Espionage and Beijing Opera in the South China Sea

The New Cold War With China, by Dr. Edward Luttwak.

The South China Sea:

The United States under Trump has started the pushback in the South China Sea. The Chinese claim of sovereignty has been comprehensively refuted, has been ridiculed actually.

The Chinese do not have sovereignty at all. The Americans fly over them, sail in there, and other countries do too. And Japan also will have to do this. …

No practical military person would ever put valuable weapons on coral reefs in the middle of the sea where they cannot be protected by any means.

South China Sea

From a military point of view, these bases are not serious. This is theater. These are Beijing opera bases.

You don’t put a base on a coral reef because it gets blown out. If there were any kind of war, it gets blown out in the first five minutes. …

They are outposts, unprotected outposts, so they are very good for symbolic purposes. But it also means that if you fly over them and sail between them, you are negating their only value, which is symbolic.

The real nature of the confrontation:

The real action is geo-economic and technological competition. And there the coalition has further allies.

For example, in Europe, the Chinese can no longer go and acquire technology companies. Until a few years ago, maybe even a year ago, the Chinese could go and buy a German company, French, Italian, whatever, and bring the technology back to China.

They can’t anymore. There is now careful observation, they need approval to buy it, and the approval is denied. …

The race is on between research and development conducted in the West, versus Chinese research and development plus Chinese espionage.

As far as I know, Americans are not trying to steal Chinese technology. …

Attitudes must change:

As we speak, there are hundreds of Chinese citizens in Google. Then, there are much bigger numbers of American-born Chinese, many of whom have connections with China.

And we have a phenomenon like Microsoft, which has an advanced research center in Beijing. And who do you think works there? It’s not Brazilians or Portuguese. It’s Chinese citizens.

So, if this is going to be a technology race, what does it mean to operate a Microsoft advanced research center in Beijing? It means that whatever you do, you are giving to the Chinese. For free. …

What is missing is serious security, which you don’t have. We don’t have security rules; we don’t have a security mentality.

Just remember that last year, Google employees voted and pressed and lobbied and said Google should not cooperate with the Pentagon.

An American company in the United States says, “We will not cooperate with the Pentagon.” But they are cooperating with China.

A new cold war:

This is like the Cold War in 1946. In 1946, Winston Churchill went to America and said an Iron Curtain has descended in Europe and we have to oppose the Soviet Union.

Everybody shouted at Churchill that he was a warmonger and Russia is our ally, the Soviet Union was our brave ally, Stalin was our great ally.

It took several years. We are at this early stage, with lack of awareness of what the geo-technological competition means.

It means no Microsoft in Beijing and it means real security in the United States.

hat-tip David Archibald