Tuesday, August 2, 2022

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go


 Twenty minutes prior to Nancy Pelosi stepping onto the tarmac in Taipei today, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued the following ominous statement:


"Pelosi's visit to Taiwan will be a gross interference in China's internal affairs, and will lead to very serious events and dire consequences."


What, if anything, this will actually translate into in terms of concrete actions remains to be seen.


In recent days, the Chinese moved upwards of 40 fully equipped combat brigades to Fujian Province on the mainland side of the Taiwan Strait.


Additionally, they put countless naval assets to sea, including two carrier groups.


This represents the expenditure of probably several billion dollars.


Also in recent days we have witnessed largely unprecedented aggressive rhetoric from CCP luminaries, PLA mouthpieces, and Chinese state-controlled media.


Many western observers were quick to breathlessly assert that “China doesn’t bluff.”


I’m dubious there is a valid historical basis for that statement. But if nothing of real significance happens in the wake of Pelosi’s provocative visit to Taiwan, then I think we’ll have to conclude they indeed do bluff, and in this case the US called it.


The huge cult of empire propagandists is already crowing about the Chinese apparently “backing down” from a conflict with the US. I believe it is likely premature to reach this conclusion, but for the time being that certainly appears to be the case.


The PLA has now somewhat anticlimactically announced military exercises in the area from August 4 – 7.


That’s it?


We all got dressed up for the Apocalypse Ball, and all we get is a couple regiments of soldiers in crisply pressed uniforms and freshly shined boots parading past with polished bayonets pointing to the sky?


Amid all the bellicose announcements, flashy propaganda videos of Chinese military hardware in action, and theatrically orchestrated public movements of huge numbers of troops and equipment, can the ruling regime in Beijing really afford now to just do … NOTHING?


Maybe so.


But somehow I doubt it. To me it seems far too much domestic and international political capital has already been invested in this confrontation upon which the focus of the entire populace of China – and the rest of the world – has been fixated for several days now.


In the midst of an already well-in-progress domestic financial and economic collapse, and now what appears to be international-scale humiliation, can Xi Jinping’s aspirations for continued dictatorial reign and cultural immortality survive the domestic and global realization that this was all a big nothing burger?


Will the host of Chinese “princelings” eyeing Xi’s throne just bite their tongues and bow their heads submissively as Xi makes his pitch for extended rule?


Will the Chinese people flood the streets to express their collective dismay that, not only are their economic prospects suddenly looking grim, but that, yet again, the western colonialists have knocked them to the ground, thrown sand in their face, stolen their girlfriend, and walked away untouched? Or will they obediently stay inside, mutter something about “biding their time” and reassure themselves that winning a war without fighting is the genius of the “Chinese way”?


For now it appears to most of the world that China invited us all to the “party of the year”, but forgot to book a band and supply the open bar. Now everyone is loitering about with confused looks on their faces, checking their watches, and wondering if the night is still young enough to get a few drinks at the smoky blues joint on the outskirts of town.


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