Gideon, the situation in the South China sea and around the contested JP/CN islands gives me much pause. I’m guessing “intense discussion” is British understatement for “fierce disagreement” when it comes to how to strengthen China’s global position. There is no explanation for China’s behaviour along its borders other than to assume that there are two China’s who live in a different paradigm. We always meet the internationalists, those who want to embrace and extend the world today. We never get to meet the generals, the nationalists, those who want to stick it to the Japanese, Vietnamese, Philippines and others. And yet when we look at events especially in the South China sea we see them in action.
Gideon I am exceedingly interested in the meeting you had with top military policy makers. You’ve been to the pentagon and met their leaders so how does it all contrast? China has been crossing the line of actual control with India half a year ago and the dispute hasn’t ended. China’s been pushing Filipinos off islands in the Spratleys (see the gorgeous presentation at http://www.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2013/10/27/south-china-sea/) It’s been playing with nuclear fire on the Korean peninsula and is taunting the Japanese. And the leaks about pervasive American spying didn’t appear until hours before Obama was to dress down Mr. Xi in person about pervasive Chinese spying.
I could certainly appreciate to hear an assessment about the distribution of powers in China. Obviously the Chinese military can engage in actions that hurt Xi’s dream of a globalist China. Small fry conflicts over almost uninhabited islands and Himalayan peaks severely hobble his attempts to be seen as a responsible senior stakeholder on the world stage. Does he intend for his leadership to exhibit such schizophrenia or are elements of the military simply out of his purview? We really ought to know more about this.