At this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, China sent a lower-ranking delegation than in years past. Previously, China’s representative was a deputy chief from Joint Staff; this year Beijing sent a lieutenant general. India did not attend.
US Defense Secretary Mattis commented that China’s man-made islands undermine stability and that China has contempt for other nations’s interests and disregards international law. As expected, China took exception, calling the remarks “irresponsible”.
More interesting were the responses of the under dogs…
Small players know they are in a tug of war between the US and China over who has rights to which waters. Malaysia’s main reported talking points seemed to be on regional safety and rule of law. When Malaysia’s Defense Minister commented that a China-only “code” would not prevent all clashes, China’s lieutenant general rebutted with a question of what a “perfect code” would look like.
This is telling. It becomes more and more clear how China views itself in these talks, as a lieutenant general among ministers and rebutting Malaysia as one would a peer. China is clearly withdrawing, responding to the international community as already being an outcast. While the West and the press have tried to paint China as the villain, much more so than may be appropriate, China’s response only perpetuates that view among Western taxpayers and now smaller players in China’s back yard.
A group affiliated with Taiwan’s Association of University Professors are calling for Taiwan’s president to declare Taiwan’s sovereignty. This comes in the over-lapping contexts of regional talks and the ongoing situation of China having arrested Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲). The group called for Taiwan to boycott some upcoming talks with China to make a point to the international community.
The cycle of history is becoming more of a cyclone. Not much changed at this year’s G20: Posturing, “sovereignty” subjectively defined to excuse nearly everything and everyone’s self, money used as the looming threat to scare each other into cooperation. There wasn’t much mention of the larger pending threat: Islam.
Whether any brand of “militant” or “peaceful”, Islam does one thing G20 should discuss, but doesn’t: Islam grows.
Various forms of Islam stand on China’s doorstep. The Chinese are aware of hostile takeovers, but not very much, it seems. The game-changer in the Pacific conflict will be Islam in Southeast Asia. Eventually, treaties, strategies, alliances, and battle lines will re-form around the topic of Islam.
This coming presence will likely stay fights between America and China as China defines another “enemy”. The ever growing—especially this week—Hong Kong dissent toward China may suddenly value the armies of Beijing. Cookie-cutter statements about the US, Taiwan, and China won’t receive the time of day.
The one thing we learn from G20 is that the largest topic in world news was totally ignored by the world’s 20 largest national leaders. But, it won’t stay that way. We’ll see what happens by next year.
Northern Korea launched a missile that travelled 1/10 the distance it needs to. Pyongyang considered it a “success”.
China has come to a consensus about its activity in the South China Sea. The consensus did not include all ASEAN nations. And, the US continues to disagree with the consensus.
The City Council Speaker of a southern Taiwan city, Tainan, was found guilty of “vote buying”. This was the second guilty verdict. He was relieved of his speakership the next day, placing control of City Council back in the hands of the majority party, same as the popular Mayor William Lai. Former Speaker Lee is a member of the KMT, which recently lost the national elections for the legislature and the presidency. With Lee removed from the Speakership, Mayor Lai will no longer protest City Council meetings, removing over a year of city-wide gridlock.