Chinese Territorial Disputes and North Korean ICBM launches: One Heck of a Coincidence
by D.J. McGuire
In mid-June, the Chinese Communist Party faced two threats to its ever-growing geopolitical ambitions. Less than a month later, its North Korean ally test-fired its first missile capable of hitting the continental United States.
I will freely admit that family history – my great-great-great-great-grandfather was a founder of the Anti-Masonic Party – does not make me predisposed to believe in coincidence. That said, I find the timing remarkably fortunate.
About two months ago, the Beijing cadres finding out India is refusing to let them build a road in Bhutan’s territory that could separate India’s northeast from the rest of the country (The New York Times). Around the same time (the middle of June), Vietnam – one of six different nations challenging the cadres’ claims in the South China Sea – begins drilling for oil in one of the disputed areas (Reuters).
As the Grey Lady noted (see first link), India and the United States have grown increasingly close – one of the few policy decisions in Washington that Republicans and Democrats openly support. Meanwhile, Vietnam has been making the transition from 20th Century enemy of America to 21st Century arms customer and potential ally. Once again, this was a policy that survived the political transfer of power in 2017 (Bloomberg). Now both were asserting themselves in territorial disputes.
Within three weeks of these pair of flare-ups, North Korea conducts its first long-range ICBM test – clearing the deck and ensuring Washington paid attention to nothing else in foreign affairs.
Oh, I’m sorry, what was that about the Chinese Communist regime supporting UN sanctions against North Korea (CNN)? Are you saying I’m supposed to believe Zhongnanhai (that’s the Chinese Kremlin) will be less dishonest about this round of sanctions than the ones passed in 2016 (CNN)? Or 2013 (Reuters)? Or 2009 (Guardian)? Or 2006 (oh look, CNN again)?
Well, while you and President Trump were hoping Communist China “got serious” about North Korea, the regime bullied Vietnam into backing down (BBC) and is threatening to attack India’s military over its defense of Bhutan’s territory (Independent).
For too long, Washington has taken the cadres’ assurances of weakness and confusion regarding Pyongyang at face value. That must stop. If Zhongnanhai continues to call North Korea an ally – “as close as lips and teeth” is the preferred term – then the cadres should suffer direct consequences from their allies’ actions. Beijing should suffer sanctions of its own. The democracy on Taiwan can be granted “belligerent” status by the State Department (which, despite the bellicose label, only means the area is in dispute, while granting the elected Taiwanese government some international status without full recognition). When and where our allies in Asia put their own pressures on the Chinese regime (such as what India is and Vietnam was doing), we should firmly support them. We should – publicly – leave open the possibility of hitting Chinese Communist installations on the disputed Spratly Islands if North Korea ever fires anything else at American or allied entities in anger.
Oh, and perhaps this Administration might want to reconsider abandoning a trade agreement that brought together all of the Pacific rivals to the CCP. Yes, I am talking about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
D.J. McGuire is the conservative Democrat on More Perfect Union podcast – and sometimes feels like he is the lone conservative Democrat in the country.