Friday, November 23, 2018

Inflicting Pain

America is a Pacific power that wants to reassure friends and allies (and states that would like to be friends or allies) we are in their corner:

Indo-Pacific Command Commander Adm. Philip Davidson said the United States will continue to challenge China over its claims in the disputed South China Sea region with both military and economic means.

Davidson came to the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada Nov. 17 and delivered a message similar to one the Trump administration gave on the other side of the world the day before: The United States intends to beat back China’s influence over its smaller, less wealthy neighbors.

The economic means hit export-reliant China where it hurts. And apparently the low-level tariff war actually benefits America (tip to Instapundit):

The EconPol Europe study calculates that Chinese exporters are bearing approximately 75 percent of the costs, meaning that eventually a net gain of $18.4 billion will be added to the US economy.

And lest you think friends and allies in Asia will shudder as this battle over tilted trade policies continues:

According to research done by Japanese financial services company Nomura Holdings, the search by companies based in the US and China for suitable substitution for certain tariff-affected goods is benefiting Malaysia in particular, but Japan, Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines are also among the beneficiaries.

Also in Asia, Vietnam has been gaining the most from firms relocating their production away from China. Malaysia, Singapore and India have also been profiting from this development.

China looks strong and it certainly has strength after decades of growth. But China has a lack of rule of law and the problems China has could cause a major economic crisis.

And since downgrading communist ideology as a pillar of the legitimacy of the ruling class in favor of growing richer as the justification for the Communist Party's monopoly of political power, an economic crisis could shake the party's control.

And yes, for those smaller neighbors of China our visible military power is a reassuring factor in Asia. In that realm, two more American B-52s asserted our stand that the South China Sea is an international body of water that China cannot fence off with dashed lines.

The notion that America is retreating from Asia and the Pacific remains nonsense.

And I'll add as I often do that I remain sad that INDOPACOM was not named PAINCOM (Pacific-Indian Command).

UPDATE: America's campaign against the giant Huawei adds to the pressure:

The U.S. government is trying to persuade wireless and internet providers in allied countries to avoid telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL], the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The move would further pile pressure on the world’s biggest telecom gear maker, which is under scrutiny from Western intelligence agencies for its perceived ties to China’s government and the possibility its equipment could be used for espionage.

This really is looking like a full-court press. Will China cut a deal under this pressure? Or do they think they can endure it and outlast the Trump administration?

If the latter, in 2020 we should probably be looking more at China (again, as they did in the 1990s) rather than Russia for election interference:

China is spreading "fake news" via social media to swing Taiwanese voters away from President Tsai Ing-wen's party and behind candidates more sympathetic to Beijing ahead of elections, Taiwanese officials said.

Beijing is test-driving its techniques in Taiwan, where it has a big stake in the politics and understands the language and culture, but deployed its cyber-capacities in the United States, Australia and other democracies, the officials said.

I'm so old I remember when social media was viewed as a means to topple dictators rather than one more tool in the tyranny toolkit.