In a recent rally, the septuagenarian former vice president flashed his pearly set and declared, to the utter confusion of foreign policy analysts across the Euro-Atlantic, that China is no threat to the West: “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man.”
Beijing is the world’s second-largest economy, and increasingly isolated due to its revanchism in the Asia Pacific. It is confronting Australia, India, and Japan simultaneously, challenging the U.S. Navy and British Royal Navy every day. It’s returning to Maoist totalitarianism and Chinese civilizational exceptionalism, the leader of artificial intelligence and genetics research, with advanced space warfare capabilities and highly advanced stealth and hypersonic warfare capabilities.
China is a chronic thief of intellectual property, a great power extensively buying lands (and governments) across the world, a manufacturing giant in a trade war, and a great power engaged in espionage, cyber warfare, and naval buildup. Yet, according to the front-runner of the Democratic presidential field, it is no threat to the United States and the West.
Biden is obviously wrong about China. In fact, Biden is wrong about a lot of things. Like Johnny English, it is his job to know nothing, be wrong, and goof around. He has a glowing smile, 1950s social mannerisms, righteous rage at social justice issues to update himself for the kids, and is catastrophically wrong about every single foreign policy position possible.
Let’s start with the biggest position that would come back to haunt him as president. I was a rookie reporter covering the U.S. vice presidential candidates’ debate when I saw the difference between a quietly earnest if wonkish Paul Ryan, and a smug, condescending Biden, with a media fully disposed in the latter’s favor. It was Biden who dismissed whether Russia was a revanchist power.
While one can argue about how much Russia was a “threat” per se, no one would deny that Russia is and will be an adversarial power, and something Biden’s administration not only didn’t perceive, but when informed, dismissed mockingly.
But that is not all. Biden is stuck in time, as the world changed around him. For example, Tucker Carlson writes in his book, “Ship of Fools,” “In the fall of 2002, a total of seventy-seven senators voted in favor of the Iraq War resolution. This included the majority of Democrats, and 100 percent of the party’s rising stars. Two future presidential candidates who voted for the war, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, also happened to be future secretaries of state. The future vice president, Joe Biden, voted for it…”
He also notes that, during Vietnam evacuation, “Senator Joe Biden of Delaware agreed; he introduced legislation to curb the arrival of Vietnamese immigrants, accusing the Ford administration of not being honest about how many refugees would be arriving.” Vietnamese immigrants, needless to say, are one of the most successful and assimilated groups in the United States, but that’s beyond the point.
The point is Biden never thought independently about what might be good or bad, but said the things the Democratic base wanted to hear. In 2002, Iraq War support was simply good politics, even though now no one talks about it.
Biden also argued for a renewed troop surge in Afghanistan, a conflict that has long transformed from a war to an imperial law and order mission, similar to what the British did in the 1890s, against Afghan rebels in North West Frontier Province. Funnily enough, when the most consequential decision of the Obama administration came, such as the raid to kill Osama Bin Laden, Biden argued against it. Obama, of course, took the advice of his generals instead.
To Biden’s credit, like a broken clock he was right about foreign policy twice. During one of the most catastrophic foreign policy decision in modern Western history, when Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power, and Susan Rice were arguing for toppling Muammar Gaddafi, which turned Libya into a slave trading hub and mass migration springboard, Biden apparently argued against it. He was also apparently overruled and then went on to fully support the Obama intervention, even when he despised Clinton, according to his aides.
Likewise, he was the first one to publicly state that there are no good Syrian rebels, because all are Qatari-funded Islamists. But then he promptly backtracked, genuflected, and apologized. He should have stuck by both, because history could have proved his caution and restraint right. But he did not.
The problem for Biden is much more than that. He reminds me of the grandmother in “Good bye, Lenin!” who fell in coma during the Soviet years, only to wake up after the fall of the Berlin Wall in a unified Germany, yet her grandson must continue an elaborate hoax to assure her that she is still in communist Germany, so she doesn’t have another shock and suffer a stroke.
Biden, likewise, is also stuck in the heady days of early 1990s triumphalism, with an expanding North Atlantic Trade Organization, an European Union that is a prospective trade ally, and the world fit for liberal interventionism and democracy, with a hope that China would eventually be entrenched as a pillar in the liberal order.
Unfortunately, none of that came true, and China is pretty much the biggest rising great-power rival challenge to an established superpower, compared to the history of rising-power challenges, from Sparta to Athens, Carthage to Rome, the Spaniards, Napoleon and Germans twice, to the Brits. There’s an academic consensus about it, and Uncle Joe is wrong once again.
Most importantly, however, he is opposed to his own base. Recent studies suggest, that Americans overwhelmingly, distinctly support a restrained foreign policy and less liberal interventionism and democracy promotion abroad, this stance is even stronger among the Democratic base.
The findings in this survey suggest that American voters are not isolationist. Rather, voters are more accurately described as supporting ‘restrained engagement’ in international affairs—a strategy that favours diplomatic, political, and economic actions over military action when advancing U.S. interests in the world. American voters want their political leaders to make more public investments in the American people in order to compete in the world and to strike the right balance abroad after more than a decade of what they see as military overextension.
Guess who won an election promising just that?
It is a mystery that President Trump cannot transform his foreign policy instincts into electoral support, but one can blame Trump’s poor PR, lack of strict message discipline, and continuous mainstream media opposition for that. The fact remains, however, that Trump is more attuned to a non-interventionist America than his prospective rival Biden.
It is still too early to say what would happen. The primaries and the debates haven’t started yet. While one can be sympathetic to an affable grand-fatherly figure, one should be careful about someone who has repeatedly, to use a liberal catch-phrase, been on the “wrong side of history.”
By Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
China is building a long-range cruise missile fired from a shipping container that could turn Beijing’s large fleet of freighters into potential warships and commercial ports into future missile bases.
The new missile is in flight testing and is a land-attack variant of an advanced anti-ship missile called the YJ-18C, according to American defense officials.
The missile will be deployed in launchers that appear from the outside to be standard international shipping containers used throughout the world for moving millions of tons of goods, often on the deck of large freighters.
The YJ-18C is China’s version of the Club-K cruise missile built by Russia that also uses a launcher disguised as a shipping container. Israel also is working on a container-launched missile called the Lora.
Spokesmen for the Defense Intelligence Agency and Navy declined to comment.
The long overdue actions taken by the European Parliament on September 12, 2018, and by the United States Senate through Resolution 30 of January 25, 2019, authored by Senators Feinstein, Durbin and Murphy, condemn in no uncertain terms the Viktor Orban led government’s dismantling of Hungary’s fledgling democracy. Based on the Sargentini Report, the European Union charged the Hungarian government with political as well as economic and financial corruption. Pursuant to this Report, since 2010, Hungary has increasingly become a rogue state. Actually, Hungary has been taken over by political gangsters, headed by the Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, who have shamelessly robbed the Hungarian people blind. Democracy has been replaced by “illiberal democracy”, meaning the personal cult of Viktor Orban. The Alliance of Young Democrats (Hungarian acronyms: FIDESZ) dominated Parliament passed a new constitution which was already amended seven times to accommodate the changing needs of the Prime Minister and his accomplices. This new constitution has curtailed the independence of the judiciary, has made a mockery of the freedom of expression, the freedom of religion, the freedom of association, the right of equal treatment, the right of minorities, and has practically abolished the main economic and social rights. Continue reading
By Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
Chinese military forces have deployed multiple units armed with anti-satellite (ASAT) missiles that can destroy scores of American satellites, according to a Pentagon intelligence report.
The new report by the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, known as NASIC, revealed that People’s Liberation Army units have begun training with the satellite-killing missiles.
The report warns that China, along with Russia, has developed an array of space arms designed to challenge U.S. space superiority. The report was made public last month.
The report for first time reveals that Chinese military units already are conducting training for space attacks with anti-satellites missiles. Russia also is developing a new anti-satellite missile the report said. Continue reading
A week and half after President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met to smooth over trade disputes, China announced it will buy more foreign goods , including U.S. soybeans. At the same time, it vowed to completely retool its “Made In China 2025” program, intended to make China the world’s most powerful economy. Nice gestures, but whether China follows through is a big question.
Reuters reports that Chinese state-owned firms snapped up more than half a million tons of U.S. soybeans on Wednesday to show they mean business. But the Made In China 2025 reversal, if sincere, is even more significant. It would mark a major shift in China’s guiding economic philosophy, a strange melding of top-down communist political control with free-market tenets.
“The revised plan would play down China’s bid to dominate manufacturing and be more open to participation by foreign companies,” The Wall Street Journal reported, citing “people briefed on the matter” as the source. Continue reading
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