China Power

US, China Harbor Concerns About RIMPAC

Plus, Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, trouble for foreign NGOs, and Xi’s visit to Korea. Friday China links.

US, China Harbor Concerns About RIMPAC
Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Conor Minto

Time for China Power’s Friday links roundup:

As Zach noted on his blog today, Chinese media is a bit torn on China’s participation in this year’s RIMPAC exercises. On the one hand, it’s a positive sign for U.S.-China cooperation, and a prestige boost for the Chinese navy as well. On the other hand, China has so long denounced RIMPAC as an outdated relic of the Cold War that it’s a bit difficult for media outlets to entirely embrace the exercise.

There’s also unease in the U.S. about China’s participation in RIMPAC 2014, albeit for entirely different reasons. As the Free Beacon notes, several members of Congress (including Rep. J. Randy Forbes and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher) have expressed concern that China’s inclusion represents a security risk. One former State Department intelligence official told Free Beacon that inviting China to RIMPAC “seems like building the fox’s confidence by inviting him to a seminar on protecting the chicken coop.” Forbes also suggested that China should have been excluded from the exercises as punishment for its “belligerent behavior towards it neighbors.”

Over at the Wall Street Journal, Russell Leigh Moses argues against the increasingly common view that Xi is using his anti-corruption campaign to attack political rivals. Instead, Moses says Xi is seeking to remove powerful officials who would seek to block future economic reforms. The energy sector, which has been hard hit by detentions of high-level officials, is in particular need of restructuring. Such reforms (including decentralization) would work to the detriment of those profiting from the current system. By removing these officials, Xi helps pave the way for reforms. Moses concludes, “Xi’s strategy of slicing off the head of certain snakes instead of trying to get them to slither differently is smart politics, if only to make sure that cadres and tycoons alike understand that economic reform is high on his policy agenda.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times’ Sinosphere blog explores the signs that China is cracking down on foreign (and particularly American) NGOs. Given Xi’s emphasis on ideological purity, and the necessity of avoiding the infiltration of Western values, this step is not a surprise. NYT reports that even Chinese NGOs are being asked to fill out detailed forms on how much interaction they have with foreign organizations, particularly in terms of funding. So far, there has been no movement to change China’s policies on NGOs, but this could be the first step in an official crackdown.

As further evidence of China’s growing paranoia about Western cultural imperialism, Tea Leaf Nation looks at a Global Times article that blames Hollywood films (namely, The Dark Knight Rises and Cloud Atlas) for the current pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.

Finally, Xinhua reports that the date has been set for Xi Jinping’s trip to South Korea: July 3 and 4. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that, during the visit, Xi and President Park Geun-hye “will further outline and promote bilateral cooperation.” For a preview of the visit, see Robert Kelly’s feature piece in The Diplomat.