Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Over the Hegemon

I get that there is a fairly large subset of the U.S. public (and the pundits that natter to it) that refuses to use the word "empire" for the United States.

Imperial is as imperial does, but, fine, whatever.

But I can't think that there would be any disagreement that the U.S. has been the global hegemon for quite some time.

My question for the readership would be, then, is this worth going to Cold War with the PRC over?

I won't even argue with Rubio's contention that the PRC wants to replace the U.S. as the global hegemon.

Would that, however, present "as great a threat as any in history"?

Threat of what?

Would it harm the U.S. public in a material way if the U.S. was no longer the premiere Great Power but, instead, the second behind the PRC?

Keeping in mind that mainland China has a fairly horrible human rights record, would that translate into a worse world in general if the PRC had the ability to conduct whatever they'd call the "Ledeen Doctrine" on regional powers? A worse United States?

I have some ideas, but at this point I'm curious to hear yours; is this an actual thing (or is it just scaremongering)? If it IS a thing, is it really the MOST scary thing ever? And if it it worth hatting up for a new Cold War (with the attendant sorts of small Hot Wars between proxy states and non-state actors of the sort fought between the US and the USSR between 1945 and the 1990s)?

Let's discuss in the comments.


  1. Maybe they are afraid China could behave as did United States?


    1. But that's kind of my point.

      During their time as "#2" to the US, the PRC has exploded economically, ramping up from the chaotic disasters of the Maoist 70s to challenge the global heavyweights. It has enriched it's own people while still keeping the oppressive controls that the USSR found so difficult to balance, choosing instead to sacrifice the economy to the policy.

      I don't "like" the PRC. I think it's a nasty sort of wanna-be empire, and I certainly wouldn't want to be subject to its control. The situation within the country is dire; the situation in places like Hong Kong, that WERE once at least free-ER and are now its subjects, are heartbreaking.

      But I don't see the sort of existential threat to the US from a globally hegemonic PRC any more than the US was an existential threat to the PRC as hegemon. Competition? Ohhellyes; the two powers will find ways to jockey each other as Great Powers always have.

      But I think to talk about that as "as great a threat as any in history" is if we are Byzantium and the PRC the Ottomans?

      Hmmm...maybe not so smart.

  2. Hi Chief,

    Great post for discussion!

    "My question for the readership would be, then, is this worth going to Cold War with the PRC over?"

    I would turn the question around a bit and asking instead - "Can a Cold War with the PRC be avoided?"

    Increasingly, I think the answer is no. China is explicitly moving to challenge the US hegemony across the political, economic and social spectrum with the goal to restore China as the dominant power in Asia and perhaps the world. Can China do that while the US maintains alliances and support with our long-standing allies in Asia? I'm doubtful, especially since it seems to me that China specifically seeks to displace and diminish US influence.

    I do have a lot of longstanding problems and objections to US foreign policy and the "hegemonic" so-called "liberal international order" that is led and subsidized by US blood and treasure. I've long thought the edifices and structures built during the Cold War with the USSR can't naturally persist forever. And I'm frustrated that the NATSEC establishment's bankrupt foreign policies have not been broken by the experience of the last two decades, and their ideas are still at the helm of US statecraft.

    So if I'm forced to choose between the current order and one led by the Chinese Communist Party, then there isn't much of a choice. The motivations and actions of brutally authoritarian regimes who are openly racist and desire to correct history's wrongs in order to achieve national greatest is a script that we should be familiar with by this point, and one we should be extremely skeptical about enabling.

    In theory, I think it's possible for there to be an accommodation and peaceful coexistence, but that assumes that is a goal for both parties. And I think the reality is that neither party is interested. And history tends to show that peaceful coexistence is only possible when two great powers agree on spheres of influence. How likely is that? Our NATSEC establishment still believes the entire globe is the US sphere of influence and China openly seeks to not only challenge that, but replace the US as the dominant power. And even if our NATSEC leaders were inclined to give China space in Asia, it's not clear what that would look like in practice.

    Not that we can really stop China - they are going to be a great power in Asia at least. So I think a Cold War is inevitable. And I think the US has real interests at stake considering how important that region is to our economy.

    1. I think you're right, in the sense that the PRC as the rising power and the US as the hegemon will collide. I think the PRC WILL try to carve out a sphere of influence in both Asia and Africa, using the mercantilist strategy they've pursued to date. And I think that this will come in conflict with US political objectives in both continents.

      What I DON'T see is the need to frame this into the frame of a "Cold War" with all the implications that carries unless and until the PRC has shown us their whole military ass the way the USSR did.

      There are all sorts of ways the US can "fight" in ways other than trying to replicate the old US-USSR military dick-waving, and one of my concerns with Rubio's comment is what I see as an attempt to preemptively do that - to try and force this into the Cold War box.

      I don't think so much that such a war won't, can't, or shouldn't happen so much as I think We the People have nothing to gain from Rubio speaking loudly while carrying a big stick.

    2. But OTOH it IS "Marco Rubio", so expecting geopolitical sense out of him is like expecting a cat to conjugate Latin.

    3. Yeah, I think we're are in agreement. It won't be Cold War like it was with the USSR or at least at that scale. We're not going to have a draft with divisions holding the line. We and the Chinese have been military dick-waving since at least my first Navy deployment in 1994, but it's still small potatoes compared to the games played with the USSR. Plus the geography is a lot different.

      So I'd say if we're going to use the Cold War analogy (and if there's a better term, I'm onboard - maybe great power competition?), I think there will be less emphasize on the military aspect and greater emphasis on the socio-political and especially the economic aspects. We have today, for example, US corporations and organizations (ie. the NBA), who are perfectly willing to do whatever the Chinese government demands in pursuit of dollar signs. That's not something we saw much with the USSR. Our economy is, to say the least, a lot more integrated with China than the Soviets. In some ways that is good because, in theory at least, it makes the cost of a conflict higher for both sides. But in other ways it's a major problem to be subsidizing China's authoritarianism while American companies bend the knee to the CCP's sensibilities and their Orwellian dictates. That gives China influence in American politics the Soviets simply didn't have.

      But the bugger in this is Taiwan and our supposed commitment to their defense from a Chinese invasion. At least with the USSR we had a clear commitment by putting our blood and treasure literally on the front line, backed up with nukes, which served as a deterrent. With Taiwan it seems like we're trying to have it both ways - we don't want to piss off the Chinese because we like their money (or the promise of their money), but we also don't want to hang Taiwan out to dry. So we're in this weird middle-space where no one is really sure how committed we actually are to the defense of Taiwan. That's a recipe for miscalculation.

      And it doesn't help that we've done fuck-all in response to China's actions in Hong Kong. China could conclude that since the world allowed China to push HK around, then the world will allow them to do the same with Taiwan.

    4. Hong Kong is just horrific. I get the Brits wanted out, but for them to pretend that the "con country two systems" thing was ever going to last beyond the first chance Beijing had to crush it? Despicable.

      And Taiwan is a similar hard nut. There's no way in hell I want to see the Taiwanese forced into the PRC. But...enough to risk someone throwing a nuke? Enough to risk a naval war on the Asian littoral?

      Ummm...that's a tough fork to be spit on.

      In general I agree that We do need to be more hardheaded and hard-assed about the PRC's mercantilist penetration of the US economy. I'd like to think that it DOES put the cost of conflict out of reach. But the European economies of 1914 were more integrated than they were after WW1 until well into the late 20th Century and it didn't prevent the catastrophe.

      This is a perfect case where I think everyone from the US public to the political "leadership" has been whistling past the graveyard. There's some dangerously big problems here, ones that I think are ill-served by either pretending that "peaceful coexistence" or "Cold War" are the binary options.

    5. Agree completely with your responses on all points. Time to bring WASF back into the nomenclature.

    6. The thing is, I'm not certain WASF about Taiwan. It will take a hell of a lot of diplomatic work, but I think the US and its allies have to 1) make it clear to the PRC that any attempt to invade WILL be met with force from the alliance in a Falklands kind of way - no attacks on the mainland, but every goddamn rubber boat that leaves the Asian mainland is gonna sink, while 2) making it clean to Taiwan that unilaterally declaring independence is a nonstarter.

      I think that so long as the PRC can maintain the fiction that it's waiting for Taiwan to return to the loving embrace of the mainland but know that the first landing craft means naval war they won't consider the gain worth the risk. Which, of course, means continuing to figure out how to work around the PRC A2AD systems...

      I'm not saying it's simple or easy. But I think it's do-able. But it's gonna take some pretty heavy diplomatic/politico/military lifting, and the US hasn't shown that we're overloaded with Metternich-level diplomats (see Rubio, Mark).

    7. I think that's the best strategy. Hopefully it's what we're telling both the PRC and Taiwan.

  3. Mostly BS. Senator Rubio is pushing it to spook his Miami-Cubano base about Chinese influence in Cuba. Senator 'Ted' Cruz is doing the same thing in Texas. The oil barons there are scared crapless that SINOPEC is sewing up all the oil contracts throughout the Caribbean basin and the Golfo de México. Not just Venezuela - Guyana has some offshore fields that they are negotiating with China, and Havana is doing a joint Chinese/Cuban oil exploration just north (or west?) of Pinar del Rio Province, Trinidad is getting tight with China also.

    The other thing was Bone-Spurs-in-Chief's racially stigmatizing the Coronavirus, which has caused some assaults on hyphenated Americans whose roots lay in the Pacific Rim. Didn't matter whether they were Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Viet, or Filippino. Not that he did it as a scare tactic. It was more to cover up his own inadequacies in fighting the virus other than his suggestion to drink Lysol or gargle with ultraviolet light. Or maybe he was using it to hide his failure in trade negotiations with Xi?

    So all in all it is either BS or a bit of scaremongering as you mentioned. But that could easily escalate into something much worse - by hotheads on either side of the big pond. I'm sure there are as many yahoos in China as there are here that would like nothing better than to start flinging steel at each other.

    1. Yeah, what caught my eye was how stupid - even for Rubio, whose intelligence might be slightly above "golden retriever" level, but not by much - saying this was. A smart polity doesn't swagger into the bar shouting "I'm gonna whip all you pussies!" even if that's the idea.

      What I worry about is Andy's comment about the NATSEC community. I worry that there's a constituency for this fatheaded thinking, and they're going to remora onto idiots like Cruz and Rubio and Trump. Gawdhelpus if there's a like-minded crew in the Biden Administration.

      I'm fine with playing (and even possibly losing or drawing) mercantilist games with the PRC. Tooling up to re-create the Fulda Gap in the South China Sea?

      Not so much.

  4. Off topic, I meant to add that the Fisher Poets are gathering again. This year online for the virtual pandemic version. Starts at 6PM tonight Pacific Time, same time tomorrow and Saturday. Free. The Great Northwest is well represented with muses from OR, WA, ID, AK, BC, and northern Cal. Plus this year additional rhymesters from HI, ME, RI, CT, NY, AR, and even one lady from Northumbria in the UK.

    Tune in at the Fisher Poets website:

    Too bad there is no Chinese rep to give us lyrics of the sinking of the Lu Yan Yuan Yu five years ago:

  5. All may be moot. The ad slogan for the US Army, "Army of One" could move from dreamy ambitions of personal achievement, honor and glory to stark reality.


  6. I suppose this blog post is typical American in that it overstates the importance of America.

    Sino-American Cold War with China or not is not really a choice for America. It's a choice the Chinese have already made. They were humiliated for a century and then largely dismissed for generations, now they have an economic boom and are overtaking the U.S. economically as did Germany to the UK around 1900.

    The only thing that can avert a Cold War in the Pacific would be a super-wise, un-Chinese-like Chinese leadership that's way more modest than the zeitgeist of their nation.

    Does "modest" come to your mind as character trait of men who made a career into the top circle of a one-party dictatorship?

    Wisdom for the U.S. means to spend efficiently in the Cold War 2.0, it cannot be avoided short of backing down on almost everything IMO.

    1. No, Sven, it's simply a post written by an American speculating on the issue. If I was British I'd be interested in British foreign or military policy.

      And I don't think that there's any question that the PRC has chosen to wage a great power contest in Asia and Africa. But I think the degree to which this becomes a "Cold War" in the US-Soviet sense? Depends a lot on that "efficient spending". I think it matters to what degree the PRC chooses to, say, continue it's mercantilist/Belt-and-Road strategy, to what degree it tries to employ some of the older classic Soviet/US proxy fights and/or support for non-state actors. I think it's important for the US think and act with foresight on this issue, again, not because the US is "important" but because I'm an American citizen and so that's what is in my own interest that my nation thinks wisely about it.

      There's always options to make Great Power interaction worse, as mike points out, and the US Right (as well as elements of the US Left, but not nearly so actively and aggressively as the Right) seems to be interested in doing just if twenty years of idiotic blind aggression in the "War on Terror" hadn't taught us the stupidity of "ready fire aim"...

  7. @Sven: "Sino-American Cold War with China or not is not really a choice for America."

    True perhaps. But never underestimate the stupidity of the rightwingers in the US to speed up things. CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) has six China-bashing items on its agenda.

  8. Per Sven's point what degree is the rise of Great Power China (in the sense of a true global Great Power as opposed to the regional power in East Asia) an issue for the other non-hegemon nations? Is it better for Brazil or Germany or Australia to keep out of the competition? To side with one or the other? To try and play them off against each other?


    The Australians are a small power that PRC is already making an example of.
    Germany is in the EU (which does trade policy only as one) and so far the PRC doesn't really bother Europeans. I suppose the British could be next.

    Hawaii and Guam are not covered by the North Atlantic Treaty, and I hope nobody powerful in Europe is stupid enough to entangle Europeans in the East Asia/Pacific region.

  10. The Aussies, Indians, Japanese, and Americans have long been in an economic & military planning pact in the region, which China denounces and claims it is aimed at them. Known as the quad. South Korea and Viet-Nam occasionally jump in with support.

    The French Navy is already prowling Chiba's so called nine-dash-line. The UK Royal Navy and Germany's Deutsche Marine appear to be sending warships to Japanese waters to keep an eye on China.

  11. Re: Andy's salient point above: while "protectionism" has earned itself some hard words, there's a price to be paid for allowing (and even more for encouraging...) capital flight and offshoring, as witnessed by the follow-on effect to US automakers from a combination of COVID, offshoring, and Trump's "easy to win" trade wars (

    Global trade is going to be a thing. But there is some value in thinking hard about where those trade routes run from (or through) and considering a modicum of backup or resilience in case those places might not have your best interests at heart.

    Again, is this a "Cold War"? Sorta. But it seems foolish to go to both extremes; to see the PRC as a big soft fluffy panda who's always going to be nice, and as a scary Red Dragon who's always waiting with a sort of Smaug-ish eeeeeevil to descend on you.

    It would seem to be very much in We the American People's interest for our government to do neither, but, rather, to deal with the PRC in a clear-eyed sort of way.


    How about the peoples and nations NOT involved in Great Power competition? How should, say, Brazil approach the PRC/US rivalry? Is it possible, and profitable, to stay on good terms with both, to be a true neutral? Would (and will) the two Powers allow or accept that?

    What about a near-peer competitor such as the EU? What about the component states within the EU? Obviously a hot war between the US and the PRC isn't good for anyone...but is it in the interests of the EU, say, to see the two Pacific Rim powers obsessively watching and worrying about each other as the EU hoovers up influence in Africa, South America, and western Eurasia (or does that sound too much like something out of Risk..?

    And where does Russia fit into all of this?

  12. It's also worth noting that for all I'm reading that the Trumpkins were "tough on China" Trump's toddler-like fascination with shiny objects ("trade wars are fun and easy to win") as well as his small-time mobster's greed for getting his palm greased and sucking up to the real made dictator guys ("my good friend Chairman Xi") meant that while he fiddled the PRC burned up the South China Sea:

    "the ultimate results of the phase one trade deal between China and the United States — and the trade war that preceded it — have significantly hurt the American economy without solving the underlying economic concerns that the trade war was meant to resolve. The effects of the trade war go beyond economics, though. Trump’s prioritization on the trade deal and de-prioritization of all other dimensions of the relationship produced a more permissive environment for China to advance its interests abroad and oppress its own people at home, secure in the knowledge that American responses would be muted by a president who was reluctant to risk losing the deal.”

    Trying to keep some sort of balance of power with the PRC is going to take an insanely high level of politico-military skill, whoever is involved in doing it. But to take the chest-puffing tough talk that the GQP has been blarting out since the Year of the Golden Escalator at face value?

    That's just as foolish as taking ANY GQP talking point at face value, at this point.

  13. China is not the threat we think it is. Sure, they want control over Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as any other neighboring territory they can grab. That's their control preoccupation. As far as economically, China is losing interest in the US. The US was China's biggest customer since they opened up their manufacturing. China is now courting the Middle East, South America and Africa as customers. In a basic business realm it makes sense, when your biggest customer is imploding economically, find other customers.
    Given China's need for the US, and of course its new customers, why would they risk an all out war with us? What would they be thinking? There would be NO upside.
    Keep in mind that China wants control. They want control of Taiwan, Hong Kong and other neighboring territory. They want control over their population. And they DEFFINITELY want control over resources, rare earth minerals, petroleum, etc. Business-wise, it serves to push out competition.
    90% of China's manufacturing is complete crap. Just look at the stuff that's shipped from China. Most of it is ripped off brand name stuff cheaply manufactured simply to make a quick buck off of what's popular at the moment. The 10% that makes quality product is overseen by manufacturers that can afford to oversee. Apple has Western citizens that they trust with boots on the ground checking quality. Any company that values its reputation does the same.
    IMHO our best bet is to force China to treat its workers better. If we manage to make them bring their workers to the same level of wealth and well-being as western workers, it will bring us closer to the same level economically. I also believe that it's best for China's economy as well. They'll create a level of stability when their citizens are also a major customer base.
    In DC, they seem to forget that there's such a disparity in wealth between the two countries. Fox News, Marco Rubio and their ilk push their disinformation campaigns. To what end, I'm not entirely sure. Lately, it seems like they simply take an opposite position to anything the Democrats/liberals/non-GOP, hence the CPAC focus. Nothing the US government did over the last four years had any effect on China. China continued it's resource grabs, very much made inroads into Africa and the Middle East.
    I think it's too late to save Hong Kong, but we should be worried about Taiwan. China is learning how to work propaganda campaigns (psyops?). They'll watch the Taiwanese people and attempt to influence them. Our efforts should be to focus on strengthening democracy in those countries, especially at that grass-roots level.

    1. So here's the thing with Hong Kong and Taiwan.

      The PRC is so obviously worried about the "two systems" ideas spreading from HK to the rest of the country that it's willing to suffer the consequences of visibly crushing those ideas. The Taiwanese aren't fools, and they've lived close to the PRC for a looooooong time. They remember Tiananmen. They can see the obvious parallels between HK today and a PRC-subjugated Taiwan tomorrow. I don't think that all the PRC propaganda in the world can hide those parallels. I very much doubt that there is any sort of sentiment on Taiwan for reunion with the mainland under its present regime.

      So much so that I think the thing that a lot of US foreign policy types worry about is that "democracy" in Taiwan will produce a hard-line independence government that will force everyone's hand; force the PRC to accept that there is a part of "China" they cannot rule with the implication for every other potentially unhappy province...or force the PRC to invade to prove the opposite, thus forcing the US's hand to either fight or accept the massive geopolitical hiding.

      Either one would be a nightmare. The current neither-nor is twitchy, but it's better than a "solution" that brings on open war. The problem is I'm not sure how long the current situation will be tenable once the PRC either believes it has a successful military option, or fears that it has to try that option now or lose it forever.

      The Taiwan Problem is an exceedingly difficult one.

  14. And this is both unsurprising and explains the difficulty of the Taiwan question - it's also an interesting strategic and operational contrast to the Cold War defense of Europe.

    1. I think the real meat is way down near the end, and that's the observation that one of the biggest problems the U.S. has is that the sorts of systems that the current procurement process more often than not produces - "...massive warships, short-range tactical fighter aircraft and heavy tank battalions..." - have entrenched constituencies, and the sorts of systems that proved more effective in dissuading the notional PRC - "...anti-ship cruise missile batteries, mobile rocket artillery systems, unmanned mini-submarines, mines and robust surface-to-air missile batteries..." don't.

      And there's the problem of the distraction to C3I of the current whack-a-muj emphasis that puts a higher priority on small-unit and dispersed operations rather than complex, integrated, fast-paced combined ops.

      I think part of the solution is a national defense climate that can make those changes while not making it obvious that they're being made to confront the PLA/PLAN/PLAF. I mean...the PRC leadership will know they are...but if the U.S. can make a blandly plausible case that "we're just redefining our priorities from the should-have-been-over-long-ago GWOT, not looking at you, China!" then it avoids the whole Cold War military tension ratchet.

      Not that might be possible. But it's worth a try.

      One thing I should note is that their biowar scenario seems pretty implausible. It's been a pretty established given that mass bio- or chem attacks are really pushing the nuclear envelope. I can't see the PRC wanting to ride that tiger, even for Taiwan.

    2. I think Taiwan is a manageable problem, as long as America doesn't get to "in yer face" about it. I know one Taiwanese executive who used to moan about having three daughters (and associated marriage costs). He sent them to Western universities to get a top notch education where they also snagged the sons of 3 high end mainland Mandarins. Turns out that highly educated young Chinese women are in very short supply (at least compared to highly educated young Chinese men).

      He now has significant business connections in China proper. He is also not alone.

    3. I think it's a bit more complex than that (I'll get all Sven on you about making it about the US...) because I see three moving parts, with the US the smallest of them:
      1) The PRC gets in difficulty and needs to make retaking Taiwan a thing, or a charismatic Chairman makes it his personal cause, or some combination of factors that pushes the PRC towards a kinetic "solution", and
      2) Taiwan moves toward an open break with the mainland - that's come close to being a thing before, so it's perhaps the most likely factor - and forces Beijing's hand to either let them go or use force to keep them in line. Perhaps fears stoked by Hong Kong, or a new outburst of hardline authoritarianism, or the PRC scenario above, pushes the Taiwanese or a Taiwanese leader to make that move, and
      3) A US administration draws a "line in the water" around Taiwan - frankly, a very unlikely possibility; the Trumpkins were as loudly belligerent about the PRC as they could without damaging the trade deals and did nothing of the sort.

      And, I'd add, any number of other possibilities in the South Asian littoral; open conflict between the PRC and Japan, or the ROK, or the Philippines that pulls in Taiwan.

      I'd like to think that stories like your Taiwanese runaway brides would mean that personal contacts will help defuse the tensions between the two Chinas, but my understanding is that the Europe of 1914 was highly interconnected economically and socially, to the point where common opinion held that war had become impossible or at least impractical.

      And yet, the war came.

    4. Another factor is how the PRC is overly and extremely sensitive to kind of perceived slight on it's national honor and prestige. The extent of this is amazing (to me at least) and it makes some of the more stupid woke safetyism examples here in the US look positively thick-skinned and resilient in comparison.

      While I don't think we can (or should) be subservient to the PRC's sensibilities (unlike, for instance, the NBA), we also shouldn't go out of our way to poke that soft spot. The concept of honor is pretty much dead here in much of the west, but it's very much alive in places like China, particularly among China's elites. I think it's definitely conceivable that a bad enough insult could, at the very least, start an escalation spiral.

    5. I'm not sure that the notion of "national honor" is as dead as you'd think here in the Land of the Big PX. We express it differently; we call it "questioning our resolve" or "needing to show strength" and it's been one of the big reasons we've been unwilling to admit that the "War on Terror" has been 1) a profoundly idiotic notion and 2) a massively wasteful sink of blood and treasure.

      We lack the extensive history of humiliation and being bullied by dastardly furriniers that the Chinese have, so we don't really have those sort of prickly defensive reactions when our "national honor" is impugned. We have our own, different, version, though, and it's led us to do similar stupid things.

      Many Chinese - and especially powerful Chinese, like the leadership of the CCP - do, and you're right, it makes little or no sense to get up in their grilles and arouse those reactions.

    6. And a propos your observation, Andy, here's ( a good reminder that the PRC has been doing this sort of bluster for a long time.

  15. Or.... #4) Our idiots in the Senate do a repeat of their role in the third Taiwan Strait Crisis. They overruled SoS Warren Christopher and allowed Taiwanese President, Lee Teng-hui, into the country to speechify at major universities. That drove the ChiComs batshit and they launched missiles into Taiwanese waters plus conducted many other aggressive actions just short of invasion.

    But my guess is that the PRC will nibble away at the ROC. They will invade some smaller islands ruled by Taipei when the US is involved elsewhere. Kinda like they did in 1950 when they invaded Hainan Island and took it away from Chiang Kai-shek while Truman was busy in Korea. Lots of possibilities: Taiping Islet in the South China Sea, Pratas, Quemoy & other isles close to the mainland, the Penghu archipelago, etc. One by one to start and maybe get bold enough to take bigger bites depending on response.

    1. IIRC the whole "Quemoy and Matsu" thing nearly started a shooting war in '58.

    2. And it's really kind of insane when you look at the little islands like Kinmen (the actual name of "Quemoy") that are held by the ROC but are, like, two minutes from the PRC mainland. Talk about a perfect setup for a fight.

  16. Contentious meeting between the two powers:

  17. And this is just fucking stupid:

    "The attack took place on Wednesday when Ms Xie, who is originally from Guangdong, was waiting to cross the road.

    It's claimed she suddenly heard someone yell "Chinese" before she was punched in the face. She fought back using a wooden stick she saw nearby, according to reports.

    A video online taken right after the attack shows Ms Xie wailing as she puts an ice pack on an extremely bruised eye, while the alleged assailant is seen lying on a stretcher. San Francisco police have said a 39-year-old man was arrested and they are investigating the assault."

  18. Mrs Xie is my new hero.

    I think both Yang and Blinken were selling wolf tickets as Fast Eddie would say.