Why Taiwanese Leaders Put Political Symbolism Above Military Power

image Source How many people ruin themselves by laying out money on trinkets of frivolous utility? What pleases these lovers of toys is not so much the utility, as the aptness of the machines which are fitted to promote it. All their pockets are stuffed with little conveniencies. They contrive new pockets, unknown in the […]

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Public Opinion in Authoritarian States

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. โ€”James Madison Dean Karalekas writes the following in his PhD thesis, Identity and Transformation: Perceptions of Civil-Military Relations in the Republic of China […]

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At What Point is Defending Japan No Longer Worth It?

Image source I have a new piece out in Foreign Policy. It takes a look at the changing balance of power between Pacific Command and the PLA, with a special focus on the vulnerabilities of US Forces Japan. This section describes the problem: The threat posed by China to forces stationed in Japan is real: […]

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Two Case Studies in Communist Insecurity

Image source. Franรงois Bougon’s book, Inside the Mind of Xi Jinping is excellent. It is accessible to those who have but a cursory interest in China, yet does a better job of describing the actual motives and ideology of Xi Jinping than the vast majority of writing about the man in more wonkish publications. It […]

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Give No Heed to the Walking Dead

Image source “Closed politics cannot be a permanent feature of Chinese society….  We can cooperate with the emerging China of today, even as we work for the democratic China of tomorrow.” โ€”Robert Zoellick,Deputy Secretary of State [2005]. โ€œSince the Vietnam war, the U.S. has more often chosen the strategy of โ€˜winning without a war.โ€™ This […]

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It Is Not Like That Black Mirror Episode

Last month the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Intelligence held a public hearing on Chinese influence activities and the risks of a global Chinese-led technological regime. I found the prepared statements by Samantha Hoffman and by Peter Mattis to be particularly valuable, and both are good resources for understanding why this issue is […]

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Xi Jinping Explains His Political Philosophy

Illustration by Craig Stephens (2017)Image Source Two months ago Qiushi, the central “theory” journal of the Communist Party of China, published a speech originally given by Xi Jinping several days after he was named General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. The speech is Xi’s attempt to answer questions that are smack-dab in the […]

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