Note: this is an expanded version of a long-form set of posts that I shared with my Telegram channel members earlier today.
I have read a number of opinions this morning that China took a big L with respect to Nasty Pelosi‘s visit to Taiwan yesterday. In my view, this opinion has a lot of validity. The fact is that, in spite of VERY harsh rhetoric from the Chinese, and despite the CCP’s mouthpieces using terms like “Don’t say we didn’t warn you“, which in the past presaged actual military action by China against other parties, the Chinese in the end basically did nothing.
(Not, by the way, for the first time – the ChiComs last used the same language back when His Most Illustrious, Noble, August, Benevolent, and Legendary Celestial Majesty, the God-Emperor of Mankind, Donaldus Triumphus Magnus Astra, the First of His Name, the Lion of Midnight, may the Lord bless him and preserve him, blacklisted Huawei and banned other Chinese companies from operating in the USA. In the end, the ChiComs came to the negotiating table, because they realised that the God-Emperor wasn’t bluffing and wasn’t fazed by their threats.)
The Wicked Witch of the West flew in on her broomstick, shook a few hands, received a medal, and went away. The Chinese didn’t force her plane down, didn’t fire any warning shots, and didn’t do anything major beyond mobilising military assets and firing a lot of rockets into the Taiwan Strait.
They’ve slapped a bunch of sanctions on the Taiwanese in terms of food products and flight permissions, but these are all things that the Taiwanese can easily work around. It is clear that, at this point, the Chinese reaction amounts to very little more than bluster and threats.
That’s Not Gone Well…
It is difficult to escape the conclusion, as Larry Johnson argues, that this was a major tactical loss for the CCP. They lost face, BIG-TIME, on the world stage, and they look like blowhards:
The One China Policy remains intact–i.e., the People’s Republic of China is “the sole legal Government of China.” Sole, meaning the PRC was and is the only China, with no consideration of the Taiwan aka Republic of China as a separate sovereign entity.
Biden DOD spokesman John Kirby reiterated on 1 August that the United States’ “does not support Taiwan’s independence.” In other words, the United States has not changed its policy towards Taiwan–at least not yet.
China continues to shadow box and threaten Taiwan. China’s People’s Liberation Army announced it would conduct live-fire exercises in 6 regions surrounding Taiwan in response to Pelosi’s visit. But running exercises, even live fire, on mainland China is a far cry from landing troops on Taiwan. It does not alter the status quo.
China is still plagued with domestic economic problems that are sparking unrest among the people. While China is still considered a communist, authoritarian state, it is still susceptible to pressure from unhappy party members and the average civilian.
China no longer harbors any illusions about the reliability of the United States as an economic or political partner in the aftermath of the west’s attempt to destroy Russia over Ukraine. Message received.
Pelosi’s safe arrival in Taipei is still a black eye for mainland China. A humiliation in fact. Remains to be seen what China will do, if anything, to recover face.
That being said, I think it is premature at this point to argue that the Chinese are actually weak. As others like Alexander Mercouris have pointed out, the Chinese have now lost all trust in the collective West, and especially in the USA. They know full well that whatever the USA’s government says about Taiwan and China’s territorial integrity, parts of that government will act in completely different ways.
There Goes the Neighbourhood
This means any negotiation with China over real disagreements will now become exponentially harder, if not impossible. The Chinese will likely now accelerate their moves to break away from the West – which will be much more difficult for them to do than Russia, incidentally. They will likely also accelerate their existing timetable to invade and take Taiwan, and their development of carrier-killing weapons that will stop the US Navy from interfering.
As Andrei Martyanov pointed out in his post today, wherein he argues forcefully that the ChiComs were humiliated, badly – the US Navy must NOT be discounted as a fighting force. Yes, it is woke and humbuggered up the backside, but it is still relatively less woke than the US Army and Air Force, and the US still possesses the world’s most powerful navy, by miles. China already has a “system of systems” designed to deny US carrier-based operations against them, but they will likely work hard to make that network even more dangerous and effective, while also pushing development of their own carrier fleet and its capabilities.
We should note here that China has serious military weaknesses of its own. It has two operational carriers (Liaoning and Shandong), yes, and the third one under development (Fujian) has electromagnetic catapults, true. But its current fighter fleet is based on their native ripoff of Russia’s Su-33, and their two “ski-jump” carriers don’t permit those fighters to take off with a full weapons or fuel load – they would be too heavy. Moreover, the Chinese PLA-N has never fought an actual naval war and its doctrines have never been tested under fire – whereas the US Navy has been tested, repeatedly, both under real fire in WWII, and in constant competition against the Soviet fleets.
Fleet With Clay Feet
That is before we get to the reality that its carrier fleet is very expensive relative to its actual purpose, and the ChiComs appear to be slowing their plan to acquire two carriers for each of their three fleets. The fact is that the Chinese have nothing equivalent to American supercarriers – though, to be fair, they don’t NEED them. American supercarriers are designed to project American air and sea power across the entire world. China only needs carriers to project power in its immediate neighbourhood.
The Chinese have hypersonic ship-sinking missiles, as mentioned before. Are they as good as the Russian 3M22 Tsirkon (Zircon) ship-sinkers? Probably not – the Russians appear to be leaps and bounds ahead of the entire world in terms of their mastery of hypersonic technology. (Keep in mind that 3M22 is a hypersonic cruise missile, not merely a glide vehicle – the technology for the latter has been around since the 1970s, but hypercruise requires highly advanced ramjets or scramjets that are very difficult to manufacture. By way of comparison, the US ARRW and HAWC programs are nowhere close to production-ready yet, and keep failing at the prototyping and test stages.)
But they don’t need to be as good. They just need to be good enough – or, as Admiral Sergey Gorshkov, the legendary leader of the Soviet Navy that spearheaded the creation of a true blue-water Navy for the USSR, liked to say, “лучшее – враг хорошего” (literally, “better is the enemy of fine”, or, more prosaically, “better is the enemy of good enough”). They simply need to be enough to deter the US Navy from sticking the big blunt noses of its supercarriers into Chinese business.
None of this changes the fact that China is still, relative to the USA and especially Russia, nothing much more than a really big military with no proven track record, and substantial weaknesses in terms of combat power and doctrine.
All of that is before we get to China’s even more severe economic weaknesses. GDP growth in China is far below projections. Their “zero-COVID” policies are beyond idiotic and are crippling both domestic production and global supply chains. Their property bubble is bursting and collapsing – and it is the biggest property bubble in the entire world, far worse than what the USA had in 2008, worse even than it has today. The Chinese have repeatedly tried to sweep their economic problems under the rug, and they are failing to cover it up now.
This is nothing new. I have been talking about China’s economic problems for quite literally YEARS. You can even find a podcast of mine on the subject – one of my better ones, in my personal opinion:
As I point out in that podcast, and in a post from a year ago, the Chinese have severe structural and economic issues that they literally CANNOT overcome. The problems simply run too deep, and China is likely to find that its moment as a great empire will be far too short – assuming, that is, the Chinese leadership is foolish enough to fall for the temptations of empire.
Conclusion – Hold Onto Your Teeth
What happens next, then? My honest answer is that I do not know for sure. All I can say is that China is going to react with economic penalties against the West – it already has, in fact – and will now move to consolidate its supply lines and shore up its vulnerabilities. This means integrating ever more closely with resource-rich Eurasian nations (Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, etc.) and Middle Eastern oil suppliers, while stepping up their preparations for an actual invasion.
Overall, I believe that this tactical loss merely serves as serious motivation to the Chinese leadership to respond much more forcefully at the strategic level. But all we can do right now is wait and see.
One thing is for sure, though: Chinese trust in the collective West in general has been severely damaged, and its trust in the USA in particular has surely been shattered.
The real blame here lies with Brandon and Nasty. The sheer shortsightedness of the Fake Administration is quite astonishing to behold. We are watching the results of children and FOOLS at work, pretending that they understand anything whatsoever about geopolitics and economics, when they plainly have no clue. This doesn’t even reach the level of arson – because an arsonist knows what he is doing, whereas these morons have absolutely no clue.
Their ignorance is forgivable. Their arrogance is not. As a result of the awful convergence of both, the entire Western world faces economic and military disasters on multiple fronts.