T2B25: Xiden 10

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I love whales - who doesn’t? But there’s an interesting climate angle to saving whales. Read this article for more juice

An allied question: what was the whale % of the mammalian biomass before the modern era?

Whats going to happen?

Prediction is a sucker’s game, but if I had to bet, I would put money on conflict between the US and China rising rather the receding. But that’s just my opinion. Instead of inflicting you with more unsubstantiated thoughts, let me comment on a prominent Chinese scholar’s thoughts instead.

This is David Ownby’s translation of Shi Yinhong, “The U.S. and Other Major Countries' Policies Toward China and the Future World Configuration

Let me caution that this isn’t an official perspective and there’s skepticism of Shi’s influence on the Jinping regime. But that might precisely be the reason to read this piece, since it gives a prominent Chinese scholar’s views on how things could go wrong.

On the one hand, the following U.S. activities have been reduced, dialed back, or even suspended due to the attack of the coronavirus pandemic: increased U.S.-Japan joint military operations against China in the East China Sea region; the construction of the Indo-Pacific Quadrilateral strategic alliance with Japan, Australia, and India;

My comment on 👆🏾: Presumably every single one of these will come back with force in a Biden administration. Meanwhile there’s been increased military confrontation between the US and China throughout the crisis 👇🏾

U.S. Navy warships conducted four "freedom of navigation" operations in the South China Sea from March to May, challenging China's claims of sovereignty, an act that was repeated again on July 14 and August 27; the frequency of U.S. military aircraft flyovers of the South China Sea has increased significantly, reaching 2,000 flights in the first half of 2020; two US aircraft carrier strike groups conducted exercises in the South China Sea from July 4 to 10, and again on July 17, which was the first time since 2014, and the second dual aircraft carrier strike group exercise in the South China Sea since 2001.

My comment on 👆🏾: the pandemic has made it much easier to escalate military activity without alarm spreading to national populations who are wrapped inside their own escalating tragedies.

In January 2020, China and the U.S. reached a phase-one trade agreement…which included a pledge that China would dramatically double its imports from the U.S. by $200 billion over two years, in exchange for the U.S. decision to eliminate high tariffs on $166 billion of Chinese exports to the U.S. and the U.S. decision to reduce by 50% the high tariff rate on another $122 billion of Chinese exports…. However, the promise of a sharp increase in imports from the U.S. exceeds the actual needs of China's economy in the face of continued lower growth rates, potentially raises the "reference level" for continued U.S. selling to China beyond the two-year period….all of which increase China's diplomatic and strategic difficulties.

My comment on 👆🏾: trade negotiations may not help lower the temperature because neither side has money to hand over to the other and demand will be lower on both sides.

On June 24, in Arizona's state capital, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Robert O'Brien delivered a long, carefully crafted speech…..In the speech, O'Brien claimed that Chinese Communist Party leaders are…..striving to "remake the world according to the way of thinking of the Communist Party," ….. On July 14, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Starkey said in a speech in Washington, D.C., that "the new imperialistic behavior of the Chinese Communist Party is no accident, but an essential feature of the nationalist and Marxist-Leninist mentality.”

My comment on 👆🏾: that’s cold war rhetoric but with any luck Biden will walk back some of those claims. In my view, comparing China with the Soviet Union is both a political and a conceptual mistake. China, after all, isn’t communist but capitalist.

There appears to be a relatively sharp potential estrangement between China and Russia…..for some six months there has been very little public contact, while such contact has been generally frequent, warm, and normal over the years. In stark contrast, Putin spoke with Trump four times in the two weeks beginning March 30 to discuss the possibility of cooperation between the United States and Russia in fighting the coronavirus epidemic and stabilizing the global energy market.

My comment on 👆🏾: I had no idea of worsening Chinese-Russian relations but that only points to the widespread anger against China as being the source of the pandemic.

India passed regulations in mid-April 2020 severely restricting China's direct investment in India. On June 15th, the most fierce Sino-Indian fighting in 45 years took place in the Kalwan Valley of Kashmir, resulting in a great increase in anti-China sentiment in India. The Modi government significantly increased forward troop deployments in Kashmir near the line of demarcation between India and China's de facto control...

My comment on 👆🏾: I knew that, and the talk in India is about a two front war against China in the East and Pakistan in the West, but the combination with the worsening situation with Russia and conflict in the South China sea suggests the Chinese also have to think about multiple fronts.

The U.S. government has requested that its European allies “decouple" from China in the high-tech sector, a demand that has been more favorably received during the pandemic. UK Prime Minister Johnson has reportedly directed that plans be drawn up to reduce Huawei's involvement in the development of the UK's 5G network to zero by 2023.

My comment on 👆🏾: this will only increase - I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s intense pressure on Apple etc to come out of China. Not sure if they have the capacity to do so, but the pressure will be there.

In addition, as direct result of current trends in global governance, China’s chances of filling the vacuum created by the Trump administration's abandonment of America's original "global leadership role" are limited, and indeed smaller than many at home and abroad had predicted. The appeal of China's "soft power" in the world, the resources and experience available to China, are quite limited, and the domestic and international obstacles that China will encounter, including the complexities created by the coronavirus pandemic, are considerable.

My comment on 👆🏾: the Chinese model is less attractive than it was before the pandemic. I find that somewhat counterintuitive since the success of China in controlling the pandemic must make their system look better. But perhaps that’s too rational an assessment, and politics even at the international level might be driven by sentiment that’s going against the Chinese. Also, what does this mean for the BRI? I am guessing that continued participation in the BRI will signal belonging to the Chinese camp and that will be a problem for countries that have historical allegiance on both sides. In short, Pakistan is going to become a flashpoint.

In the post-pandemic era that will arrive sooner or later, with the exception of a minority of “loyal followers” of either China or the U.S., the rest of the world will be forced to favor either the United States or China to varying degrees in consideration of their respective national interests.

My comment on 👆🏾: agreed. Perhaps time to revive the non-aligned movement 😀 The silver lining 👇🏾

As French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on September 13, 2020, "The European Union must define its own interests and must be strong and independent--independent of China and the United States. This is crucial for success in the 21st century.” Perhaps it will be this "middle ground" rather than any superpower that will be the main trend in world politics in the future.

We can only hope the pandemic leads to a genuinely multi-polar world. But that’s a ways away. Shi thinks:

Before the new U.S. president takes office on January 20, 2021, the Trump administration is highly likely to tighten its containment of China by increasing legal sanctions against China….What should China do in the face of this dire situation?….if we lack reciprocal capacity, we should not engage in symmetric countermeasures too often, to avoid the risk of exhausting our capacity, reducing our strategic and policy flexibility and our margin of maneuver, and weakening the understanding of and sympathy for China in international and world public opinion.

My comment on 👆🏾: be patient, our time will come; just not yet. I am skeptical of Xi thinking that way, but….

there are two mutually contradictory pictures of the basic situation….: the "absolute picture" and the "relative picture.” The "absolute picture" refers to both the enormous economic and social costs of fighting the coronavirus epidemic on the domestic front…As a result of these developments, China in general is significantly weaker than it was before the domestic outbreak of the coronavirus…..There is also, however, the "relative picture," which is that the domestic anti-epidemic, political and economic situation of the United States and its major allies is in worse shape than in China, and the trends in term of changes in the balance of power between China and the United States seem to be accelerating sharply. Consequently, China's peaceful rise has a new historical opportunity to make unprecedented military, economic, diplomatic, and ideological strides that are not only necessary but also feasible. These two divergent pictures will dominate Chinese policy for the long term, making things ever more complex.

My comment on 👆🏾: we are almost there, but we are weaker than we believe ourselves to be. Don’t screw it up at the eleventh hour!