Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Chinese Truculence.

No Advantage.  Only Losses.

China risks being cast as a "rogue state".  The occasion is the dispute over the Spratly Islands.  China is riding roughshod over its neighbours--taking on the mien of a bully.  It is demonstrating, either in ignorance or in deliberate intent, that it is not committed to the rule of (international) law.  

A UN international court has ruled in favour of the Philippines.
In the U.N. tribunal’s ruling, China’s claims to virtually the entirety of the South China Sea were dismissed by the 5-member tribunal as having no historical basis. It was also determined that the multiple artificial islands that have been built by and used as bases by the Chinese military do not constitute territory entitled to zones of economic exclusivity. Rather, they were found to be in violation of the sovereignty of the Philippines.  [Epoch Times]
China did not like the judgment, so it attacked the integrity of the court.  It said that the court was stacked against China; it was made up of judges hailing out of Europe.  Therefore, the decision was clearly part of a western plot.  This is the sort of thing one would have expected from Cuba (in former days) or more recently, from North Korea.

An article by the official web publication of the Chinese military, 81.cn, said that the ruling was “frivolous, careless and irresponsible” because of the five court ruling officials, four were European. It claimed the ruling was a “magic mirror” that exposed the ulterior motives of “certain parties to create chaos in the region.” (China’s official sources failed to note, however, that due to China’s refusal to participate in the process, it forfeited the opportunity to influence the composition of the justices.)
It is a time-tested tactic for roguish national states to manufacture an external crisis, in order to deflect the attention of its citizens from domestic failures.  This may be the case here--a bit of jingoistic sabre rattling to help keep Chinese citizens proud and loyal.  It's hard to know.  In the longer term, such tactics can backfire badly.

Domestically, they risk citizens becoming more cynical and more disillusioned with the government.
In the real world, though, public enthusiasm over the South China Seas dispute would seem disappointing . . . .

According to a 2014 survey organized by Andrew Chubb, a scholar of China’s maritime disputes, some 1,400 people in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Changsha, and Chengdu expressed far more concern over domestic issues like corruption, the gap between rich and poor, and even social practices and moral issues as compared with sovereignty over disputed islands and rocks. . . .  While respondents generally agreed that the islands were a matter of national dignity, most felt that military conflict over the disputes were not in China’s interests and favored diplomatic solutions.
Internationally, China loses face.

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