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South Korea Elections 2022: Chaebol Reforms are Yet Again Nowhere in Sight

Lee Jae-myung (left), presidential nominee for the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, exchanges greeting with Yoon Suk-yeol (right), presidential nominee for the main opposition People Power Party, during an event held in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, on Wednesday. (Joint Press Corps)

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As South Korea votes for their next Presidential candidate, where do the chaebol reforms stand? Unfortunately, the Moon-Jae In administration did little to change the status quo of chaebols. Despite promises of carrying out reforms targeting chaebols and eliminating business-politics collusion, another less than satisfactory attempt by the Moon administration only shows the depth to which the business-politics nexus runs in South Korea. Over the years chaebol reforms have continued to receive lip-service from Korean politicians but to no avail. The reform process is crucial to democratisation, yet the current two major-party candidates, Lee Jae-myung and Yoon Suk-yeol, have leaned further away from conversation surrounding reforms, suggesting that the ongoing chaebol-centric economic framework is likely to persist. But this bears with it adverse impact on Korea’s already declining democracy as well as risks exasperating social issues – such as rising housing prices, lack of employment opportunities, etc. Political favouritism towards family-owned large conglomerates, a legacy left behind by dictator Park-Chung Hee, has been retained by every succeeding Korean leader, even after democratisation in the 1980s. In fact the post-democracy era only witnessed a more entwined arrangement between business and politics with both becoming mutual hostages to one another. Eventually, chaebol-state activity – of exchanging policy for bribes – became quasi-institutionalised. This is evident in the numerous political scandals that have become a feature of South Korean society. As one scholar mentions, “the exchange of money for political influence has been not just an open secret but common knowledge” (Kang, 2002, p. 177).

Rise of Chaebols

From its very beginnings chaebols have been linked to their political masters (Rama and Bronwen, n.d.). The government-guided economy, with tight control over economic institutions, that prevailed in the post-Independence era inevitably made the industrial class dependant on the government for allocation of various resources such as raw material and commodities. This also included special bank loans, allocation of U.S. dollars at favourable rates of exchange, and capital sums imported in connection with foreign aid programmes. This policy, of providing strong financial incentives, was thus responsible for the swelling up of a few favoured businesses into big conglomerates during the period from the sixties to the eighties. Moreover, it also appeared to have been employed to make up for the lack of legitimacy of Park’s dictatorial regime at the time, by providing for quick income increases and to appease the university students, who were the centre of dissent, by providing more job opportunities (Kang, 2002). Albeit under Park-led DRP (Democratic Republican Party or Minju Gonghwa Dang) the country saw accelerated growth and transformed from being an agrarian society to an industrialised ‘tiger economy’, corruption was rampant as the state intervention disproportionately benefited small business groups and political elites. To fund their political operations, donations in forms of bi-chagums (secret funds), were taken by chaebols in return for loans and favourable deals (Kang, 2002). These funds were utilised by the DRP to manage their large staff and budgets, but also to buy votes. According to the financial report of the Central Election Management Committee, the annual costs of running the DRP were as high as 4.5 billion dollars in the 1960s. Thus under Park, this financial system of exchanging policy for bribes came to be quasi-institutionalised (Kang, 2002). The integrated, top-down state had developed an all-engulfing hold on chaebols, wherein if the business people did not provide politicians with sufficient funds when asked, the Bank of Korea called in their loans, or they suffered a tax audit, or their subsidy application was denied (Kang, 2002). Nonetheless, under the Park regime a balance of power had been established between business people and politicians that kept corruption from spinning out of control (Kang, 2002). Since the business class was fragmented against a unified, dictatorial state, the leverage that they held over the government was limited. This, however,  witnessed a shift post-democratisation.

Post-Democracy Era

The transition to democracy benefited businesses more than the state as the state was now weakened with the rise of multiple parties and imposition of various bureaucratic procedures and institutions. Power that was centrally exercised by the government, under Park’s dictatorship, had too now become distributed. This resulted in chaebols being able to exert greater influence than usual over policy decisions. Democratisation did not change the business sector’s general high demand for rents, but it did affect the supply. With more politicians competing on the supply side, fewer limits were placed on the behaviour of the business sector (Kang, 2002). Thus, money began to be flushed into the political system at a much higher proportion (Kang, 2002). The chaebols increased their expenditure towards political funding so as to obtain orders to undertake any project in South Korea. Hence, for the chaebols, it could be said, that the ease of doing business was more restricted. Since even the smaller bureaucratic wing had veto power and thus money had to be siphoned at every stage before getting a bureaucratic approval (Kang, 2002). In 1996, political parties officially reported raising 420 million dollars. If compared to the United States, a country six times the population and an economy fifteen times larger, the Republican Party’s fundraising goal was 179 million dollars in 2000 (Kang, 2002). This phase also witnessed the formation of an interdependent relationship between the political and economic elites, who mutually reinforced the legitimacy of each other’s practices: with the state defending its behaviour as ethical as it disciplined the chaebols to deliver economic growth, while the chaebols argued that the Korean economy would not have propelled to the high levels it had achieved had chaebols not been granted extensive privileges by the government (Hidehiko, 2018). This, of course, came at the cost of – 1) small and middle scale businesses who simply could not compete and hence either got amalgamated into larger companies or failed to operate and 2) static legal and corporate reforms that were overlooked to allow for corrupt activities to flow.

Chaebol-State Relationship

Thus, the politics-business collusion is of grave importance to Korean society that severely undermines its democratic fabric as well as limits the proliferation of a socially integrated market economy. Chaebols absorb technology from SMEs (Small and Mid-Sized Enterprises), while also putting them under constant pressure to reduce prices. This not only results in wage inequality, but also deprives SMEs of the resources needed to pursue business innovation (Hidehiko, 2018). The 1997 Asian financial crisis was expected to act as a watershed moment for Korea’s political economy. Unfortunately, except for a few minor, internal, corporate changes and need of the hour government policy reforms, not much changed. The reforms particularly focused on structural improvements; since governance deficiencies, including inadequate corporate governance and government supervisory systems, were one of the factors that led to the currency crisis (Hidehiko, 2018). Specific measures were based on the items on which agreement had already been reached with the chaebol, including increased management transparency, the elimination of reciprocal debt guarantees, the improvement of financial structures, specialisation in particular industries, and the improvement of management accountability (Rama and Bronwen, n.d.). Albeit no radical changes concerning the control of the chaebol by their founding families were made. Where the crisis would have been considered as a catalyst, even today Korean politicians have typically tried to excuse their relationship with chaebol through political corruption as functional (it is not wrong because it is good for the economy), as an institutional privilege (it is not wrong because other members accept it) or as an institutional fault (it is not wrong because other members do it) (Rama and Bronwen, n.d.).

In modern South Korea, the vast majority of capital has been channelled into state-approved chaebol projects and thus political influence becomes crucial to chaebol’s capacity to secure access to capital. In this context, institutional and legal arrangements emerged to both facilitate and disguise the consequent flow of funds from the corporate world into the political sphere (Rama and Bronwen, n.d.). For instance, it has been a standard practice for the heads of chaebols to be given lenient sentences followed by presidential pardons when they are found guilty of crimes. Since 1990, the heads of seven of the ten biggest chaebols have been convicted for bribery, tax-evasion or embezzlement. All received presidential pardons, and all returned to management positions (Rama and Bronwen, n.d.). The same impunity also extends to previous political leaders – former President Park Geun-hye who got impeached and arrested, but later released, following the exposure of series of scandals related to leaking confidential government information in exchange for contribution. Moon administration, much like every preceding administration, although initially took a strong stance against chaebol-politician collusion, did little to change the status quo. Instead, much like the nature of Korean politics in the past, even his administration came under attack for collusion with the chaebols. Furthermore, Moon’s reliance on the chaebols to bring about change through self-reform was short-sighted and served little to no purpose.

Conclusion

Ahead of the current election, both Lee Jae-myung and Yoon Suk-yeol have already been associated with scandals. Furthermore, unlike during previous elections when chaebol reform was one of the key issues, the presidential candidates this time have barely talked about it during their respective campaigns. By addressing the current issues of high housing rates and unemployment in isolation to the chaebol-centric economy, both Lee and Yoon show lack of vision to reform the existing structure. ‘Political retribution’ has been internalised by the economic and political elites and has become an essential tenet of governance in South Korea. This  in turn has aided in perpetuating a cycle of preserving an economic policy that bears expedient gains for the political class but hurts discernible socio-economic interests of the people and degrades the political fabric of the state.

Nehal Dadhich is a final year student of Jindal School of International Affairs where she is pursuing B.A. in Global Affairs. She has previously interned as a Risk Analyst at WoRisGo, a governance, risk and management firm. Her interest areas include analysing concerns pertaining to global security as well as studying culture and politics.

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East Asia

What China Does Not Know about India

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Indian authorities said on April 30 that they discovered Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Group had made illegal remittances to foreign entities by passing them off as royalty payments. As a result, they seized USD 725 million from Xiaomi’s local bank account in India. I deemed that the Chinese smartphone company has a misunderstanding of India and how the Indians do business.

China still does not comprehend India. While the Chinese often consider their own country as an ancient and great civilization, Indians consider India as an even more ancient and greater civilization.

India established diplomatic relations with China in the second year of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Following this, New Delhi issued a statement supporting China’s entry as a permanent member of the United Nations’ Security Council. Many Chinese, therefore, often perceive that China-India relations were rather good at that time. If not completely incorrect, this is at least a subjective misunderstanding of India on China’s part.

In reality, India prided itself as a great country in the world, vis-à-vis with Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War. By recognizing China, India showed the two great powers that it has the authority to self-determination.

For a long time, China has created an impression within the country that it is the founder of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Back in 1955, Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru had already issued a call for the creation of the movement to the world, which gained support from many developing countries, including China. The rest of the world, including India, sees China as merely a responder to NAM. The world, not least India, perceive China to be a mere member of the NAM, not a founder. As the initiator of NAM, Prime Minister Nehru naturally became its spokesperson and leader of the organization. He was especially responsible for delivering speeches in many developing countries on international affairs.

From the points of India’s view, the well-known Bandung Conference held in Indonesia in 1955 has its origin as India’s idea as early as 1947. It was only because of India’s help that China was allowed to attend the NAM conference, which introduced the People’s Republic to the world. These perceptions of India are indeed, largely true. The relationship between India and China at that time was far closer than that between Pakistan and China today.

On the international front, India would even be chosen as a mediator in the disputes between the United States and the Soviet Union. President Dwight Eisenhower also complimented India at the Indian Parliament, saying, “India speaks to the other nations of the world with the greatness of conviction and is heard with greatness of respect”. It is rare for any U.S. President to heap this kind of praise on a country. Much later, President Donald Trump also inherited this momentum and arranged for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to jointly hold a session in the United States, where they were well-received by both Indians and Americans alike. This certainly added to India’s national pride.

The Soviet Union at that time also recognized India’s status in the world, and it actively wooed India. Being able to make friends with India was synonymous with having several NAM countries as partners, which was anything but trivial. Indeed, from the past to the present, from India-Soviet friendship to today’s India-Russia relations, the two countries’ friendly relationship has a history of more than 70 years, and it has not changed despite numerous trials. The Chinese would make a blunder if they believe that such relationships could be challenged solely through the use of money.

“India was, I guess, the most positive example of USSR’s connections with non-socialist states,” states Sergei Lounev, professor of Oriental Studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. The professor was certainly not exaggerating. As early as 1971, the Soviet Union and India signed a Friendship Treaty, pledging to act against any military alliance or aggression directed against either of the two nations. For the Soviet Union, it was the first such treaty signed with a country that did not formally embrace socialism.

All of this is history. However, the Chinese appear to understand India poorly, and the same is true in India’s understanding of China, resulting in frequent misperceptions. With its strong nationalist sentiment, India believes it is stronger, wiser, and better than China, and its actions would naturally reflect this belief.

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Holding on to Uncle Sam: US-Taiwan Relations

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The bilateral ties between the United States of America and Taiwan or the Republic of China (ROC) have developed through a peculiar and complex course. The relationship, however ambiguous, continues to form a crucial aspect of security relations in East Asia.

Recognition, De-recognition

When the Communist forces led by Mao Zedong expelled Chiang Kai shek’s Nationalist regime, who fled to the isle of Taiwan in 1949,  US President Harry Truman decided to accept the inevitability of the Communist victory in China and even planned to work out a bilateral relationship with the newly established People’s Republic of China without heeding much to the plight of his former ally Chiang. It was the eruption of the Korean War (1950-1953), which displayed the strength and danger of a Communist alliance between the Soviet Union, China and North Korea, that made President Truman realise the importance of supporting the staunchly anti-Communist regime of Chiang’s Kuomintang (KMT)  as a bulwark against what became apparently the rising tide of Communism in the third world nations of Asia. The raison d’être of Chiang’s regime was to overthrow the Communist Party rule in Beijing and “reunify” Taiwan and Mainland China, an act that both the KMT and CCP believed would restore China’s historical rights over the island snatched away by the Japanese  and would redeem the historical injustices it faced at the hands of the colonial powers. Chiang constantly insisted for the United States to help him in waging a war against Mao to achieve this objective. However, Washington was not ready to support another war in the region.

Chiang finally succeeded in framing Mao’s maritime offensive acts during the early 1950s as a growing threat and pursued the Eisenhower administration to sign with him the 1954 Mutual Defense Treaty which promised military protection for his regime. The United States abdided by Chiang’s One China policy under which it recognised that Chiang’s Republic of China was the sole legitimate representative government of the one China that exists on the face of the earth.

It was by utilising Washington’s vast diplomatic clout that Chiang did not just earn non-socialist allies but also found place in the United Nations Security Council as a Permanent Member.

However, the golden days couldn’t last long. The growing differences between China and the Soviet Union became more apparent by the 1970s and gave way to clear enmity as border clashes and ideological tensions ensued. The United States saw this development as an opportunity to crack the socialist international alliance and decided to turn the dynamics of the security triangle between itself, Moscow and Beijing in its favour by recognising the People’s Republic of China. US President Richard Nixon’s visit to Beijing in 1972 and the Shanghai Communiqué that followed stated that ‘Chinese on both sides of the border believe that there is but one China’ and that ‘Taiwan is a part of China’. Washington left it to the CCP and KMT to decide which one represented the “One China” and promised not to intervene. In 1979, came a decisive shift as the United States established official ties with the PRC. Following Beijing’s non-negotiable One China Policy, Washington broke away all official ties with the ROC and officially recognised the PRC as the sole legitimate representative of the one China.

This came as a major setback for Chiang not just as a great betrayal but also as following Washington, several non-socialist allies like Canada shifted to recognise Beijing. Chiang refused to budge on his One China policy and broke away all ties with any country who recognised Beijing which costed him much of his diplomatic standing.

A major shock came when the issue of the permanent seat at the UNSC was raised. Washington asked Chiang to accept simultaneous representation of both ROC and PRC but the latter refused it and as UNSC Resolution 2758 was raised at the 26th United Nations General Assembly to oust ROC, Chiang staged a walkout thus leaving the space for the PRC to gain. What followed was a period of diplomatic  isolation as by 1980s, the ROC was ousted from most major international organisations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as space was created for the PRC to be accomodated.

The only positive development for the Republic of China was the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 by the US Congress as a response to the government’s decision to establish official ties with Beijing. Thanks to an active Taiwan lobby, many Senators opposed the government’s decision and claimed that Washington must retain unofficial ties with Taiwan. Under the TRA, Washington not only maintains robust socioeconomic and cultural relations with Taiwan which function through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US which function in more or less the same way as the embassy but also maintains that any resolution to the Taiwan issue in a way other than a peaceful measure would be considered by Washington as a threat on the Western Pacific, implying its security perceptions of an expanse covering the concerns of the United States of America.

Democracy hues: Reunification to  Independence

While the TRA brought some respite, Chiang Kai shek’s son Chiang Ching kuo, who took over the reins of governance after his father,  realised the importance of democratisation in order to not just enhance Taiwan’s soft power among the liberal West but to also make it appeal to the Mainland Chinese who had presented the demand for civil freedom and  democratic rights in the Tiananmen Square Movement of 1984. Hence, in 1987, the martial law was removed. Chiang’s successor, Lee Teng hui declared a unilateral end to the Chinese Civil war in 1991 thus, establishing socioeconomic and cultural ties with the Mainland and breaking away from the old KMT tradition of No Contact, No Negotiation and No Compromise with Communist China.

While the rhetoric of abiding by the  “One China Policy” was maintained, Taiwan inched closer to an independent status, thanks to the democratisation process which made it important for the regime to reflect on the popular opinion which turned heavily anti-unification. With a proliferation of governmental and indigenous  non-governmental organisations such as civil societies and political parties; deregulation of media and educational reforms among other changes led to the emergence of a new islander Taiwanese identity as distinct from Chinese ethnicity. For instance, in the 1994 White Paper Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan dissociated Republic of China from One China for the first time while maintaining the rhetoric of abiding by the policy. Such sentiments further developed as the leader of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) (which calls for Taiwan’s independence from the Mainland), Chen Shui bian, became the first non-KMT President in Taiwanese history. The growing strength of such sentiments is reflected in the eruption of the Sunflower Movement in Taiwan against President Ma Ying-jeou’s “viable diplomacy” with Mainland China which the protestors saw as making Taiwan increasingly economically dependent on Beijing which hampered the prospects for its  independence as well as in the election victory of DPP’s Presidential candidate Tsai Ing wen who remains a major pro-Independence figure.

Thus, during the Cold War itself, Taiwan’s Foreign policy has changed from pressing the United States to recognise it as the One China to the one of being recognised as an independent sovereign nation which historically developed distinctly from that of China. Ever since the fall of the USSR in 1991 and the end of the Cold War which made Washington the undisputed hegemon in the international order, the United States has shifted its focus away from Taiwan to other regions such as Afghanistan where it finds its national interests served best. Taiwanese foreign policy in such a scenario has been to hold onto the United States as much as it can so as to ensure regime survival.

Is Taiwan still important to the United States?

While the dilution of ideological politics and increased communication with China since its Reform and Opening up (改革开放) in 1978 and the fall of the USSR has decreased Taiwan’s relevance for the United States, it still remains important.

First and foremost is the strategic reason as access to Taiwan presents a wide maritime defense depth for launching both offensive and counteroffensive measures.

Second, Taiwan is a region rich in natural resources particularly coal, oil and gas.

Third, as a democracy which has remained favourable to it since the very beginning, the United States does not just feel obligated to protect Taiwan for ideological reasons  but also Taiwan’s presence as a flourishing democracy poses a major domestic political challenge to the CCP led PRC where the regime has taught its people that Western style democracy is unfit to Chinese culture and civilisational history.

Fourth and most importantly, the United States’ hegemony rests on its control of the Asia-Pacific region and though it might seem to be reducing its expanse, leaving China to take over Taiwan and the vast strategic importance it holds would be the last nail in the coffin of the era of US hegemony. The US hence, would fight till the last to maintain its relevance in the region by keeping Taiwan independent.

Is it important enough to go to war?

Though Taiwan is important to Washington, it puzzles many analysts if it would go to war with China in case Beijing tries to take over the island.

While the nuclear nature of both the nations is a huge deterrent which would, if at all, lead to a pyrrhic victory; the vastly enmeshed Sino-American economic relations is also a major reason where any hard blow on the Chinese economy would also hit Washington’s. If the United States loses the war, it would not just be immensely destroyed but would exit the world stage with a bang rather than a whimper making it harder to stand back as a world leader. Moreover, even if the United States wins, there would be no guarantee that China would not recuperate its forces and try another time to occupy the territory leading to more hostility and instability.

At the turn of the century, the United States realised China’s rise as an indisputable fact which meant that whether Washington liked it or not, it would constantly find Beijing on its way at every juncture. While such a development does not always mean confrontation or ensure cooperation, it shows the importance of dialogue and compromise in order to maintain stability which is mutually beneficial. Hence, while the United States would not sit back and watch Beijing take over Taiwan, it is also true that it would not rush to wage a war. Even though Beijing has stepped up its rhetoric of absorbing Taiwan with force if necessary, it realises that such a move would not be a cakewalk and hence is likely to consider other options before using force. The hard part of such developments is that it has reduced the central focus of Taiwan’s Foreign policy to holding onto the United States and by putting all its eggs in the American basket, Taiwan can hardly do anything substantial rather than wait for the two superpowers to decide on its future.

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U.S. Violates Its Promises to China; Asserts Authority Over Taiwan

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USA China Trade War

As Werner Rügemer headlined on 28 November 2021 and truthfully summarized the relevant history, “Taiwan: US deployment area against mainland China — since 1945”. However, despite that fact, America did officially issue a “Joint Communique” with China recognizing and acknowledging not only that Taiwan is a province of China but that for America or its allies or any other nation to challenge that historical fact would be unethical.

The U.S. regime hides this crucial historical fact, in order to hoodwink its masses of suckers into assuming to the exact contrary — that Taiwan isn’t a Chinese province. Here is how they do this:

The CIA-edited and written Wikipedia, which blacklists (blocks from linking to) sites that aren’t CIA-approved, is the first source for most people who become interested in what is officially known as the Shanghai Communique of 1972, or the 27 February 1972 “JOINT COMMUNIQUE BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND CHINA”. That article, avoids presenting the Communique’s 1,921-word text, but instead provides, in its “Document” section, a mere 428-word very selective, and sometimes misleading, summary of some of the document’s less-important statements, and also fails to provide any link to the document itself, which they are hiding from readers.

The U.S. regime’s Wilson Center does have an article “JOINT COMMUNIQUE BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND CHINA”, at which only the document’s opening 286 words are shown, while the rest is veiled and the reader must then do additional clicks in order to get to it.

The U.S. State Department’s history site, does provide the entire 1,921-word document, but under a different title, one that plays down the document’s actual importance, “Joint Statement Following Discussions With Leaders of the People’s Republic of China”.  (If it’s a “Joint Statement,” then whom are the “Leaders of the People’s Republic of China” “jointly” issuing it with — that title for it is not only false, it is plain stupid, not even referring to the U.S, at all.) Consequently, anyone who seeks to find the document under its official and correct title won’t get to see it at the U.S. State Department’s site.

Here are some of the important statements in this document (as shown below that stupid title for it at the State Department’s site):

With these principles of international relations in mind the two sides stated that:

               —progress toward the normalization of relations between China and the United States is in the interests of all countries;

               —both wish to reduce the danger of international military conflict;

               —neither should seek hegemony in the Asia–Pacific region and each is opposed to efforts by any other country or group of countries to establish such hegemony; and

               —neither is prepared to negotiate on behalf of any third party or to enter into agreements or understandings with the other directed at other states.

Both sides are of the view that it would be against the interests of the peoples of the world for any major country to collude with another against other countries, or for major countries to divide up the world into spheres of interest. …

The U.S. side declared: The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position. It reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves. With this prospect in mind, it affirms the ultimate objective of the withdrawal of all U.S. forces and military installations from Taiwan. In the meantime, it will progressively reduce its forces and military installations on Taiwan as the tension in the area diminishes.

The Wikipedia article’s 428-word summary of the “Document” did include parts of the paragraph which started “The U.S. side declared,” but the summary closed by alleging that the document “did not explicitly endorse the People’s Republic of China as the whole of China. Kissinger described the move as ‘constructive ambiguity,’ which would continue to hinder efforts for complete normalization.” How that passage — or especially the entire document — could have been stated with less “ambiguity” regarding “the People’s Republic of China as the whole of China” wasn’t addressed. In fact, the statement that “all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China” includes asserting that the Taiwanese people “maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China.” So: the U.S. did agree with that, even signed to it in 1972. If the U.S. refuses to agree with it now, then what was the U.S. agreeing to in that Communique, and under what circumstances does the Communique become null and void for either of the two agreeing Parties to it? When does it stop being binding? Perhaps the document should have added something like “The U.S. Government will never try to break off pieces of China.” But maybe if that were to have been added to it, then the U.S. regime wouldn’t have signed to anything with China. Is the U.S. regime really that Hitlerian? Is this what is ‘ambiguous’ about the document?

In fact, the affirmation that, “The United States Government does not challenge that position. It reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves. With this prospect in mind, it affirms the ultimate objective of the withdrawal of all U.S. forces and military installations from Taiwan.” is now routinely being violated by the U.S. regime. Here’s an example:

One of the leading U.S. billionaires-funded think tanks, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), was co-founded by Kurt Campbell, who is Joe Biden’s “Asia co-ordinator” or “Asia Tsar” with the official title of “National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific.” The other co-founder is Michèle Flournoy, who also co-founded with the current Secretary of State Antony Blinken, WestExec Advisors, which firm’s client-list is secret but generally assumed to be top investors in firms such as Lockheed Martin. That advisory firm’s activities are also secret. 

Perhaps nothing is more profitable than trading on inside information regarding corporations whose main, if not only, sales are to the U.S. Government and its allied governments. Trading on inside information needs to be secret in order to be non-prosecutable. The clients of WestExec Advisors might be extraordinarily successful investors, because they’ve hired people who have ‘the right’ contacts in the federal bureaucracy and so know where your ‘national security’ tax-dollars are likeliest to be spent next.

CNAS issued, in October 2021, “The Poison Frog Strategy: Preventing a Chinese Fait Accompli Against Taiwanese Islands”. It was written as-if the Shanghai Communique hadn’t prohibited this. The presumption there was instead that America and Taiwan would have so much raised the heat against China’s not being picked apart, so as for China to have militarily responded in order to hold itself together; and, then, a stage, “MOVE 2,” would be reached, in which:

The Taiwan and U.S. teams engaged in more direct communication, which aided the U.S. team in framing the crisis. By Move 2, the U.S. team had accepted that using military force to retake Dongsha would be too escalatory and might disrupt the formation of any counter-China coalition. Accordingly, the team reframed the takeover of Dongsha as an opportunity to expose Chinese belligerence and to encourage states to join together to balance against China’s aggressive behavior. The U.S. team’s decision to place U.S. military forces on Taiwan during Move 1 became a key driver for the rest of the game.

Then, 

By Move 3, both the U.S. and Taiwan teams were in difficult positions. The U.S. team did not want to let Chinese aggression go unpunished, both for the sake of Taiwan and within the context of the broader regional competition. At the same time, the U.S. team wanted to show its partners and allies that it was a responsible power capable of negotiating and avoiding all-out war. The Taiwan team was caught in an escalating great-power crisis that threatened to pull Taiwan into a war that it was trying to avoid. The Taiwan team had to balance its relationships and policies with the United States and China while simultaneously spearheading de-escalation. And in the early part of the game, before communication between the United States and Taiwan teams improved, the Taiwan team had, unbeknownst to the U.S. team, set up a back channel with the China team. At the same time the back-channel negotiations were ongoing, the U.S. team was still, in fact, considering additional escalatory action against the China team. …

Toward the end of the game, the U.S. and Taiwan teams’ main strategy was to isolate China diplomatically and economically and garner enough international backing among allies and partners to make that isolation painful. To this end, the Taiwan team focused on pulling in some of its regional partners, such as Japan, while the U.S. team reached out to its NATO allies.9 To avoid unwanted escalation or permanent effects, the U.S. and Taiwan teams limited their offensive military operations to non-kinetic and reversible actions such as cyberattacks and electronic warfare.

Under “Key Takeaways and Policy Recommendations” is:

Given the inherent difficulty of defending small, distant offshore islands like Dongsha, Taiwan and the United States should strive to turn them into what the players called “poison frogs.” This approach would make Chinese attempts to seize these islands so militarily, economically, and politically painful from the outset that the costs of coercion or aggression would be greater than the benefits.

The U.S. regime’s having in 1972 committed itself to there being only “a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves” has somehow now become a license for the U.S. regime to provoke “Chinese attempts to seize these islands” and yet to cause — by America’s constant further provocations and lying — this to be “so militarily, economically, and politically painful from the outset that the costs of coercion or aggression would be greater than the benefits.”

In other words: the U.S. regime expects to portray China as being the aggressor, and the U.S. regime as being the defender — but, actually, of what? It would be the defender of breaking off a piece of China to add it to the U.S. regime’s allies, against an ‘aggressive’ China that opposes America’s violating its own, and China’s, 1972 Joint Shanghai Communique — which prohibits that.

On May 19th, The Hill, one of the U.S. regime’s many propaganda-mouthpieces, headlined “China warns of dangerous situation developing ahead of Biden Asia trip”, and opened: 

China warned the U.S. that President Biden’s visit to East Asia this week could put their relations in “serious jeopardy” if officials play the “Taiwan card” during the trip.

In a phone call with national security adviser Jake Sullivan, China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi warned the U.S. against speaking out on the independent sovereignty of Taiwan, a self-ruling democratic island in the Indo-Pacific that China claims is historically part of the mainland and should be under Beijing’s control.

China doesn’t claim that Taiwan “is historically part of the mainland and should be under Beijing’s control,” but that, just like Hawaii is NOT a part of “the mainland” but IS “under U.S. control,” and NOT “a self-ruling” nation, Taiwan is NOT a part of “the mainland” but IS (not ‘should be’, but IS) under China’s control, and NOT “a self-ruling” nation. Just as there is no “independent sovereignty of Hawaii,” there also is no “independent sovereignty of Taiwan.” How many lies were in that opening? (And this doesn’t even bring in the fact that whereas Hawaii is way offshore of America’s mainland, Taiwan is very close to China’s mainland.)

And how long will the U.S. regime’s constant lying continue to be treated as if that’s acceptable to anything other than yet another dangerously tyrannical regime — a U.S. ally, perhaps?

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