Wilhelm, our Prussia correspondent, wrote this a few weeks ago, and it did not go up because we here at FYNS are, at base, lazy fucks. Thankfully his Great Uncle Kaiser is no longer around to get testy and invade neigbouring nations, and in any case, our gramps helped kick his derriere (well, he managed to avoid getting machine-gunned at the Somme, so same difference). ANYWAY. CHINA. It is rising. Wilhelm presents part one in an ongoing guide to understanding what the fuck is going on up there apart from the mass manufacturing of Apple products and their knock-offs. Herr Wilhelm spends a not inconsiderable amount of time reading Chinese media, and he suspects some people might get a bit confused by their contents. He is just here to help.
China followers will be familiar with Xinhua, The People’s Daily, and The China Daily. All mouth pieces which have the same CPC lips blowing into them, sometimes breathlessly, on a daily basis. Now, without being too intimate with these agencies, I run the risk of attributing things to the wrong factors. So I will try and avoid assumptions and just go with what is apparent. I tend to class state media agencies as follows:
C.U.N.T - Completely Useless, Never Trusted
S.H.I.T - Sporadically Helpful, Intermittent Trustworthiness
D.I.C.K - Dependable, Informative, Competent, Knowledgeable
Very few are DICKS, most are SHIT and the Chinese ones are invariably CUNTS.
These agencies, especially Xinhua, are good for a lot of things that have nothing to do with China. Xinhua has good coverage of Africa and sources in the Middle East. The China Daily is great for business news and The People’s Daily is a brilliant source for occasional pictures of Chinese models at car shows. Yet, when it comes to things like defence policy or domestic social stability, you can guess why I find them frustrating. So much so, and so often is this the case, that this Mein Kamph series will likely become a somewhat regular feature.
The recent sound and fury in the western media over China’s aircraft carrier, the to-be-retrofitted Ukrainian Varyarg, signified nothing. China only this week acknowledged the huge, easily photographed vessel existed, thereby having to endure weeks of occidental speculation and distrust unanswered. Ergo, Xinhua et al were on the offensive in an effort to abate fears over what has so far been an alleged move at force projection in to the Pacific.
First we had an interview with a Party official who told us that it’s not the material a country possesses, but the policies it peruses. Unfortunately, he’s wrong, to a degree.
If you end up with an aircraft carrier, it’s probably because you had a policy of developing force projection, which is inherently destabilizing. He is however, perhaps unknowingly, alluding to something deeper and less tangible. More sensible news agencies have commented that an aircraft carrier alone does not equate to full capability. You need about three, one in the dock being fixed, one on active duty and one on hand depending on the sphere of influence you want to control, which in China’s case is rather large given its coastline. You also need half a dozen blue-water support vessels. Otherwise the carrier is just a big slow target. One obsolete carrier, only able to field VSTOL aircraft and without a support battle group adds nothing to Chinese naval capability besides training and development. This is exactly the line that has been coming out of Beijing. The less obvious and tangible part however is that it buys into the rather feverish Red culture that has sprung up in the Middle Kingdom. Amid growing social instability, train accidents and notable, albeit failed, Jasmine movements, China has felt the need to assert the mandate of heaven by cranking up the Red spirit, not only because it’s the Party’s 90th anniversary, but because nothing makes a billion people feel closer than a bit of historical narrative that skips the part where the party fucked you over, well and truly. Just ask Bismarck. (Go on, do it!)
The carrier isn’t purely a ship to buoy nationalism. It will obviously serve its purpose in China’s blue-water development. But for now, the apocalyptic speculation by many western outlets and Lying With Chinese Characteristics on behalf of the Sino press has failed to see a sensible, yet unsatisfying, appraisal of the acquisition along the lines of “too early to ascertain ultimate capability aspirations” emerge. But then I remind myself, state media, certainly not Xinhua, is not there to do such a thing. It reacts to the western media. Often protesting too much, methinks.
Today’s [ed: Ahem. That would be July 29. SORRY.] newswire featured, just so it happens, several separate pictures of US aircraft carriers, just under half of the active fleet, in addition to a French, Spanish and British ones. This would be ok, because I don’t get tired of looking at these things. But I do tire of it being in lieu of reports on inflation, domestic corruption, and pictures of thousands of Chinese swimming in green algae.
Furthermore, it is almost embarrassingly obvious that posting a pile of foreign carriers is an attempt to do two things, legitimize your recently acquired one and to distract media attention away from the train accident that just killed 40 people.
I will finish with a message to the PR people in Beijing. Look at Japan, a country with a military history as brutal as they come, the second largest navy in the world and some of the most advanced military kit outside of the US. Their military spokesman?