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South China Sea on a Boil
Chinese Bomber Flies Over Spratlys in Show of Force

The Chinese have made another power move over disputed islands in the South China Sea, Reuters reports:

A Chinese H-6 strategic bomber flew around the Spratly Islands at the weekend in a new show of force in the contested South China Sea, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.

It was the second such flight by a Chinese bomber in the South China Sea this year. The first was on Jan. 1, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The flight could be seen as a show of “strategic force” by the Chinese, the official said.

The Chinese have lately stepped up the pace of their incursions into the South China Sea and are growing increasingly audacious: unnerving Taiwan by sailing an aircraft carrier too close to its shores for comfort, for instance, and brazenly stealing a U.S. underwater drone within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.  China has also conducted a series of drills with its aircraft carrier in the South China Sea over the past week.

China’s muscle-flexing is being watched nervously throughout Asia, but it is also being interpreted a signal to Washington amid escalating bilateral tensions. Donald Trump’s phone call with the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen set off Beijing this past month, and Tsai’s visit to the United States this week to meet with Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott has renewed China’s wrath. On Sunday, soon after Tsai’s arrival in the United States, a Chinese state-run paper pledged “revenge” if Trump follows through on threats to reconsider the longstanding “One China” policy.

China’s provocations in the South China Sea became commonplace during the Obama Administration, as Beijing gradually built up its artificial islands in the absence of forceful pushback. If its recent actions are any indication, China has no intentions of slowing down under Trump.

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  • Disappeared4x

    These China ‘conversations’ really need a timeline, and less breathless anxiety. Was POETUS Trump’s Monday meeting with Alibaba’s Jack Ma a response to China’s H-6 weekend flight over the Spratlys, which may, or may not, have been after Taiwan’s Tsai meet in Texas with Cruz and Abbott?

    “…Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s executive chairman Jack Ma and President-elect Donald Trump met Monday at Trump Tower in New York in what is being described on both sides as a positive meeting. At the center of the discussion was agriculture in the U.S. Midwest; Chinese firms recently have been buying up farmland there.

    Today’s talks centered on an idea to create 1 million new jobs in small business over the next half decade. Ma said after the meeting:
    “We think the China-U.S. relationship should be strengthened. Should be more friendly and do better.” He also said he believed the door was open now regarding trade issues between the countries, but said Trump did say he has concerns and some resolutions he wanted to discuss with China.

    In speaking in the Trump Tower lobby in Manhattan, Ma and Trump both said the discussions were positive, and they appeared publicly to have a mutual respect for each other. Ma’s Alibaba has often been described in this country as a company as big as Amazon and Walmart combined.

    All eyes are on how China-U.S. relations will be in the new Trump administration, where he has hand-picked trade officials with a jaundiced eye toward the Middle Kingdom. Alibaba, of course, has big plans in the U.S. Its Digital Media and Entertainment Group announced plans for a $7.2B investment in entertainment over the next three years. That was upped from their previously announced $1.5B investment.


    [If anyone wonders why Deadline cares so much about trade with China, it is not just because of Chinese investment in Hollywood.
    There is one sure way for a Hollywood film to make yuge! box office: get a license to show in China.
    This is of interest once one looks at SecTreas nominee Mnuchin’s post-GoldmanSachs activity with RatPac-Dune Entertainment. ]

  • Nevis07

    One wonders if amid all of this that with North Korea’s recent news headlines, if it becomes one of those strategic trade offs. Part of me thinks that he sees pieces to be traded, but the other half of me thinks he has little desire to leave China with a winning hand going forward simply to buy an interim period (say 4 – 8 years) of good behavior.

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