s still time to set it right, and the Kuwaiti Emir’s visit to Washington last week was a good start. Meanwhile, however, investors remain on edge, as they have been ever since officials in this Gulf state froze millions of dollars in American and international assets without any clear explanation.
Candidly, there’s a lot going on in Kuwait that’s suspect. The regime seems to be cozying up to Iran and China, officials have made remarks about Israel that are just short of incendiary, and corruption surrounding the delivery of supplies to U.S. troops stationed there has been highly disruptive. Americans, it seems to me, have the right to expect better from those whom they saved by leading an international intervention after their country was invaded by Saddam Hussein.
It seems instead that much has changed since President Donald Trump hosted Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah last year and hailed the countries’ bilateral relationship, calling it as strong as it had ever been. Indeed, the country continues to be a key regional security partner with 20,000 U.S. troops stationed there.
Recently though, officials in the Kuwaiti government seem to have gone to great lengths to offend America’s allies and get close to our adversaries. Their outspoken defense of the Palestinians inside the U.N. Security Council has undermined the White House’s effort to make peace and has caused problems for Israel. The United States was even forced to veto a Kuwaiti-drafted resolution calling for the protection of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Continue reading
by Stephen Moore • Investor’s Business Daily
Is it possible that Donald Trump is winning on trade?
Last week, Trump apparently delivered two underappreciated victories as a result of his threat of stiff tariffs and renegotiated trade deals.
First, Seoul has agreed to reduce long-standing non-tariff trade barriers that have reduced American exports to Korea. Though the details are still sketchy, the Koreans have agreed to buy more Ford and General Motors Co. cars and trucks and other U.S.-made products. This can only be good news for American workers. The Koreans have also agreed to increase reimbursement rates to American drug and vaccine producers.
Even The New York Times grudgingly conceded that the deal “represents the type of one-on-one agreement that Mr. Trump says makes the best sense for American companies and workers.”
Also in recent days, China appeared to stand down in response to Trump’s jarring announcement of a record $50 billion of tariffs on Chinese products. Premier Li Keqiang pledged to improve American companies’ access to Chinese markets. He also said in a news conference that China would treat foreign and domestic firms equally. And what’s more, Beijing has promised that it would stop forcing foreign firms to transfer technology to China and would strengthen intellectual property rights enforcement. That was a smart and encouraging response. Continue reading
by Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
China’s Communist Party recently authorized an aggressive program of stealing U.S. science and technology information by recruiting Americans in the tech sector with access to trade secrets, according to an internal Party directive.
The directive outlines a secret program authorized by the general office of the Communist Party of China (CCP) Central Committee of stepped up technology collection beginning in late 2016 and carried out by an intelligence unit called the United Front Work Department.
The document is an approval order from the Central Committee for a “working plan on strengthening the intensity of United Front Work in the area of science and technology of the United States in 2017.”
“The united front work targeted on the areas of science and technology of the United States is an important measure of our party to deeply divide western hostile forces, to maintain social stability, to ensure national security, to comprehensively advance the rapid development of our own science and technology and economy, to accelerate the construction of national defense modernization, and to consolidate the overseas united front,” the document states. Continue reading
by Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
The United States faces a growing threat of ballistic and cruise missiles from China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, according to a military intelligence report.
“Ballistic and cruise missiles present a significant threat to U.S. and allied forces overseas, and to the United States and its territories,” states the latest report by the National Air and Space Intelligence Center in Ohio.
The report warns that both China and Russia are expanding their force of strategic nuclear missiles with new multi-warhead weapons.
North Korea now has three intercontinental-range missiles and is moving ahead with a submarine-launched ballistic missile. Continue reading
A Chinese company, Ant Financial, largely owned by the government of China, is intent on taking over MoneyGram, a leading US-based financial payments company. This planned acquisition raises serious questions as to whether ownership of MoneyGram would be part of China’s strategic plan to obtain sensitive personal and financial information of Americans and westerners worldwide as well as to undermine American economic strength. This acquisition should be stopped for that reason.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) exists to review the national security implications of foreign investments in US companies. CFIUS is comprised of representatives from a number of US agencies or departments — including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State and Commerce. CFIUS can block foreign sales and investments that would result in a foreign power acquiring assets and intellectual property that would harm America’s national security.
There are a number of important national security and strategic reasons that CFIUS should reject Ant Financial’s proposed takeover of MoneyGram. Continue reading
by Morgan Chalfant • Daily Caller
The U.S. Army’s ground combat systems risk being surpassed by those being developed by foreign countries such as Russia and China, according to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
The Army is currently using main battle tanks, tracked infantry fighting vehicles, tracked self-propelled artillery, and multiple launch rocket systems developed during the Soviet era. Billion-dollar plans to modernize the force’s ground combat systems have been cancelled over the last decade.
Meanwhile, potential adversaries have prioritized funding new weapons systems and technologies for their forces, raising concerns among American experts about the shrinking capability gap between the United States and other nations. Continue reading
by Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
The United States is vulnerable to future attack by hypersonic missiles from China and Russia and is falling behind in the technology race to develop both defensive and offensive high-speed maneuvering arms, according to a new Air Force study.
“The People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation are already flight-testing high-speed maneuvering weapons (HSMWs) that may endanger both forward deployed U.S. forces and even the continental United States itself,” an executive summary of the report says.
“These weapons appear to operate in regimes of speed and altitude, with maneuverability that could frustrate existing missile defense constructs and weapon capabilities.” Continue reading
United Nations arbitration denounced by Beijing.
A United Nations tribunal on Tuesday ruled unanimously against China’s history-based claim to sovereignty over 90 percent of the South China Sea.
The ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague legally nullifies a multi-year effort by China to take control of the strategic Southeast Asian waterway by making historical claims and occupying disputed terrain.
The arbitration proceedings were sought by the Philippines government, which opposes China’s takeover of several of the Spratly Islands, small islands and reefs located in the southern part of the sea near the Philippines.
A key part of the tribunal’s ruling dismissed China’s so-called “nine-dash line,” an ill-defined border containing some 90 percent of the South China Sea. Beijing had asserted the zone is Chinese maritime territory.
The court said that while Chinese ships and fishermen, along with those of other regional states, used islands in the South China Sea in the past, “there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources.”
“The Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line,’” the court said in a statement.
A major showdown over control of the South China Sea has been underway for the past several years between the United States, China, and several smaller states with claims in the South China Sea, notably Philippines and Vietnam.
As part of its takeover bid, China has been building up some 3,200 acres of island terrain in the sea and recently began deploying military facilities and forces, including missiles and aircraft, on the islands in a bid to solidify its claims.
The Pentagon, after years of restraint, in October began challenging Chinese efforts at regional hegemony by resuming naval freedom of navigation operations and reconnaissance overflights.
Several incidents of potentially dangerous Chinese aerial intercepts of U.S. aircraft have taken place, and at least one naval confrontation took place between U.S. and Chinese warships.
In Beijing, Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping rejected the ruling. According to the official Xinhua news agency, Xi said China would not accept any proposal or action by the court, and said that the islands in the South China Sea have been China’s since ancient times.
The Obama administration played down the ruling in an apparent bid to avoid upsetting Beijing. Administration comment was limited to a statement from State Department spokesman John Kirby and background comments by senior officials. The Pentagon declined to comment.
Kirby said the State Department was studying the 500-page decision but called the ruling a legally binding decision and “important contribution to the shared goal of a peaceful resolution to disputes in the South China Sea.”
The court “unanimously found that the Philippines was acting within its rights under the convention in initiating this arbitration” and that it is “final and legally binding on both China and the Philippines,” he added.
“In the aftermath of this important decision, we urge all claimants to avoid provocative statements or actions,” Kirby said.
The ruling is likely to heighten already tense relations. Chinese naval forces currently are holding large-scale naval exercises in the South China Sea. China’s military also announced the deployment of a new guided-missile warship to the area.
U.S. and Philippines armed forces on Monday launched the annual large-scale exercises known as Balikatan, or “shoulder to shoulder,” that are part of the U.S. military and diplomatic pivot to Asia.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun on Tuesday warned in response to the ruling that the military would protect the country’s national sovereignty, security, maritime rights, and interests.
The Pentagon is on alert for any Chinese military aggression in the South China Sea, a Pentagon official said. One possible action could be the establishment by China of an air defense identification zone as part of efforts to step up sea control.
A Chinese military spokesman said June 30 that the creation of such a zone would be based on “whether China is facing security threats from the air, and the level of the threat.”
Other potential action could be for China to seize a grounded Philippines freighter near Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratlys. The Philippines navy has been using the rusting ship that ran aground in 1999 as a military outpost.
The complicated legal opinion for the first time sets out under international law precisely how islands, reefs, and rocks in the sea determine the exclusive economic zones of regional states as set out in the Law of the Sea Convention. The convention set up the arbitration tribunal.
The United States has signed the convention but not ratified it over security concerns related to sovereignty issues.
The unfavorable ruling was partly the result of China’s refusal to take part in the arbitration. Beijing insisted the court did not have jurisdiction over the sea and insisted the illegal dispute should only have been resolved through bilateral China-Philippines talks.
The court rejected China’s position noting that the convention setting up the court permits a ruling on issues even when one party does not participate.
China’s activities since the arbitration process was initiated in 2013 also undermined the court’s efforts to resolve the dispute, by building on the Spratlys and damaging the ecology of the region.
“The Tribunal noted that China has (a) built a large artificial island on Mischief Reef, a low-tide elevation located in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines; (b) caused permanent, irreparable harm to the coral reef ecosystem and (c) permanently destroyed evidence of the natural condition of the features in question,” the court said.
“The Tribunal concluded that China had violated its obligations to refrain from aggravating or extending the parties’ disputes during the pendency of the settlement process.”
In Manila, Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay urged “all those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety,” adding that the decision supported international law and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Taiwan, which controls an island in the Spratlys islands, also rejected the court ruling as undermining its claims.
Vietnam welcomed the court’s ruling and said it confirmed Hanoi’s control over both the Paracels and the Spratlys.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R., Texas) said the ruling should lead to more U.S. military operations in the sea.
“Today’s ruling is clear, unambiguous, and reinforces the international order,” Thornberry said in a statement. “The United States should act to give this ruling weight by continuing our free navigation of the seas with our allies and partners in the region, maintaining a robust and ready naval presence in the area, and demonstrating that we are a reliable ally to countries in the region.”
Last week, Abraham Denmark, the assistant defense secretary for East Asia, testified before a joint House hearing of Armed Services and Foreign Affairs subcommittees that the United States is opposing China’s military buildup in the sea.
“Although the United States has noted these developments and expressed our objections to China’s unilateral changing of the strategic landscape of the South China Sea, our primary concern revolves around risk of unintended escalation or conflict among claimants,” Denmark said. “Once completed and outfitted, these facilities will greatly improve China’s capabilities to enforce its maritime and territorial claims, and project power further from China’s shores.”
Denmark said Chinese deployments of radar, anti-ship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and fighter jets on the newly created islands is a concern.
“Furthermore, the construction of hangars, anti-aircraft guns, and fuel and water underground storage facilities would support extended deployments of multiple aircraft and ships,” he said.
Former State Department official John Tkacik, a specialist on China affairs, said the ruling is a major setback for Chinese hegemony over the southern areas of the sea but may not affect Chinese claims to the Paracels, in the northern part, where China has faced off against Vietnam.
“The tribunal went out of its way to nullify all China’s (and Taiwan’s) claims to large, 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zones saying that none of China’s landforms even qualify as ‘islands,’ so China cannot make any maritime claims in the southern South China Sea whatsoever,” Tkacik said.
Additionally, the court dismissed China’s assertion of a historical claim to the Spratlys.
“It’s a total loss for China,” Tkacik said. “And it should teach them that if they want to prevail in international legal actions, they should darn well put together a legal team and make their case to the judges.”
Retired Navy Capt. Jim Fanell, a former Pacific Fleet intelligence chief, said the ruling is a set back for China that illegally seized Scarborough Shoal in April 2012.
Fanell said as a career intelligence officer he is worried about the risk to U.S. and allied forces from some type of Chinese military response.
“Given Beijing’s response to the [court] ruling, we should expected the PLA navy and their maritime militia to respond aggressively at sea, to include events such as ramming incidents in the Spratly Islands and even a blockade of Second Thomas Shoal,” he said.
China also could begin building fortifications on Scarborough Shoal, he said, adding that Beijing could also step up military provocations in the East China Sea against Japan or take economic actions.
The tribunal was made up of five legal experts. They included Judge Thomas A. Mensah of Ghana, Judge Jean-Pierre Cot of France, Judge Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland, Prof. Alfred H.A. Soons of the Netherlands, and Judge Rüdiger Wolfrum of Germany. Judge Mensah was president of panel.
In every Fascist, National Socialist and Communist state in the 20th and the 21st centuries, foreign policy had been marked by a deep and dark, spellbound and cruel mystery. In the People’s Republic of China, this mystery has had more darker depths, and has taken the shape of Oriental transcendentalism mixed with the horrific notion of racial superiority.
“In reasoning,” Mao Tse-tung opined, “we shall start by delivering a shock and yelling at the patient, you are sick, so that he is scared into a sweat, and then we will tell him gently that he needs treatment.” In Mao’s formula the “treatment” consisted of applying “Brute Force” to annihilate anybody who happened to disagree with him, or found guilty by the various kangaroo courts for imaginary offenses.
Thus, the historic humiliation of Imperial China by several foreign powers had brought forth an equally historic “brute” enmity between the People’s Republic of China and the rest of the world. Its political and military manifestations are clearly apparent in the rapidly escalating regional and global hostility of Beijing toward its Asian neighbors and the United States of America. Indeed, Xi Jinping’s strategic roadmap is an audacious attempt to recreate China’s former imperial greatness. Against the backdrop of between $2.5 and $4 trillion in foreign currency reserves, the world’s largest, Beijing is set to assert its political, economic and military dominance regionally as well as globally. Continue reading
China’s global dominance, something analysts say is inevitable, will have to wait.
by Gordon G. Chang • The National Interest
Last Monday, at the conclusion of China’s closed-door Central Economic Work Conference, Beijing’s public relations machine went into high gear to show that the country’s leaders had come up with a viable plan to rescue the economy.
Unfortunately, they do not now have such a plan. In reality, they decided to continue strategies that both created China’s current predicament and failed this year to restart growth.
The severity of China’s economic problems—and the inability to implement long-term solutions—mean almost all geopolitical assumptions about tomorrow are wrong. Virtually everyone today sees China as a major power in the future. Yet the country’s extraordinary economic difficulties will result in a collapse or a long-term decline, and either outcome suggests China will return to the ranks of weak states. Continue reading
by US Naval Institute Staff • USNI News
Historically, China has been a great innovator contributing inventions such as gunpowder, paper and the compass to human advancement. However, China has earned an international reputation in recent decades as being the home of a prolific copycat culture.
The Chinese have become proficient at cloning products ranging from designer handbags and the latest smartphones to movies and alcoholic beverages. Fake Apple stores, counterfeit KFC restaurants and imitation IKEA big-box outlets dot the Chinese landscape. They have even built entire replica European towns.
Some Western observers believe this cultural attitude towards imitation is rooted in Confucianism where followers traditionally learned by replicating masterworks and then tried to improve upon them. Continue reading
Air Force general: Adversaries developing capabilities that are ‘better than what we currently have in many areas’
by Daniel Wiser • Washington Free Beacon
U.S. adversaries including China, Russia, and Iran are developing military capabilities that will allow them to compete with shrinking and aging American forces in the coming years, according to a new report.
The report, authored by the American Enterprise Institute and the Foreign Policy Initiative, warns that U.S. adversaries have been bolstering their militaries and purchasing cheaper weapon systems as the United States cuts its defense budget and delays acquisition of new equipment. Both China and Russia have increased their defense budgets by double digits in recent years, for example, while the United States could reduce its military spending by as much as $1 trillion in a decade under cuts known as sequestration.
“After a procurement holiday in the 1990s and a hollow buildup during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, American military capabilities have declined independently and relatively to adversaries like China, Russia, and Iran,” the report said. Continue reading
by Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi
Contrary to the erroneous opinions of most politicians and Sinologists, the People’s Republic of China, well into the seventh decade of its existence, is facing severe political and economic crises. Maoism, the gibberish amalgam of twisted socialist ideas and hard-core Han racism, had never been about Marxism-Leninism with “Chinese characteristics.” Rather, Maoism was designed to be a double edged political sword. On the one hand, Maoism meant autocratic contempt for the “politically incompetent” and “economically immature” subjects who could not be trusted with affairs of any importance. On the other hand, Mao wanted to establish, maintain and protect his “thorough revolution” by excluding intellectuals with “bourgeois mentality”, whether inside or outside the party, and base his autocracy on inexperienced and uneducated workers, peasants and soldiers, self-evidently comprising of incompetent and immature individuals. Continue reading
Barack Obama’s presidency has empowered the adversaries of the United States
by Matthew Continetti • Washington Free Beacon
This week President Obama won the 34th vote in support of his nuclear deal with Iran. The vote, from Senator Barbara Mikulski, guarantees that the deal will survive a rejection by Congress. The fact that the deal will be made despite such opposition—something a few of us predicted months ago—is, in the words of the AP, a “landmark Obama victory.” It is worth asking how many more of these victories our country can withstand.
The president and his supporters, of course, say their foreign policy has improved the world. “Like George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton,” writes Gideon Rose of Foreign Affairs, “Obama will likely pass on to his successor an overall foreign policy agenda and national power position in better shape than when he entered office, ones that the next administration can build on to improve things further.”
I’m not convinced. Rather than trying to predict how things will look when Obama leaves office, rather than contemplating abstractions such as our “overall foreign policy agenda” and “national power position,” why not examine the actual results of Obama’s policies, as they exist now, in the real world before our eyes? Continue reading