In the weeks and months leading up to the Court of Arbitration’s ruling on the South China Sea, the South China Morning Post patriotically carried numerous op-eds supporting Beijing’s extravagant territorial claims (here, here, etc). The paper’s Insight pages now go into whiny-defiant-sulk mode. In a sort of good-cop-bad-cop routine, some columnists preach diplomacy and dialogue, while others seethe and anticipate payback…
The last refuge of a defender of the Motherland is the insistence that the evil USA did the same thing, or did worse. For example: cops in Louisiana and Minnesota shoot black guys for no reason – therefore, China’s arrest and persecution of human-rights lawyers and their families is perfectly OK and understandable. Totally logical and clear. So there.
In this case, we’re talking about rejecting international court judgements, and the best we can do (at the risk of seriously showing our age) is dredge up some long-forgotten episode from a different era of weirdness, and attach the label ‘relevant’ in the hope no-one looks too closely…
Memories come flooding back of the ‘Oliver North for President’ T-shirt a mischievous aunt sent me. (Details here and here for anyone who wants them.)
It was the late Cold War, and the Americans were fighting Communism, as represented by the Sandinistas, who were led by Daniel Ortega, then-youthful and trendy Che Guevara-type heart-throb. Looking back it was all a bit stupid (the US never worked out that maintaining corrupt far-right dictatorships in Nicaragua, Vietnam, Philippines, etc, etc was actually encouraging Communism.)
Anyway, the ‘relevant’ thing here is that in his twilight years, President-apparently-for-Life Ortega has been working very closely with a creepy and presumably state-linked Chinese entity planning to build an economically and environmentally ruinous canal across Nicaragua to create, it would seem, a Beijing-friendly version of Panama’s. The purpose of this project is unclear, but perhaps the theory that China wants to turn the South China Sea into its own Caribbean is the wrong way round – maybe the Nicaragua waterway will allow the Nine-Dash Line to extend so far as to absorb the Caribbean into the South China Sea.
But I digress… The US laid mines outside Managua’s port in the mid-1980s – therefore it is perfectly OK and understandable for China to grab Southeast Asian countries’ waters and resources today. Totally logical and clear. So there.
Elsewhere the SCMP reports that evil and sadistic Europeans are planning to wreak a terrible revenge on expansionist and aggressive China by selling its people what must be the ugliest, most loathsome, vile-looking antique French furniture imaginable…
Update to yesterday’s sweepstakes:
Tom Plate romps home at 2-1 with his article appearing within a day.
Well done, Tom! How did you manage to write such a quality piece in such a short time frame? Love the “Stay cool” phrase you inserted. Masterly. Also the final line, reverting to the demotic so even the plebs can join in the argument:
“If it [China] does, it will still remain ahead in the great historic game of the South China Sea competition. Perhaps even further ahead than anyone thought possible.
Win some, lose some.”
Boring. boring, boring. Usual predictable plays by each side; China behaving like a fat kid in McDonald’s who is not allowed to ‘supersize’ and everyone else calling for calm. Of more interest is the mutiny in the ICAC, now that’s the stuff of intrigue.
On a rocky islet
In a tropic sea
They built a little navy base
Boldly as could be.
The walls were made of concrete
The roofs were made of tin
Thirty-five degrees outside
A rusty old supply ship
Brought them rice and beans
And messages of gratitude
From the Philippines.
Chinese warships glided by
Menacing and sleek
And made the doughty mariners
Trepidant and weak.
The politicians in the capital
Had a clever thought:
We will harass China at
The Arbitration Court.
The Court decided very firmly
China had no case
A message of no comfort for
The little navy base.
Chinese warships glided by
As they did before
Masters of the tropic sea
Scoffers at the law.
A mighty country always does
What the hell it can
That’s the way the world has been
Since the world began.
CPC leadership on reform: vested interests to be challenged – Xinhua A top-level reform group headed by President Xi Jinping has likened the country’s reform drive to a “revolution” that challenges vested interests, while calling for real action to keep it going. “Reform is a revolution that aims to rectify the system and challenge vested interests. There is no way to do it other than using real swords and spears,”
Another set of musical chairs, replacing one set of interest with the next, paid for by Who? Meet the New Mao, Same As The Old Mao.
Soviet ships and submarines used to cruise outside US territorial waters. The US did the same to the Soviet Union. It’s just that China doesn’t have the capacity to do the same to the US on a sustained basis as its navy can’t match the US navy for sustained long distance operations and China has fewer friends who provide foreign naval base access. China doesn’t like this disparity so blames the rules ie international law. This is the immature reaction of a government who knows no check domestically on its power and can’t tolerate any check internationally. The CCP just can’t tolerate opposition. And it can’t conceive of an independent court telling it no. There are no such courts in China
@Boris. Good point, well made. And completely involuntarily the chant goes through my mind: ‘You’re just a sh*t big Soviet Union, sh*t big Soviet Union.’