…the Chinese Communist Party is trying to apply lessons, which is not good for the democratic world.
Already the CCP is trying “salami-slicing tactics” (Gordon Chang, Gatestone Institute) against the Philippines, seizing control of Scarborough Shoal and trying to squeeze their democratic neighbor and rival out of Second Thomas Shoal. As Chang himself ruefully notes:
Washington, not wanting to antagonize Beijing and hoping to avoid a confrontation, did nothing to stop the Chinese taking over the shoal despite our mutual defense treaty with Manila.
As Chang notes, the Philippines don’t have the luxury of “hoping to avoid a confrontation.” Their ability to hang on to Second Thomas has been creative (Denis Halpin, Weekly Standard), but that doesn’t justify the silence in our nation’s capital. Halpin is convinced this is in no small part due to the Administration’s weakness in Ukraine, and notes that the consequences could be terrible.
Beijing could also draw a dangerous lesson from the chopping up of Ukraine under the excuse of unifying ethnic Russian peoples. It has long advocated its own ethnic Chinese revanchism with regard to Taiwan. With Taiwanese experts estimating that the PLA has more than 1,600 missiles targeting the island, any calculation of a lack of American resolve could possibly encourage further adventurism in East Asia.
Still, would the CCP really risk their growing economy and relative stability by starting a war?
Well, as Chang sees it, the economy is not what it seems…
Everyone knows China’s growth is slowing. Yet what is not obvious is that it is slowing so fast that the economy could fail.
The Chinese economy almost failed in June. There were extraordinary events that month including two waves of bank defaults. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country’s largest bank—the world’s largest bank—was obviously in distress: it even had to shut down its ATMs and online banking platforms to conserve cash. The Bank of China, the country’s third-largest lender, was also on the edge of default.
There was panic in China in June, but central government technocrats were able to rescue the economy by pouring even more state money into “ghost cities” and high-speed-rail-lines-to-nowhere.
Doing so created gross domestic product—economic output—but that was the last thing Beijing should have been doing at that—or this—moment. China, at every level of government, is funding all its construction with new debt. You think America has a debt problem; China’s is worse.
As one economist told us recently, every province in China is a Greece.
China, after the biggest boom in history, is heading into what could end up as the biggest debt crisis in history. This is not a coincidence.
…and neither is the stability (from Chang’s World Affairs Journal Blog)…
Chinese leader Xi Jinping in fact says no one is immune from his corruption probes and that he is going after both “tigers” and “flies,” party lingo for officials high and low. Few in China actually believe that Xi is trying to rid China of that evil, however. After all, the Communist Party has become completely infested, and the president appears to be targeting only political adversaries, such as the infamous Zhou Yongkang, the former security czar, using “corruption” as an excuse.
Yet Xi’s purges are wide-ranging, touching hundreds of officials, and they have gone so far that former leaders Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao are now asking him to slow the effort, in part because he is threatening their extensive patronage networks and also because his investigations could shake the foundations of the party itself.
At this moment, it looks like fear pervades Chinese officialdom, and that some officials are choosing the easy way out by taking their own lives. As the purges continue, we can expect more unnatural deaths—and perhaps even political instability.
In short, the CCP’s democratic neighbors are asserting themselves…while Zhongnanhai watches an angry Vladimir Putin threaten, chop up, and intimidate Ukraine…without serious repercussions.
For what it’s worth, I have presented some recommendations for action regarding Ukraine. I still consider them vaild…if anything, even more so now.