My full-length live TV interview on 30 November on The Worldwith ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). I gave a snapshot analysis of why Trump's presidency is likely to change regional dynamics and soft power in favor of China.
A report "North Korea’s Special Economic Zones: Plans vs. Progress" published on 23 November 2015 on a website 36 Northof the U.S.-Korea Institute (USKI) at SAIS provides some latest information on these Zones in the DPRK. The website is part of an extensive program launched in 2006 to make the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, a hub of Korea-related activities in the Washington, DC area, and to increase information and understanding of Korea and Korean affairs.
Another report on Mail Onlinedated 26 November 2016 shows interesting photos of the top 10% elite in North Korea with a relatively affluent life-style.
These update my following post dated 19 December 2015:
"Yazhou Zhoukan , Chinese-language Asia Weekly, (20 December, 2015, p.16-17) reported on the construction of various special economic zones in North Korea largely with the help of China’s capital and engineering teams. Download North Korea building SEZs
At the north-west border with China near Dandong City, the Sinuiju Special Economic Zone 新义州经济特区, shelved in 2002 due to tax evasion and other charges, is apparently being revived. This promises to become North Korea’s largest export base, comprising a total area of 132 sq.km to include clusters of textiles manufacturing, tourism and commercial facilities. A 40,000 sq.m. Sinuiju International Exchange complex is reported to have been completed, ready for occupation next year. A cooperation agreement was signed during China’s Politburo Standing Committee Member Liu Yunshan’s recent visit.
Another large development zone is the Rason Special Economic Zone 罗津先锋经济特区 around the Rajin Port at the eastern tip. It is said to comprise a dozen sectors including agriculture, logistics, light manufacturing, oil refinery and eco-tourism.
There is also a host of infrastructural projects vaulted to build some 3,000 km of expressways and 3,500 km of modern rail.
Total investments are reported to number billions of dollars, although the figures quoted in the article, up to $400 billion, appear too large to be credible.
If true, these facilities could well signal that a new North Korea, tilted towards both economic and military development, may well emerge. This may augur well for North Korea’s eventual development into a less insecure nation relying solely on nuclear threats to prop up its regime. After all, Vietnam’s transformation from a closed communist state to a modern vibrant economy is instructive."
Even Trump says he has an open mind on Climate Change, transcript of his interview with the New York Times suggests that he is likely to put money ahead of climate.
Trump has also vowed to boost the oil and gas industries, including pipelines from Canada and more lands opened up for shale gas fracking.
As pointed out in The Economist leader, The burning question: Climate change in the era of Trump (26 November, 2016), the historic Paris Agreement, supported by 197 nations, is nevertheless likely to endure with or without the United States. Countries threatened by rising sea levels are unlikely to sit tight. Europe's green movement is unlikely to wither. China, the world's worst polluter, is also taking a lead in de-carbonization driven by regime-threatening pollution fears and geopolitical energy security considerations.
As President-elect, Trump has openly declared ditching the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was a US-initiative in the first place. Notwithstanding initial denial of World Trade Organization chief Roberto Azevedo, Trump has also hinted at leaving the WTO, which the US was instrumental in founding, if the US cannot renegotiate its terms of trade. The WTO includes 164 countries worldwide and has been the cornerstone of global trade for many decades until its primacy is challenged in recent years by regional and bilateral agreements. China has since been a great beneficiary of WTO which she initially joined at great costs to herself by having to open up her market for many products.
All signs are that a Trump America is likely to retract from its leading role of maintaining the existing global order, unless its intervention can be monetized. This is now greatly worrying allies and as well as rivals. .
China has been seeking to gain more influence as an integral part of the existing global order. America's retreat from it to focus everything on "America First" is likely to hand over much of global soft power to a rising China as a defender of the global commons.
This would have game-changing consequences for an America-dominated world order.
My Guest Lecture at the University of Hong Kong on 22 November 2016.
The PowerPoint presentation, with 72 slides, examines some of the most salient game-changing dynamics of the 21st century, including the Fourth Industrial Revolution, "Connectography", Internet of Things in Smart Cities, Fintech, Blockchain, e-Commerce, e-banking, the global connectivity of the China Dream with One Belt, One Road (OBOR), regional networks, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Rise of State Capitalism, the Demographic Cliff, Capital in the 21st Century, Asset Bubbles, Debt Mountains, Globalization and its Discontents, and the Rise of Nationalism, Chauvinism, Nativism and Localism, all leading to an interconnected, independent yet uncertain world of distributed powers where America's retraction under a Trump Presidency is likely to give way to increasing influence of a dynamic China embracing globalization with a vengeance.
A 10th October Lowy Institute Analysis by Thomas Wright explores "how US foreign policy would change should Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton win the US presidential election. Wright argues that a Trump presidency could see the United States undermine the liberal international order that it helped to establish. Clinton, by contrast, would be a more traditional internationalist president".
"Trump’s foreign policy will very likely be informed by his core beliefs: opposition to America’s alliance relationships; opposition to free trade; and support for authoritarianism, particularly in Russia".
"Clinton’s foreign policy is likely to reflect a more traditional internationalism, but may also distinguish itself from the Obama administration by a greater effort to deal with regional challenges to order in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia".
"If Clinton wins, she will need to respond to growing populist and nationalist sentiment in America in favour of limiting US engagement in the world".
Never before is an American presidential election been watched and debated so closely by so many nations, most of all the world's rising powers. All, not least Russia and China, are geared up in anticipation of a potential paradigm shift in the dynamics of the world order.
A Brookings Institution analysis by Jeffrey Bader dated 10 October "A framework for U.S. policy toward China" offers some possible pointers on how a new US President, particularly if Clinton wins, may re-calibrate policies in relation to a rising China.
An article by The Red (Team) Analysis Society, a non-profit geopolitical consultancy, expounds upon Russia's grand plan to exploit the massive energy resources of the Arctic and its increasing navigability to boost Russia's global clout at a time when the Arctic's economic and geopolitical potential is being opened up by climate change.
Russia's new and more powerful icebreakers capable of breaking up to 3 metres thick ice are making it possible for Russian and Chinese cargo convoys to ply along the Northern route all year around. This route follows the Siberian coast to and from the Bering Strait to the Russian and European northern ports from Norway to Rotterdam.
Concurrently, the Russian ministry of Defence is rapidly militarising the Arctic, through the creation of the Joint Strategic Command North and the deployment of nuclear submarines and other naval assets. Click here
As I heralded in March 2014, the Arctic Region is poised to change the world. Click here.
On the one hand, the world could become even more closely connected physically if a visionary China-Russia-Canada-America high-speed rail should ever become a reality. On the other hand, the Arctic is likely to become a proxy arena for great-power geopolitical rivalry, as highlighted in the Red Team article.
Either way, it is no surprise that China is quietly boosting economic and geopolitical ties with the Arctic region, especially its largest player - Russia.
A Brookings InstitutionOrder from Chaos ProjectAsia Working Paper No.3 of March 2016 by Jeffrey Bader, a Brookings senior fellow affiliated with the John L. Thornton China Centre. He was the first Director of the China Centre, and was John C. Whitehead Senior Fellow in International Diplomacy from 2012 to 2015. He served in the U.S. government for 30 years in various capacities mostly dealing with U.S.-China relations, including as Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from 2009-2011.
The following extracts may serve to capture the flavour of the Paper -
"By examining China’s goals, what China is not doing, and its contributions to global prosperity, Jeffrey Bader outlines three broad policy options for the United States to respond to the China challenge:
Containment, confrontation, or untrammelled strategic rivalry;
Global cooperation, regional resolve."
"In their extreme versions, the strategies of accommodation and untrammeled rivalry make assumptions about American resilience and Chinese strength that are dubious.
"The accommodation argument, much like the contention in the 1970s that the United States needed to accommodate radically to an emerging multipolar world, seems to project a United States that remains static, that fails to innovate, and that proves unable to maintain its military, political, economic, and cultural advantages. As Lee Kuan Yew said, those who bet against the United States in the 20th century didn’t come out so well, and we have it in our power to ensure, through domestic rejuvenation, that the America short-sellers in the 21st century meet the same fate. A central premise of accommodation also seems to be that China’s rise has a kind of inevitability about it, and that the trajectory of U.S. and Chinese economic strength and national power are converging. Recent weakness in the Chinese economy and signs that systemic reform will remain very challenging undercut the notion that we can make straight line projections from China’s success in the last 20 years in moving from underdevelopment to medium income status."
"The argument for embrace of untrammelled strategic rivalry makes more confident assumptions about U.S. strength and adaptability. But it does not persuasively explain how the United States will be able to subordinate other demanding domestic and foreign priorities to confronting the ambiguous challenge that China poses. Like the proponents of accommodation, its advocates sometimes postulate a China that is 10 feet tall and whose nefarious intentions and secret master plan lie behind normal developments. It dismisses, incorrectly in my view, the wisdom in the trope that if we treat China as an enemy, it will surely become one. Security rivalries lead to security dilemmas and distort destructively the behaviour of those trapped in them. If we conspire to make China an enemy, then every problem we deal with, including Iran, North Korea, climate change, and global terrorism, will become orders of magnitude more difficult to manage. Finally, confrontation with a country that will be our number one trading partner, the major trading partner of many of our friends in Asia and elsewhere, and a foundation of the global economy will impose considerable costs on our own economy and those of numerous other countries and create severe strains with friends who would be negatively impacted."
"Options 1 and 2 have their prominent advocates in the current policy literature, but each would jeopardise important U.S. interests—the former by putting at risk U.S. allies and values, the latter by demanding a greatly expanded U.S. military presence in the region without ensuring greater security. So what kind of actions should the United States take to achieve a balance between acceptance of a larger global role for a constructive China while drawing lines against coercion in China’s neighbourhood? On global issues, a sensible option 3 approach should look for issues on which China, because of its own evolving interests, can and should play a greater role in supporting the global system. A few examples might include:
• Cybersecurity and cyber innovation; • Protection of the rights of foreign investors; • Adoption of the standards of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; • Central bank coordination, especially at times of global market instability; • Fisheries treaties and conservation. • Protection of intellectual property rights."
"In addition, there are political, economic, and security measures the United States should adopt, globally and regionally, to protect its interests in the face of the Chinese challenge, including projecting clarity about our commitments to allies, defending principles and international norms in maritime areas, and restricting access to the U.S. market for companies that engage in cyber-theft. But there are opportunities as well for U.S.-China cooperation, such as along with South Korea in constraining the North Korean nuclear weapons program and with the Chinese-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank on worthwhile projects."
As a huge country with a vastly different political system, a population the size of a fifth of mankind and many provinces at different stages of development, the trajectory of China as a relatively-recent integral part of the global order admits no simple black-and-white interpretations and responses. The reading of China is made the more difficult when China is now at a critical crossroads of development both economically, socially, ecologically, politically, and geopolitically, not to mention other new challenges to global stability. Jeffrey Bader's more nuanced analysis is therefore timely.
A research paper dated 22 August, 2016 by Elsa Kania, analyst at the Long Term Strategy Group, for the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, expounds on the latest strategic thinking of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) on the so-called “Three Warfares” (三战) - Public Opinion Warfare (舆论战), Psychological Warfare (心理战), and Legal Warfare (法律战), which are purported to being applied China’s strategic approach in the South China Sea and beyond.
Drawing on latest military studies of China's National Defence University (NDU) and other military journals, the paper dissects how the Three Warfares are integrated to achieve strategic advantages in such areas as Control of public opinion (舆论控制); Blunting an adversary’s determination (意志挫伤); Transformation of emotion (情感转化); Psychological guidance (心智诱导); Collapse of adversary’s organisation (组织瓦解); Psychological defence (心理防御); and Restriction through law (法律制约).
The following extracts are instructive -
"In more general terms, the primary missions are to seize the “decisive opportunity” (先机) for controlling public opinion, organise psychological offence and defence, engage in legal struggle, and fight for popular will and public opinion. and the integration of peace and warfare (平战结合)".
"For public opinion warfare, the requirements outlined are to “demoralize one’s opponent by a show of strength” (先声夺人), “create momentum to control the situation” (造势控局), “assail strategic points” (抨击要害), and “seek the avoidance of injury” (趋利避害)."
"The principles articulated for psychological warfare focus on “integrating [psychological attacks] and armed attacks with each other” (与武力打击相结合), “carrying out offense and defense at the same time, with offense as the priority” (攻防并举以攻为主), and “synthetically using multiple forms of forces” (综合运用各种力量)".
"The implementation of legal warfare, which seeks to provide legal support to operational success, is informed by the principles to “protect national interests as the highest standard” (以维护国家利益为最高准则), “respect the basic principles of the law” (尊重法律的基本准则), “carry out [legal warfare] that centers upon military operations” (围绕军事行动展开), and “seize standards [and] flexibly use [them]” (把握规范灵活运用)."
"Beyond the traditional applications of the three warfares, the text also displays efforts to innovate in the application of these concepts to new contexts, such as counterterrorism and stability protection (反恐维稳), international peacekeeping, protecting transportation and escort (保交护航), and closing and controlling borders (封边控边)."
In sum, these stratagems hark back to Sun Tzu's ancient Art of War, that the best war can be won without bloodshed.
Greetings from Brexit-troubled but Olympics-proud London, where I am enjoying a summer break.
The whole world is now turning upside down. Counter-intuitive outcomes such as Brexit and the Trump phenomenon add to game-changing uncertainties: the rise of navel-gazing nationalism, the proxy tugs of war in the Middle East, the future role of the United States, a slowing yet more assertive China, tensions in the South China Sea, the sustainability of stimulus-economics, and the creative destruction of deepening global inter-connectivity. I hope you are able to find new silver linings, if not the holy grail.
The following may offer food for thought on some of the imponderables.
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China Futures Fellow, Berkshire Publishing Group, Massachusetts,USA(2011-13) Brain Trust Member, The Evian Group (global think-tank), Lausanne, Switzerland
Gerson Lehrman Group (Global Experts) Council Member International Expert, Reuters Insight Community of Experts, Thompson Reuters
Senior Analyst, Wikistrat, a cloud-sourced global strategic consultancy
Senior Consultant, MEC International (a UK-based global strategic energy consultancy)
Distinguished Contributor, Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance (ATCA) (global think-tank) Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA) Elected Member, Royal Society for Asian Affairs
Advisory Board Member, The e-Centre, European Centre for e-Commerce and Internet Law
Advisory Board Member, The Global Analyst, India
Hong Kong Advisory Board Member, Denmark-based Executive Global Network (EGN)
Global Commercial Agent, Changsha City, China
Visiting Professor, London Metropolitan University Business School
(The following until 19 May 2010, on permanent relocation back to Hong Kong)
Governing Council Member, King’s College London, UK (2004-2010) Advisory Board Member, China Policy Institute, Nottingham University, UK (2005 -2010) Founding Chairman, China Group, Institute of Directors City Branch, London, UK (2006-2010) Vice Chairman, 48 Group Club, UK (2008-2010) Committee Member of RSA, London Region, UK (2006-2010)
Visiting Professor, Sun Yat-sen University Business School, China (2005-10)
Included in UK's Who's Who since 2002
Awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star (SBS) in the July 2005 Hong Kong Honours List