"If you want to read a blog to get a sense of what is going on in Hong Kong these days or a blog that would tell you what life was like living in colonial Hong Kong, this blog, WALTER'S BLOG, fits the bill." Hong Kong Blog Review
"Given the rapid development in technology, how long so-called 'silent' submarines remain covert is debatable. Having spent vast sums and diluted attempts to denuclearise the world's military, Australia may get nuclear submarines too late."
Don't expect to see Ozzie nuclear submarines popping up in the Taiwan strait anytime soon. Although much of the media coverage around AUKUS - the new security pact between America, Australia and the U.K. - focused on the submarine issue. Yet, it's unclear when the Royal Australian Navy will get new toys.
By cancelling the agreement to buy French diesel-electric submarines, Australia hitched its fortunes firmly to the U.S.
The French then accused the Australians of stabbing them in the back and portrayed the U.K. as 'vassal state' of the U.S., going full 'your father smells of elderberries' mode.
The caustic French reaction fits their policy that seeks to break away from NATO. In 2019, President Emmanuel Macron issued a dramatic declaration favouring European independence from NATO. Instead, he prefers a European military organisation accompanied by a separate diplomatic role in the world. Thus, AUKUS undermines France's vision by reasserting U.S. dominance.
Meanwhile, without any nuclear industry nor expertise, the assumption is that the Australians will borrow a few spare submarines left lying around. They'll use these to build experience and capacity before getting their own.
And yet, estimates suggest they won't have those hand-downs operational anytime in the next ten years. While home-grown submarines aren't likely until the mid-2040s, if then, given the usual cost overruns and delays that such projects encounter. Regardless, Australia bet the house on lasting U.S. power in Asia.
In addition, military experts agree that stealthy nuclear submarines make little sense for homeland defence being more suited to an offensive role. And the target is obviously China, which can now spin this as modern Western gunboat diplomacy.
Then again, given the rapid development in technology, how long so-called 'silent' submarines remain covert is debatable. Having spent vast sums and diluted attempts to denuclearise the world's military, Australia may get nuclear submarines too late.
Of more significance is that the AUKUS and the QUAD alliance (US, India, Japan, Australia) feeds Beijing's narrative that the West seeks to stop the rise of China. Underpinning that mindset is Beijing's view of history: outsiders taking chunks of the country and exploiting its resources. The capture of Hong Kong at gunpoint to traffic opium, plus the seizing of ports by the Russians are examples.
That Australia opted to ally itself with the U.S. and U.K. while abandoning France, strengthens Beijing's rendering of these events - the Anglo-Saxon countries are seeking to keep domination of the world order.
So while the U.S. may speak of 'the rule-based world order', Chinese officials see these words as cover and tactics. For them, the West forfeited any claim to hold the moral high ground. They note with some alacrity that the U.S. follows the 'rules' when it accords with their aims; then abandons rules and principles when it suits national interests.
The Chinese cite the U.S.'s frequent interventions in other nations through regime change, Guantanamo Bay, rendition, waterboarding, and allowing social media corporations to censor a democratically elected leader.
How can Beijing interpret this web of actions and sentiments except to come back to a stance that 'might is right'. And as always, the Chinese are playing the long game.
Moreover, in their psyche, territorial integrity is a way of demonstrating strength and confidence at home and abroad. This means no Chinese leader, communist or otherwise, can allow history to repeat and hope to survive.
Current tensions revolve around Taiwan. But, again, in Beijing's mind, this is a Chinese issue as part of the unresolved aspects of the Chinese civil war. Interestingly, this month President Biden moved to reassert the One-China policy in a move to ease tensions.
Nonetheless, with hawks on both sides beating the drums of war, the potential for a mishap is real. In that context, Chinese flights in the vicinity of Taiwan are signals to the U.S. rather than the Taiwanese. Likewise, claims of violated Taiwanese airspace need treating with a pinch of salt. As many commentators have asserted, the delineation of the zones is open to debate.
Having travelled widely both on the Mainland and in Taiwan, I would say the people are good-natured, generous and hospitable. They enjoy a common heritage and kinship.
Today, Taiwan is one of the biggest investors in the Mainland. Between 1991 and the end of March 2020, approved investment in China comprised 44,056 cases totalling US$188.5 billion. In 2019, the value of cross-strait trade was US$149.2 billion.
That connection aids prosperity on both sides of the straits. In short, the people of Taiwan are prosperous and resourceful. Their economy is doing well. Likewise, the people on the Chinese Mainland are the same. Thus, away from the interventions of others seeking to stoke tension, a rapprochement between Beijing and Taiwan is possible.
A greater Fujian/Taiwan Cooperation zone would be a good start. In commercial practice, the groundwork and ethnic links are already there.
Such a development will take time and cool heads. Plus, it will be easier without warships, submarines and warplanes involved from both sides.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.