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Diplomatic Disorder: China doesn't pick up, Taiwan trip in doubt, the KMT heads to China, more China tech troubles
VERMILION: You can read the Vermilion breakdown of the spy balloon incident here. It is likely that Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe did not speak to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin because Xi Jinping and Communist Party leaders have yet to decide a course of action.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken canceled a trip to Beijing last weekend after the balloon was sighted above Montana, setting off a diplomatic crisis. The balloon then traversed the country before it was shot down.
China has insisted that the electronics-laden machine was simply a weather balloon that had drifted off course. But Biden administration officials said that its purpose was an attempt by Beijing to spy on American military installations.
This is not the first time China has refused to take a call from the Pentagon. In May 2021, there was another spat between the two superpowers, when Pentagon officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters that three attempts by the secretary’s office to connect with China’s top military officer had gone unanswered.
Beijing fired back. The state-run Global Times newspaper said China had reached out to Mr. Austin after he took office and offered to arrange a conversation with the Chinese defense minister. But the paper quoted a Chinese source complaining that Mr. Austin had asked to speak to the wrong person — the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission — a request that, the Chinese source said, represented “an unprofessional and unfriendly act of disregarding diplomatic protocol and international common practice.”
VERMILION: This last paragraph is absolutely critical. The Chinese governing system is split into two distinct entities, the state and the party, the administrator and the policymaker, respectively. This dynamic is detailed in a graphic in this post. Historically speaking, diplomatic engagement with the state/civil service is a waste of time.
VERMILION: Speaker McCarthy never confirmed dates for his visit to Taiwan, but prior to the spy balloon incident, it was widely expected that he would visit this spring. It is likely that plans for the trip were cancelled considering the diplomatic pressure on President Biden. By cancelling, rescheduling, and delegating official visits, the US is in danger of letting the PRC set the diplomatic tempo.
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul said he plans to lead a bipartisan delegation to Taiwan this spring, despite renewed tensions with Beijing over China’s alleged spy balloon incursion over the US.
“I think it’s important to show China that we support Taiwan as a deterrence. I think it’s important to do that,” McCaul said in an interview Tuesday.
The schedule and member list remains fluid, but the trip would likely take place during the congressional recess in April, a person familiar with the matter said. Discussions with some House Democrats have started about joining such a trip with McCaul, said one of the lawmakers who have been approached.
The Texas Republican said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy would plan a separate trip to the island either later this year or next year. He said he intends to join McCarthy, whenever the Speaker does go.
Xi Jinping says China must quicken pace of tech self-reliance to prevent being ‘strangled by foreign countries’ - SCMP
VERMILION: The CCP recognized that they are in danger of having their economic spine broken by the United States and are doing everything they can to prevent this. Unfortunately for the Indo-Pacific, the CCP fails to acknowledge that they are the driving force behind the region’s geo-political instabilities.
President Xi Jinping has said China must accelerate efforts to achieve self-reliance in science and technology to cement its footing in the global supply chain and counter US decoupling efforts.
“We must quicken the pace of tech self-reliance to prevent being strangled by foreign countries,” he said at Tuesday’s Politburo group study.
“China should strive to become a global leader in important scientific and technological fields, a pioneer in cutting-edge interdisciplinary areas, and a major scientific centre and innovation hub for the world.”
Xi’s comments highlight the sense of urgency in Beijing amid heightened decoupling efforts by the United States – most notably on the technological front – which could threaten the Communist Party’s decades-old development path.
KMT Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia departs for China - Focus Taiwan
Contextual Note: The Nationalist Party (KMT - 国民党) is one of two dominant political parties in Taiwan, with the other being the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP - 民进党). In the United States the KMT is often associated with Chiang Kai-shek and anti-Communism, but that version of the KMT no longer exists. The contemporary KMT is viewed as pro-CCP and is in favor of rapprochement with Mainland China. This stance is increasingly unpopular in Taiwan, but recent KMT economic policies resulted in widespread support.
VERMILION: It is likely that the KMT is trying to ride their wave of success in local elections by signaling to voters that they will work with China to improve Taiwan’s economy. All political parties in Taiwan are in the process of gearing up for the 2024 general election and the KMT believes that focusing on the economy is their best bet to claim the presidency. Although Hsia says this is an “apolitical” trip, KMT visits to the PRC are generally viewed with suspicion.
Speaking to reporters at Taoyuan International Airport before boarding a flight to Beijing, Hsia said the "apolitical" trip was aimed at looking after the welfare of Taiwanese living and working in China.
Hsia said he hoped the delegation could also help resolve the plight of Taiwanese small- and medium-sized enterprises, particularly in the agricultural and fisheries sectors, hit by a series of import suspensions rolled out by China since 2021.
There have been changes to the posts in the Chinese government involving Taiwan affairs, and the delegation hopes to be introduced to new officials in charge of Taiwan affairs that took office after the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in October last year, Hsia said.
Hsia said relations between Taipei and Beijing had warmed following Taiwan's lifting of border controls in October last year, adding that he hoped the trip would further improve understanding and dialogue across the strait.
This would be consistent with the hopes of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who has asked Taiwanese businesspeople in China to engage in "positive interactions and dialogue" with the Chinese people, Hsia said.