Daily Dump: China dominates the Caribbean, Their Own, and Redraws the Map

Daily Dump: China dominates the Caribbean, Their Own, and Redraws the Map

As we relaunch the website and our Daily Dump, our first stop will be China. For those familiar with how I used to do the daily dump this will be a bit of a change. Instead of linking to whole bunch of articles and only discussing two or three with a general theme, I am going to try to pick a theme and then pick 5-6 articles from different media sources to provide a little more depth on that specific topic. The articles will be divided into several groups similar to how they are divided on the additional resources page with a little latitude to enhance the overall theme. So, lets jump in on our featured articles of the day.

Professional Development Article of the Day:

Divergent Approaches to Development: Taiwan vs. China in Latin America & the Caribbean – Center for Strategic and International Studies

If you have any reservations about the existence of the Great Power Competition (which we defined here) that the U.S. is locked in with China, today’s articles should take care of all doubt. To begin our journey, we will not travel far to our own backyard where China has exploited our inattention to gain favor and leverage their economic might to gain influence in the Caribbean.  When we look at the diplomatic realignment there consider how successful China has been with the non-kinetic instruments of power, DIME-FIL (diplomatic, informational, military, economic, finance, intelligence, and law enforcement). Our featured article begins by noting the latest domino to fall in diplomatic relations as it relates to China vs. Tiawan:

In March 2023, Honduras formally established diplomatic relations with China, ending an eight-decade alliance with Taiwan.

This reduced the number of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies to just 13 countries.

While over half of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies remain in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is making strides toward its goal of isolating Taiwan in the region, with Honduras being the most recent example.

China’s efforts to poach Taiwan’s allies in LAC are set to continue past Honduras.

So how does a China vs. Taiwan alliance affect the U.S.? Well, in world of power politics, diplomatic allies, even if they do not bring a significant level of assets to the fight still matter. In fact, China has gained a whopping 25 regional alliances since 1970! The article continues:

China’s campaign to weaken Taiwan’s legitimacy is based on economic engagement, mainly through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In return, the region has provided China with substantial access to natural resources and a foothold in the United States’ shared neighborhood.

While Chinese investment in the region can be beneficial in the short term, too often, LAC countries have been left with incomplete projects, environmental catastrophes, and corruption. 

According to the article, China’s engagement serves 3 key interests:

    1. Commodities: LAC countries have key commodities that China needs, which drove China’s initial foray into the region.
    2. Competition: China can infringe on a region traditionally considered firmly in the U.S. sphere of influence.
    3. Curtailment: By incentivizing LAC countries to change sides, China seeks to diplomatically isolate Taiwan on the global stage.

The entire article is really quite good and shows the magnitude of the Chinese investment there as it further seeks to de-legitimize Taiwan as an independent country.

For our next item we go to the South China sea for a refresher on the 9-dash line and China’s claims in the region.

Video of the Day:

CHINA Threatens Philippines – USA on Alert to Support as Military Tension Rises in South China Sea

If nine is good ten must be better.

News of the Day:

China’s ten-dash line ups ante with the Philippines – Al Jazeera

China has struck an increasingly defiant tone to the growing American military presence in its peripheries. In a telltale sign of its commitment to asserting its expansive territorial claims, Beijing recently released a new “standard” map, which controversially encompasses much of the South China Sea as well as disputed Himalayan borders with India. 

Seven years after an arbitration tribunal at The Hague struck down the legality of China’s nine-dash line claims as incompatible with modern international law, the Asian powerhouse has now revealed a new map with a “ten-dash line”, which also encompasses Taiwan.

Needless to say, others in the region are not happy…the article continues:

The newly released map provoked a chorus of criticism across the region, with India leading the pack. New Delhi lodged a “strong protest” against the inclusion of the disputed Aksai-Chin plateau and Arunachal Pradesh as part of Chinese territory…

Immediately after, multiple Southeast Asian nations followed suit, beginning with Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ categorical rejection of “unilateral claims…to sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction on Malaysia’s maritime features.”

For its part, Vietnam made it clear that it “resolutely rejects any claims in the East Sea [South China Sea] by China that are based on the dashed line” amid renewed tensions following recent reports of violent Chinese harassment of Vietnamese fishermen in the disputed areas.

While we are still talking news of the day according to the Asia Times – Two Chinese among 4 killed in attack on DRC gold convoy. China’s influence reaches deep into Africa:

Two Chinese nationals and two others have been killed in an attack on a convoy carrying gold in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s lawless east.

Friday’s ambush targeted a four-vehicle convoy belonging to TSM Mining that was carrying gold from a site near the Kimbi river in the Fizi region of South Kivu province.

The attackers “stole parcels of gold which they took away into the bush”, said Sammy Badibanga Kalondji, an official in Fizi.

China is a major investor in the DRC where the Asian power dominates the lucrative mineral mining industry…

So, what is to done? For that we turn to our:

Additional Reading of the Day:

How Should the U.S. Respond to China’s Brazen Pursuit of Spratly Islands Claim? – United States Institute of Peace

In recent weeks, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has dispatched ships and other maritime forces to the disputed Spratly islands near the Philippines. The goal has been to coerce the Philippines into withdrawing from the contested Second Thomas Shoal, effectively ceding it to the PRC. China’s actions are in defiance of the international Permanent Court of Arbitration’s findings that undermine PRC claims to the Spratlys. They therefore constitute a serious challenge to the international rules governing maritime conduct, as well as to broader peace and stability in the South China Sea, through which enormous amounts of global trade flow.

And the proposed response? Hopefully not what the U.S. did in 2012:

As important, it will signal to Beijing that American willingness to confront Chinese salami-slicing tactics against its neighbors remains hollow. It is worth recalling that in 2012, the United States chose to persuade the Philippines to withdraw from Scarborough Shoal (a separate set of features north of the Spratlys) while making no effort to compel the PRC to do the same. In effect, Washington forced Manila to cede that set of features to the PRC.

This was followed by a three-year hiatus in U.S. freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, an absence that coincided with massive Chinese construction efforts on features it controlled. For the United States to once again fail to counter Chinese efforts to dominate a region that sees some $3.37 trillion in trade would reinforce a perception of American withdrawal.

This entire article is definitely worth a read. However, if that is not cheery enough for you, how about some easy listening with Irregular Warfare Podcast? They describes this episode like this:

What happens when authoritarianism expands into online environments? A form of digital repression takes shape. But what does that actually look like? What are the specific ways that authoritarian regimes use new technologies to control their populations? And how are resistance groups adapting to overcome digital repression?

This episode of the Irregular Warfare Podcast addresses those questions and more. Hosts Matt Moellering and Julia McClenon are joined by Steven Feldstein, author of the book The Rise of Digital Repression: How Technology is Reshaping Power, Politics, and Resistance, and John Tullius, who retired from the CIA in 2019 and now teaches classes on intelligence at the Naval Postgraduate School.


Irregular Warfare Podcast: The Rise of Digital Repression

Great Power Competition is real. Happy reading.

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