In December 2013, the Chinese launched an all-out island building campaign in the South China Sea – literally creating dry land where none had existed. These islands became military bases. The Chinese deployed forces including aircraft and missiles. One of the world’s most strategic waterways was incorporated into the Chinese Communist state.
In the midst of this offensive, Joe Biden, then Vice-President of the United States landed in Beijing for meetings with Chinese leaders. Biden was the administration’s lead man in the so-called “Pivot to Asia.” His most critical job in that role was combatting Chinese expansionism.
With Joe on Air Force Two when he landed in Beijing was his son Hunter, already well known to the Chinese from a wide range of previous contacts. Joe and Hunter walked down the stairs from the plane together and received an official state welcome.
Then Joe went off to meetings with Chinese officials and Hunter went off to a meeting where he was given $1 billion from the State Bank of China. That amount, — investment capital in a joint enterprise Hunter entered into with the Chinese Communists — would shortly thereafter be upped to $1.5 billion.
During Joe’s meetings, the entire South China Sea situation was largely ignored. At the conclusion of his visit to China, amidst ongoing Chinese aggression, Joe had this to say.
“Wholesome competition and strong competition is fundamentally different than conflict. In fact, we see considerable common interest on the security side. A secure and peaceful Asia Pacific enables economic growth for the entire region.”Joe Biden
The Chinese were seizing control of a large chunk of the Pacific Ocean and positioning themselves to be able to cut off the supply of Middle East oil to Taiwan, South Korea and Japan anytime they wanted. Joe was talking about “peace in our time.”
The Chinese continued their island-building operations in the South China Sea until October 2015. No action was ever taken by the United States to push back on Chinese militarization of the South China Sea. According to at least one source, when President Obama considered sending the U.S. Navy into the area Joe talked him out of it.
You can choose to look at that sequence of events any way you want. You can conclude that Joe was simply feckless and incapable of standing up to Chinese aggression. You can reasonably postulate that something much worse might have been afoot – that Joe handed the South China Sea to Beijing in return for the vast sum of money funneled into his corrupt family influence peddling enterprise.
Either way you ought to be scared. And, what is coming next should scare you even more.
Joe is now President. The scope of his authority in his position dwarfs that he enjoyed when he was second fiddle to Barack Obama. Even as Biden settles into his new job, the Chinese are making another power play, this time for Taiwan.
Taiwan is an island off the coast of mainland China. Chinese Nationalist forces retreated there after Mao’s takeover of the remainder of the nation. Ever since an uneasy stalemate has endured. Beijing regards the island as part of the People’s Republic. The Taiwanese for their part consider themselves not only independent but, in effect, the legitimate government of all of China in exile.
The Chinese have threatened invasion of Taiwan with varying degrees of seriousness for a very long time. In recent months, though, they have intensified what is known as gray zone warfare against Taiwan. This form of warfare involves unrelenting pressure and intimidation with the goal of forcing the adversary, in this case Taiwan, to back down and accept some form of subjugation.
The intimidation being practiced by the Communist Chinese includes many components: amphibious landing exercises, naval patrols, cyber-attacks, diplomatic isolation, and flights of Chinese combat aircraft up to the edge of Taiwanese air space. Since September of last year, Chinese aircraft have made over 100 such flights, and their scope just jumped significantly. Only yesterday eight mainland Chinese nuclear-capable bombers and four fighter jets entered the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Saturday forcing Taiwan’s military to deploy its own aircraft and missiles to counter the threat. Another such provocation occurred just hours ago.
These Chinese intimidation tactics are “super effective” according to Admiral Lee His-ming, former commander of the Taiwanese military. “You say it’s our garden, but it turns out that it is your neighbor who’s hanging out in the garden all the time. With that action, they are making a statement that it’s their garden – and that garden is one step away from your house.”
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen echoed this sentiment in a recent speech saying the island was under unrelenting pressure from “authoritarian forces” and that Taiwan was on the receiving end of military threats on a “daily basis.”
Taiwan cannot hope to stand on its own against an attack by the mainland Chinese. Its only hope lies in having the support of its allies, principally the United States. That means not only the supply of equipment and logistical support but the willingness of Washington to stand with Taiwan in the event of an assault from the mainland. Without that support, even tacit, the reality is Taiwan would have been overrun a very long time ago.
President Trump recognized the threat posed to Taiwan a long time ago and began to rush new weapons to the island and offer U.S. assistance in a long overdue buildup of Taiwanese forces. He also began to put serious focus on assembling a true coalition of nations in the Pacific to oppose Chinese expansionism. He projected resolve and a willingness to stand up to Beijing.
But, Donald Trump is no longer President. In his place is Biden, who caved once before, either because he lacks the moral courage to do otherwise or perhaps far worse because he was paid to do so. If he folds this time, the results will be catastrophic and mean a world in which Communist China has become clearly the preeminent power in East Asia. Taiwan, if it remains independent at all, will be on the fast track toward becoming the next Hong Kong, where independence and democracy are illusions at best.
Biden has only been in office a few days. His first tentative steps, however, were not calculated to project confidence in his willingness to stand up to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). His State Department has already made significant changes to the portion of its publicly available website dealing with China. References to the China Challenge and the threat Beijing poses to global security have been deleted. One of Biden’s first executive orders rescinded Trump’s order preventing companies linked to the Chinese Communist Party from involvement in the United States electrical power grid. The door is now wide open for companies known to work on behalf of Chinese intelligence and the Chinese military to take control of a large portion of America’s critical infrastructure.
There is no sign that the Communist Chinese are backing off on the pressure they are exerting on Taiwan. On the contrary, all indications are this pressure will simply increase, and we will reach a point in the near future when either the United States will make clear its intention to stand up to Beijing or we will begin to fold. Arms shipments will be cancelled. Pressure will be exerted on the Taiwanese behind the scenes.
The message will be clear. We are not with you. You are on your own and should make the best terms you can.
No one can predict precisely what is about to happen. Based on Joe Biden’s track record, though, and the amount of Chinese money his family enterprise has taken in over the years, I am going to opt for the pessimistic outlook. Joe gave the Chinese the South China Sea, and he is about to surrender Taiwan to them as well.