Sunday, September 16, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: China’s Grand Strategy

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: China’s Grand Strategy: China’s Grand Strategy The first goal of all successive Chinese dynasties throughout the centuries was to gain and maintain control o...

China’s Grand Strategy

China’s Grand Strategy

The first goal of all successive Chinese dynasties throughout the centuries was to gain and maintain control of the heartland (Han), the core of which consists of major Chinese rivers, is abundant with productive lands and is full of people. A further logical step is maintenance of influence over the buffer zones which surround the Han core and consist of mountainous regions to the west, desert lands to the north-west and impregnable forests to the south. The third major imperative was historically to protect China’s coastline from foreign powers. However, since this threat was quite rare in the ancient and medieval periods of Chinese history, the country did not see any need to develop powerful naval capabilities. The Yangtze and Yellow rivers, with surrounding fertile lands, produced enough to feed large numbers of population living in the Han core and as such, in an age without transcontinental trade routes and the only way to connect with the Middle East and Europe being the famous Silk Road, the geographic boundaries (mountains, jungles, deserts and the sea) from all sides made China essentially a closed country with self-sufficient economic means.

In other words, where previously China’s insularity was a geopolitical advantage rather than a significant constraint, from the late 20th century this was no longer the case. With international trade routes and various supply chains, China has to be open and, in many cases, rely upon raw materials brought from abroad via sea routes. Thence comes China’s fourth geopolitical imperative: protection of international trade lines and resource hubs. This will only be viable through two options: finding alternative land routes such as One Belt, One Road or by building a powerful military fleet capable of securing various resources and global supply chains across the Asia Pacific and elsewhere.

Building a powerful navy will mean collusion with the United States, whose world primacy rests upon domination of sea lines and relevant security alliances in Europe and Asia-Pacific. Any diminution of the US sea power will have a direct impact on the world order, considering the importance which Washington attaches to developments in foreign powers’ naval capabilities. Chinese naval technology may still be substantially behind current US capabilities. Indeed, the US has 11 aircraft carriers, while the Chinese only one (which still lacks an aircraft wing capable of operating off a carrier deck). However, the trends indicate that China has been making significant progress in the last several decades, as the country is rapidly developing new destroyers, amphibs, stealth fighters and long-range weapons. This could potentially expand expeditionary military operations around the globe.

China continues to construct an array of offensive and defensive capabilities to enable the PLA to gain maritime superiority within the first island chain in Asia pacific. Those are the islands which run from the Kurils, through Taiwan, to Borneo, roughly encompassing the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea.

China’s broad range of anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs) and launch platforms, as well as submarine launched torpedoes and naval mines, allow the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to create a lethal threat against enemies approaching Chinese waters and operating areas.

The PLAN continues to develop into a global force, gradually extending its operational reach beyond East Asia and the Indo-Pacific into a sustained ability to operate at increasingly longer ranges. The PLAN’s latest naval platforms enable combat operations beyond the reach of China’s land-based defenses.

Furthermore, the PLAN now has a sizable force of high-capability logistical replenishment ships to support long-distance, long-duration deployments, including two new ships being built specifically to support aircraft carrier operations. The expansion of naval operations beyond China’s immediate region will also facilitate non-war uses of military force.

The PLAN’s force structure continues to evolve, incorporating more platforms with the versatility for both offshore and long-distance power projection. China is engaged in series production of the LUYANG III-class DDG, the JIANGKAI II-class FFG, and the JIANGDAO-class FFL.

Even on the aircraft level, despite its numerical weaknesses, China continues to learn lessons from operating its only Ukraine-produced aircraft carrier, Liaoning. The Chinese first domestically produced aircraft carrier, launched in 2017, will be commissioned in 2019 (according to various sources this will be a multi-carrier force). China’s next generation of carriers will probably have greater endurance and be capable of launching more varied types of fixed-wing aircraft than Liaoning. There also comes PLAN Aviation’s progress on improving capabilities to conduct offensive and defensive offshore operations such as strike, air and missile defense, strategic mobility, and early warning and reconnaissance missions.

Overall, for the moment, the PLAN’s ability to perform missions beyond the first island chain is modest. What is important here is that the PLAN’s ability is constantly growing as it gains more experience operating in distant waters and acquires larger and more advanced technologies. The US will remain a dominant force in the coming decades, but Chinese successes cannot be underestimated.

Chinese naval successes, reflected in the recent congressional report, add to growing American fears that China might become a global competitor. Indeed, from the US perspective, what the Chinese are doing in Eurasia through its pivotal One Belt, One Road initiative, and various moves to influence Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, is geopolitically important. From the US perspective, the Chinese are doing exactly what the Americans have been opposed to – solidifying one-country rule in Eurasia.

By Emil Avdaliani This article was published at Georgia Today.

One thought on “China’s Grand Strategy – OpEd”

The writer is correct in China’s altered mindset in her national defense and offense operations on land and sea. However, as China was geographically isolated in the past up to the Russian and British penetrations on land and sea against China since the 17th century, and the over one hundred years of European, American and Japanese invasions, defeats and occupations for over one hundred years: China’s national mindset is totally different from the old inward looking, passive, non aggressive and non expansive thinking of the past. China today is a forward looking, combative, expansive, outward looking, innovative and with a formidable desire to catch up and surpass Europe and her descendants, including USA. As we all know in history there is no free lunch, all past arrangements by the superior powers will be redefined and rearranged by the on going power shifts, which goes on non stop indefinitely. China will not only challenge America in all areas and will certainly do all possible to surpass her. If one really studied Sun Tze’s Art of War well, one should without a doubt understand the principal of power shift as Sun Tze stated: “Water flows from higher level to lower levels, such as all superior powers attacks weaker powers and overtake them.” This is what China is aiming to do for the next few centuries with the non stop power shifts continues non stop indefinitely in our future. Siao Liu



Thursday, September 13, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Party Vs Faith: China Drafts Restrictions For All ...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Party Vs Faith: China Drafts Restrictions For All ...: Party Vs Faith: China Drafts Restrictions For All Religions China intends to extend aspects of its crackdown on Islam in the north-w...

Party Vs Faith: China Drafts Restrictions For All Religions

Party Vs Faith: China Drafts Restrictions For All Religions

China intends to extend aspects of its crackdown on Islam in the north-western province of Xinjiang to all religions as is evident from the publication of proposed restrictive guidelines for online religious activity.

The guidelines, according to Chinese Communist Party newspaper Global Times, would ban online religious services from “inciting subversion, opposing the leadership of the Communist Party, overthrowing the socialist system and promoting extremism, terrorism and separatism,” identified as the three evils China say it is combatting in Xinjiang.

The guidelines would also forbid livestreaming or broadcast of religious activity, including praying, burning incense, worshipping or baptism ceremonies in the form of text, photo, audio or video.

The guidelines, published on China’s legislative information website, are likely to be adopted after October 9 when the window for public comment closes.

The newspaper quoted Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference as saying that the guidelines were designed to regulate online religious information and protect the legal rights of religious people and religious freedom.

“Some organizations, in the name of religion, deliberately exaggerate and distort religious doctrine online, and some evil forces, such as terrorism, separatism and religious extremism, and cults, also attempt to expand their online influences,” Mr. Zhu said.

By applying the guidelines to all religions, the government hopes in part to take the sting out of an increasing number of media reports as well as assertions by the United Nations that its policy in Xinjiang involves massive violation of religious and human rights. China has denied any violations.

While the crackdown on Islam in Xinjiang is the most severe because of Chinese concerns about Uyghur nationalist aspirations as well as Islamization and Arabization, references to more conservative, if not ultra-conservative strands of Islam, and the potential return to Central Asia of militant Uyghur foreign fighters fleeing Syria and Iraq, it reflects a wider Chinese effort to control religion.

Similar to Xinjiang where Uyghurs report that mosques are being destroyed, authorities elsewhere in the country have destroyed what allegedly were ‘underground churches,’ including a massive evangelical church in China’s northern Shanxi province that services a congregation of 50,000.

A rare, mass protest last month by Hui Muslims, who together with Uyghur’s account for the bulk of China’s estimated 20 million Muslims, forced local authorities in the northern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region to suspend plans to demolish a newly built mosque.

Former inmates of re-education camps as well as family members of detainees assert that re-education involves subjecting religious views to the precepts of the Communist party, putting allegiance to the party above that of God, and breaking with religious dietary rules and other Islamic legal requirements.

The drafting of the guidelines come as China is finding it increasingly difficult to keep a publicity lid on developments in Xinjiang. The Global Times announcement came a day after Human Rights Watch issued a damning report and two days after a detailed expose in The New York Times, part of a flurry of media and academic reports published despite probable Chinese efforts to suppress critical reporting where it can.

Independent Media, publisher of 18 major South African titles with a combined readership of 25 million, recently refused to publish a column by foreign affairs columnist Azad Essa on a United Nations report asserting that up to one million Uyghurs were being detained in the re-education camps. Mr. Essa was told his column had been discontinued because of a redesign of the groups’ papers and the introduction of a new system.

China International Television Corporation (CITVC ) and China-Africa Development Fund (CADFUND) own a 20 percent stake in Independent Media through Interacom Investment Holdings Limited, a Mauritius-registered vehicle. There was no immediate indication that Chinese stakeholders were responsible for the cancellation of Mr. Essa’s column.

China’s ability to keep its lid on the crackdown is nonetheless slipping. US officials said this week that the Trump administration, locked into a trade war with China, was considering sanctions against Chinese senior officials and companies involved in Xinjiang in what would be the first US human rights-related measures against the People’s Republic.

The administration was also looking at ways to limit sales of US surveillance technology that could assist Chinese security agencies and companies in turning Xinjiang into a 21st century Orwellian surveillance state.

Deliberations about possible sanctions gained momentum after US Republican Senator Marco Rubio, the chair of the congressional committee, called for the sanctioning of Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary and Politburo member Chen Quanguo and “all government officials and business entities assisting the mass detentions and surveillance”. He also demanded that Chinese security agencies be added “to a restricted end-user list to ensure that American companies don’t aid Chinese human-rights abuses.”

With the media reporting and UN and US criticism putting pressure on the Islamic world to speak out, cracks are emerging in its wall of virtually absolute silence.

Rais Hussin, a supreme council member of Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) party and head of its Policy and Strategy Bureau, cautioned in an editorial this week against deportation of 11 Uyghurs wanted by China.

“Being friendly to China is a must, as China is a close neighbour of Malaysia. But it is also on this point that geographical proximity cannot be taken advantage by China to ride roughshod over everything that Malaysia holds dear, such as Islam, democracy, freedom of worship and deep respect for every country’s sovereignty… On its mistreatment of Muslims in Xinjiang almost en masse, Malaysia must speak up, and defend the most basic human rights of all,” Mr. Hussin said.

Mr. Hussin’s comments may not be that surprising given that Mr. Mahathir, since returning to power in May in an upset election, has emerged as a point man in a pushback by various nations against Chinese-funded, Belt and Road-related infrastructure projects that are perceived as risking unsustainable debt or being potential white elephants.

Mr. Mahathir has, since assuming office, suspended or cancelled US$26 billion in Chinese-funded projects in Malaysia.

Echoing Mr. Hussin’s statements, Ismailan, a Hui Muslim poet, posted pictures on Twitter of Bangladeshi Muslims protesting in the capital Dacca against the crackdown in Xinjiang.

“They are the first people of Islamic world to stand up for brothers and sisters in #china. Muslims, our fate is connected!” Ismailan tweeted, insisting that his opposition to the crackdown and “the use of concentration camps to solve the problem” did not amount to support for Uighur nationalism.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: The Millennial Generation: Deciding Bloc In Indone...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: The Millennial Generation: Deciding Bloc In Indone...: The Millennial Generation: Deciding Bloc In Indonesia Elections? Indonesian millennials will determine the direction of the Indonesia...

The Millennial Generation: Deciding Bloc In Indonesia Elections?

The Millennial Generation: Deciding Bloc In Indonesia Elections?

Indonesian millennials will determine the direction of the Indonesian presidential election next year due to their significant population size (34%-50%). The presidential candidates who are able to think, absorb and accommodate their aspirations would probably be well placed to win.

Indonesia has taken the first step towards the 2019 presidential election by announcing the nominees for presidential and vice presidential candidates on 10 August 2018. The 2019 election is a re-run of the 2014 presidential election between Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto. President Joko, also known as Jokowi, has appointed as his running mate Ma’ruf Amin, a conservative cleric from the Council of Indonesian Ulama (Majelis Ulama Indonesia, MUI) with a Nahdaltul Ulama background. On his part, Prabowo has chosen Sandiaga Uno, an entrepreneur and former vice governor of the capital city of Jakarta.

Although the presidential election will be held in April 2019, the supporters of the two candidates have since nomination day aggressively started to canvas for votes especially in social media. The millennial voters are potential targets due their significant numbers and their prolific use of the social media.

Internet-based Politics

The millennial population in Indonesia forms about 34.5% – 50% (ages 15-35). This is a very significant size and therefore a clear target group to win over. However, are both contenders aware and familiar with the aspirations of the millennial generation?

A strong characteristic of the millennials is their high literacy and engagement in the Internet. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and University of Berkeley in their 2011 research American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation identify the strong face of American millennials as digital natives. Some 57% of American millennials are among the first group who try new technology. Their online activity in uploading and making contents whether photos, blog, micro-blog, and others is high: 60%, compared to the non-millennials at 29%.

Research done in 2016 by Indonesia’s Alvara Research Centre indicates that Indonesian millennials have almost similar characteristics to their American counterparts. Indonesian millennials utilise digital sources to know and understand politics with a reliance on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and LINE-channels (instead of WhatsApp) shaping their perceptions on politics. Competing presidential candidates who practise textbook politics now need to get to grips with this new political phenomenon to achieve success

Pragmatic Concern

A perspective that Indonesian millennials embrace is whether or not politics are useful for their immediate needs, their innovative imagination and creativity. Idealism in politics, meaning a full commitment to political ideology whether it is leftist, Islamist or liberal, is not a common perspective among the politics of millennials. Millennials consider politics in terms of the concrete and direct impact for them.

The Indonesian media often portrays the country’s millennial generation as pragmatic people, and less interested in political idealism, by presenting the image of young successful professionals with breakthrough and smart business innovation such as the founders of Gojek and Tokopedia. Young politicians are hardly covered in the media as the representatives of the millennial generation. However, despite their pragmatism, Indonesian millennials are not apolitical.

In fact, the Indonesian Muslim millennials are very critical of the current ruling administration as evident in their prominence in the #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ChangePresident) movement. They do join in the movement, although sometimes they join without thinking about what is the next precise agenda. Presidential candidates should recognise this trend and find ways to transform their political strategies.

Importance of Religion

The Pew Research Centre survey discovered that African-American millennials are more religious than their peers. This survey is interesting because it mirrors the general inclination of Indonesian millennials. Indonesian millennial Muslims preserve and have a deep commitment to their Islamic doctrines.

However, in studying religion, they draw materials from online sources rather than from authoritative institutions and experts knowledgeable in the study of religion. There is a tendency for them to be attracted to conservative groups of the Islamic congregation. Many newly established-Islamic congregations have a membership base dominated by the millennial generation.

This tendency is quite alarming for the future of moderation in Indonesian Islam, therefore, both Jokowi and Prabowo should approach these groups, not only to win their hearts and minds but also to steer Indonesian Islam on the path of moderation.

Expecting More Positive Role

There is an assumption that the millennials will not use their rights to vote in the 2019 presidential election due their apolitical attitudes. This assumption could not be used as a reason to ignore their significance. It will be a big loss for Indonesia if both Jokowi and Prabowo disregard the influence of the millennials in the 2019 presidential election. How can democracy be preserved in a situation in which the significant number of Indonesian citizens are politically indifferent?

How will the two presidential candidates shape their campaign strategies to reach out to the millennials for the legislative and presidential elections? The participation of the millennials in the coming elections – both in the legislative and presidential contests — is needed to sustain democracy.

*Syafiq Hasyim is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Programme of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. This is part of an RSIS series on the 2019 Indonesian presidential election.


Monday, September 10, 2018