Welcome to Saturday's Potluck - 5-21-2022

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
Pablo Picasso

There are questions which run through my mind without satisfactory answers. One is - what is the benefit for the leaders of Taiwan to initiate a conflict with China? Taiwan is an island and does not share any land borders to cross for people to escape a war zone. Taiwanese Expats living in most other countries would be able to avoid direct consequences, but relatives and friends on the island would be in physical danger. Economic consequences would be severe.

The there is the question of nuclear weapons as a deterrent or first strike weapon. China has had 64 years since first directly threatened with nuclear weapons, in 1958, to develop plans for various responses to protect their citizens and nation.


How a 1964 letter from China has helped prevent nuclear war
Asia Times May 19, 2022

The No First Use principle was first proposed by China in 1964, and has since been widely recognized as the linchpin on which humanity’s war-free future depends. China gained nuclear-weapons capability that year. Instead of demanding that all powers jointly agree on the principle, as some people recommended at the time, China’s leaders simply wrote an extraordinary letter to the global community.

Titled “Statement of the Government of the People’s Republic of China” and dated October 16, 1964, it was not the usual lawyer-written, bullet-pointed statement that people have come to expect with international declarations. It was a rather rambling missive that made the point that every nation had the right to defend itself with arms, but nuclear weapons were different.

They were a “paper tiger,” which existed for deterrence, not for actual use in attacks, the letter said. And they would surely be phased out as humanity learned to live in peace. Nuclear weapons were “created by man” and “certainly will be eliminated by man,” it said.

But the letter also delivered an epoch-making statement. Since every nation with such weapons claimed that they were for defense only, they could all simply declare that they would never be the first to use them. This would be necessary to make the people of the planet safe.

We’ll go first, the Chinese said. The key sentence they wrote was this: “The Chinese Government hereby solemnly declares that China will never at any time and under any circumstances be the first to use nuclear weapons.”
...
Clever game
The US has played an aggressive game extremely cleverly. The country has a huge arsenal of nuclear warheads (just under 6,000), but has kept the number slightly below the number that the Soviet Union/Russia is said to have (just over 6,000). This allows the US military-industrial complex constantly to ask for more public funding.
...
Will China stick to it?
But will China keep its promise? There’s no evidence that it won’t, and the country clearly has a demonstrable disinclination to enter wars far from home.

Yet the US strategy of making increasingly provocative moves in Taiwan to goad China into making a military response is a worry. Many fear that the US will call on its supporters in Taiwan to declare independence, forcing China to make an aggressive move.
Reasons for optimism

Yet there are two reasons for optimism. First, even if the US did trigger a skirmish over Taiwan, China would be extremely unlikely to use nuclear weapons in its own territory or waters.

Second, the country has shown an impressive degree of patience. During eight months of violent anti-China riots in 2019 in Hong Kong, Beijing resisted the temptation to intervene with its military there, even though there was an army base literally next door to the Hong Kong government’s besieged legislative building.

This extraordinary degree of patience came as a surprise to strategists (and a disappointment, surely, to Western powers). The violence in Hong Kong had largely ebbed away by the end of the year with no involvement of any kind from mainland China. Patience, it appears, is an unusually powerful weapon.

Conclusion? There are no guarantees in life; yet with China, India and Russia all having signed up to a No First Use nuclear policy in this region, the average citizen of East Asia may have good reason to feel slightly safer than her or his counterpart elsewhere on the planet, and particularly in Europe.

As for the moral victory, the Chinese writers of the 1964 letter won that battle 48 years ago, but their assumption that the Western powers and Russia would follow suit was too idealistic. Yet the principle of No First Use, even if most nations of the world did not sign it, has been followed in practice, so far.

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Taiwan’s Bomb National Security Archive

Washington, D.C., January 10, 2019 – From the late 1960s until the late 1980s, U.S. government officials worried that Taiwanese leaders might make a “fundamental decision” to develop nuclear weapons. Documents published today for the first time by the National Security Archive illustrate Washington’s efforts to keep tabs on military and scientific research and to intervene when they believed that Taiwan’s nuclear R&D had gone too far.

Today’s posting builds on and adds documentary detail to an important recent publication by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), David Albright and Andrea Stricker’s Taiwan’s Former Nuclear Weapons Program: Nuclear Weapons on Demand. Their book provides a comprehensive account of the nuclear program, in part by drawing on documents from the National Security Archive.[1]

A key moment in the Albright-Stricker history is the January 1988 exfiltration by the CIA of a senior official Chang Hsien-yi who was embedded in Taiwan’s nuclear establishment and wanted to stop activities that he believed could endanger his country. Albright and Stricker provide the first detailed account in English of Chang’s whistle-blowing. While Chang’s relationship with the CIA remains deeply classified in government files, today’s posting includes declassified documents on the consequences of his actions.

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Risk of Nuclear War Over Taiwan in 1958 Said to Be Greater Than Publicly Known copy of New York Times article 5-21-2021 published at cottontailsonline.com

The document was disclosed by Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked a classified history of the Vietnam War, known as the Pentagon Papers, 50 years ago. Mr. Ellsberg said he had copied the top secret study about the Taiwan Strait crisis at the same time but did not disclose it then. He is now highlighting it amid new tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan.

While it has been known in broader strokes that United States officials considered using atomic weapons against mainland China if the crisis escalated, the pages reveal in new detail how aggressive military leaders were in pushing for authority to do so if Communist forces, which had started shelling the so-called offshore islands, intensified their attacks.

The crisis in 1958 instead ebbed when Mao Zedong’s Communist forces broke off the attacks on the islands, leaving them in the control of Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist Republic of China forces based on Taiwan. More than six decades later, strategic ambiguity about Taiwan’s status — and about American willingness to use nuclear weapons to defend it — persist.
...
Among other details, the pages that the government censored in the official release of the study describe the attitude of Gen. Laurence S. Kutner, the top Air Force commander for the Pacific. He wanted authorization for a first-use nuclear attack on mainland China at the start of any armed conflict. To that end, he praised a plan that would start by dropping atomic bombs on Chinese airfields but not other targets, arguing that its relative restraint would make it harder for skeptics of nuclear warfare in the American government to block the plan.

“There would be merit in a proposal from the military to limit the war geographically” to the air bases, “if that proposal would forestall some misguided humanitarian’s intention to limit a war to obsolete iron bombs and hot lead,” General Kutner said at one meeting.

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The Ukraine war could trigger a nuclear arms race in Asia Taipei Times March 25, 2022

The nuclear buildup might not stop with China. Several of Asia’s key players are set to be dragged into a costly and dangerous arms race that would make the entire region less secure.

India, China’s regional rival, might seek to expand its own arsenal, prompting India’s nuclear-armed nemesis, Pakistan, to do the same.

This would place East Asia’s non-nuclear states, such as Japan and South Korea, in a quandary. Already, former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has called for Japan to consider hosting US nuclear weapons. Although Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida quickly rejected the idea, the proposal represents a major shift in a country that has abided by the principles of nuclear non-proliferation since World War II.

If an Asian nuclear arms race takes hold, countries’ willingness to challenge taboos would only increase. In Japan and South Korea, nuclear weapons would become the most divisive domestic political issue, with national security hawks advocating their development, even if doing so jeopardizes relations with the US, which views nuclear proliferation as an existential threat.

Finally, Taiwan might decide to acquire nuclear weapons as insurance against a Chinese invasion.

However, this would almost certainly precipitate just such an invasion. The resulting conflict, which could well involve the US, could quickly escalate into a nuclear war.

The world has long depended on the principle of mutual assured destruction to prevent nuclear war, but even if the principle deters countries from launching premeditated wars, it cannot protect against accidents or miscalculations.

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My plan: enjoy each day, keep speaking out for peace, increase understanding of complex issues and prepare for life's complexities.

________

What is on your mind today?

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QMS's picture

000_1KJ8SL.jpg

Iraq will join China’s signature “Belt and Road” infrastructure investment project, the country’s prime minister said Monday in Beijing.

https://asiatimes.com/2019/09/iraq-to-join-chinas-belt-and-road-project/

China and Myanmar sign off on Belt and Road projects

Myanmar and China on Saturday signed 33 bilateral agreements that will bind the Southeast Asian country closer to its giant neighbor, including rail and deep-sea port projects along an economic corridor linking China’s south-western interior to the Indian Ocean, reported the Financial Times.

https://chinaeconomicreview.com/china-and-myanmar-sign-off-on-belt-and-r...

And in Cambodia ..

1596-2.jpg

one of China's Belt and Road Initiative projects in Cambodia -- a hydroelectric dam known as the Lower Sesan 2, completed in 2018

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/17735/china-belt-road-human-rights

pakistan_nabisar_water_supply_project.jpeg

Siveco China was selected to deliver its Smart O&M solution for the Nabisar-Vajhair Water Supply Project in Pakistan. The project covers the construction of 60.7 km pipeline, 4 reservoirs, supporting office buildings and a diesel power station. After completion, this key large-scale water transmission project in Pakistan will ensure clean water supply for industrial and commercial use in the region. SPECOIII Electric Power Construction is the EPC contractor.

https://www.sivecochina.com/en/news/belt-road-siveco-china-deliver-smart...

Understanding China's Belt and Road Infrastructure Projects in Africa

It is hard to make simple generalizations about BRI in Africa. For this reason, it would be wise for Western countries to tone down their rhetoric on BRI, as many of the projects will probably work out well.

https://www.africaportal.org/publications/understanding-chinas-belt-and-...

While the Chinese are developing trade corridors, the west is fixated on destroying nations.
I think the long range planning and implementation of this Silk Road will have a much better
future than the bombing by bully regimes.

Thanks for the OT!

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studentofearth's picture

@QMS for sea power nations to easily disrupt. It appears to be using various trade models of past Dynasties. Not the master of the sea lanes with colonialism model developed by European Christian nations after the Muslims blocked travel of trade goods from China to Europe.

Still reviewing the links - thanks.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

There are questions which run through my mind without satisfactory answers. One is - what is the benefit for the leaders of Taiwan to initiate a conflict with China?

would seem to be along the lines of asking, 'What is the benefit for the skinny wimpy kid at school to initiate a conflict with a large, swaggering jock who is, say, captain of the wrestling team?'

Most people would, I think, not see much upside at all in doing so. This seems so obvious in the case of Taiwan v. China that it strikes me as kind of bizarre to even be posing the question.
(Unless I'm missing something obvious - which does occasionally happen.)

True, other actors might be trying to manipulate Taiwan into an open conflict, but the Taiwanese more than anyone know this would be disastrous and have every reason to avoid such an outcome. Is there something to indicate that the Taiwanese want anything other than to be left alone?

(China) clearly has a demonstrable disinclination to enter wars far from home.

Aside from considerations of what their inclinations are about wars close to home are...

Louis L'Amour, in both his fiction and nonfiction work brings up the point that in the conflict between American Indians and Europeans there was a profound difference in the very conception of what war *was*. Fighting was a way of life for many tribes and there were frequent raids/skirmishes/battles but there was nothing in the Indians' experience resembling an organized continuing campaign.

Americans (and Japanese, Philipinos, Australians, etc.) ought to be considering whether they are the 'Indians' in the current situation vis a vis the PRC. How confident can we be that we are not AT war?

Consider your situation as you roll up to an intersection in a questionable part of town, the one that happens to have a couple guys in expensive sneakers hanging out on the curb. No guns are being fired, there's no breaking glass, no overt problem. But what is the determinant regarding whether there *will* be an overt and violent problem? Is it your belief that nothing bad is going to happen or is it the intent, will and capability of the dudes on the corner?

In the above situation, if the guys on the corner *do* have bad intent, the complacent assumption that they don't only serves to facilitate their aims.

According to (USAF Ret.) General Robert Spalding - who knows a little something about China - China is and has been at war with the US. But, because it is not yet (and may not become) a shooting war, Americans and those associated with them don't realize it because they do not understand the nature of the conflict and naively and mistakenly believe that it's only a real war if there is shooting going on.

This is in keeping with Sun Tzu's precepts - that you don't go into open conflict with an enemy at their strongest, but do everything to weaken and misdirect them until you win without fighting or the fighting part is something of a formality that you engage in when victory is assured.

And how convenient is it for China to have the US and a number of its other historic rivals (Russia, Western Europe, Japan...) all in conflict and weakening one another? If they are all weakened who will be the principal beneficiary?

Disbelieving that the PRC (anyway, its leadership - which is what counts) is at war with you is fine by them - but such belief has zero impact on the reality of whether they are or aren't.

Spalding interview here (Part 1) and here (Part 2)

"Robert Spalding retired from the U.S. Air Force as a brigadier general after more than 25 years of service. The author of Stealth War, he is a former China strategist for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, as well as a senior defense official and defense attaché to China. He earned his doctorate in economics and mathematics from the University of Missouri and is fluent in Mandarin."

Also:

So China is patient? Seems not all its supporters are:

Chinese-Born Man Arrested For Mass Shooting at Taiwanese Church Was 'Motivated By Hatred Against Taiwan'

"A Chinese-born gunman motivated by hatred against Taiwan chained shut the doors of a California church and hid firebombs before opening fire on a gathering of mainly of elderly Taiwanese parishioners, killing a man who tackled him to save possibly dozens of lives, authorities said Monday," the AP reports...

via Information Liberation

Palki Sharma on China's war 'games'

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studentofearth's picture

@Blue Republic The Information Liberation article referenced an AP News article as a major source of its information. The AP article fact checking paints a different picture of the shooter, possible contributing factors to his instability than simply relying on sheriff Barnes public statements.

Barnes referred to Chou as an immigrant from China but Taiwan’s Central News Agency says it interviewed Louis M. Huang, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles, and he confirmed that Chou was born in Taiwan in 1953.

Barnes said Chou acted alone and was “not believed to be associated with any specific church or any religion, and there’s no direct connection to the church or any member of the church that we’re aware of,” Barnes said.

Balmore Orellana, a former neighbor, said Chou’s life unraveled after his wife left him last year. Before, Chou had been a pleasant man who used to own the Las Vegas apartment building where he lived until being evicted in February, Orellana told The Associated Press.

Records showed the four-unit property was sold last October for a little more than $500,000. Orellana said Chou’s wife used the money from the sale to move to Taiwan.

Before Orellana moved in about five years ago, Chou received a head injury and other serious injuries in an attack by a tenant, the neighbor said. More recently his mental health declined and last summer a gun was fired inside Chou’s apartment and the bullet entered Orellana’s apartment, although nobody was hurt, Orellana said.

It is hard for me to draw a direct connection to racial hatred or political influence from the Chinese Communist Party with the current information.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

studentofearth's picture

@Blue Republic @Blue Republic links require an e-mail address and agreement to terms & conditions, so I am working on finding other sources. This may take while. I am in the process of reading an earlier English translation of Unrestricted Warfare available at www.archive.org.

Does this two part interview with Securing America cover the same subjects as the one linked to Epoch Times?
Part 1
Part 2

General Robert Spalding may be heavily influenced with the tradition of American Military taking sides in the 1930's Chinese Civil War for the past 80 plus years. The American and Chinese public has not been unaware the longstanding adversarial conflict did not end with Nixon's opening of the West to China. America covert actions have never stopped. The attempts of conquest shifted to American corporations, financial institutions, hi-tech companies, trade agreements and United Nations organizations. It appears the People's Republic of China noticed.

Edit to correct mistake. Sometimes the fingers and mind create different words, unfortunately during initial editing eye often ignores what was typed and simply agrees with mind.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

@studentofearth

Interview with Spalding from a month ago is (based on having seen just the first two-thirds or so) better (IMHO) and more comprehensive than the Epoch Times' interview or the one you linked to (not that those are bad). Starts off perhaps a bit slow discussing the Shanghai lockdowns but moves on and picks up from there.

No time to elaborate at the moment, but I find Spalding's knowledge and insights to be impressive - one can disagree with him, of course, but he clearly has an in-depth knowledge of the subject and is not readily dismissible as being a China hater or of failing to recognize their record of success.

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studentofearth's picture

@Blue Republic is conflict between two parties was often initiated or prompted to continue by a third party unknown to either side of the conflict as having a vested interest in their mutual destruction. It was not uncommon for the third party to be a trusted confidant or neutral party.

His stories taking place in the arid west brought up the concept of controlling large areas of land territories by securing water holes. Substitute island for water hole and freedom of navigation may be limited. One of the reasons United States considers Taiwan part of the first island chain of defense to contain China.

Has the United States ever stopped its warlike stance towards China? Not sure. I do think sometime between 2008 financial crisis and 2014 China finally came to the conclusion Unites States had no interest in treating People's Republic of China as an equal without fantasies of conquest. To prevent another attempt to carve up China they needed to start preparing for conflict. Which includes United States style war games for conflict practice.

The skinny wimpy kid has gotten stronger over the decades and is no longer willing to be a target for the large, swaggering jock's bombs.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

@studentofearth

A consistent theme in several of Louis L'Amour stories is conflict between two parties was often initiated or prompted to continue by a third party unknown to either side of the conflict as having a vested interest in their mutual destruction. It was not uncommon for the third party to be a trusted confidant or neutral party.

True enough. I just finished reading The Iron Marshall by LL a while back and that did figure in the plot. General Spalding points out in his interviews that while we view countries such as N. Korea, Iran and Russia as allies/supporters of the PRC that, from China's perspective, even as they have trade ties and cooperation with them they *at the same time* regard them as adversaries and so are happy to have them involved in conflict with their other adversaries - the US, Japan, Western Europe...

(Louis L'Amour's) stories taking place in the arid west brought up the concept of controlling large areas of land territories by securing water holes. Substitute island for water hole and freedom of navigation may be limited...

Which China seems to be channelling in it's activities in the South China Sea.

The skinny wimpy kid has gotten stronger over the decades and is no longer willing to be a target for the large, swaggering jock's bombs.

The way the original question was posed about Taiwan possibly provoking conflict with the PRC I was expecting it to be understood my intention that the the wimpy kid represented Taiwan and the jock represent China. I would only amend that to say that Taiwan is in no sense 'wimpy' but would obviously be at a grave disadvantage in a kinetic conflict - and thus have every incentive to avoid precipitating one.

Maybe Taiwan should just grant independence to the PRC, what do you think?

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Lookout's picture

Gonzalo had an interesting observation about China. They have been conquered several times (for example by the Mongols), but are able to absorb the invading culture and make them Chinese.

Let's hope we don't start throwing nukes around. Joementia has proven every bit the warmonger the $hill was expected to be. He's in Asia fomenting aggression now.

Thanks for the OT!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

CB's picture

Ukraine Losing M777 Howitzers, Continues Losing Ground in Donbas

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studentofearth's picture

@CB he does a good job of pulling together official reports and proving a little explanation for better understanding.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

CB's picture

When Retreating In Donbass
For example, Ukrainian servicemen mined civilian facilities when leaving their military positions which were established in schools, hospitals, social facilities in the Kharkiv region.

In the town of Peski-Radkovskie, the local center for children and library were mined. Explosives were hidden behind a pot of dried flowers and in toys. Russian sappers defused explosive objects.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/oeiXTExntSGT/

"Retreating from Severodonetsk, the Ukraine army mined women and children in the basement so that they could not get out and remained a human shield for the Armed Forces of Ukraine."

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Pluto's Republic's picture

...and you will understand how China thinks.

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This one will greatly clarify the differences between communism, socialism, and China's polished economic system. The only way to judge nation's economic system is by measuring the improvement in people's lives year over year, as long-standing social and environmental problems are systematically eliminated.

What is ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’? Inside China’s economic model

How socialism with Chinese characteristics differs from Western neoliberal capitalism.

Another featured story of interest at Multipolarista:

Inside Operation Gladio: How NATO supported Nazis and terrorists

Journalists Benjamin Norton and Asa Winstanley discuss Operation Gladio, the NATO “stay behind” networks in which the CIA armed former Nazis and fascists to wage war on the left.

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____________________
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
— Voltaire