The South China Morning Post goes somewhat off-message as a (venerable and worthy) commentator gently points out that China has pretty much lost Taiwan. The author tries to be nice about it, and comfort Beijing with the idea that perhaps it could still re-jig the Leninist mouth-frothing and ranting in such a way as to appeal to Taiwan’s free and democratic people. Reading between the lines, it’s clear he doubts it.
Meanwhile, the PLA are whining that Taiwan’s KMT crowd are conning them by extracting booze and banquets while not really supporting unification.
Across Planet West, the mainstream narrative-meme-thing is that Xi’s China is gleefully seizing the opportunity to grab spheres of influence all around as president-child Trump tweets the US into oblivion. A nuanced qualification is that Xi is not gleeful, but under pressure – racing against a return to rule by grown-ups in the US, and against the demographics that will soon start dragging China back.
But another possibility is that it is China that is already exposed and vulnerable – and would find itself on the back foot if the US were there to show a little assertiveness. Signs of hubristic overreach are all over, from the uncovering of United Front infiltration in Australia and New Zealand, to realization of the predatory nature of Chinese infrastructure/resources ‘Belt and Road’ forays. It’s only a matter of time before Beijing’s puppet regimes in Asia and Africa face popular backlashes, or Chinese interests attract protesting crowds and terrorist attacks.
Beijing has already compressed its versions of the Monroe Doctrine, ‘Speak Softly/Big Stick’, white man’s burden, Mahan-style sea power and Dulles-style dictator-adoption into a decade. At this rate, imperial decline should set in by end-March.
Which leads us to this book, finally out (marketing buzz courtesy of pro-Beijing elements who tried to ban it). And this rigorous and not immensely flattering survey of the Belt and Road initiative-vision-win-win thing.
I declare the weekend open with best wishes to all for the Dog Year. My local soothsayer assures me it will be a good time for everyone, apart from those actually born under the Dog sign. In astrological terms, this is a situation where ‘two canines meet’, which is a Bad Thing. It is especially inauspicious and ugly for those who will be 60 this year. As all Asia Experts know, this key anniversary represents a full cycle of all 12 animals and all five elements. Apparently, these aging unfortunates face a (more than averagely) miserable and desolate year, howling bitterly at an uncaring world. But for the rest of us – it’ll be great.