Last Wednesday, the Obama Administration announced a $5.85 billion arms sales package to Taiwan, featuring upgrades for 145 of Taiwan’s F-16 A/B fighter jets. In this blog post, we highlight the contrast between China’s official responses to the arms deal, and reactions published in the Chinese media. The differences underscore some of the tensions and competing voices in China’s foreign policy establishment.
- In Beijing, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun summoned US Ambassador to China Gary Locke to protest the arms sales. The acting US military attaché to China was also summoned by China’s Ministry of Defense.
- In New York, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton: “China urged the U.S. to attach great importance to China’s solemn position and take it very seriously, correct the mistake of selling weapons to Taiwan by revoking the above-mentioned wrong decision, eliminate its negative influence, stop arms sales to Taiwan and U.S.-Taiwan military contact, and take real actions to uphold the larger interest of China-U.S. relations.”
- Defense Ministry spokesperson Geng Yansheng said at a press briefing that “planned China-U.S. military exchanges, including high-level visits and joint exercises, will definitely be impacted.”
COMMENTARY IN THE PRESS
- The US-China relationship will suffer – such is the general sentiment voiced in several editorials and op-eds. In “A blow to Sino-US ties,” Shen Dingli of Fudan University writes that “Washington’s new arms sales to Taiwan squanders chances for further cooperation in economic and political areas,” and that “the US will have to deal with the consequences.” Sounding a similar note, Zhu Feng of Beijing University says that analysts who downplay Beijing’s reaction risk “overlook[ing] the negative consequences of China’s opposition.” Another common theme in the criticism is that the US is “putting domestic law above an international treaty,” referring respectively to the Taiwan Relations Act and the 1982 US-China communiqué, and calling for the abolishment of the TRA. (more…)
This past weekend, the U.S. commemorated the ten year anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Across the globe, other countries also took a moment to reflect on this day. In this post, we examine views from Russia, India, China and Japan.
InRussia, commentators asserted thatU.S.unilateralism in the “war on terror” has interfered in the internal affairs of sovereign countries. At the same time, they concede that the Kremlin also lost an opportunity to deepen U.S.-Russian relations in the 9/11 aftermath.
- The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that although the 9/11 attacks were “provocative and cruel,” they also led to broad international cooperation that has helped to bring global counter-terrorism cooperation to a higher level. The Foreign Ministry emphasized thatRussia supports an international coalition of nations, as opposed to some form of unilateralism, as the best mechanism for battling against the specter of terrorism.
Multiple commentaries described the 9/11 tragedy and subsequent global fight against terrorism as a missed opportunity for the Kremlin to boost ties with the West:
- The Moscow Times, which tends to express opinion that the Rising Powers Initiative characterizes as Pro-Western Liberal, favoring modernization and integration with the West, noted that although U.S.-Russian cooperation got off to a strong start after 9/11, it quickly fizzled. “Moscow was counting on getting something in return fromWashington…butWashington simply tookMoscow’s assistance for granted, interpreting it as a response that any civilized country would have taken to support a partner hit by a major terrorist attack.”
- Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of the Russia in Global Affairs journal, corroborated this view, asserting that “good will and compromise on strategic issues are always the result of tough bargaining and never reciprocity.” Ultimately, Lukyanov concludes,Russia’s tough stance towards theU.S. was “the result of feeling that it had been betrayed,” leadingMoscow to conclude that “only power is respected in this world.”
- Another editorial in The Moscow Times attributes the dramatic increase in opium production and drug addiction-related deaths in Russia as an offshoot of the decline in U.S.-Russian security cooperation. The author insists that Washington has a “moral responsibility” to help Moscow control the flow of drugs from Afghanistan.
- RIA Novosti military commentator Konstantin Bogdanov remarked, “If there’s anything that the ten years of the ‘war on terror’ have demonstrated, it’s that the world leader is incredibly isolated. America is stubbornly and methodically trying to impose its own designs on a desperately recalcitrant world.” As the state news agency, RIA Novosti’s views are close to the current government position and reflect what the Rising Powers Initiative has identified as the Great Power Balancers viewpoint—those that seek great power status in relations with U.S. and China.
In India, 9/11 was an occasion to reflect on the country’s own problems with terrorism, in the context ofAmerica’s war on terror over the past ten years. (more…)Continue Reading →
The decision by the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, not to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Perth in October has caused considerable disappointment in Canberra.
The absence of the head of the world’s largest democracy, and the Commonwealth’s largest member, will take the sheen off the forum and postpone an Indian prime ministerial visit to Australia after more than two decades into the uncertain future.
Commentators have been quick to identify the Labor government’s decision not to supply uranium to India as influencing Singh’s travel plans. The reality is more complex. Despite a growing convergence of values and interests, and the efforts of the countries’ two very competent high commissioners, there is still little real conversation between key players in Australia and their counterparts in India. New Delhi and Canberra may know each other, but they still do not have a nuanced understanding of each other. Thus in the absence of a sustained engagement at many levels, even a single issue can derail bilateral ties. This needs to change if the two countries are to work with each other and in the interests of the region.
Take the case of India. At the official level, there are no more than one or two officers in the severely shortstaffed Ministry of External Affairs who pay attention to Australia, and rarely for more than a couple of hours a week. It requires great persistence for Australian officials and diplomats to secure high-level attention from India.This lack of real communication even at the government-to-government level undermines the political relationship.
A recent private poll of the political and civil service elite in India suggests that while Australia may be a preferred tourist destination, and continues to rank quite highly for the quality of its tertiary education, there are few who would rank Canberra high in terms of political or strategic salience even among the countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
And, unfortunately, the Cold War divide, Canberra’s strident response to India’s nuclear tests, and the uranium decision still seem to drive the Indian elite’s “limited” understanding of Australia and its potential as an ally. (more…)Continue Reading →