Lessons from Paracels Pt IX: The ‘Panda Gambit’

The geo-political game of 'Risk': China Vs Japan military capability and assets

The geo-political game of ‘Risk’: China Vs Japan military capability and assets

In the series of apparent China’s expansionary traits in the region reflective in the form of increased spending, number and quality of military assets in the past ten years, which grew into threatening position against her neighbours, has been reciprocated by United States’ more apparent projection of power and military might.


AFP st0ry:

China’s booming military spending belies caution

By Kelly Olsen
April 10, 2014 8:04 PM

Beijing (AFP) – With the world’s biggest military, China far outnumbers rival Japan in manpower, ships, aircraft and defence spending, but analysts say underlying weaknesses leave it still wary of a fight.

Beijing’s latest double-digit rise in its defence budget, announced last month, will only increase its numerical superiority, but Japan enjoys technological and training advantages, and the key asset of a US security umbrella.

Hagel reiterated Washington’s support for Tokyo while criticising Beijing in blunt exchanges with top People’s Liberation Army (PLA) generals.

China, for its part, told the Vietnam War veteran that sovereignty over islands in the East China Sea at the heart of the dispute with Japan was non-negotiable and that it would “make no compromise”.

Despite such tough talk, analysts say China’s top strategists know an armed conflict, intentional or accidental, is not in their interest and could detract from their long-term goal of expanding their regional and global power.

View gallery
Graphic comparing the military strength of China and Japan, based on an analysis by the Internationa …
“The Chinese high command has got to be very prudent and cautious in terms of the launch of any kind of military operation,” said Arthur Ding, an expert on the PLA at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University.

Even without the benefit of the US security alliance, Japan currently has better training, facilities and equipment, Ding said, although the long term situation was less clear.

“Right now Japan is in better shape,” he told AFP.

Even Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the military — which is beset by corruption, with high-ranking officers under investigation — to improve its abilities to “win battles”.

The dispute over the uninhabited islands, administered by Japan as the Senkakus and claimed by China as the Diaoyus, has heated up since Tokyo bought islands in the chain from private Japanese owners in 2012.

Ships and aircraft from both countries, mostly dispatched by non-military maritime and coastguard agencies, regularly patrol the area.

In a tense incident early last year, however, Japan accused a Chinese frigate of directing its weapon-targeting radar at one of Tokyo’s naval vessels, fuelling worries about a clash.

China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, went into service 18 months ago and according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Military Balance 2014 report, published in February, the country’s forces outnumber Japan in virtually all areas.

China had approximately 2.3 million active duty troops last year compared with Japan’s 247,150, the report said. China also enjoyed huge leads in combat aircraft at 2,525 to 630, main battle tanks at 6,840 to 777 and tactical submarines at 66 to 18.

View gallery
Soldiers take part in an exercise in Heihe, northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, April 9, 20 …
China’s defence budget was $112.2 billion last year, while Japan’s came to $51 billion, according to the report.

“The PLA is engaged in a modernisation programme fuelled by the country’s rapid economic development that has seen it surpass the armed forces of less developed countries in Asia,” the report said.

It added, however, that China had shortfalls including a lack of combat experience, questions about training and morale, and weaknesses in command and control, anti-submarine warfare and other areas.

China’s military “remains qualitatively inferior, in some respects, to more technologically advanced armed forces in the region — such as South Korea and Japan — and it lags far behind the US”, the report said.

– Art of War –

View gallery
Soldiers take part in an exercise in Heihe, northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, April 9, 20 …
Tokyo and Washington, once bitter wartime enemies, have had a close defence relationship since Japan’s World War II defeat in 1945, with the US obligated to defend its ally if it is attacked.

The US military has nearly 50,000 troops stationed in Japan at key strategic bases including on the southern island of Okinawa, a short flight to the disputed islands.

Kazuhisa Ogawa, a respected Japanese military affairs analyst, said that Japan’s capabilities cannot be looked at as separate from those of the US.

“The Japanese military is not designed to stand on its own,” Ogawa said, referring to its Self-Defense Forces.

“Japan is facing the Chinese military together with the US force, so it is nonsense to compare the capabilities of the Japanese military and the Chinese military without the presence of the US,” he told AFP.

Though the Chinese Communist Party and state media regularly chastise Japan over the territorial dispute and accuse it of nascent militarism and denial of wartime atrocities in China, pronouncements by top officials can be more prudent.

In his exchanges with Hagel, China’s defence chief Chang Wanquan suggested the country would not take pre-emptive action in the island dispute.

But Ogawa said Beijing had a clear strategy despite its reluctance to start an armed conflict.

“China is sending non-military ships to the area,” he said, to assert its claim, gauge the reactions of Japan and the US, and show nationalistic elements at home it is flexing its muscles.

“China’s policy is to win without a battle, taking the path of Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’.”


China’s arrogance and stubborn attitude towards her neighbours over multinational claims in several blocks within South China Sea ad East Asia Sea and thumping of chest threatening “The use of deadly force to defend ‘territtories’ (Senkaku Islands and ‘Nine-Dash-Line’)”, is reciprocated of the Americans further antagonising moves deploying sophisticated diplomacy.

US Defence Secretary Hagel in his first official to China five days ago, did not mince his words in warning to China against the latter’s increasingly aggressive claim over Senkaku Islands, with renewed military commitment for Japan.

Fox News story;

Hagel squares off with Chinese defense minister over dispute with Japan over islands

Published April 08, 2014Associated Press


April 8, 2014: U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, left, and Chinese Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan, right, take seat prior to their meeting at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters in Beijing. Hagel arrived in Beijing after a stop in Japan, where he told reporters that China must be more open about its military buildup and better respect its neighbors - a pointed allusion to Beijing's ongoing territorial dispute with Japan and others over remote islands in the East China Sea. (AP Photo/Alex Wong, Pool)

April 8, 2014: U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, left, and Chinese Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan, right, take seat prior to their meeting at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters in Beijing. Hagel arrived in Beijing after a stop in Japan, where he told reporters that China must be more open about its military buildup and better respect its neighbors – a pointed allusion to Beijing’s ongoing territorial dispute with Japan and others over remote islands in the East China Sea. (AP Photo/Alex Wong, Pool)

BEIJING – The defense chiefs of China and the U.S. faced off Tuesday over Beijing’s escalating territorial disputes in the region, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, wagging his finger, said China doesn’t have the right to unilaterally establish an air defense zone over disputed islands with no consultation.

And he said America will protect Japan in a dispute with China.

Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan said his country will not take the initiative to stir up troubles with Japan, but Beijing is ready to use its military if needed to safeguard its territory. And he warned that the U.S. must “stay vigilant” against Japan’s actions and “not be permissive and supportive” of Tokyo.

The two men were speaking to reporters after a meeting here.

The U.S. has criticized Beijing’s recent declaration of an air defense zone over a large swath of the East China Sea, including disputed islands controlled by Japan.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting with Chang at the Ministry of Defense, the two men aired their countries’ well-known positions about the territorial disputes.

The meeting focused on how the U.S. and China can build stronger ties, in the wake of years of frosty relations over Beijing’s military buildup, persistent cyberattacks against U.S. government agencies and private industry, and aggressive Chinese territorial claims in the East China Sea.

Beijing’s recent declaration of an air defense zone over a large swath of the East China Sea, including disputed islands controlled by Japan has raised complaints from the U.S., deepening concerns that it could spark a confrontation.

Washington has refused to recognize the zone or follow China’s demands that its aircraft file flight plans with Beijing’s Defense Ministry and heed Chinese instructions. China has warned of unspecified retaliatory measures against aircraft that do not comply, but has so far taken no action.

He also said the U.S. and China must be more open with each other about their cyber capabilities, saying that greater openness “reduces the risk that misunderstanding and misperception could lead to miscalculation.”

Hagel pointed to the ongoing threat from North Korea, which recently threatened additional missile and nuclear tests. And he said the U.S. and China have a shared interest “in achieving a verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

In recent weeks the North has conducted a series of rocket and ballistic missile launches that are considered acts of protest against annual ongoing springtime military exercises by Seoul and Washington. North Korea says the exercises are rehearsals for invasion.


On top of telling off China with regards to Japan, Hagel threw another wild card in this game of regional geo-politics. This is demonstrated when he asked China “To contain North Korea”, which is China’s biggest ally in East Asia and growingly project her capability to threaten US allies South Korea and Japan.

Wall Street Journal story:

Hagel Asks China’s Xi Jinping to Do More to Contain North Korea

Amicable Talks Follow Blunt U.S. Exchanges With Beijing’s Military Leaders During Three-Day Trip

April 9, 2014 12:37 p.m. ET

 U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, Wednesday. Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, Wednesday. Getty Images

BEIJING—U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrapped up a three-day visit to China on Wednesday by urging President Xi Jinping to play a larger role in containing the dangers posed in the region by North Korea.

The amicable meeting with Mr. Xi came in contrast to a series of pointed discussions the day before with top Chinese military officials, who criticized U.S. policy in the Asia-Pacific.

While Tuesday’s military talks cast a pall over Mr. Hagel’s first trip to China as defense secretary, U.S. officials characterized the trip as a modest success overall in bridging differences between the nations.

Mr. Xi said deepening military ties between the two countries would help strengthen broader U.S.-China relations. “Your visit this time will definitely push forward the development of our new model of military-to-military relationship,” he told Mr. Hagel at the start of their meeting in the Great Hall of the People.

The Chinese leader also noted that Mr. Hagel had been provided with a “robust itinerary” during his visit, an apparent nod to the open access China granted Mr. Hagel to its lone aircraft carrier and military officers.

Throughout the visit, Chinese officials prodded Mr. Hagel over U.S. support for Japan and the Philippines in tense territorial disputes with China. The U.S. defense secretary encouraged Chinese leaders to do more to restrain North Korea’s destabilizing military tests in the region.

While the U.S. announced no breakthroughs over the North Korea issue or concerns about cybersecurity, U.S. officials praised China for granting Mr. Hagel a rare tour of its aircraft carrier, a step seen as a signal of China’s willingness to be more open, albeit cautiously, with the U.S. The two countries also announced modest steps to deepen ties between their militaries, such as higher-level talks over divisive issues.

American officials said the pointed, public criticism from Chinese military leaders was unfortunate but not unexpected. “You’re dealing with a China that is still trying to find its way,” one U.S. defense official said.

While Mr. Hagel played down the differences, one of America’s top military leaders warned that China’s actions were creating a “witches’ brew” for miscalculation. “I’m concerned by the aggressive growth of the Chinese military, their lack of transparency and a pattern of increasingly assertive behavior in the region,” Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. , commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said on Wednesday at a naval conference in Canberra, Australia.

“There’s both growing uncertainty in the region and increasing tensions—a witches’ brew, if you will, for miscalculation,” he said. “Our continued diplomacy in Asia amid these challenges underscores the importance of the United States remaining active and strong in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”

—Jeremy Page contributed to this article.


Hagel’s request to President Xi Jinping marks the fresh sophisticated diplomatic move of the ‘Panda Gambit’. Despite expressing the expectation for “China’s  greater role in regional geo-political stability”, it is clear United States do not expect China would be stern in getting North Korea ‘contained’. For China, it would be nothing less than ‘Damned if you do, damned if you don’t’.

Thus, failure to honour this request would be US’s sordid excuse for ‘sour point’ with regards to relation with China, via-a-vis its strengthening military commitment to ally around the region namely South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Despite China Minister of Defense Gen Chang Wanquan attempt to show off PLA Navy’s (PLAN) brand new aircraft Laoning to US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel’s official visit a few days ago, the Americans are rounding up support around the region in the tradition Western style of ‘Circling the Eagon’.


During Hagel Visit, China Showed Its Military Might, and Its Frustrations


ULAN BATOR, Mongolia — When Robert M. Gates visited China in 2011 as the United States defense secretary, the military greeted him with an unexpected and, in the view of American military officials, provocative test of a Chinese stealth fighter jet, a bold show of force that stunned the visiting Americans and may even have surprised the Chinese president at the time, Hu Jintao.

When Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited China this week, the military greeted him with a long-sought tour of the country’s lone aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, in what many American officials interpreted as a resolve to project naval power, particularly in light of recent tension between Beijing and its neighbors over disputed islands in the East and South China Seas.

The displays of China’s military power reveal some dividends from years of heavy investments, and perhaps a sense that China is now more willing to stand toe-to-toe with the Americans, at least on regional security issues.


In Mongolia, a Gift Horse for Hagel APRIL 10, 2014
But American officials and Asia experts say the visits also showed a more insecure side of China’s military leadership — a tendency to display might before they are ready to deploy it, and a lingering uncertainty about how assertively to defend its territorial claims in the region.

Mr. Hagel encountered both combative warnings in public forums and private complaints that Beijing felt besieged by hostile neighbors, especially Japan and the Philippines, which it asked the United States to help address. The impression for some American officials was that China still has not decided whether it wants to emphasize its historical status as an underdog or adopt a new posture as a military powerhouse.

On the tough side, China’s minister of defense, Gen. Chang Wanquan, announced that his country would make “no compromise, no concession, no treaty” in the fight for what he called its “territorial sovereignty.”

“The Chinese military can assemble as soon as summoned, fight any battle, and win,” he said.

But the tough stance belies a different reality on the ground, a military with little or no combat experience, outdated or untested equipment, and a feeling of being under siege. The Liaoning, according to American defense officials who toured the ship, still lags well behind the United States’ 10 aircraft carrier groups. While Mr. Hagel spoke expansively about how impressive he found the Chinese sailors he met aboard the ship in his public remarks, one American defense official who accompanied Mr. Hagel noted privately that the Liaoning was “not as big, it’s not as fast,” as American carriers.

Some experts on China were more dismissive. The Liaoning is “a surplus ship from the Soviet era that had been used as a hotel after it was decommissioned,” said Andrew L. Oros, an associate professor of political science at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., and a specialist on East Asia.

“In my view this is about national pride, about being on the cusp of being able to challenge the powers that wrought such destruction and misery on China in the 19th and 20th centuries,” Mr. Oros said. “I think this leads them to over-flaunt, both out of genuine satisfaction in being able to do so, but also as a domestic crowd-pleaser.”
In Beijing, standing next to Mr. Hagel at the Ministry of Defense this week, General Chang likened himself to the American defense secretary, who has two Purple Heart medals from combat during the Vietnam War. “Secretary Hagel and I are both old soldiers who fought on the battlefield,” he said, prompting a number of raised eyebrows among the Americans in the room. “We have a deep understanding of the atrocities of war.”

That may be so, but no one in China’s political or military leadership, which has focused for three decades on national economic development, has significant experience in war, and its troops are not trained in combat. Even Japan, which eschewed combat after World War II, is believed by American officials to have a superior navy, one that regularly trains with American marines and sailors and with a technical sophistication that counterbalances the heavy investment China has made in recent years.

In private meetings with Mr. Hagel, Chinese officials sounded more defensive, American officials said, expressing frustration over what they presented as a Japan and a Philippines made bolder by their treaty alliances with the United States, and ganging up on Beijing.

The American response, that the United States takes no position on competing claims for disputed islands in the East China Sea — which the Japanese call Senkaku and the Chinese call Diaoyu — or the islands and reefs claimed by the Philippines in the South China Sea, seemed only to further inflame the Chinese. Beijing also objects to the standard Obama administration line that the United States has treaty obligations to Tokyo and Manila.

Beyond that, American officials say the stronger public statements by leaders of the People’s Liberation Army are aimed partly at the Chinese public at large, noting a headline in the newspaper China Daily on Wednesday that spoke of Mr. Hagel’s being “urged” by General Chang to “restrain Japan.”

Still, no one at the Pentagon denies that China’s military has made huge leaps in the last decade. China now spends more on its military than any country except the United States, and will increase military spending to $148 billion this year from $139 billion in 2013, according to IHS Jane’s, a military industry consulting and analysis company. While that is still only about a fourth of what the United States spends, American military spending is declining, to $575 billion this year from $664 billion in 2012. By next year, analysts estimate that China will spend more on its military than Britain, Germany and France combined.

Moreover, for Beijing, the Liaoning is a launching pad for future naval operations, military experts said.

“Back in August 2011, when the carrier later to be known as the Liaoning took its first test voyage, I happened to be aboard the U.S.S. John C. Stennis witnessing flight operations,” said Andrew Scobell, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, referring to one of the United States Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. “I recall shaking my head in amazement and thinking to myself, ‘The Chinese will never be able to do this!’ ”

But now, planes are taking off from the Liaoning. “The P.L.A. is seen as extremely capable,” Mr. Scobell said, “and one of the clearest indications of this is that the Pentagon now focuses considerable attention on countering what it dubs China’s ‘anti-access/area denial capabilities’ ” — military jargon for the doctrine that could be used by Beijing to deny the United States military the ability to operate in certain areas of the sea near China during a crisis.


In less than two weeks, President Barack H. Obama would visit South Korea, Japan and Malaysia and the growing China PLAN’s apparent threat in South China Sea and East China Sea is expected to be on the agenda. It is expected that Obama would escalate the ‘Panda Gambit’ further by extending United States’ existing commitment and role to “ensure regional stability and freedom”.

The US sophisticated game of geo-politics is translated in Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s official visit to China.

In the recent close cooperation between RAAF and RAN and PLAN for the joint multinational operation led by Australia’s former RAAF Chief Air Vice Marshall Angus Houston in his capacity as the Head of Joint Agency Co-ordiating Centre for the search of Malaysia Airlines’ MH370 calculated to have crashed in the South Indian Ocean,  it has been used as a geo-political currency. PM Abbott is extending the co-operation further, for Australia and China to do joint military exercises.

Sydney Morning Herald story:

Tony Abbott’s China visit nets closer military relations

April 13, 2014

Philip Wen, Mark Kenny

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has foreshadowed closer military co-operation and joint military exercises with China, and revealed President Xi Jinping has accepted his invitation to address both houses of Parliament later this year.

Speaking in Beijing the morning after a state dinner and bilateral talks with Mr Xi, Mr Abbott said personal relationships at senior levels of government had ”very much been enhanced”.

”We had a very warm and constructive discussion last night,” he told reporters on Saturday, the last day of his week-long visit to Japan, South Korea and China. Mr Xi will visit Australia in November for bilateral meetings attached to his attendance at the G20 summit in Brisbane.

Mr Abbott said he was ”quite confident” of building on high-level meetings and exchanges with the world’s largest army through the form of ”multilateral exercises in the months and years ahead”.

”That’s got to be good for peace and understanding in our region and the wider world,” he said.

Australia already co-operates with New Zealand and China on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief drills. China’s People’s Liberation Army has asked to operate under Australian command in the US-led Rim of the Pacific maritime exercises, when the navies of more than 20 nations converge on Hawaii for warfare drills in July.

”Without going into specific detail, I express the hope and confidence that there can be greater and deeper involvement [from China] in the time ahead,” Mr Abbott said.

The breakthrough in military relations follows close co-operation in the search for Malaysia Airlines’ flight MH370.

China’s state-run media outlets prominently reported Mr Abbott’s meeting with Mr Xi, with reports of the Prime Minister’s personal update on the search running as the lead item of official news agency Xinhua, as well as dominating the front page of a number of newspapers, including the English-language China Daily.


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/tony-abbotts-china-visit-nets-closer-military-relations-20140412-36jz8.html#ixzz2yi1aiDwr


Radio Australia story:

Tony Abbott returns to dragon’s den in bid to secure free trade deal with China

Updated 9 April 2014, 19:42 AEST
By China correspondent Stephen McDonell

Australian PM Tony Abbot and President Xi Jinping t is the first official visit to China

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has left the most challenging part of his North Asia tour to the last – with his visit to Beijing to negotiate a free trade deal.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott sits next to China’s president Xi Jinping during the APEC summit in Bali last year. (Credit: Reuters)
The last time Tony Abbott walked into the Great Hall of the People flanked by advisers and diplomats, it was as if he was entering the castle of an enemy for post battle peace talks.

His body language read something like this: “Alright now I don’t know how much I should trust you but we both know that we need each other. They’re telling me that times have changed here in Beijing but I’m not so sure.”

Australia now has free trade agreements in the bag with Japan and South Korea but China is the big one, and the Prime Minister has left the most challenging part of his North Asia tour to the last.

In examining the complexity of China’s relationship with Australia it is hard to know where to begin.

In terms of Western countries Australia is treated differently here.

Taxi drivers will gush on about what an awesome country Australia is, even when Canberra is having a fight with Beijing.

What this means is that the message which filters down to ordinary Chinese people all the way from the top regarding Australia, is that it is OK.

Even the way Australian correspondents are treated here by officials is telling.

Like everyone, we are at times hindered and harassed in our reporting, but we are also at times welcomed by government-run companies, especially if what we are covering is the economy.

Chinese military and nationalism expanding

Yet neither country’s governments are under any illusions as to the difficulty of managing this “friendship”.

That is why face-to-face meetings Mr Abbott will have with president Xi Jinping and premier Li Keqiang are considered so crucial.

I suppose the feeling is, if you can look someone in the eye and tell them what you think, that builds trust.

However the region is entering a difficult period where trust is concerned.

Video: Australia and China’s relationship needs rebuilding ahead of an FTA (7.30)
In a nutshell, China’s military might is expanding along with an ever-emerging nationalism.

A few years ago hardly anybody had ever heard of the huge lumps of rock in the East China Sea which China claims as the Diaoyu Islands and Japan as the Senkakus.

Now at times it is as if the very existence of these ancient civilisations hangs on the ownership of them.

Late last year China announced a new Air Defence Identification Zone which overlapped the islands. It required prior notification by planes wanting to fly through this air space – air space that Japan obviously sees as its own.

So Australia, in supporting Japan, called in the Chinese Ambassador to voice its displeasure at the handling of the matter. China was furious.

Tension over Australia’s stance on East China Sea dispute

When Foreign Minister Julie Bishop later travelled to Beijing she walked straight into a trap.

World leaders hold meetings and, behind closed doors, say all sorts of things. But for the first few minutes of these meetings they let a couple of cameras and a handful of reporters into the room to capture what are invariably banal pleasantries about “the emerging friendship between our two great countries” and the like.

But, when Ms Bishop met her Chinese counterpart that is not how the script ran.

With the Beijing-based Australian press corps in the room, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi let her have it.

Photo: Julie Bishop meets her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi amid a row over the East China Sea
“What Australia has said and done with regard to China’s Air Defence Identification Zone has jeopardised bilateral mutual trust and affected the sound growth of bilateral relations,” he said.

“Across all of Chinese society the general public are deeply dissatisfied,” he continued.

Australia’s Ambassador to China, Frances Adamson, passed Ms Bishop a note which said something to the effect of: “You know that stuff we were going to bring up later on, you better pull it out now.”

So Australia’s Foreign Minister stepped up “…I must take issue with you on the matter of the East China Sea.”

And before she had a chance to say anything else journalists were being bundled out of the room by Chinese officials.

Later Ms Bishop told us: “Friends are able to discuss issues, air their differences and move on.”

“Australia and China will not always line up exactly in the same place on every issue… Australia has its view, its position and we should never be afraid to stand by our values and our views,” she said.

It seems China’s concern over this issue stems from more than just the loss of face in having Australia dress down its ambassador over a dispute in its own backyard.

China ‘testing the limits’ of Australia’s independence on foreign policy
China is also testing the limits of Australian independence when it comes to foreign policy.

As deputy director-general of the Institute of International Strategy in Beijing, Han Feng specialises in China’s relations with countries in the Asia Pacific including Australia.

He is also close to what the Chinese government is thinking about this part of the world.

“Lots of Chinese people are worried that, because of this special relationship with the US, Australia will stand on America’s side in international politics and ignore the facts of right and wrong in the region,” Professor Han told 7.30.

“I’m not saying that China doesn’t trust Australia but it’s worried that, in regional politics, there should be right and wrong, not decisions built on the relations of allies.”

He thinks Mr Abbott faces a challenge convincing Mr Xi that Australia has a mind of its own. Yet, in the end, this may not really matter when it comes to economic cooperation.

Just months after the Ms Bishop-Mr Yi meltdown China’s National People’s Congress opened with the traditional keynote address by premier Li.

More than a speech, the Government Work Report – as it is known – is the Communist Party’s most important annual document. It is an analysis of the state of the nation and a policy pledge for the next 12 months.

Trip could be pivotal in securing future relations

Mr Li announced that this year China would aim to sign a free trade agreement with Australia.

If the China-Australia free trade deal is in the Government Work Report it is going to happen.

So this does bring into question just how detrimental it really is for China and Australia to have it out in public. In the end business is business.

At the trough of Canberra-Beijing tension over the arrest and eventual jailing of Australian Rio Tinto employee Stern Hu, the two countries signed a major gas deal.

Yet many analysts would say that you cannot take this for granted, and certainly the Australian Government does not seem to.

At the same time that the Prime Minister is in China, Trade Minister Andrew Robb is in Shanghai this week with a delegation of more than 500 Australian business people as well as all the premiers.

It is as if everyone who runs Australia will be in China’s financial capital in the coming days.

As for Mr Abbott, Professor Han thinks he has a clear mentor in mind when it comes to China.

“Prime Minister Howard had some problems with China when he first took office,” he said.

“But later on both sides established smooth relations. I think Mr Abbott wants to inherit what Mr Howard eventually achieved in Sino-Australia relations but we still have some issues to be settled.”

In Mr Xi, China has a president who knows Australia pretty well. Again, that cannot be a bad thing.

Yet this trip could prove to be quite pivotal in terms of securing the future of a crucial relationship.


In the past two decades since Paul Keating and Howard’s premiership, Australia has been seen as United State’s ‘Deputy’ for ‘Policing the New Word Order’ around the East Asia and Pacific region. Definitely, United States would want Australia to play and commit to a more meaning role in the China’s expansionary moves around South China Sea and East China Sea.

The ‘Panda Gambit’ is definitely in-play.

China's military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China’s military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

If China is not careful, she would be lured into the United States’ counter measure against the ‘Panda Trap’. That alone is another sophisticated game of complex geo-politics games, where China’s reaction with any projection of force would be drawn into a military stand off with her immediate and regional neighbours in a Neo Cold War.

How could we all forget the last Cold War, which lasted 42 years and United States’ power of capitalism defeated communism, dismantled the ‘Iron Curtain’ and broke the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. In China’s zest of gaining global economic prowess, the near-exponential economic growth and transformation of China’s ‘Two System in One State’ could be manipulated into a sophisticated but complex economic-geo-political time-bomb.

Needless to say, Hagel’s and Abbott’s visit to China within this week is the precursor to the ‘Panda Gambit’. It is a classic intricate but enigmatic play by layers of United States’ diplomats, strategists and military to maintain its role, position and status as the world’s most strategic economy and Super Power.


Published in: on April 13, 2014 at 04:00  Comments (2)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://bigdogdotcom.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/lessons-from-the-paracel-pt-ix-the-panda-gambit/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Of course China would want to show its military might. They were pariahs for a long time in history. Now that they have an economic power, they will waste no time spending militarily.

    OK, they will get to a Super power one day – one expert I read says it’d take a generation or so. One aircraft carrier being tested does not mean scores of them will be plying the oceans in a decade or so. No mention of a submarine testing until now.

    And their economy cannot be expected to grow at the same pace all the time. Bubbles burst, US economy suffered, EU, too, periodically.

    But what is important is they must not be muscle flexing and bullying. They appear to have been doing so. Good that US Defence Secretary made the China visit and had that “dialogue” with the Chinese. It goes on record that the US have spoken to them even on Chinese soil.

    So, any “containment of China” undertaken by the US and maybe “a coalition of the willing” will be justifiable.

  2. […] by China is an extension of its projection of power, in the region. This could also be seen as China’s ‘Panda Gambit‘, to rest the reaction of international community, especially United States of […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: