Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

US versus China: Which matters more to Asia and S’pore? [Straits Times] #RisingChina #Singapore

By the regional head of research for South-east Asia at Standard Chartered Bank: though I question the headline bias suggesting a unipolar answer in a multipolar reality.

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US versus China: Which matters more to Asia and S’pore?
China’s growth is flagging, but the US recovery is strengthening. It is timely to assess the relative influence of both on the region’s economies.
By Edward Lee For The Straits Times
Source – Straits Times, published August 29, 2013

CHINA’S influence over Asia today is significant and growing, but it is by no means the only story in the region.

Perhaps due to China’s stellar rise over the last few years, it is easy to overlook the substantial sway the United States economy still holds over much of Asia.

Concerns over slower trend growth in China, along with the spectre of the US Federal Reserve’s “tapering” of quantitative easing, has spooked global financial markets in recent months.

Investors are concerned that China’s slowdown will crimp growth across other Asian countries that sell to China, and that the US reduction of its US$85 billion (S$109 billion) a month bond-buying programme will remove some of the liquidity that has kept markets buoyant.

From another lens, though, China’s government is sticking close to its strategy of ensuring balanced and sustainable growth, and the US economy is recovering, helped by gains in the housing and labour markets.

Please click here to access the entire article at the Straits Times.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Soft Power, South China Sea, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, U.S.

BY INVITATION: The slow boat in China is good for the region [Straits Times] #RisingChina #Growth

East Asia Institute professional fellow John Wong with an overview on China’s rejigging of its growth rhetoric and how ASEAN stands to benefit.

China has sustained hyper growth for more than 30 years. This is because it has much greater internal dynamics. A case in point is that only half of China’s population today is urbanised. China may therefore still have plenty of room for expansion in the medium term.

Still, China must also start adjusting to the inevitable transition from double-digit hyper expansion to more sustainable growth levels.

And perhaps quite saliently, this is something many miss – China can afford to do it.

A recent projection by the World Bank shows that China’s average growth through most of this decade will still be around 7 per cent to 8 per cent, easing to 6 per cent or 5 per cent in the 2020s. What is “low growth” for China is actually not low at all by regional and global standards.

Zooming out, while rising China takes a deep breath from hyper growth, it may be an opportune time for ASEAN to gear itself up further. The sustained ideological Sino-US chest beating will continue but it also needs to keep an eye on a multipolar future.

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BY INVITATION: The slow boat in China is good for the region
China’s growth is slowing, in line with long-declared policy to prevent overheating. Asean too will benefit from less competitive pressures in exports and investments.
By John Wong
Source – The Straits Times, published Jun 01, 2013

20130602-050224.jpg
— ST ILLUSTRATION by ADAM LEE

HAVING chalked up 9.9 per cent growth a year for over three decades, China’s economy is showing clear signs of slowing down.

No economy can keep on growing at such a breakneck rate for so long without running into constraints. An economy that has experienced high growth for a prolonged period inevitably slows as its original growth-inducing forces weaken. This is simply a result of the working of the market forces.

China’s slowing growth is not only inevitable; it is a desirable phenomenon, not only for the country, but also for its neighbours.

Please click here to read the full article a the Straits Times.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: ASEAN, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, China Dream, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Finance, Government & Policy, Ideology, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Modernisation, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Resources, Social, Soft Power, South China Sea, Straits Times, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, U.S.

Asia will resist U.S. efforts to contain China, says Singapore diplomat [Washington Times] #RisingChina #SinoAmerican #Contaiment

Note – article comes from the Washington Times October 2012…

It remains to be seen how Ashok Kumar Mirpuri is faring in the context of a much clearer Asian pivot already in place stirring up potential pincer proxy conflicts in the East and South China Sea.

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Asia will resist U.S. efforts to contain China, says Singapore diplomat
By Ashish Kumar Sen
Source – The Washington Times Sunday, October 14, 2012

Asian nations will resist any U.S. attempts to block the rise of China, as Washington pursues a new strategy in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Singapore’s former ambassador in Washington.

“I think if the United States re-engages Asia to contain China it won’t work because countries in Asia won’t sign on to containment,” Chan Heng Chee said in a phone interview from Singapore.

“We don’t want another Cold War. The United States should not ask Asian countries to choose. You may not like the results if you ask countries to choose.”

Please click here to read the full article at the Washington Times.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Communications, Culture, East China Sea, Economics, Finance, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, Nationalism, New Leadership, Overseas Chinese, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Singapore, Soft Power, South China Sea, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S.

Xi Jinping calls on navy to be prepared for struggle [SCMP] #RisingChia #Hardpower #Navy

President Xi keeps the military card close at hand.

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Xi Jinping calls on navy to be prepared for struggle
President inspects South Sea fleet and makes rallying call in latest display of military strength amid territorial disputes
By Teddy Ng
Source – South China Morning Post, published Friday, April 12, 2013

20130412-090902.jpg

.
President Xi Jinping shakes hands with helicopter pilots in Sanya, Hainan province. Photo: Xinhua

President Xi Jinping inspected the navy’s South Sea fleet in Sanya in the latest display of his consolidation of power over the army and China’s military strength.

Xi urged soldiers to be better prepared for military struggle in the inspection on Tuesday, which was only reported by state and military media yesterday.

The visit came one day after Xi made an unprecedented visit to fishermen who spend most of their working lives in disputed waters in the South China Sea – a move seen as sending a message to China’s neighbours involved in territorial disputes.

State-run CCTV reported yesterday that Xi paraded in an open-roof car and inspected vessels of the South China Sea fleet.

Please click here to read the rest of the article at its source.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Communications, Government & Policy, Influence, Mapping Feelings, military, Modernisation, New Leadership, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Sanya, South China Sea, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity

Securing allies amid China’s rise #StraitsTimes #China #War #US

Straits Times on the Sino-US strategic mind games at risk of becoming friction points ripe for miscalculation.

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Securing allies amid China’s rise
By Michael Richardson
Source – Straits Times, published February 4, 2013

WILL 2013 be the year when one or more of the intractable disputes in the seas off China explode into armed conflict, involving the United States in a wider war to protect its Asian allies?

The disputes are about ownership of islands, and jurisdiction over strategic maritime zones and valuable resources.

The answer should be a resounding “no”. Such a war, with no guarantees that it can be contained, would have unpredictable but potentially catastrophic consequences.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, East China Sea, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, military, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Soft Power, South China Sea, Straits Times, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S.

Challenge China #PhilippineDailyInquirer #China #Philippines #SouthChinaSea

A Filipino perspective the latest update of the South China Sea flashpoint.

The big title ‘Challenge China’ can be interpreted as quite a proclamation. The Philippine Daily Inquirer is the country’s most widely read broadsheet. It has 260,000 readers. The Philippines consists of over 90 million people.

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Challenge China
Editorial
Source – Philippine Daily Inquirer, published January 28, 2013

The government’s decision to challenge China’s expansive claims to the South China Sea by invoking the arbitration provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) is both unexpected and overdue. Many simply assumed that the government’s legal option (its so-called third track of resolving the conflict in territorial and maritime claims, after political means and diplomatic measures) meant filing a case before the right court; in this case, the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, or Itlos, in Hamburg, Germany. At the same time, the clear and compelling arguments for the Philippine case fed a growing impatience for legal action; why was the Department of Foreign Affairs taking so long?

Officially, the DFA answer is that it wanted to try all other avenues for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in claims. “Having exhausted all possible initiatives, we feel the time to act is now. If we do not act now, we will be in default,” was the second item in the prepared Q & A list the DFA distributed on the day it announced the legal action. But it is no secret that the administration needed the time, not only to prepare its case, but to study its legal choices carefully.

On initial view, it seems that the government has chosen well. Lawyer Harry Roque, an expert in international law and a Socratic gadfly in Philippine politics, praised the action, in particular the framing of our case: “credit goes to the Solicitor General [Francis Jardeleza] because our submission of claims is crafted in a manner that will exclude all of China’s reservations,” he wrote in a commentary published in these pages.

What the government has done is to begin the proceedings of ad hoc arbitration (the third of four possible means of resolving disputes involving Unclos)—essentially calling on China to co-form an arbitration panel to resolve only one aspect of the dispute: claims about waters and the continental shelf. (The Unclos does not apply to conflicting claims involving islands.) As the DFA explained: “China’s nine-dash line claim encompasses practically the entire West Philippine Sea (WPS). We must challenge the unlawful claim of China under their nine-dash line in order to protect our national territory and maritime domain.”

After the DFA handed a note verbale explaining the legal action to the Chinese ambassador in Manila, the Chinese embassy predictably reiterated the official Chinese position that the conflicting claims be resolved through bilateral talks. “The Chinese side strongly holds [that] the disputes on South China Sea should be settled by parties concerned through negotiations,” an embassy statement read.

But China only insists on direct negotiations in those disputes where it sees itself as enjoying an advantage. That makes any attempt to resolve the conflict over claims subject to Beijing’s increasingly assertive exercise of its new superpower status, rather than a reasoned discourse over legal and historical evidence.

When China suffers from a disadvantage, however, multilateral dispute-resolution mechanisms become an option. In its dispute with Japan over a handful of islands in the East China Sea, which the Japanese call Senkaku and the Chinese Diaoyu, for example, Tokyo enjoys the distinct advantage of possession. To counter this advantage, Beijing filed a submission before the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (another Unclos forum) just last month seeking information “concerning the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles in part of the East China Sea.”

This is the same commission that declared early last year that the massive Benham Rise (in potentially oil-rich waters to the east of Luzon) is officially a part of the Philippines.

Whether Beijing will agree, in the Philippine case, to the arbitration procedure outlined in the very Law of the Sea which anchors its submission in the Japanese dispute remains to be seen. It seems to have learned its lessons from the example of the other superpower, the United States, in dealing selectively with multilateral forums. To be sure, the arbitration provisions under the so-called Annex VII themselves allow for compulsory proceedings; Article 9 includes the principle that “Absence of a party or failure of a party to defend its case shall not constitute a bar to the proceedings.”

With this legal challenge, the issue, finally, is joined.

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Communications, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, military, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Philippines, Soft Power, South China Sea, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

Special Report: China’s military hawks take the offensive #China #Hardpower [Reuters]

The world will need some time to get used to increased expressions of Chinese freedom of speech: If anything, this marks the end of coherent, centralised  propaganda that some may be used to and discounts the fact that China is after smart power today, combining hard and soft power to build comprehensive national leverage. China was always about 1.3 billion narratives and now the multipolarity within are increasingly seeing the light of day.

“There appears to be a discord between this peaceful rise language and the comments from senior PLA officers,” said Li of the U.S. Naval War College. “There is no doubt about that.”

Will it result in unilateral action by these ‘hawkish’ military leaders? Unlikely. The compact between the role chairman of the Central Military Commission and the PLA, set in stone since the Deng days, is too strong to break.

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Special Report: China’s military hawks take the offensive
By David Lague
Source – Reuters Hong Kong, published January 17, 2013

'An aerial photo shows the Chinese marine surveillance ship Haijian No. 51 (L) cruising as a Japan Coast Guard ship Ishigaki sails near Uotsuri island, one of the disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea in this file photograph by Kyodo September 14, 2012.' Source - Reuters

‘An aerial photo shows the Chinese marine surveillance ship Haijian No. 51 (L) cruising as a Japan Coast Guard ship Ishigaki sails near Uotsuri island, one of the disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea in this file photograph by Kyodo September 14, 2012.’
Source – Reuters

(Reuters) – It was supposed to be a relaxed evening for a group of senior international military chiefs. Gathered at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, they had changed out of uniform for dinner and discussion.

China’s Lieutenant-General Ren Haiquan took the podium in a room overlooking the Yarra River last October 29 and began diplomatically enough. But as he neared the end of his speech, he went on the offensive.

“Some people” had ignored the outcome of World War Two and were challenging the post-war order, he told counterparts from 15 other nations. It was a pointed reference to Japan’s claim over islands in the East China Sea that Beijing insists are Chinese. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Communications, East China Sea, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, military, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, South China Sea, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, , , , , , , , ,

[Singapore’s Lee Hsien-Loong in dialogue with senior Chinese party officials in Beijing] China ‘faces challenges within itself’ [Straits Times]

Greater China sphere: In China to affirm bilateral ties, Singapore’s prime minister left Beijing Friday September 7th after a six-day official visit. During his stay, he met with China’s top leaders Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, Vice Premier Li Keqiang and top legislator Wu Bangguo. On top of Beijing he also visited Sichuan Province to the southwest and Tianjin Municipality up north. Of course, the symbolic gesture has been the arrival of pandas from China as token making Singapore the seventh recipient of panda diplomacy.

Here’s a broad sweep of state media coverage on Lee’s visit.

Chinese state media

Xinhua – Chinese vice premier meets Singaporean PM (September 7, 2012)
Xinhua – China’s top legislator [Wu Bangguo] meets Singaporean PM (September 7, 2012)
China Daily – Premier Wen calls for further co-op with Singapore (September 6, 2012)
Global Times – Chinese premier calls for further cooperation with Singapore (September 7, 2012)
People’s Daily – repeated articles from Xinhua

Singapore state media
Straits Times – China ‘faces challenges within itself
Today Online – From economic ties to traffic management: PM Lee highlights how bilateral cooperation between China and Singapore has evolved at end of official visit

Facing west, however – A report by the two million-readership New Yorker (September 7, 2012) featured the headline Singaporean Tells China U.S. Is Not in Decline. It focused on the Singapore prime minister’s speech (first was in 2005) at the Central Party School under the theme “China and the World – Prospering and Progressing Together“.

BEIJING — In an unusual public airing of strategic problems surrounding China’s rise, the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, warned China on Thursday that it should view the United States not as a declining power, but as a nation with the ability to innovate and bounce back.

Is Singapore in a position to ‘warn‘ China? Many years ago, what Lee Kuan Yew had to say, Deng Xiaoping was stirred to listen.

But at best, it represented a scalable model where authoritarian capitalism (with some room for deliberation) could work in, albeit in a very finite space of just 600+km2. For twenty years since official ties were made the Chinese have been sending its mayors to Singapore for training That is probably one of the few valued contributions Singapore can provide in the mind of the Chinese. Further down the road, does the relationship between the younger Lee and China simply carry the same resonance? Perhaps what is lacking is the interpersonal relationship with key figures that his father had.

Indeed, the little red dot requires a myriad of interlocking regional strategic engagements to keep it safe – it has to stay ‘as neutral as possible’ despite its obvious Chinese-majority population and ruling class while providing the US naval support since the 60s.

Here is a link to the full speech here (in Chinese with the English translation)-
I think the NY Times does stir with fourth estate dyslexia by couching the speech as a warning.

A scan of the speech will reveal the overarching theme is interdependence and some pointers Lee Hsien-Loong sees as necessary bilateral Sino-US ingredients for a stable environment for Singapore to continue to thrive. With a minute domestic market dependent on imports for natural resources, Singapore’s ingredient for survival is to avoid and help manage conflict at all cost. So – Warning, it is not.

It hardly makes sense for Singapore to stand up to, for there is little strategic leverage in, ‘warning’ China. It understands China’s position as it shares cultural traits and arguably a lasting one-party model (China’s from 1949, Singapore’s from 1965). However, by tapping on memories of its long history of western education since 1819, the Singaporean perspective can offer useful pointers on keeping an East-West equilibrium for the region.

Thoughtful Americans, both Democrat and Republican, also understand that any attempt to contain China is doomed to fail. US-China relations in the 21st century cannot be compared to ties between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Trade between the US and Soviet Union was negligible, and nuclear deterrence was the primary stabilising factor. Today, China and the US are profoundly intertwined, and their relationship is stabilised by mutual economic dependence. The US cannot hold China back without hurting itself at the same time. Neither would European or Asian countries join such a misguided effort to contain China. My Foreign Minister stated this view clearly in a widely reported speech in Washington earlier this year, a view which many American officials accepted. Ultimately, both China and the US must develop a new modus vivendi that reflects current realities and benefits both sides.  Lee Hsien-Loong, at the Central Party School

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China ‘faces challenges within itself’
This is an excerpt from a transcript of a dialogue Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had with senior Chinese party officials at the Central Party School in Beijing on Thursday.
Source – Straits Times, published September 8, 2012

China and Singapore started the Tianjin Eco-City project in 2007. PM Lee said Singapore would like its cooperation with China ”to develop into new areas which are relevant to both sides as our societies change”. — ST PHOTO: LIM WUI LIANG

Bilateral ties between China and Singapore are good, but both countries have differing views on some important regional and global issues. How do you think we can communicate and work better on these issues? How do you see the relationship between Singapore and China going forward?

PM Lee: China is a big country growing rapidly. Singapore is a small country also seeking to prosper in Asia. We wish Asia to be stable, and the region to be open and prosperous together.

Nobody wants to see a conflict in the South China Sea, but our position cannot be the same as China’s position simply because China is a claimant-state. Singapore is not a claimant-state. Therefore Singapore cannot take sides or judge the merits of the different claims to the South China Sea. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: ASEAN, Beijing Consensus, Channel News Asia, Charm Offensive, China Daily, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Confucius, Culture, Domestic Growth, East China Sea, Economics, Environment, Finance, global times, Government & Policy, Greater China, Hu Jintao, Influence, International Relations, Media, New York Times, Overseas Chinese, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Singapore, Soft Power, South China Sea, Straits Times, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, U.S., , , , , , , , , ,

Commentary: U.S. needs to behave itself over South China Sea [Xinhua]

Strong words are the order of the day as China responds to US concerns over the establishment of Sansha city and garrison . It looks past the point of mincing words as this state media commentary sees China chiding the US for provocation and stoking antagonism. Perhaps strategically, proxy war at doorstep 2.0 a la Taiwan  is not a scenario the Chinese understandably want repeated.

The other narrative is China simply reasserting its history. Whether this is the result of misdirection or otherwise, it is hard to tell. Despite contention over its own interpretation of historical maps as  a self serving narrative (see China and the map if the nine dotted lines), its unwavering tone reinforces its disdain to those who disrupt what it sees as a domestic, regional affair in the resource and trade wind flashpoint.

What is the subtext here? ‘When an outsider attempts to make bigger waves, he is probably already on the beach waiting to pick up what will wash to shore.’

Official foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang 秦刚:

The U.S. side should follow the trend of the times, respect the common aspiration of countries in the region to maintain peace and stability and promote development, respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and make more contributions to the peace and prosperity of the Asia Pacific. Source – China strongly opposes U.S. State Department’s statement on South China Sea: FM spokesman (Xinhua, August 4, 2012)

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Commentary: U.S. needs to behave itself over South China Sea
Editor: Mo Hong’e
Source – Xinhua, published August 4, 2012

BEIJING, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) — The United States on Friday voiced concerns about rising tensions over South China Sea, and cited China’s establishment of Sansha city and garrison to single Beijing out for criticism.

As South China Sea is of strategic importance to global trade, any increase of instability in this body of water naturally triggers worldwide attention.

But it is pure common sense that volatile situations demand caution and discretion. When an outsider attempts to make bigger waves, he is probably already on the beach waiting to pick up what will wash ashore. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Asia Pacific, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, military, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Soft Power, South China Sea, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S., , , , , ,

China and the map of nine dotted lines [Straits Times]

China’s behaviour toward actors in the South China Sea certainly go contrary against their peaceful development rhetoric. And it seems categorising their territorial disputes as domestic affairs has become fashionable. This comes in from Singapore’s Straits Times as we turn the pages of history with Wang Gungwu who looks at how the Chinese in a sense, did not feel the need for naval superiority in the open seas, until recently.

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China and the map of nine dotted lines
by Wang Gungwu for the Straits Times
Source – Straits Times, published July 11, 2012

THERE has been much debate about the Chinese map of the South China Sea with its nine dotted lines denoting an area where China believes it has legitimate claims. How these lines came about has been a subject of much speculation.

What is clear is that the lines marking Chinese interests were drawn after World War II when Nationalist China saw the end of Japanese naval power and watched the Western imperial powers leaving the region or being forced to decolonise. After 1949, the successor state, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), retained the map to show its territorial limits.

During the Cold War that followed, moves were made by new states in the region to register territorial claims, but the Chinese map seemed to have aroused little international interest. Far greater matters of how the world was to be divided were at stake. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: ASEAN, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Government & Policy, Influence, International Relations, Map, Mapping Feelings, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Philippines, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Soft Power, South China Sea, Strategy, Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, , ,

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