Author Topic: US-China (& Japan, South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc)  (Read 201769 times)

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Freedom of Navigation in SCC South China Sea
« Reply #950 on: November 22, 2019, 09:25:31 AM »
The U.S. ramps up freedom of navigation ops. The U.S. is signaling at least a small shift in its approach to the South China Sea. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. was ramping up so-called Freedom of Navigation Operations, or FONOPs, in the contested waters. Sure enough, the U.S. Navy announced today that the littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords on Wednesday sailed within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef – one of seven disputed reefs in the Spratly Islands transformed into a Chinese military outpost over the past five years. Then, on Thursday, the guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer sailed through the disputed Paracel Islands, farther north. China, in response, issued its customary protests and accusations. As we’ve explained, most FONOPs are largely symbolic moves aimed primarily at demonstrating U.S. commitment to international maritime law; they do nothing to deter Chinese expansion and have only limited value in reassuring allies about U.S. defense commitments. Nonetheless, the involvement of the USS Gabrielle Giffords – believed to be the first time a U.S. littoral combat ship has been used in a FONOP – will likely be seen by Beijing as something of a warning that the U.S. is willing to shift from surveillance to deterrence. The U.S. has been deploying at least three Independence-class littoral combat ships (which can operate in shallower waters than destroyers) to Changi naval base in Singapore on a rotational basis. In addition to the Giffords, the USS Montgomery has been spotted in the South China Sea recently, including reportedly conducting joint exercises with a pair of Australian warships last week.


Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Japan modernizing Air Force
« Reply #952 on: November 24, 2019, 11:24:11 AM »
apan Modernizes Its Air Force, but Will It Be Enough?
5 MINS READ
Nov 20, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
An Oct. 14, 2018, photo shows an F-35A fighter aircraft of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force taking part in a military review at Asaka training ground in Asaka, Saitama prefecture, Japan.
An Oct. 14, 2018, photo shows an F-35A fighter aircraft of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force taking part in a military review at Asaka training ground in Asaka, Saitama prefecture, Japan.

(KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)

HIGHLIGHTS

Japan is accelerating the buildup of its offensive capabilities as part of its military normalization process, with its air force at the forefront of the effort.

The newly acquired JASDF offensive capabilities will greatly enhance Japan's flexibility and independence in its defense.

A multiplicity of threats and a struggling domestic defense industry will continue to pose challenges for Japan.

Japan is accelerating its military normalization process by building up its offensive capabilities, especially those of its Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). As a part of that push, the United States on Oct. 29 granted Japan's request for a major upgrade to its F-15J fighter aircraft. Installing advanced radar and cruise missile capability on 98 JASDF jets will mark a crucial step in Japan's move away from its post-World War II pacifist stance. And while the upgrades will enhance Tokyo's options, maintaining Japanese national defense as the country's aerospace industry declines and the regional threat environment — including an expanding Chinese military — becomes more complex will become increasingly difficult.

The Big Picture

Tokyo, long focused on maintaining a purely defensive military, is now building its offensive capabilities to better deal with emerging threats. How Japan deals with its security challenges in its increasingly complex neighborhood will have significant regional and global implications.

From Defense to Offense

Since its founding in 1954, the JASDF has focused on developing potent air defense and anti-ship capabilities. This largely meshed with Japan's postwar self-image as a pacifist country with an air force geared exclusively toward defending the home islands. While the JASDF built a considerable ability to intercept inbound enemy jets and warships, it couldn't mount offensive operations beyond the immediate waters around Japan. Instead, Tokyo relied on its security alliance with the United States to serve as its offensive capability: If need be, the Japanese military could be the shield, and the U.S. military could be the sword.

Though Japan's pacifist strategic posture outlived the Cold War, it has steadily eroded in the 21st century as Washington urged it to beef up its military and because of Tokyo's concern that the U.S. commitment to Japanese national defense could waver. Japan's increasing alarm at a nuclear North Korea and a rising China have only reinforced the trend, spurring Japan to accelerate efforts to normalize its military.

One of the first significant steps for the JASDF in this regard was acquiring aerial refueling aircraft in 2008. Japan had previously never developed this capability given its potential to extend the range of its combat aircraft such that they could reliably strike other countries. Japan sought to justify the purchase by arguing it allowed the JASDF to reduce fuel costs, extend the duration of its air defense patrols and enhance its response time.

Another significant step in Japan's military's normalization occurred with the 2016 announcement that it was developing a new anti-ship cruise missile with the built-in capability of striking land targets. Such weapons, including versions that can be launched from the air, significantly enhance the JASDF's ability to strike at Tokyo's potential adversaries — including North Korea and China — on their own territory.

This photo shows a Lockheed Martin AGM-158 joint air-to-surface standoff cruise missile (JASSM).

A Lockheed Martin AGM-158 joint air-to-surface standoff missile (JASSM) in front of an aircraft at an air show on July 16, 2018, in Farnborough, England. The AGM-158 JASSM is a low observable standoff air-launched cruise missile and is likely to be used with Japan's F-15J fighters.

(Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images Images)
The JASDF's decision to majorly upgrade its F-15J fighter jets furthers Japan's transition to offensive military capabilities. The modernization of the aging, but still powerful, fighters will see them equipped with potent cruise missiles.

An F-15J/DJ fighter aircraft at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force's Hyakuri air base in Omitama, Ibaraki prefecture, Japan on Oct. 26, 2014.
An F-15J/DJ fighter aircraft at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force's Hyakuri air base in Omitama, Ibaraki prefecture, Japan, on Oct. 26, 2014.

(KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)
In conjunction with the new F-35 jets Tokyo has purchased, the upgrade will enhance Tokyo's ability to go on the offensive, including the ability to preemptively strike its adversaries, rather than just to defend itself — and the ability to inflict pain, of course, carries a deterrent effect. But even as Japan is bolstering its military, the already-substantial threats it faces are also growing.

An Expanding Array of Threats

During the Cold War and in close alignment with the United States, Japan focused on the Soviet Union as the only significant threat to the home islands. Today, Japan's threat environment is significantly more complicated. In addition to intercepting the Russian aircraft that still regularly approach Japan, the JASDF must contend with the much more active Chinese air forces — the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and the People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force (PLANAF). Moreover, North Korea has emerged as a major missile and nuclear threat over the last decade, forcing Japan to devote considerable resources to developing missile defenses and driving the JASDF toward obtaining offensive capabilities.

The PLAAF's and PLANAF's qualitative leaps in equipment seriously concern the JASDF. While the Chinese air forces have always outnumbered the JASDF, the latter typically boasted significantly better jets and pilots. But this is no longer a given since China has begun fielding large numbers of advanced jets and has greatly bolstered pilot training. Japan's approximately 300 fighter jets backed up by approximately 20 early warning and control aircraft, are well outnumbered by the Chinese air forces' 1,000 modern fighter jets and about 30 early warning and control aircraft.

Japan has sought to build its capabilities against these threats as quickly as possible by purchasing 147 of the already-in-production F-35s and by upgrading its F-15Js. But these decisions, especially the F-35 purchase, have caused some controversy in Japan.

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force F2 jet fighter at the Higashi-Fuji firing range in Gotemba, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, on August 24, 2017.

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force F2 jet fighter at the Higashi-Fuji firing range in Gotemba, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, on Aug. 24, 2017. The aircraft is manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Lockheed Martin for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, with a 60-40 split in manufacturing between Japan and the United States.

(TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP via Getty Images)

Heavy reliance on purchases from the United States has disappointed the Japanese defense aerospace industry, which has largely been stuck with a marginal assembly role. Japan's purchases of foreign-built aircraft have left many domestic parts suppliers under increasing stress. In a 2016 ministerial survey, 52 of 72 aerospace companies said they are aware of supply disruptions and parts makers going out of business. Maintaining a mature domestic aerospace industry capable of meeting Japanese security needs against future challenges will be harder for Japan, given that its sector has been starved of major contracts as Tokyo has largely looked to the United States for big purchases.




Crafty_Dog

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DougMacG

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US-China trade war
« Reply #957 on: December 08, 2019, 07:51:10 AM »
The latest jobs report indicates which way the trade war will turn.

Trade wars are described as your country shooting a hole in the bottom of your own boat as retaliation for your competitor nation shooting a hole in theirs.  Tariff is a tax on your own consumer and a limit on your own consumer's choices.

The trade war with China is more complicated than that because it involves technology and trademark theft among other issues.

But the dynamics of it remain close to the analogy, and close to the analysis made here at the beginning.  By imposing tariffs 'on China', Trump shot a hole in our boat, the world's largest and greatest economy, that already has other holes and anchors weighing it down.  Our hole has one fifth the impact of the one China is dealing with.  Theirs is bringing down the engine of growth; ours is not.

China MUST make an agreement with the US or throw out their current economic model.  The US is under no such pressure.

DougMacG

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China's exports to US drop 23% in one year
« Reply #958 on: December 10, 2019, 07:55:52 AM »
China's exports to the United States amid the ongoing trade war decreased 23% from a year earlier

https://www.ibtimes.com/us-china-trade-war-chinese-exports-us-fall-23-amid-tensions-between-washington-2881575

Meanwhile, US economy continues to grow.

Crafty_Dog

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Crafty_Dog

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DougMacG

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Defaults spreading in China
« Reply #963 on: December 24, 2019, 06:26:46 AM »
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-16/defaults-in-one-of-china-s-richest-provinces-spook-investors?srnd=premium-asia
...
"The problem isn’t the defaults themselves -- other provinces have seen more and worse. It’s the practice common among Shandong companies of guaranteeing each others’ debts."

Did someone here call it a house of cards?

ccp

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China stole this too ?
« Reply #964 on: December 24, 2019, 08:03:15 AM »
"The problem isn’t the defaults themselves -- other provinces have seen more and worse. It’s the practice common among Shandong companies of guaranteeing each others’ debts."

Even Ponzi schemes ?

Crafty_Dog

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Epoch Times
« Reply #965 on: December 27, 2019, 01:43:17 PM »
China Sails Carrier Group Through Taiwan Strait as Election Looms
BY REUTERS
 CommentsDecember 26, 2019 Updated: December 26, 2019Share
   
TAIPEI/BEIJING—China sailed its new aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Dec. 26, just weeks away from a presidential election on the island and amid heightened tension with Beijing.

The ministry didn’t say exactly when the voyage occurred.

Democratic Taiwan is claimed by China as a wayward province and is the Communist Party’s most sensitive and important territorial issue. The regime has threatened to attack if Taiwan moves toward formal independence.

Taiwan holds a presidential vote on Jan. 11, 2020, with President Tsai Ing-wen hoping to win reelection. She has repeatedly mentioned the threat of China as a warning to voters.

Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party is pro-independence. She has said she wants to maintain the status quo with the regime but will defend Taiwan’s security and democracy.

The Chinese carrier Shandong sailed north through the strait, the Taiwan ministry said in a short statement, adding that the carrier was accompanied by frigates.

“It’s the responsibility and duty for the two sides across the strait to maintain peace and stability and strive for the well-being of the people,” Taiwan’s presidential office said in a statement.

“Beijing should cherish peace and stability across the strait and in the region, which are not easy to come by.”

China’s defense ministry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A senior Taiwan official familiar with security planning said the Chinese navy patrol was the latest bid by Beijing to meddle in Taiwan’s election.

“By flexing military muscles, China is trying to intimidate non-aligned voters,” the official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.

“Beijing understands that this could be a double-edged sword, but what worries China more is the possibility of a fiasco for pro-China forces in the election.”

The Chinese regime would prefer to see the candidate of the main opposition Kuomintang party, which backs stronger ties, win the election.

The Chinese ministry’s spokesman, Wu Qian, speaking Dec. 26 at a monthly news briefing, said everything was going “smoothly” with the new carrier, although he didn’t comment on its deployments.

“It will continue to conduct trials and training, and form a combat capability through training. We will make an overall consideration about its deployment according to the situation and task needs,” Wu said.

He didn’t mention its sailing through the Taiwan Strait.

The carrier, China’s second-largest, entered service at a base in the South China Sea last week in a big step in the country’s ambitious military modernization.

Last month, the ship, which was still unnamed at the time, sailed through the Taiwan Strait on its way to what China called routine exercises in the South China Sea, with Taiwan scrambling ships and aircraft to monitor the group.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping said in January that China reserves the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control, but will strive to achieve peaceful “reunification.”

G M

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Re: Epoch Times
« Reply #966 on: December 31, 2019, 05:56:46 PM »
Reminder: Some Taiwanese nukes flips that script.


China Sails Carrier Group Through Taiwan Strait as Election Looms
BY REUTERS
 CommentsDecember 26, 2019 Updated: December 26, 2019Share
   
TAIPEI/BEIJING—China sailed its new aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Dec. 26, just weeks away from a presidential election on the island and amid heightened tension with Beijing.

The ministry didn’t say exactly when the voyage occurred.

Democratic Taiwan is claimed by China as a wayward province and is the Communist Party’s most sensitive and important territorial issue. The regime has threatened to attack if Taiwan moves toward formal independence.

Taiwan holds a presidential vote on Jan. 11, 2020, with President Tsai Ing-wen hoping to win reelection. She has repeatedly mentioned the threat of China as a warning to voters.

Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party is pro-independence. She has said she wants to maintain the status quo with the regime but will defend Taiwan’s security and democracy.

The Chinese carrier Shandong sailed north through the strait, the Taiwan ministry said in a short statement, adding that the carrier was accompanied by frigates.

“It’s the responsibility and duty for the two sides across the strait to maintain peace and stability and strive for the well-being of the people,” Taiwan’s presidential office said in a statement.

“Beijing should cherish peace and stability across the strait and in the region, which are not easy to come by.”

China’s defense ministry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A senior Taiwan official familiar with security planning said the Chinese navy patrol was the latest bid by Beijing to meddle in Taiwan’s election.

“By flexing military muscles, China is trying to intimidate non-aligned voters,” the official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.

“Beijing understands that this could be a double-edged sword, but what worries China more is the possibility of a fiasco for pro-China forces in the election.”

The Chinese regime would prefer to see the candidate of the main opposition Kuomintang party, which backs stronger ties, win the election.

The Chinese ministry’s spokesman, Wu Qian, speaking Dec. 26 at a monthly news briefing, said everything was going “smoothly” with the new carrier, although he didn’t comment on its deployments.

“It will continue to conduct trials and training, and form a combat capability through training. We will make an overall consideration about its deployment according to the situation and task needs,” Wu said.

He didn’t mention its sailing through the Taiwan Strait.

The carrier, China’s second-largest, entered service at a base in the South China Sea last week in a big step in the country’s ambitious military modernization.

Last month, the ship, which was still unnamed at the time, sailed through the Taiwan Strait on its way to what China called routine exercises in the South China Sea, with Taiwan scrambling ships and aircraft to monitor the group.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping said in January that China reserves the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control, but will strive to achieve peaceful “reunification.”



DougMacG

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Great Fall of China: China’s debt and bureaucracy spell big trouble
« Reply #969 on: January 02, 2020, 12:59:19 PM »
China’s debt and bureaucracy spell big trouble
Bejing is coming to a crossroads where some serious decisions have to be made about its place in the world
https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/11/article/chinas-debt-and-bureaucratic-big-trouble/
...
This debt is mostly unknown, hidden in the accounts of provincial and county administrations, and with State-Owned Enterprises (SOE).  Including state debt, the total amount is estimated at more than 300% of China’s GDP, i.e. it could be about US$40 trillion, or about half of global GDP.  China’s M2, money in circulation, potentially 40% of worldwide money in circulation. Moreover, the Chinese central bank may not be in control of what tech giants like Tencent or Alibaba do with their money and their B2B and B2C tech-credit. Due to the structure of the Chinese state, this debt weighs heavily on its shoulders.
...
Beijing possibly sits on top of the biggest bubble in economic history.  ...

G M

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Re: Great Fall of China: China’s debt and bureaucracy spell big trouble
« Reply #970 on: January 02, 2020, 04:30:55 PM »
Crisis in China has always meant rivers of blood running through the streets. Perhaps the CCP can figure out a way to peacefully step aside and let true freedom work for the Chinese people.

Sure. That'll happen...


China’s debt and bureaucracy spell big trouble
Bejing is coming to a crossroads where some serious decisions have to be made about its place in the world
https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/11/article/chinas-debt-and-bureaucratic-big-trouble/
...
This debt is mostly unknown, hidden in the accounts of provincial and county administrations, and with State-Owned Enterprises (SOE).  Including state debt, the total amount is estimated at more than 300% of China’s GDP, i.e. it could be about US$40 trillion, or about half of global GDP.  China’s M2, money in circulation, potentially 40% of worldwide money in circulation. Moreover, the Chinese central bank may not be in control of what tech giants like Tencent or Alibaba do with their money and their B2B and B2C tech-credit. Due to the structure of the Chinese state, this debt weighs heavily on its shoulders.
...
Beijing possibly sits on top of the biggest bubble in economic history.  ...


Crafty_Dog

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Indoesia deploys fighter jets
« Reply #972 on: January 08, 2020, 07:03:48 AM »
https://www.theepochtimes.com/indonesia-deploys-fighter-jets-in-stand-off-with-china_3195740.html?utm_source=Epoch+Times+Newsletters&utm_campaign=c53a7bffbf-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_01_08_12_59&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4fba358ecf-c53a7bffbf-239065853

=======================

GPF

A standoff between Indonesian and Chinese forces is unfolding in the southernmost reaches of the South China Sea. Since around the middle of December, scores of Chinese fishing boats have reportedly been tooling around in Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone around the Natuna Islands. China does not claim the islands, but oil- and gas-rich waters near the islands do fall within China’s vaguely defined “nine-dash line,” which outlines Beijing’s territorial claims. Beijing asserts it has historical fishing rights in the waters. Indonesia rejects China’s nine-dash line and does not consider itself a party to the regional dispute over the South China Sea, but Chinese fishermen have periodically frustrated Jakarta’s preference to remain on the sidelines. And wherever there are Chinese fishermen in contested parts of the South China Sea, Chinese “maritime militia,” coast guard vessels and the occasional warship are certain to be nearby. (Open-source ship trackers show at least four Chinese coast guard vessels in the area on Tuesday, plus others active in waters claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines.) So over the past two days, Jakarta announced that it would deploy eight warships to the waters, plus several fighter jets. Indonesia is also adopting Chinese tactics, urging hundreds of Indonesian fishing vessels to rush to the area. Neither side has much appetite for or interest in escalation here, so expect both to quietly look for face-saving ways to quietly stand down. But the weaponization of fishing fleets has raised major command-and-control questions on both sides, meaning there’s at least a modest risk of an unintended clash.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2020, 07:19:37 AM by Crafty_Dog »

Crafty_Dog

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Crafty_Dog

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Re: US-China (& Japan, South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc)
« Reply #976 on: January 12, 2020, 10:29:50 AM »
Stratfor Worldview

The Strength of Tsai's Victory Raises Questions for Beijing's Approach to Taiwan
3 MINS READ
Jan 11, 2020 | 21:05 GMT
HIGHLIGHTS
The landslide win for the incumbent president indicates that the mainland's continued hard-line approach to Taipei could deepen nationalist sentiment on the island....

The Big Picture

Taiwan’s most consequential elections in years have ended, and an overwhelming victory by incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen promises to foster continued cross-strait tensions with China. The landslide raises the question about how Beijing will respond, particularly in dealing with the island’s rising resistance to its influence.
 

What Happened

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen's landslide victory in elections Jan. 11 will extend her term by four years, setting the island nation on a course for an extended period of cross-strait tensions with mainland China if, as expected, Beijing maintains its hard-line approach to her administration. Tsai's ruling party also captured a majority in Taiwan's 113-member parliament. The strength of her victory raises questions about how China will choose to deal with her administration while strengthening U.S. options for countering Chinese influence. The Chinese government could now be forced to rethink its completely restrictive policies to take into account the rise of more radical pro-independence factions inside the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and a long-term shift in Taiwan’s political landscape.

Why It Matters

Tsai secured more than 8 million votes among some 14 million Taiwanese voters, a record margin of victory since direct presidential elections began in 1996, and outpaced her main challenger, Han Kuo-yu from Kuomintang, by 2.5 million votes. Concurrently, the DPP is also set to retain its majority in the 113-member Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s parliament, even though it lost control of seven more seats than it currently has. The opposition Kuomintang gained three more than its previous total. Minor parties that play a third force in the island’s traditionally bipartisan political landscape made some limited strides in these elections. Turnout also reached a record high of 74.9 percent, reflecting high political awareness among the electorate.
 
In light of her party's slightly less impressive legislative performance than in past elections, Tsai's landslide win indicated that her approach to relations with Beijing was popular enough to overcome discontent among the electorate over some of the DPP’s domestic policies. Against the backdrop of Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests and perceived political interference from Beijing, the result reveals growing resistance among Taiwan's residents to Chinese influence, a feeling only set to grow stronger as the island's younger generation rises.

Given the election campaign’s heavy focus on cross-strait relations, the strength of Tsai's performance plus the extended tenure for the pro-independence DPP deals a blow to Beijing’s hard-line approach in dealing with the ruling party and to its strategy of extending economic incentives to the Taiwanese public to try to win their favor. This will effectively force Beijing to choose between two paths. It could maintain its hard-line approach, or even intensify it, at the risk of strengthening the more radical factions inside the DPP that advocate for independence and stronger ties with the United States. Or, it could choose to deal with the relatively more moderate factions that Tsai represents.

That said, Beijing is most likely to decide to continue to restrict its communications with Taiwan's leaders and follow its isolative and coercive strategy. This means maintaining efforts to poach Taiwanese diplomatic allies or deciding not to renew the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement when the pact expires in June as it seeks to wait out Tsai's term rather than risking its own domestic opposition by altering its stance. If that approach empowers the more radical pro-independence factions in Taiwan, it could trouble cross-strait relations for years to come. Ultimately, that would make Beijing’s already remote chances of achieving its objective of unification even more costly.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Taiwan
« Reply #977 on: January 13, 2020, 10:19:25 AM »
    Daily Memo: Taiwan’s Elections, Iran’s Protests
By: GPF Staff

Taiwan’s elections. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and her China-skeptic Democratic Progressive Party won in a landslide in Saturday’s general elections. According to Taiwan's Central Election Commission, Tsai won 57 percent of the vote, well ahead of the 39 percent won by Kuomintang’s candidate, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu. The DPP also retained control over the national legislature, winning 61 of 113 seats (compared to 68 in 2016), while ideologically aligned smaller parties and independent candidates won another eight seats. An astounding 74 percent of eligible Taiwanese voters turned out.

What's striking about the result is just how much it was shaped by events outside the island, particularly those involving China. Less than two years ago, the KMT trounced the DPP in local elections, and post-election polls showed Tsai trailing Han by more than 30 points. Between then and now, Taiwan’s economy proved to be a key beneficiary of the U.S.-China trade war, taking in much of the investment fleeing the mainland, while the protests in Hong Kong heightened local anxieties about Beijing’s aims to eventually retake the island. Hurting the KMT’s case were things like a Jan. 2 speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who declared that Taiwan “must be and will be” unified with China and declined to rule out an invasion, and the purported defection to Australia of a Chinese spy who claimed to have been involved in a Chinese campaign to meddle in the elections. Tsai and the DPP will be reluctant to rock the boat regarding cross-strait relations. It’s telling that Taiwan’s hard-line pro-independence party failed to win a single seat in the legislature. (Neither did any hard-line pro-unification parties.)

Still, there’s a saying about the precariousness of cross-strait relations: It’s only a problem if either side tries to fix it. And the combination of demographic shifts at home and Chinese pressure across the region are polarizing Taiwanese views about the mainland, which will make it difficult for Taiwanese leaders to stick safely to the status quo.