[Edited to add an omitted link.]
Thanks to all who have provided feedback, criticism, and encouragement. With this edition, I am migrating over to a new mail provider, so the sign-up page has changed. You don’t have to do anything to stay subscribed, and the unsubscribe link is still below. I’ve imposed a 1,000-word limit and adjusted the writing. And I’ve decided the archive for these newsletters will appear at my long-time blog on East Asia, Transpacifica. Remember:
This week’s five items are more U.S.-focused, while China celebrates the Year of the Ovicaprid:
U.S. official: Space cooperation impossible given China’s secretive anti-satellite program
From Assistant Secretary of State Frank Rose’s Feb. 20 speech in Washington: “On July 23, 2014, the Chinese Government conducted a non-destructive test of a missile designed to destroy satellites in low Earth orbit. However, China publicly called this ASAT test a ‘land-based missile interception test.’ Despite China’s claims that this was not an ASAT test; let me assure you the United States has high confidence in its assessment, that the event was indeed an ASAT test. … China’s ASAT program, and the lack of transparency accompanying it, also impedes bilateral space cooperation. While we prefer cooperation, it will by necessity have to be a product of a step-by-step approach starting with dialogue, leading to modest CBMs, which might then perhaps lead to deeper engagement. However, none of this is possible until China changes its behavior with regard to ASATs.”
COMMENT: Former U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley has said space exploration could be a great opportunity for U.S.–China cooperation, but U.S. security concerns are deep. Meanwhile, Rose’s speech reinforces the general impression that bilateral nuclear deterrence is stable.
Hadley and Haenle: Don’t dismiss the ‘New Model’ out of hand
While the initial Chinese framing of the “new model of major country relations” fell flat in Washington over the definition of mutual respect for core interests, former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and one of his key assistants Paul Haenle (now heading the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center) argue that the idea should not be prematurely dismissed: “If the Chinese are unable to offer such flexibility and persistently push ‘core interests,’ China risks the United States rejecting Xi’s proposal altogether. If, however, Chinese leaders are willing to remove the references to core interests, U.S. leaders should not dismiss the proposal out of hand. The new type of major-country relations concept matters to the Chinese and to Xi personally.”
COMMENT: This is strangely one of the only pieces of U.S. commentary to seriously examine the Chinese government’s new boilerplate on the “new model,” a six-point forumla unveiled in November during the Obama–Xi summit. Most of Washington has been too busy crowing that the concept is a simple Chinese trick.
Inside baseball: Is the U.S. government bereft of China expertise? If not, does it matter?
Criticizing the Obama administration for insufficient China expertise and engagement has become something of a pastime among China wonks, especially after first-term heavy weights like Jeffrey Bader, Kurt Campbell, Hillary Clinton, Tom Donilon, and Tim Geithner left the administration. CFR’s Elizabeth Economy has had enough. The assertion that “there are no senior China experts in the relevant U.S. bureaucracies,” Economy writes, is “simply ridiculous. Evan Medeiros, Jeff Prescott, Jonathan Stromseth, David Helvey, David Shear, Sharon Yuan, and a multitude of other talented China scholars and analysts occupy senior positions in the core bureaucracies. There is no dearth of China expertise in the U.S. government.”
CSIS’s Bonnie Glaser, who is quoted in an article Economy links to, responded on Twitter: “@LizEconomy Assume you are reacting to my SCMP comments. The perception in the region is quite different, can’t be ignored.” Economy’s response: “They say it because we do.”
COMMENT: Economy did not mention Assistant Secretary of State Danny Russel, a veteran diplomat who served in Japan and Korea, but it is a rule of Washington that experts in one country will be unhappy when key positions are filled by experts in another. Either way, the perception problem is real.
Fugitive Chinese officials in U.S. on agenda for August meeting
With no bilateral extradition treaty, the U.S. government faces a challenge as Chinese authorities seek to repatriate Chinese officials who have allegedly fled with ill-gotten wealth. A meeting on the issue already took place last month, Reuters reports, and another is scheduled for August. “There are alternatives to extradition,” the State Department’s David Luna said. Luna also said the return of stolen assets is “part of an ongoing bilateral dialogue, there are ongoing cases, and it is a priority.”
COMMENT: The U.S. government faces the challenge of standing up for its values regarding due process and fair trials while avoiding the appearance of harboring the criminally corrupt. With the Chinese anti-corruption drive in full gear, Chinese officials are pushing this issue hard.
Proposal for ‘archipelagic defense’ would encircle China with allied land forces
In a new Foreign Affairs essay, Andrew Krepinevich argues that Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and others should, with material U.S. support, “form a collective front that deters China from acts of aggression or coercion.” If that doesn’t sound like containment, I don’t know what does. The piece asserts that China is a “revisionist power” with “expansionist aims” and uses some questionable examples in support. But the meat of the proposal is to put U.S. and allied land forces on the “first island chain” that surrounds China on the East and South and equip them to mine sea lanes and launch missiles, etc. The goal of the proposal is deterrence: “Although deterrence through the prospect of punishment, in the form of air strikes and naval blockades, has a role to play in discouraging Chinese adventurism, Washington’s goal, and that of its allies and partners, should be to achieve deterrence through denial—to convince Beijing that it simply cannot achieve its objectives with force.”
COMMENT: Krepinevich has omitted the obvious in failing to discuss China’s potential reactions to the United States forming an explicit network of allies united militarily in opposition to its exercise of power. His frame of analysis seems to assume war is inevitable and then to ask how best to prepare for it.