I’ll give the Chinese Communist Party this: they’re getting better at spin.

After more than three decades of telling the world that the South China Sea is their personal lake – and two years of being stunned to hear Washington say, “Um, no it’s not” – Zhongnanhai now wants us to believe that they think it’s just wonderful to have a “new channel” for “friendly, candid, and constructive” talks with the United States on the subject (Voice of America).

Sure, and I’m in the bridge-selling business.

Communist China has claimed the South China Sea as their jacuzzi since the late 1970s – when Vietnam dared to attempt enforcing it’s claim to the water. For the most part, the United States usually ignored the CCP’s claims (which had been continually without any means to back it up). Recently, though, Vietnam (and the Phillipines, Indonesia, Brunei, Taiwan) have gotten very antsy about the CCP navy adding bite to the Central Military Commission’s bark. Suddenly, American silence sounded a lot like American appeasement.

That’s about when the Obama Administration started playing against type and warning the CCP off. Now the Phillipines are getting treatment reserved in the past for Britain; Vietnam’s regime is acting like it fought on our side during the 1960s and 1970s; and the CCP is finding that Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are not their only local problems anymore.

It must be a painful joke for the CCP. While Barack Obama has led America in retreat just about everywhere else on the planet, in Eastern Asia he has deepended and expanded alliances against the CCP. If it weren’t for the fact that the Communists have strong ties to America’s other adversaries around the globe, they would consider President Obama to be a total loss.

As it is, only their proxies get to benefit from Obama. The CCP itself has to resort to talks with their neighbors (New York Times).

This could get especially interesting next year. Taiwan as a new election coming up, and the CCP-friendly Kuomintang is facing a surprisingly resurgent Democratic Progressive Party. Meanwhile, we’ll have our own election, and it will be curious to see if East Asia becomes an issue.

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