Another week of more interesting developments externally than internally. China nailed a 99-year lease on a port in Sri Lanka in return for helping Colombo get out from under its debt problem, which presumably fits nicely into long-term military projection plans. China earlier founded a military base in Djibouti on the horn of Africa. What odds that Burma is hosting some kind of pretty permanent Chinese naval presence one day pretty soon?
Then comes Korea. The South Korean premier has been visiting Beijing. We don’t know too much about the discussions, but the Chinese are using sticks and carrots to get the THAAD system shut down, while also setting up refugee facilities on the border, just in case Dennis Rodman’s efforts don’t work out. With the US distracted, it makes it harder for South Korea, but the Seoul position towards Beijing is still in line with Washington’s: get Pyongyang to stop it. And Taiwan. There is talk of a US naval visit to Kaohsiung and threats of instant invasion if it happens. Taiwan is a concern of ours, and we wonder if 2018 is the year chosen.
Australia and New Zealand, meanwhile, are both saying enough is enough on China influence, and Beijing is responding with outrage. Plus the indications of trade “war” or serious friction with the US are increasing in number. There are also reports of the US, Europe and Japan discussing a joint approach to China issues. That would have made far more sense five years ago or more.
The world is changing. Is it drama or soap opera? We’re happy for Sri Lanka’s creditors, anyway. Enjoy the weekend.