Readers of Transpacifica would likely be interested in my new weekly newsletter, an experiment of sorts, in which I’m selecting five—just five!—key news developments or pieces of commentary that you shouldn’t miss each week if you want to keep track of U.S.–China relations. The first edition went out a few minutes ago, and you can read it below.
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U.S.–China Week (Beta Issue 0.1)
This is the first installment of an experiment. Each week, I plan to pick five of the most important news developments or pieces of commentary on U.S.–China relations over the past week and send them along to people who subscribe here.
Two views of reality on bilateral military ties
First, from The Wall Street Journal, “Pentagon Rules Out Aircraft Carrier Visit to China“: “Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said U.S. and Chinese officials met Thursday to discuss military exchanges over the coming year to build on previous efforts, but said the U.S. has ruled out a visit to China by a U.S. carrier.”
Second, from China Daily, “Chinese Navy officers return from US tour“: “A delegation of Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy officers returned to Beijing after a visit to US Navy facilities, the first extensive exchange between operational officers of the two countries, China News Service reported. … ‘The visit has a positive role in building a new model of major power relationship and boosting the military relationships between China and the US,’ said Zhang Junshe, the head of the delegation. … A Pentagon spokesman described the meeting as “an important component of the broader program of engagements between the two nations’ militaries, which seeks to foster sustained and substantive dialogue, deepen practical cooperation in areas of mutual interest and focus on enhancing risk-reduction.”
COMMENT: The timing of the Pentagon’s announcement that there will be no carrier visit (for now) makes it look like this letter from Sen. John McCain made a decisive difference. I would caution that this is not a cancellation of an existing plan but a statement a new plan for a carrier port call in China is not currently in the cards. Remember, however, that a top Chinese general has already visited a carrier, last year. The phrase “ruled out” does not appear in quotes in the WSJ report, so it’s hard to assess the strength of this signal.
US Officials: ‘China’s Undermining an Open Internet’
Writing in Politico: “[A]spects of China’s actions, including the direction of their recently announced regulations—which have been billed as a means to promote better cybersecurity—are not the answer. China’s new rules require technology companies doing business with banks to demonstrate that their products are ‘secure and controllable’ by, among other things, making their source code available to the Chinese government, providing the Chinese government with back doors in software and hardware and requiring localization of foreign intellectual property to China. Not only are these regulations inconsistent with international cybersecurity best practices, they are anticompetitive trade barriers. … Our companies should be able to sell their innovative products in China, and innovative Chinese companies want to do business here in the United States.”
The authors: “J. Michael Daniel is a special assistant to the president and the cybersecurity coordinator at the National Security Council. Ambassador Robert Holleyman is the deputy trade representative in the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Alex Niejelow is the chief of staff to the U.S. intellectual property enforcement coordinator within the Executive Office of the President.”
COMMENT: This is a prominent response by high-level but sub-Cabinet U.S. officials to recent policy moves by China regarding the IT sector and the Internet. Paul Mozur of NYT reports U.S. business groups have asked for action from the secretaries of State, Commerce, and Treasury.
‘The New Asian Order: And How the United States Fits In’
By Evan A. Feigenbaum at Foreign Affairs: “Washington’s first problem is that it cannot simply reject every pan-Asian idea out of hand, however much it may resent its own exclusion from some rooms, conversations, and agreements. Indeed, the proliferation of Asia-only pacts and institutions over the last two decades has won support in more than a few Asian capitals, even in countries that are ambivalent about China’s rise and among U.S. allies and partners. A strategy of nyet, therefore, is almost certain to backfire. And Washington runs the risk of appearing hypocritical by insisting, for example, that it can have the North American Free Trade Agreement or seek a Free Trade Area of the Americas while telling Asian countries that they cannot pursue their own intraregional agreements.”
‘President Xi of China to Make State Visit to Washington’
From the The New York Times: “No date has been set yet for the visit, Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the United States, told reporters over the weekend, according to the official China Daily newspaper. Mr. Cui’s announcement came after Susan E. Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser, extended an invitation on Friday to Mr. Xi and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan to come to Washington for a state visit. Ms. Rice also invited President Park Geun-hye of South Korea and President Joko Widodo of Indonesia.”
COMMENT: The invitations are apparently for “this year,” and all eyes will be on the sequencing and timing. Will Abe come before Xi? Will Abe come to close out TPP negotiations? For U.S.–China relations, however, this means the tempo of top-level interaction is staying relatively high—good news for those pushing to lock positive developments and minimize the negative before the presidential election season enters full swing.
Kevin Rudd: ‘How Ancient Chinese Thought Applies Today’
A somewhat recent speech published on Huffington Post: “The basic reality is that as China’s economy grows and supplants the U.S. as the largest economy in the world, and as China gradually begins to narrow the military gap between the two over the decades ahead, there is a new imperative for a common strategic narrative for both Washington and Beijing. … Therefore I argue the relationship needs to consider a new strategic concept for the future that is capable of sufficiently embracing both American and Chinese realities, as well as areas of potential common endeavor for the future, and to do so in language which is comprehensible and meaningful in both capitals.”
I’ll say it again: This is an experiment. Comments on everything from content to format are very welcome. Please forward this message to any colleagues and friends who might be interested. I can’t guarantee I will keep up with my weekly schedule, but that’s the plan. Mockery is very welcome if I fail to follow up. –Graham ([email protected])
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