20 October 2010

Sensing Weakness: China Putting the Screws to Us Already?

In the wake of a weekend Central Committee meeting, exports of vital rare earths to the US/EU -on which the Chinese maintain an unsettling stranglehold- are restrained

Ladies of the PLA: (Xinhua)

Perhaps it's more difficult these days to awaken Americans to the comprehensive threat posed by the rise of Communist China now that our own country's being run by a Smiley-Face Marxist who's actually to the left of Beijing's policies on health care, defense, and fiscal management... but there are increasing numbers of powerful Chinese leaders that see the United States as an enemy -no matter how socialist we are. They didn't get along with the Soviets either, you know lol.

And China's economic nationalists appear to be in the ascendancy...
China, which has been blocking shipments of crucial minerals to Japan for the last month, has now quietly halted some shipments of those materials to the United States and Europe, three industry officials said this week. China, which this week announced that it would cut its annual export quota for rare earths in 2011. 

The Chinese action, involving rare earth minerals that are crucial to manufacturing many advanced products, seems certain to further intensify already rising trade and currency tensions with the West. Until recently, China typically sought quick and quiet accommodations on trade issues. But the interruption in rare earth supplies is the latest sign from Beijing that Chinese leaders are willing to use their growing economic muscle... 

China mines 95 percent of the world’s rare earth elements, which have broad commercial and military applications, and are vital to the manufacture of products as diverse as cellphones, large wind turbines and guided missiles. Any curtailment of Chinese supplies of rare earths is likely to be greeted with alarm in Western capitals, particularly because Western companies are believed to keep much smaller stockpiles of rare earths than Japanese companies. 

China experts said on Tuesday that Beijing’s assertive stance on rare earths might also signal the ascendance of economic nationalists, noting that the Central Committee of the Communist Party convened over the weekend...

The Chinese government office that oversees rare earth policy, which operated with considerable independence for many years, was moved early last year into the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. That ministry, formed only two years ago to draft plans for global leadership in many industries, has emerged as a bastion of economic nationalism.

The increasingly nationalistic tone eminating from the Peoples' Liberation Army offers yet more reason concern, as they too seem keen to exploit America's precarious economic position and lack of an effective Commander-in-Chief over the next 27 months. Why should they fear this smiley plastic mannequin anyway... any possiblity of that was lost forever in a ruinous first impression when he bowed to them just like the groveling milquetoast that he is:
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met his Chinese counterpart, Liang Guanglie, in Vietnam on Monday for the first time since the two militaries suspended talks with each other last winter, calling for the two countries to prevent “mistrust, miscalculations and mistakes.” 

His message seemed directed mainly at officers like Lt. Cmdr. Tony Cao of the Chinese Navy. Days before Mr. Gates arrived in Asia, Commander Cao was aboard a frigate in the Yellow Sea, conducting China’s first war games with the Australian Navy, exercises to which, he noted pointedly, the Americans were not invited. 

Nor are they likely to be, he told Australian journalists in slightly bent English, until “the United States stops selling the weapons to Taiwan and stopping spying us with the air or the surface.” 

The Pentagon is worried that its increasingly tense relationship with the Chinese military owes itself in part to the rising leaders of Commander Cao’s generation, who, much more than the country’s military elders, view the United States as the enemy. Older Chinese officers remember a time, before the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 set relations back, when American and Chinese forces made common cause against the Soviet Union. The younger officers have known only an anti-American ideology, which casts the United States as bent on thwarting China’s rise...

The New York Times [1] [2]