A new Chinese Defense White Paper today makes poor reading. Via The Australian:
In its national defence white paper, China’s National Defence in the New Era, Beijing cited an increasingly assertive US, the deployment of a missile defence system to South Korea and an outward-looking Japan as among the factors contributing to great power competition in the region.
“In an attempt to circumvent the post-war mechanism, Japan has adjusted its military and security policies and increased input accordingly, thus becoming more outward-looking in its military endeavours,’’ the paper said.
“Australia continues to strengthen its military alliance with the US and its military engagement in the Asia-Pacific, seeking a bigger role in security affairs.’’
Beijing said it would not resile from the use of force in returning Taiwan to Chinese control, nor in suppressing what it regards as “separatists’’ forces at work in Tibet.
A curious perspective given CPC island building in the South China Sea. The AFR has more from Rory Medcalf:
“Australia is being acknowledged as a substantial player in the international system,” he said.
“That’s a good thing because it acknowledges Australia is a country to be taken seriously. It doesn’t mean we’re a target.”
Professor Medcalf said the white paper’s acknowledgment that China wanted to develop more overseas military bases and intention to operate in the “far seas” was “clearly signalling the Chinese navy will be more active in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific”.
It might be flattering to Australia is some backhanded way but it sure ain’t good for Hong Kong or any other regional democracy, via the NYT:
Warning that protests convulsing Hong Kong were crossing a line, China hinted broadly on Wednesday that it was prepared to use military force in the territory if necessary to retain Beijing’s control.
“The behavior of some radical protesters challenges the central government’s authority, touching on the bottom line principle of ‘one country, two systems,’” said the chief spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, Senior Col. Wu Qian. “That absolutely cannot be tolerated.”
It was both the most explicit warning to date since protests began in the former British colony and a stark reminder of who has ultimate control over Hong Kong’s fate.
Colonel Wu made the comments at a briefing in Beijing on a government document outlining China’s defense strategy. Citing protests on Sunday outside the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, which protesters splattered with paint and defaced with graffiti, he made clear that the vandalism was straining Beijing’s patience.
China’s state television, which had largely ignored the protests, highlighted the damage at the liaison office, calling it “a humiliation of our country’s dignity.”
Responding to a question, Colonel Wu pointedly cited the specific article of a law detailing relations between Hong Kong and the People’s Liberation Army. It allows the military to intervene, when requested by Hong Kong’s leaders, to maintain order or assist in cases of natural disasters.
The People’s Liberation Army has for years maintained a garrison of 6,000 soldiers in several bases around Hong Kong. But China has never before ordered them to intervene in the territory’s affairs, though several hundred did help clear trees and other debris after Typhoon Mangkhut battered the city in 2018.
The new defense strategy unveiled in the document did not mention Hong Kong, but it identified efforts to divide Chinese territory as the country’s most pressing security threat.
The document also refused to rule out the use of force against Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, in the event the self-governing island took any formal steps toward independence.
…Analysts said that the warning of military involvement in Hong Kong could inflame, rather than calm, the underlying grievances driving the protests.
“I think it is likely to backfire and further harden public opinion and concerns about the Communist Party of China at a time the ‘one country, two systems’ model is being called into question,” Elsa B. Kania, an expert on Chinese military and defense strategy with the Center for a New America Security in Washington, said in an interview.
The protests have already reverberated in Taiwan, which holds a presidential election in January that is, by some measure, boiling down to a referendum on ties with China.
Cold War 2.0 indeed.
He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.
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