Matt HealeyTuesday,11 December 2012

The Snap:

China seems bound and determined to assert itself on the international stage. Clearly the country has grown in economic strength and recently has begun to build out its military. The problem is that the actions the Chinese are taking both in the region and beyond are placing them on a dangerous path — one that I think is increasing the chances of another south east Asia shooting war.

The Download:

The current situation involves the nine dash line map that China claims represents its borders, which includes 80% of the South China sea. China has effectively decided that the islands are China territory, and includes the map in all newly-issued passports. They are using the nine dash line font on the map, thus the name. The problem is that, at best, these islands are disputed territory. The passport maps apparently were only the first step. Now the new Chinese government has established a set of rules for the disputed area, including the right to stop and board any ship that is suspected of illegal activity. In response, the Vietnamese government has increased patrols in the area, India is considering sending navy ships into the area, the Philippines condemned the action as illegal, and Singapore has expressed concern (FYI, that is a pretty strong reaction for Singapore). The heart of this territorial fight is one of the two only reasons to fight over land. The region is home to large deposits of oil.

Clearly the actions of claiming large swaths of disputed territory can lead to international problems, but that is not the only aggressive stance that China is taking. Currently there is an investigation into the auditing practices of 400 Chinese companies that are listed on US exchanges. The Chinese government is refusing to allow the auditors access to documents that are required to complete the audits. Failure to produce the documents, however, will result in de-listing from US exchanges. The Chinese response is ‘we want to be listed on US exchanges, so we should be allowed to, even though our laws do not allow you to have those documents. So, you can not have them.’ Effectively, we are China and we do not have to play by your rules.

This was exactly what we saw with the Huawei and ZTE situation that resulted from the U.S. House of Representatives issuing a report that these companies posed a security threat. The companies requested the investigation in an open letter in The New York Times, and then failed to comply with the requirements of the investigation. But it gets even better. Once the report came out, they, in conjunction with the Chinese government, said publicly that Cisco requested the investigation, and was thus instrumental in shaping the final report (hence, an excuse not to comply). If China wants to be a true international player, then it will need to start playing by more of the international rules.

Hat Tips:

Nine dash lineChina new rulesReactionReaction 2Singapore reactionDe-listing concernsHuawei ZTE issue, Image Credit: Flickr

Take Action!


  1. […] to held responsible for what I have done.” This is a problem for me, in the same way that China refusing to follow any international laws is a problem. If you are not willing to live with the consequences, then change your behavior […]

Subscribe to get updates delivered to your inbox