WaPo Elides China’s Military Threat, Then Offers No Solution

May 3, 2021 Updated: May 6, 2021


On May 1, the Editorial Board of The Washington Post finally, at first glance, somewhat-kind-of recognized a military threat emanating from Beijing. The Board cooly noted a “series of incremental escalations by Chinese forces in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea,” that are “substantially advancing a strategy for establishing its dominance in East Asia and forcing Taiwan’s surrender.”

The Post (WaPo) noted China’s “trawlers” that are “believed to be” under military control and recently “appeared around” Whitsun Reef within the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as well as debilitating daily harassment of the Taiwan Air Force by Chinese warplanes.

But the language was a tad diminutive. China’s maritime militia were described as “little blue men” in a “lagoon.” A Chinese aircraft carrier “cruised by the Taiwanese coast” in April. How pleasant! Boating with the Blue Man Group in springtime.

The Board further hastened to calm any fears of its readers, claiming that “Few analysts expect offensive military action by China against Taiwan or in the South China Sea in the near future.” Oh, is that so? I’ve always wondered what the experts don’t say.

The thing is, offensive military actions against Taiwan and in the South China Sea are already happening. China’s militarized South China Sea islands are both offensive and military (of course). China’s fighter jet, nuclear-capable bomber, and aircraft carrier operations that encircle Taiwan are normalizing People’s Liberation Army (PLA) activity so that if a full invasion occurs, there will be next to no warning. It’s called “pulsing” the enemy and it’s part of the strategy and continuum of grey zone military combat offensives.

Epoch Times Photo
A Chinese navy formation, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning (C), during military drills in the South China Sea, on Jan. 2, 2017. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Second, WaPo gives no details on how many analysts it polled on the matter of China’s offensive military action, and what kind of random sampling method it used to do so. Sorry if that sounds boring, but it is kind of important.

The Board doesn’t mention the claim by a Stanford expert that China could be ready to militarily force unification on Taiwan within a year. The Board members knew about it if they read the Wall Street Journal article (a far less biased paper) to which their own opinion links.

Contrary to their claim, the analysts I know are very worried about a substantial escalation of China’s military offensives, and a potential tipping point of China exceeding U.S. military forces in East Asia as early as the next two-to-six years. The Chinese Communist Party is building naval vessels faster than we are. Capiche?

WaPo doesn’t mention that Beijing has rammed, sunk, kidnapped, and massacred scores of fishermen and marines from the Philippines and Vietnam since it cranked up its South China Sea fight in 1974. A University of Chicago professor recently made the argument that the Party operates as a terrorist organization. So, they are terrorists with nuclear weapons?

Nothing to see here. Please move along.

Neither does WaPo mention China’s recent aggression against India in the Himalayas, Japan’s Senkaku Islands, or use of lasers against the U.S. Air Force as recently as last year, not to mention China’s doubling and modernization of a nuclear weapons arsenal that can range the entire Continental United States. It doesn’t mention China’s complicity in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

The WaPo opinion is so expertly elisive as to resemble the People’s Daily coverage of the Uyghur genocide. One wonders, who is taking lessons from whom?

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A man walks past The Washington Post in Washington on Aug. 5, 2013. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

In its usual pumping of the Democrats, WaPo uses a double negative to elide Biden’s inaction against these incredible military provocations. “The Biden administration is not disregarding Beijing’s provocations,” they write, in a manner that should be considered untruthful given the magnitude and breadth of China’s aggression. Biden’s rhetoric and “upgraded diplomatic contacts with Taiwan” are apparently a “regarding” of Beijing’s provocations, for the Washington Post.

The closest the Board gets to offering a solution is noting that the Biden administration “has not yet gone along with suggestions that it end the long-standing policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ about whether the United States would defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack.” I hope WaPo would at the very least agree that ending strategic ambiguity is a good idea, though one can’t be sure because the Board didn’t take a position on this long-standing American failure. They just reported it.

The WaPo opinion would be a meh if it weren’t such a weighty issue. Instead it’s a really-really-concerned cringe. Concerned for our democracy, and concerned for the state of the free press in America.

One is hard-pressed to find any opinion at all in this so-called opinion-piece. Except the word “unfortunately” in its penultimate sentence, the Board’s opinion is an astonishingly elisive recitation of selected facts that does more to obscure the China threat than explain it.

The Post lamely ends its commentary by saying that “deterring Mr. Xi is a much more complex challenge” than deterring Putin. That’s it? No more from one of the world’s top American newspapers of record on America’s biggest national security threat? When PLA tanks roll into Washington one day, I guess we can expect the Board to be more critical of scratches on their paint jobs, than of the end of history.

How could this be so?

The opinion fails to acknowledge WaPo’s conflicts of interest on China, for example the fact that since November 2016, the Post accepted over $4.6 million in paid advertising from China Daily, which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

Epoch Times Photo
A China Daily newspaper box is with other free daily papers in New York on Jan. 20, 2021. (Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)

Shouldn’t political advertising by a totalitarian and genocidal country be illegal in any democracy that supports human rights, you say? Isn’t it a form of violent hate speech? It would certainly contravene journalistic ethics (if the Post didn’t officiously think it defined such ethics). Much more so when these millions pay for what appears to be regular WaPo articles (except for a small disclaimer) and are not acknowledged in the Post’s general reporting on China.

Given the lack of light coming from The Washington Post on potential prescriptions against China’s military threat, except that feeble glow given off by an old recluse of a sclerotic lava lamp that no longer undulates, I will here name a few prescriptions that are appropriate to countering the only two Chinese military threats identified by the Post: against Taiwan and the South China Sea. We’ll leave threats against India, Japan, and the United States until another day.

  1. Declassify more information related to China’s malign activities in the South China Sea and Taiwan.
  2. Sue China for its illegal occupation of South China Sea islands and fishing grounds in other countries’ EEZs.
  3. Impose Magnitsky sanctions against Chinese officials who are responsible for ramming, kidnapping, and killing of Philippine and Vietnamese fishermen.
  4. Establish an Asian NATO to counter China.
  5. Physically disrupt China’s operations in the South China Sea.
  6. Economically sanction China for its Taiwan and South China Sea aggressions.
  7. At Taiwan’s request, build a U.S. and allied military base in the country.
  8. Provide an independent submarine-based nuclear deterrent for Taiwan, free of charge, with a thank-you note tied to the periscope that praises this brave little country for being the tip of the spear in the defense of global democracy.

What’s that you say, WaPo? That could threaten the more than $600 billion in annual trade with China, including by your own Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.cn at over $300 million in annual revenues?

Unfortunately, Amazon’s big business in China is another apparent conflict of interest that WaPo fails to mention, as is its agreement with the China-linked Berggruen Institute to produce its WorldPost maybe-real-opinions-but-one-can’t-really-tell-because-it-seems-like-a-sketchy-paid-for-deal. One of the most recent Berggruen-produced opinions is titled, “America has little to fear from a China-centered world.”

How much is China Daily paying you, now, WaPo?

If all this sounds weird, startling, and new, it’s because the Washington Post and other mainstream media have for years ignored China’s military and influence threats until it’s now almost too late. Please, dear reader, check out some of the links in this article. You’ll learn more than you do from WaPo’s Board.

On China, and with the exception of Josh Rogin (the lightbulb at the bottom of WaPo’s lava lamp) and perhaps some other front-line journalists, The Post is therefore not a serious paper. It has for years lagged in its responsibility to provide adequate prescriptions for defending against the China threat. This in part explains (and is in part explained by) the corporate, swampy, and revolving-door nature of its eponymous city.

“Democracy dies in darkness” is the Post’s wonderful motto. It almost brought a tear to my eye, when I first read it. Let’s please live up to this on the China issue. Do it quick, because the sun is setting on democracy. When that happens, neither Bezos’ billions, nor WaPo’s so-called freedom of speech, will be worth a damn.

Anders Corr has a BA/MA in political science from Yale University (2001) and a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University (2008). He is the principal at Corr Analytics Inc., publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, and has conducted extensive research in North America, Europe, and Asia. He authored “The Concentration of Power” (forthcoming 2021) and “No Trespassing,” and edited “Great Powers, Grand Strategies.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Follow Anders on Twitter: @anderscorr