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China joins A-bomb club

China joins A-bomb club

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The People’s Republic of China joins the rank of nations with atomic bomb capability, after a successful nuclear test on October 16, 1964. China is the fifth member of this exclusive club, joining the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and France.

U.S. officials were not terribly surprised by the test; intelligence reports since the 1950s indicated that China was working to develop an atomic bomb, possibly aided by Soviet technicians and scientists. Nevertheless, the successful test did cause concern in the U.S. government. During the early 1960s, China took a particularly radical stance that advocated worldwide revolution against the forces of capitalism, working strenuously to extend its influence in Asia and the new nations of Africa. The test, coming just two months after the Tonkin Gulf Resolution (a congressional resolution giving President Lyndon B. Johnson the power to respond to communist aggression in Vietnam) created a frightening specter of nuclear confrontation and conflict in Southeast Asia.

The test also concerned the Soviet Union; the split between the USSR and communist China over ideological and strategic issues had widened considerably by 1964. The Chinese acquisition of nuclear capabilities only heightened the tensions between the two nations. Indeed, the test might have been a spur to the Soviets to pursue greater efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons; in 1968, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Little wonder that the Soviets would wish to see China’s nuclear force limited, since the first Chinese intermediate-range missiles were pointedly aimed at Russia. The Cold War nuclear arms race had just become a good deal more complicated.

READ MORE: Atomic Bomb: Inventors & Facts

Japan Has Nuclear ɻomb in the Basement,' and China Isn't Happy

No nation has suffered more in the nuclear age than Japan, where atomic bombs flattened two cities in World War II and three reactors melted down at Fukushima just three years ago.

But government officials and proliferation experts say Japan is happy to let neighbors like China and North Korea believe it is part of the nuclear club, because it has a “bomb in the basement” -– the material and the means to produce nuclear weapons within six months, according to some estimates. And with tensions rising in the region, China’s belief in the “bomb in the basement” is strong enough that it has demanded Japan get rid of its massive stockpile of plutonium and drop plans to open a new breeder reactor this fall.

Japan signed the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which bans it from developing nuclear weapons, more than 40 years ago. But according to a senior Japanese government official deeply involved in the country’s nuclear energy program, Japan has been able to build nuclear weapons ever since it launched a plutonium breeder reactor and a uranium enrichment plant 30 years ago.

“Japan already has the technical capability, and has had it since the 1980s,” said the official. He said that once Japan had more than five to 10 kilograms of plutonium, the amount needed for a single weapon, it had “already gone over the threshold,” and had a nuclear deterrent.

Japan now has 9 tons of plutonium stockpiled at several locations in Japan and another 35 tons stored in France and the U.K. The material is enough to create 5,000 nuclear bombs. The country also has 1.2 tons of enriched uranium.

Technical ability doesn’t equate to a bomb, but experts suggest getting from raw plutonium to a nuclear weapon could take as little as six months after the political decision to go forward. A senior U.S. official familiar with Japanese nuclear strategy said the six-month figure for a country with Japan’s advanced nuclear engineering infrastructure was not out of the ballpark, and no expert gave an estimate of more than two years.

In fact, many of Japan’s conservative politicians have long supported Japan’s nuclear power program because of its military potential. “The hawks love nuclear weapons, so they like the nuclear power program as the best they can do,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Non-Proliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. “They don’t want to give up the idea they have, to use it as a deterrent.”

Many experts now see statements by Japanese politicians about the potential military use of the nation’s nuclear stores as part of the “bomb in the basement” strategy, at least as much about celebrating Japan’s abilities and keeping its neighbors guessing as actually building weapons.

But pressure has been growing on Japan to dump some of the trappings of its deterrent regardless. The U.S. wants Japan to return 331 kilos of weapons grade plutonium – enough for between 40 and 50 weapons – that it supplied during the Cold War. Japan and the U.S. are expected to sign a deal for the return at a nuclear security summit next week in the Netherlands.

Yet Japan is sending mixed signals. It also has plans to open a new fast-breeder plutonium reactor in Rokkasho in October. The reactor would be able to produce 8 tons of plutonium a year, or enough for 1,000 Nagasaki-sized weapons.

China seems to take the basement bomb seriously. It has taken advantage of the publicity over the pending return of the 331 kilos to ask that Japan dispose of its larger stockpile of plutonium, and keep the new Rokkasho plant off-line. Chinese officials have argued that Rokkasho was launched when Japan had ambitious plans to use plutonium as fuel for a whole new generation of reactors, but that those plans are on hold post-Fukushima and the plutonium no longer has a peacetime use.

In February, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua published a commentary that said if a country "hoards far more nuclear materials than it needs, including a massive amount of weapons grade plutonium, the world has good reason to ask why."

"If you were distrustful, then you see it through a different lens."

Steve Fetter, formerly the Obama White House’s assistant director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, thinks China's concerns are not purely political.

"I've had private discussions with China in which they ask, 'Why does Japan have all this plutonium that they have no possible use for?' I say they made have made a mistake and are left with a huge stockpile," said Fetter, now a professor at the University of Maryland. "But if you were distrustful, then you see it through a different lens."

For at least four or five years, said Leonard Spector, deputy director of the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies in Monterey, the Japanese plutonium stockpile has been mentioned as a threat in Chinese defense white papers.

Japan, of course, has its own security concerns with China and North Korea. North Korea's nuclear weapons program is a direct threat to Japan. Some of its Nodong missiles, with a range capability of hitting anywhere in Japan, are believed to be nuclear-armed. "Nodong is a Japan weapon," said Spector.

There have been confrontations between China and Japan over small islands north of Taiwan. The dispute has recently escalated. In October, state-controlled media in China warned "a war looms following Japan's radical provocation," Tokyo's threat to shoot down Chinese drones.

Most experts agree that China is the greater threat, because as one expert said, "If North Korea attacked Japan, the U.S. would flatten it"-- and thus China is the country Japanese officials, particularly the right, want to impress with their minimal deterrence.

But experts also note that another nation in the region seems to have been impressed by the Japanese “bomb in the basement” strategy, not as a threat but as a model.

"China and South Korea will use this as an excuse, each in their own way."

There are fears that if Japan opens the Rakkosho plant, it will encourage South Korea to go the same route as its neighbor. The U.S. and South Korea have been negotiating a new civilian nuclear cooperation pact. The South wants to reprocess plutonium, but the U.S. is resisting providing cooperation or U.S. nuclear materials.

Jeffrey Lewis believes that the South Koreans want to emulate Japan, and says there is a “bigger bomb constituency in South Korea , about 10 to 20 percent [of the population],” than in Japan.

"The least of my concerns is that Japan would get a nuclear weapon," said Fetter. "But China and South Korea will use this as an excuse, each in their own way."

And, in fact, not everyone believes that Japan COULD go all the way. Jacques Hymans, a professor of international relations at the University of Southern California, believes the process would be thwarted by what he calls "veto players," that is, government officials who would resist a secret program and reveal it before it reached fruition. He wrote recently that Japan has more levels of nuclear bureaucracy than it once had, as well as more potential “veto players” inside that bureaucracy because of Fukushima. He said that any attempt to make a bomb would be "swamped by the intrusion of other powerful actors with very different motivations."

Still, even without a bomb, Japan has achieved a level of nuclear deterrence without building a bomb and suffering sanctions. That may be a more impressive achievement than actually building a bomb.

Robert Windrem is an investigative reporter/producer with NBC News, specializing in international security.

Are Costco Wholesale Stores Owned by China?

Costco Wholesale Corporation is perhaps the epitome of the bare-bones warehouse outlet: huge, undecorated cement-floored stores whose aisles are stacked with a limited number of products which shoppers can obtain at deep discounts by buying in quantity. Customers pay an annual membership fee for the privilege of shopping there in turn, Costco keeps prices low by servicing only paid members, eliminating the frills, buying and selling only a select set of goods in volume, and eschewing advertising.

Costco has grown tremendously since its beginnings as a single store opened in Seattle in 1983, in large part due to the efforts and expertise of former CEO Jim Sinegal, who was tapped to help found the enterprise because of his experience with a similar venture, the Price Club chain of high-volume warehouse stores. Costco now operates over 785 stores, primarily in the United States but also in Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, and has millions of members.

In 2005, a claim was shared that said Costco warehouse stores are all owned by China, because of what the letters of the word “Costco” purportedly stand for:

From a fairly reliable source I learned that Costco stores are owned by China. Costco stands for:
C – China
O – Off
S – Shore
T – Trading
CO – Company

They own two piers in San Francisco where they import and unload their products.

There is no China connection involved with Costco, however, other than that some of the products it sells may have originated there. Costco was founded in, and remains headquartered in, the state of Washington. (Its corporate offices were formerly located in Kirkland, Washington they have since moved to the city of Issaquah.) Price Club, with whom Costco merged in 1993 (the combined companies operated for a few years as PriceCostco before reverting back to the Costco name), began its operations in San Diego in 1976. Costco is a publicly-traded corporation (via NASDAQ) whose SEC filings (including information about their major stockholders) are available on its web site. (The international shipping carrier COSCO, whose name is an initialism of the phrase China Ocean Shipping Company, is based in China, but it has no affiliation with the Costco chain of warehouse discount stores.)

The original Price Club was not so named because of the obvious relationship between the word “price” and the retail merchandising industry, but because it was founded by a man named Sol Price. That name is echoed in the one chosen by its former competitor and current partner/successor, Costco.

Experts Warn a 'Horrible Surprise Coming', US-China Military Clash Within Six Months

Tensions between the United States and China seem to be growing by the day, prompting some in Washington to worry about a potential military conflict between our two countries within the next six months. The latest flashpoint: the vital waterways of the South China Sea.

For the first time, the US government this week declared China's activities in the South China Sea illegal.

"On Monday for the first time we made our policy on the South China Sea crystal clear: It's not China's maritime empire," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Thursday.

Now, this four million square kilometer shipping lane is turning into a major flashpoint.

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Rep. Ted Yoho, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee for Asia, sees potential military action ahead, telling the Washington Examiner: "I would predict there will be a clash within the next three to six months."

Such a scenario would be devastating for a global economy already reeling from a viral pandemic.

Roughly $3 trillion of trade passes through the South China Sea each year.

"It is incredibly important to US imports and exports and incredibly important to many of our allies and partners," Bradley Bowman, a military expert with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told CBN News. "There are tremendous economic interests in maintaining the freedom of navigation of commerce through that area."

China wants to limit that access, claiming it has rights to almost all the South China Sea.

"China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea are based on sufficient historical and jurisprudential evidence and are in line with the relevant international law and practice," Zhao Lijian, spokesperson with China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters this week.

Pompeo is pushing back, accusing China of breaking international law and urging world leaders to standup to Beijing's expanding territorial ambitions.

"If Beijing violates the international law and free nations do nothing, then history shows that the CCP will simply take more territory. That happened in the last administration," warned Pompeo.

America has opposed China's aggressive ambitions, including efforts to turn several islands and reefs into military outposts, complete with aircraft, runway, and hi-tech capability.

"So this is good old-fashioned 'the biggest kid on the playground' if you will, trying to bully others, to steal their resources and to push others who might get in their way out, and foremost of that is the United States," said Bowman.

Since taking power, China's President Xi Jinping has embarked on a massive military modernization.

Bowman says China's military prowess is the greatest threat to US military supremacy, and we could see it play out in these waters.

America now has two aircraft carriers taking part in one of its largest naval exercises in the South China Sea.

"If we just rest on our laurels and assume that battles in the coming years are going to be the same as they were in the past with unquestionable American military dominance, we have a horrible surprise coming," warned Bowman.

This latest salvo over the South China Sea comes as tensions between our two countries continue to escalate over trade, the coronavirus pandemic, the Hong Kong takeover, human rights, and religious freedom issues.

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Why is the initiative sparking global concern?

As Belt and Road expands in scope so do concerns it is a form of economic imperialism that gives China too much leverage over other countries, often those that are smaller and poorer.

Jane Golley, an associate professor at Australian National University, describes it as an attempt to win friends and influence people. “They’ve presented this very grand initiative which has frightened people,” says Golley. “Rather than using their economic power to make friends, they’ve drummed up more fear that it will be about influence.”

According to Shan Wenhua, a professor at Jiaotong University in Xi’an, Xi’s signature foreign policy is “the first major attempt by the Chinese government to take a proactive approach toward international cooperation … to take responsibility.”

Some worry expanded Chinese commercial presence around the world will eventually lead to expanded military presence. Last year, China established its first overseas military base in Djibouti. Analysts say almost all the ports and other transport infrastructure being built can be dual-use for commercial and military purposes.

“If it can carry goods, it can carry troops,” says Jonathan Hillman, director of the Reconnecting Asia project at CSIS.

Others worry China will export its political model. Herbert Wiesner, general secretary of Germany’s PEN Center, says human rights are being “left in the ditches by the sides of the New Silk Road”.

China joins A-bomb club - HISTORY

China and the WTO: The Politics Behind the Agreement

Chinese leaders in favor of China's greater integration into the world economy were thrown on the defensive in April by the U.S. rejection of China's unprecedentedly forthcoming offer for joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) and by the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in May. The events of April and May raised the WTO issue from the already difficult arena of bureaucratic politics to the often brutal realm of elite politics. Although Premier Zhu Rongji bore the brunt of public criticism, President Jiang Zemin similarly came under attack by nationalistic opposition leaders for "selling out the country" and being soft on the United States. Jiang has spent much of the time since then defending himself and rebuilding support for joining the WTO. The Clinton Administration, realizing its miscalculation in April, similarly spent the next six months working to repair U.S.-China relations in order to bring China back to the negotiating table.

On November 15, 1999, the United States and China finally signed a landmark agreement on China's accession to the WTO. Without the efforts from both China and the United States to repair the damage done in the spring, an agreement would have been delayed indefinitely. The agreement on China's entry into the WTO will rank with President Nixon's 1972 visit to Beijing and President Carter's extension of diplomatic recognition to China as a major step in bringing China into the world. It will help stabilize China's relations with the major powers &mdash most particularly the United States &mdash and burnish Jiang Zemin's (and perhaps Zhu Rongji's) leadership credentials. Most importantly, it will reinforce domestic reform and lead China to play an increasingly constructive role in world affairs.

On April 6, 1999, Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji arrived in the United States to try to clinch a deal on China's membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The People's Republic of China (PRC) had originally applied for membership in the WTO's predecessor organization, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1986. Progress on an agreement was interrupted by the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989, and subsequent disagreements over market access, intellectual property rights, and other matters repeatedly thwarted prospects for a deal in the years since. By the time Zhu Rongji came to the United States in 1999, however, there was reason to believe that an agreement could be reached. Chinese leaders were suggesting greater flexibility, and the Clinton Administration had finally concluded that getting China into the WTO would anchor its China policy and leave a lasting legacy for the President. Before leaving for the United States, Zhu, reflecting an air of optimism, suggested that the time to reach an agreement had finally come. Negotiations, he said, had gone on for 13 years, long enough for his hair to turn white it was time to make a deal.

But even as Premier Zhu was en route to the United States, President Bill Clinton was making decisions that would prevent a deal from being consummated. Over the weekend of April 4-5, President Clinton met with his advisors. His foreign policy advisors, National Security Advisor Samuel Berger and Secretary of State Madeline Albright, along with United States Trade Representative (USTR) Charlene Barshefsky favored clinching a deal that was better for American business than any had dared hope only a few months earlier. However, Clinton's domestic advisors, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, National Economic Council head Gene Sperling, and domestic political advisor John Podesta, argued that unless there were guaranteed protections for labor unions and industries that compete directly with their Chinese counterparts, Congress would vote to kill the deal &mdash and that would be worse for U.S.-China relations than no deal. President Clinton sided with his domestic advisors and requested that USTR go back to the negotiating table to ask for extended protection for textiles and added assurances against large-scale increases in imports. On the morning of April 7 President Clinton declared that it would be wrong to walk away from a good agreement with China, but then, in a two-and-a-half-hour meeting with Premier Zhu at the White House that evening, he did exactly that. 1 Although an agricultural agreement was quickly signed the next morning, Zhu was sent back to China virtually empty handed.

Even though, in response to an outcry from business, President Clinton quickly realized his error and called Premier Zhu in New York on April 13 to make a commitment to get China into the WTO by the end of the year, the damage had been done. Although Clinton did not know it, the grumbling in Beijing had already begun and it would grow as soon as the inability to reach an agreement was announced.

Seven months later, on November 15, China and the United States finally signed an agreement on China's accession to the WTO. This is an historic agreement, one that will rank with President Richard Nixon's decision to open state-to-state relations with China and President Jimmy Carter's extension of diplomatic relations. Economically, the WTO agreement will give new momentum to reform in China, while politically it will help anchor U.S.-China relations, dampening the severe oscillations the relationship has suffered in recent years. In retrospect, this agreement is likely to be seen as the Rubicon in China's opening to the outside world. Although China has been opening to the world for two decades now, much of that progress has stopped short of total commitment to all &mdash especially security-oriented rather than economic &mdash international regimes. 2 The WTO agreement will take China from "shallow integration" to "deep integration." 3

On the Chinese side, even more than the U.S. side, the negotiations behind the WTO deal have been extremely complex as issues of national interest became embroiled in elite politics. To understand this complexity, it is useful to "walk back" the politics of WTO in China.

China's WTO Position: Why It Changed

Following Tiananmen, Chinese interest in the GATT/WTO process revived prior to the inauguration of the WTO in 1995. In that period, Jiang Zemin sent clear signals that China was interested in participating in the organization, but at that time U.S. negotiators, more cognizant of the potential size of China's economy and under more scrutiny from Congress, demanded that any agreement be "commercially viable" &mdash a term that included opening China&'s market to U.S. goods. Such demands naturally encountered bureaucratic resistance in China. Resisting bureaucrats found a ready champion in Li Peng, who had taken over the premiership in 1988 but had only become a genuinely powerful actor following the ouster of Zhao Ziyang, the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, after Tiananmen in 1989. Li, an adopted son of former Premier Zhou Enlai and hence deeply embedded in the network of Party elders, was also a product of China's bureaucratic culture, having risen through the ranks of the energy sector. There was nothing in Li's personal background or work experience to suggest an understanding of, or openness to, market forces, and indeed he effectively stymied China's bids to join the WTO by ensuring that they fell well short of Washington's expectations.

Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui's visit to Cornell University and the PRC's subsequent military exercises against Taiwan in 1995 and early 1996 further delayed any consideration of China's entry into the WTO. It was only as relations warmed in the wake of the exchange of summits between Presidents Clinton and Jiang that China's accession to the WTO came back into the picture. Prior to President Clinton's June 1998 visit to China, Jiang Zemin made clear his commitment to join the world economy. He said in March, "We have to gain a complete and correct understanding of the issue of economic 'globalization' and properly deal with it. Economic globalization is an objective trend of world economic development, from which none can escape and in which everyone has to participate." 4 At the same time, the reform-minded Zhu Rongji replaced Li Peng as premier. 5 When Zhu Rongji first took over as premier, he seemed distinctly less interested in the WTO than Jiang Zemin or Vice Premier Li Lanqing, who had been directing China's WTO effort. Zhu wanted to concentrate his attention on reforming domestic industry, particularly the state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and felt that external pressure would be too much to bear. Whether for these reasons or simply because Zhu had not had time to focus on WTO issues, Chinese negotiators did not present what American officials considered a viable offer prior to President Clinton's visit. Thus there was little progress on the negotiations despite the improved U.S.-China relationship.

President Clinton's June 1998 trip to China went very smoothly. The Americans were pleased that Clinton's "debate" with Jiang Zemin at his reception was broadcast live to the Chinese people, and the Chinese were pleased that Clinton enunciated the so-called "Three Nos" regarding Taiwan (that the United States does not support Taiwanese independence, the creation of one China and one Taiwan, or the entry of Taiwan into international organizations for which statehood is a requirement). The tensions of 1995-1996 &mdash when the possibility of military conflict between China and the United States seemed real &mdash had disappeared, and the prospect of something approaching warm relations seemed possible. Both sides talked in terms of building a "strategic cooperative partnership."

Clinton's trip to China provided the boost to U.S.-China relations that made serious negotiations on WTO possible, perhaps for the first time since 1994. The improved relations provided the necessary background for China's later shift on the WTO. It strengthened Jiang Zemin's hand by suggesting that an amicable relationship with the United States was possible and beneficial. During the same period, Zhu Rongji appears to have become more favorably disposed to the WTO. Facing resistance in his efforts to restructure the Chinese economy, Zhu, like Li Lanqing before him, came to see international influence as useful in pressuring SOEs to make the reforms necessary to break up monopolies, to become more competitive, or to go out of business &mdash any of which would make the Chinese economy more efficient and reduce the heavy burden of subsidies on the Chinese government. As Premier Zhu put it, "Competition arising from such a situation will promote the more rapid and healthy development of China's national economy." 6

Moreover, China's economy grew substantially through the early 1990s. As market forces expanded and the Chinese economy matured, an increasing number of industries developed an interest in lower tariffs (to lower the costs of imports) or expanding export markets. After all, some 40 percent of China's economy is linked to the international market. 7 More specifically, however, the decision to make a major effort to join the WTO reflected the pressures facing China following the Asian financial crisis. As the economy slowed, China looked for new ways to boost exports, shore up foreign investment, and, most importantly, make Chinese industry more competitive. There was also the realization that the upcoming Seattle round of the WTO Ministerial Conference would take up a number of issues of interest to China, including agriculture and labor standards. It would be better to be involved in the formulation of the trade rules than to sit out and watch as the price for admission went up. There were also concerns that pressures would mount for letting Taiwan into the WTO ahead of the PRC. Finally, there was also the pressure of Zhu's forthcoming trip to the United States. Those working on the trip wanted to have something to show for it, especially in light of the deterioration of U.S.-China relations as new reports appeared on campaign finance violations, nuclear espionage, and China's crackdown on democracy activists. China's entry into the WTO would impart new momentum to the relationship and give it an underpinning that it had been noticeably lacking in recent years.

All these factors appear to have been part of the general background that brought about a substantially altered approach to WTO issues. Nevertheless, a push was still needed to catalyze the Chinese leadership. That push was apparently provided by President Clinton's personal intervention. According to Chinese sources, 8 President Clinton wrote Jiang Zemin a letter on November 6, 1998, expressing hope that the WTO issue could be resolved in the first quarter of 1999. On February 8, 1999, Clinton is said to have written a second letter to Jiang Zemin stating that he hoped that WTO negotiations could be concluded during Premier Zhu Rongji's visit to the United States. A third letter, on February 12, expressed hope that a package deal could be reached.

By January 1999, the Chinese position on the WTO had changed enough that Premier Zhu was able to tell Alan Greenspan, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, that China was prepared to offer substantial concessions. Nevertheless, a clear-cut leadership decision on concessions appears to have been made only in February, after receipt of President Clinton's letters. Sometime in the latter part of the month there appears to have been an enlarged Politburo meeting that approved broad-gauged concessions in an effort to achieve WTO membership. All major bureaucracies would have been represented at such a meeting and would have had an opportunity to present their views — although the expression of those views would no doubt have been constrained by the obvious support of the top leadership, and particularly Jiang Zemin, for joining the WTO. 9

Assuming that there was such a meeting, the task of drawing up a detailed negotiating proposal would have fallen to the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MOFTEC) office headed by Long Yongtu, China's chief negotiator on the WTO. It seems almost certain that any "Terms of Reference" would have had to receive approval by at least the Standing Committee of the Politburo and perhaps a larger body such as an enlarged meeting of the Politburo.

Despite this apparent consensus to move forward, there were obviously still differences among bureaucracies and within the leadership. Some bureaucracies apparently muted their opposition in light of Jiang Zemin's support for accession to the WTO. That opposition would not remain quiet for long.

The first indication of internal dissent came on March 24, 1999, as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) launched an air assault on Serbia in an effort to force President Slobodan Milosevic to accept the Ramboullait Accord. The U.S. role in launching such attacks certainly raised the worst fears of Chinese conservatives, making plausible to many the argument that the United States was unwilling to be constrained by any institution (such as the United Nations). Some argued that Zhu Rongji's scheduled trip to the United States should be postponed or cancelled in protest. Nevertheless, it was decided that Zhu would visit Washington as scheduled, a decision that could only have been made with Jiang Zemin's support. Given increased rumblings within the Chinese government, the WTO accord began to take on yet greater meaning.

China's Reaction to the Failure of the April Bid

Shortly after President Clinton turned his back on the WTO deal, details of China's concessions appeared in a 17-page document posted on the USTR web site. The posting may have been intended to whip up support for the deal in the business community, but it also seems to have been intended to exert pressure on China, to ensure that the Chinese did not backtrack on their offer. Whatever the reason, publication of the document proved to be almost as great a miscalculation as President Clinton's decision not to accept the deal.

By the time Zhu returned to China, the opposition, which had been muted before his trip, began to burst forth. Ministries that felt that the concessions would hurt them lost their inhibitions in voicing their complaints. Wu Jichuan, minister of Information Industries (including telecommunications) reportedly tendered his resignation (which was not accepted). Moreover, the USTR posting allowed the broader public to weigh in, and Zhu was abused mercilessly by public opinion. Articles on the internet as well as student demonstrators in May labeled him a "traitor" (maiguozei). At the same time, some old cadres have been known to mutter that the government's readiness to accept globalization was like Wang Jingwei's willingness to serve as head of Japan's puppet government in occupied China during World War II. Others have called Zhu Rongji's compromises in Washington the "new 21 demands selling out the country" — a reference to Japan's infamous demands of 1915 that sought to reduce China to a colony.

It is important to note that opposition to the WTO agreement was not limited to stodgy bureaucrats and hardline ideologues (although their voices were definitely heard). Some articles blasted "globalization" as a mask for Americanization. 11 Prominent intellectuals and intellectual journals came out against the agreement, at least for the present time. 12

In the wake of this rising tide of hostility, Jiang Zemin told an internal meeting that China had waited 13 years to join WTO (GATT) and it can wait another 13 years. Accordingly, Li Zhaoxing, China's ambassador to the United States, declared that "China upholds principles and will not strive to enter the World Trade Organization at any cost." 13 Even State Councilor Wu Yi, who helped hammer out the WTO deal, appeared to back off. She told reporters that the government would solicit opinions from various big enterprises, such as China Telecom, and that "[i]f people thought that. the United States demanded too much from us, we could give up the idea." 14

Reflecting the vulnerability of officials connected to the WTO deal, MOFTEC Minister Shi Guangsheng declared that the concessions listed by the USTR were "inaccurate." 15 The list, he said, consisted of items under discussion but not agreements reached. Following the bombing of the Chinese embassy on May 8, 1999, Shi quickly called a staff meeting to angrily denounce the USTR's list. 16 Zhu Rongji similarly adopted strong language in his meeting with visiting German Chancellor Shroeder. 17

Reaction to the Embassy Bombing

Beijing's initial reaction to the embassy bombing was one of shock and confusion — as well as a desire to manipulate events to China's advantage. The top leadership spent three days in an intensive round of meetings. The sardonic citizens of Beijing, noticing the absence of the leadership, began to call the emergency line at the Beijing police department to report three missing persons: Jiang Zemin, Zhu Rongji, and Li Peng! Humor also skewered the abilities of the leadership to respond to the event. People said that the hotline recently installed between Beijing and Washington was for "chewing out your old lady" (maniang), but when the bombing occurred not only did Jiang not pick up the phone and dress down Clinton, he wasn't even around to pick up the phone when Clinton called! Old cadres, especially those retired from the military, were less humorous. They unfavorably compared Jiang, and the leadership in general, with Mao Zedong, saying that Mao would never have put up with such an outrage.

By the time the leadership emerged from a series of internal meetings, some things were clear. First and foremost, the leadership had decided that it wanted to continue the relationship with the United States. The relationship was considered too valuable to sacrifice to the emotion of the moment. Jiang Zemin's May 13 speech welcoming the return of embassy staff from Yugoslavia reiterated that China "must continue to unswervingly take economic construction as the central task." 18 A series of editorials in the People's Daily emphasized continuity of policy and concluded with the declaration that China wants to "develop amity and cooperation with developed countries in the West, including the United States." 19 And on June 12, Deputy Prime Minister Qian Qichen declared, "China does not want confrontation with the United States." 20

China's reaction appears based not only on pragmatic calculations but also on the belief of the top leadership that the bombing of the embassy was indeed accidental, or, at a minimum, that it did not reflect a policy of President Clinton or his top advisors. That does not mean that everyone in political circles agreed. Many high-level Chinese officials were convinced that the bombing represented an effort to test China's resolve, while others argued that the bombing was the work of an anti-China conspiracy in the bowels of the U.S. bureaucracy. Elaborate theories have been spun to explain the alleged motives of the United States. These suspicions are widespread throughout government and society and are not likely to disappear quickly or easily. Many raise analogies to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and suggest that the truth may never be known.

The contrast between what the top leadership seems to have believed about the incident and what it said to the Chinese people through the mass media apparently reflects both the anger among old cadres, particularly from parts of the military, and deep concern that public anger would turn against the government itself, especially if its attitude toward the United States seemed less than resolute. A widespread current of public opinion that has existed for some years maintains that the Chinese government has been too weak in the face of various slights to China. This sentiment was clearly visible in the 1996 best-selling book The China that Can Say No, which was as much a criticism of the Chinese government as it was an expression of anti-Americanism. 21 At the same time, there was reason to fear that such feelings — and others as well — would be directed against the Chinese government. After all, the bombing occurred only a couple of weeks after more than 10,000 adherents of the Buddhist Law Society (falungong) had shocked the top leadership by staging a silent protest outside Zhongnanhai, the seat of government.

Did Zhu Exceed His Instructions?

There are several questions that emerge from this brief overview of the Chinese reaction to the failure of their bid for membership in the WTO and the subsequent bombing of the Chinese embassy. It is apparent from subsequent developments that Zhu Rongji's position in the leadership was severely weakened. The first question is: Did Zhu go beyond his instructions? If not, then on what basis could he be legitimately criticized? Second, if Jiang Zemin was as supportive of China's WTO bid as he appears to have been, then why was criticism directed chiefly at Zhu Rongji? Third, the People's Daily issued a series of unusual, and unusually harsh, "observer" (guanchajia) articles two articles published on May 16 and May 27 were notably harsher in tone than the more authoritative editorials published by the People's Daily at the same time and suggested intense anti-U.S. sentiment within the Chinese government. 22 Another observer article carried by the People's Daily on June 22 pushed rhetoric well beyond the bounds of normal diplomatic discourse by comparing — at great length — the United States to Nazi Germany. 23 What voice did such a harsh invective represent?

Upon close observation, it appears that Zhu did not exceed his Terms of Reference, or not by much. One version of events argues that before Zhu left for the United States, Jiang Zemin gave a personal authorization to make the concessions necessary to achieve WTO membership. According to this interpretation, the ensuing brouhaha was because the decision was not a collective one. But, as indicated above, there was an expanded Politburo meeting in late February. Thus, if there is any truth in this version, it may consist of Jiang's personal encouragement to be as forthcoming as possible. Another version, not necessarily incompatible with the first, suggests that Zhu's "fault" was in accepting provisions that were at or near China's "bottom line" across the range of issues rather than, as expected, yielding in some areas while holding fast in others.

The closer one looks at the course of events, however, the more one is convinced that Zhu's problem did not lie in anything he did in the course of the negotiations (and if President Clinton had accepted the deal, Zhu would have returned to applause, even if some of it were feigned). On the contrary, the source of Zhu's problems lies first in the number of enemies he has made among China's bureaucrats as he has moved to restructure industry and government and second, Zhu became the scapegoat for discontent with Jiang Zemin's policy decisions.

Chinese critics, particularly on the internet, have focused on Zhu, but critics within the Chinese government suggested that the real maiguozei was Jiang Zemin. It was after all Jiang who encouraged a closer relationship with the United States, who pushed for China's entry into the WTO, and who was slow to react to the U.S.-NATO action in Kosovo. These voices stemmed largely from the military. This is not to say that the entire People's Liberation Army (PLA) was critical, but simply that there is a very nationalistic wing within it. And with the U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, these voices became both strident and difficult to ignore. Jiang was, in the immediate aftermath of the embassy bombing, in a very difficult situation.

It was, according to observers in China, Li Peng who used the emotion of the moment to direct criticism at Zhu Rongji. At a Politburo meeting not long after the embassy bombing, Li Peng reportedly expressed his complete support for Jiang Zemin and then turned to Zhu Rongji and leveled three criticisms. First, Li reportedly accused Zhu of not respecting Jiang Zemin as the core. According to Li, Zhu had set himself up as a separate center, focusing on the economy and not reporting back or asking for instructions from the center (which would include both Jiang and Li, who is ranked second on the Politburo). In Li's criticism, Zhu did not listen to his subordinates either. Second, Li reportedly alleged that Zhu had misspoken in the United States. Zhu's claim that he did not want to come to the United States but was asked to come by Jiang was similar to what Zhao Ziyang had done in 1989 when he said Deng Xiaoping was the man in charge — namely deflect blame onto Jiang. Third, Li was critical of Zhu for pursuing too many reforms too quickly. Many of these reforms were good, Li assented, but they cannot all be done at once or pushed too quickly. Cutting the bureaucracy had hurt lots of good cadres, just as housing and medical reforms had hurt the common people (laobaixing), causing them to bear heavy financial burdens.

If this report is accurate, it is quite interesting, for none of Li's criticisms suggested that Zhu exceeded his instructions or that China's entry into the WTO was not desirable. Instead, criticism of Jiang was deflected onto Zhu, weakening one of Li Peng's chief antagonists. When Jiang reportedly expressed agreement with Li, Zhu was put into an extremely difficult position. He has reportedly offered up his resignation repeatedly in the months since.

This interpretation of events, namely that Jiang was as implicated as Zhu in being "soft" on the United States, is compatible with the probable explanation of the virulent observer articles mentioned above. Rather than express a point of view different from that of Jiang Zemin, these articles were apparently intended to show the military and other critics that Jiang could be just as harsh on the United States as they were. These articles, apparently run with Jiang's approval, suggest the degree of threat that Jiang felt in the immediate aftermath of the embassy bombing. This interpretation jibes with reports of Jiang adopting harsh rhetoric in internal meetings, saying for instance that U.S. imperialism will not die (wangwozhixin busi — an evocative expression used by Mao Zedong) and calling for "bidding time while nurturing grievances" (woxin changtan).

Jiang's deft maneuvering, with the "help" of Li Peng, allowed Jiang to recover his balance quite quickly, even as it undermined Zhu's position. It has been widely reported that Vice Premier Wu Bangguo has taken over Zhu Rongji's SOE portfolio what was not reported was that this change happened as early as June. Although Zhu has been kept in his position as premier, he has appeared to exercise very little authority in his own right — his recent interventions in the WTO process perhaps marking an exception and possibly even an improvement in his status.

One other factor weakening Zhu and increasing opposition to a WTO deal was Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui's statement on July 9, 1999, about cross-strait relations being "special state-to-state" relations. That statement produced a new wave of nationalist anger just as the initial outburst following the embassy bombing had begun to quiet down. When the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) met at the seaside resort of Beidaihe in late July, Li Peng reportedly launched an open attack on Zhu's management of the economy. Beijing was rife with rumors that Zhu would step down, and he still might. Obviously, China and Jiang Zemin would face a considerable loss of foreign confidence if Zhu were dismissed, and that is certainly one factor keeping him in place.

This interpretation of events makes the decision of the Fourth Plenum in September to add three members to the Central Military Commission more comprehensible. In addition to selecting Hu Jintao, vice president of the PRC and member of the Politburo Standing Committee, to serve as vice chairman of the Commission, the Plenum added two generals, Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, as members. Jiang needed to increase his control over the PLA.

Resumption of WTO Negotiations

According to press reports, President Clinton soon regretted his decision to turn down the WTO agreement in April and worked hard to restore U.S.-China relations in the wake of the embassy bombing. On June 16, 1999, Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering attempted to explain to Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan how an accident of the magnitude of the embassy bombing could have occurred. The meetings themselves went reasonably well, and there appears to have been an effort on both sides to try to repair the damage done. There were clearly those in the Chinese leadership who wanted to find a way out of the impasse. Nevertheless, the Chinese rejected Pickering's explanation as "illogical" and "unacceptable." 24 This stance not only reflected the government's inability to reverse course so quickly after having fanned the flames of anger for the preceding month, but more importantly reflected the very unsettled state of politics at the top reaches of the Chinese government, as described above. An important indication of the difficult political situation in Beijing was that Jiang Zemin left town during the Pickering visit so he would not have to meet with him.

Additional efforts to repair relations were made in July when Secretary of State Albright met with Minister Tang at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum, and relations took another step forward in September when President Clinton met with President Jiang at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Auckland, New Zealand. Despite the improved atmosphere, it proved difficult to restart serious WTO negotiations. When MOFTEC head Shi Guangsheng met with USTR head Charlene Barshefsky in Washington in September, the talks were extremely brief. China's top trade negotiator Long Yongtu, reportedly also under a cloud because of the failure of the April accord, did not accompany Shi. Although originally scheduled to last two days, the talks in fact lasted only a couple of hours. Apparently Shi's brief was to lay out the differences between what the Chinese said they had offered in April and the list of concessions posted on the USTR web site. According to Chinese observers, there were 15 areas of disagreement. One of the most important was in the area of telecommunications. According to the USTR posting, China agreed to allow foreign companies to own up to 51 percent of telecommunication companies in the service area, but Shi's message was that the Chinese had only offered 49 percent. Other disagreements centered on phase-in times and U.S. insistence on textile protection and safeguards against a surge of Chinese exports.

On October 16, a month after the Shi-Barshefsky meeting, President Clinton called Jiang Zemin to urge a resumption of serious WTO negotiations. Apparently as a result, U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, who was to attend the twelfth China-U.S. Joint Economic Meeting in Beijing, added a side trip to Lanzhou to meet with Premier Zhu Rongji, who was in the northwestern provincial capital to discuss regional economic development. U.S. officials came away from that meeting believing that there was room for compromise. President Clinton again called Jiang Zemin on November 6, and then made the decision to send Barshefsky and Gene Sperling, national economic advisor, to Beijing on November 8 to try to reach an agreement.

Some have argued that the long delay in resuming serious WTO negotiations was prompted by the hard negotiating style of the Chinese, but the problems clearly ran deeper than that. Unfortunately, the missed opportunity in April, followed by the embassy bombing in early May, raised the WTO issue from the already difficult arena of bureaucratic politics into the often brutal realm of elite politics. It appears that it took Jiang Zemin until the convention of the Fourth Plenum in September to regain full control, and even then, he needed to be able to demonstrate to his domestic constituency that he had not been "soft" on the United States.

The November 15 agreement, coming after six days of grueling negotiations, marks a major watershed in U.S.-China relations. From press reports, it appears that the agreement is roughly as strong as the April agreement, and it will be widely supported by the business community. Although there has been much speculation that this agreement will benefit Premier Zhu Rongji — and it may — the big winner appears to be Jiang Zemin. Jiang has spent the last two years trying to solidify China's relations with the major powers of the world, and this agreement will allow him to say — correctly — that China has now been recognized as one of the great powers. This will clearly enhance Jiang's leadership credentials and deflate some of his nationalistic antagonists (both within government and the broader society). If negotiators had failed to reach an agreement, Jiang would likely have been forced to play the nationalist card to defend himself. He would prefer to play the role of world statesman — something that is very much in the interest of the United States as well.

Joseph Fewsmith is associate professor of international relations at Boston University and a specialist on the political economy of China. His publications include Dilemmas of Reform in China: Political Conflict and Economic Debate (1994) and Party, State, and Local Elites in Republican China (1985).

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of other NBR research associates or institutions that support NBR.

1 Wall Street Journal, April 9, 1999, pp. A1 and A6. For a vivid description of President Clinton's meeting with Premier Zhu Rongji, see Steven Mufson and Robert G. Kaiser, "Missed U.S.-China Deal Looms Large," The Washington Post, November 10, 1999, p. A1.

2 See Elizabeth Economy and Michael Oksenberg, eds., China Joins the World: Progress and Prospects, New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1999.

3 These models, also labeled as "full integration" and "partial integration" are more fully discussed by Margaret M. Pearson, "China's Integration into the International Trade and Investment Regime," in Elizabeth Economy and Michael Oksenberg, eds., China Joins the World: Progress and Prospects, New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1999.

4 Renmin Ribao, March 9, 1998, p. 1.

5 One of the interesting aspects of this transfer of power was that Li Peng, who was made head of the National People's Congress, retained his number two ranking in the Politburo at the Fifteenth Party Congress in September 1997. Normally the premier would occupy the second rank position in the Politburo, so this seemed an intriguing bit of face-saving, a seemingly harmless "side payment" to get the conservative Li Peng to vacate the center of power. But as we will see below, this arrangement would come back to haunt Jiang Zemin &mdash and especially Zhu Rongji.

6 Wang Yanjuan, "WTO: How Close is the Deal?" Beijing Review, no. 19 (May 10, 1999), pp. 14-16.

7 This estimate is true if one uses exchange rates to calculate the size of the Chinese economy purchasing power parity (PPP) estimates yield a lower figure for the importance of international trade.

8 In order to evaluate the candid opinions of Chinese observers, the author conducted a series of interviews during the summer and fall of 1999. To encourage candid responses, the interviews were conducted on the condition of anonymity.

9 When interviewing on the WTO issue in June, a number of people argued that some ministries had been cut out of formulating China's proposal. Subsequent interviews in October contradicted that assessment. Obviously more work needs to be done to better understand the policymaking process.

10 Yong Wang, "China's Accession to WTO: An Institutional Perspective," unpublished paper.

11 Di Yingqing and Zheng Gang, "Meiguo wei shenma jiyu yu Zhongguo chongkai ruguan tanpan" (Why is the U.S. so anxious to restart WTO negotiations?), Gaige neican (Reform reference), no. 8 (April 20, 1999), pp. 39-42.

12 Cui Zhiyuan, "Jiaru shijie maoyi zuzhi bushi Zhongguo de dangwu zhiji" (Joining the WTO is not an urgent matter for China), Zhongguo yu shijie (China and the World), www.chinabulletin.com and Shao Ren, "Guanyu Zhongguo jiaru shimao zuzhi wenti de zhanlue sikao" ("Strategy and reference material for the question of China's entrance into the WTO"), Suidao (Tunnel), internet journal.

13 Zhongguo Xinwenshe, June 17, 1999.

14 Dagongbao, May 27, 1999.

15 Xinhua, May 6, 1999.

16 Xinhua, May 9, 1999.

17 Xinhua, May 12, 1999.

18 Xinhua, May 13, 1999.

19 "Firmly Implement the Independent Foreign Policy of Peace," People's Daily, June 3, 1999.

20 Xinhua, June 12, 1999.

21 Song Qiang et al., Zhongguo keyi shuobu. The China that Can Say No was published at a time when there was a growing perception among government officials and the broader public that the United States was trying to "contain" China. This perception was related, among other things, to the United States' 1993 opposition to China's bid to host the Olympics in 2000, the Yin He incident of the same year (in which the U.S. demanded to inspect a Chinese ship suspected of carrying precursor chemicals for chemical weapons to Iran), and, most directly, the 1995 decision to allow Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui to visit the United States. Although written by a group of young intellectuals on their own, the book secured the backing of conservative officials in the government.

22 "Humanitarianism or Hegemonism?," People's Daily, May 16, 1999 and "On the New Development of U.S. Hegemonism," People's Daily, May 27, 1999. "Observer" (guanchajia) articles in the People's Daily are extremely rare. The last one prior to recent events was during the Taiwan Straits Crisis in 1996. An article as important as these observer articles almost certainly has to have the approval of the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In contrast, editorials must be approved by all members of the Politburo. The publication of a series of "observer" articles suggests that a special writing group was set up to draft these diatribes.

23 "Today's Hegemonism Should Look into This Historical Mirror," People's Daily, June 22, 1999.

The Top 25 Most Exclusive Golf And Country Clubs In The World Honored With Platinum Status

Walking along Magnolia Lane headed to the stunning clubhouse at Augusta National Golf Club, I was surrounded by perfectly groomed greens, massive magnolia trees and abundant yellow pansies creating the shape of the Founders Circle. The breathtaking beauty of the club is what contributes to its legendary position as one of the very best private golf clubs in the world. Members are properly dressed, and a few of them wear the coveted Green jackets indicating their prestige and rank. However, you will likely never get the chance to play at Augusta or any of the top private clubs in the world. You will also never be invited to join as a member or certainly afford the extravagant initiation fees.

Forget the fact that women are still not allowed in many clubs around the world and have finally been permitted to join as members when former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and IBM CEO Darla Moore became among the first females to join Augusta in 2012. Among the 300 members at Augusta National, only 1 percent are women. And you will also find it hard to spot any African-American players in many of the most elite clubs around the world, throughout history they were only used as caddies for the white men playing in tournaments. But times are changing at many of the top clubs and the new guard is enforcing a more open-minded attitude towards new diverse members, although a 10-year waiting list for new memberships at many clubs will undoubtedly slow things down dramatically.

Arnold Palmer walks with Condoleezza Rice at Augusta National

The 2018-2019 Platinum Clubs® of the World winners represent the standard of Excellence for the finest Private Golf & Country Clubs around the globe and were voted by 700 Golf & Country Clubs. (Country Clubs are defined as offering a wide variety of amenities in addition to Golf and includes Residential Communities.) To receive Platinum status, which is the ultimate achievement in the private club industry, the organization receives input from the Club Leaders Forum Advisory Board and is awarded in five categories: Country Clubs, Golf, City, Athletic and Yacht Clubs.

The requirements are strict and include Universal Recognition, Excellence in Amenities and Facilities, Caliber of Staff and Professional Service Levels, Quality of Membership, Governance & Prudent Fiscal Management, Adapting to Changing Times and Overall Experience.

This year the Top 100 International Golf & Country Clubs represent 30 countries, 14 clubs garnered Platinum status from Asia 10 clubs are located in Great Britain and Ireland, and 11 Clubs are from Continental Europe with the addition of 13 new Golf & Country Clubs added to the Top 100.

Seminole Golf Club men's locker room

For the first time, Augusta National has been voted the #1 Platinum Club of the World, Golf & Country Clubs. The host of the 2018 U.S. Open, Shinnecock Hills, moved from 7th to 3rd place. Past U.S. Open site, Merion Golf Club, moved up from 9th to 5th. And entering the top 10 for the first time is Baltusrol.

International clubs in the top 20 include: The R&A (Scotland), Royal Melbourne (Australia), Muirfield (Scotland), Morfontaine (France), Sunningdale (England) and Shanqin Bay (China), which is the first club to make the top 20 from the continent of Asia in the history of Platinum Clubs of the World.

In order to become a part of the most elite private golf and country clubs in the world, most clubs require members to follow very strict rules. Walking is mandatory, uniformed caddies are $120 per bag plus tip, there is a strict dress code, no shorts, backward hats and absolutely no hats inside the club, no cell phone use, drinking on the course is a tradition and of course jacket and tie for dinners.

Here are the top 25 winning worldwide clubs for 2018-2019 Platinum Club of the World Status.

Augusta National Golf Club

1. Augusta National Golf Club (Georgia)

Known for being an exclusively male club, Augusta recently opened its doors to women including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former banking magnate Darla Moore, and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty. With only 300 members, including Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, Augusta National is home to the Master's tournament and was designed by champion golfer Bobby Jones and Dr. Alister MacKenzie. Initiation fees range from $250,000 to $500,000. (Also voted #1 Golf Club in the U.S.)

2. Pine Valley Golf Club (New Jersey)

Pine Valley Golf Club is known as one of possibly the best golf course in the world. The board of directors reach out to potential members for the private club and is not open to application. Members of the men’s-only club are allowed to bring women as guests on Sundays only. (Also voted #5 Golf Club in the U.S.)

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

3. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (New York)

Shinnecock has hosted the US Open multiple times. The only way you can play at Southampton, New York’s Shinnecock Hills is if you are accompanied by a member, and good luck getting a tee time which can be months in advance. The green fee is $350 per round, and you must hire a caddy since walking is mandatory. (Also voted #8 Golf Club in the U.S.)

Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews

4. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (Scotland)

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is the oldest and most prestigious golf club in the world. It is based in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, and is regarded as the worldwide "Home of Golf" founded in 1754. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club (but not The R&A) had a male-only membership policy until 2015 when it welcomed their first honorary female member including Princess Anne and several pro golfers. Membership is by invitation only, and they have 2,400 members from all over the world.

5. Merion Golf Club (Pennsylvania)

Merion Golf Club is a private golf club located in Haverford Township, Pennsylvania bordering Philadelphia, The club offers one of the most amazing locker rooms ever with a two-level men's locker room including legendary showers. Initiation fees start at $70,000 with $6,000 yearly dues and up, and you can only apply by member referral. (Also voted #3 Golf Club in the U.S.)

The Royal Melbourne Golf Club

6. The Royal Melbourne Golf Club (Australia)

Royal Melbourne Golf Club is a 36-hole golf club in Australia, located southeast of Melbourne. Its West course is ranked number 1 in Australia. Founded in 1891, it is Australia's oldest golf club.

7. Muirfield-The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (Scotland)

Muirfield is a privately owned club which is the home of The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. Located in Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland, Muirfield is one of the golf courses used in rotation for The Open Championship. The club holds the claim of being the oldest verifiable organized golf club in the world. Until 2017, women were barred from being members, though they were permitted to play the course as guests or visitors.

8. Cypress Point Club (California)

With only 250 members, many of whom are prominent political figures, this is one of the world’s most desired clubs. The stunning location is a major selling point as players golf along the Pacific Ocean. Fees are determined by yearly running costs which are divided up between the members regardless of how often you use the club. (Also voted #4 Golf Club in the U.S.)

9. Golf de Morfontaine (France)

This golf course was designed in the 19th century for the Duc de Guiche and his friends, and now retains much of the original design. Several years after the duke died in 1962, the club became the property of its 450 members and remains the most exclusive club in continental Europe.

10. Baltusrol Golf Club (New Jersey)

The Baltusrol Golf Club is a private 36-hole golf club in Springfield, New Jersey. The club was purchased in the 1890s by Louis Keller, the publisher of the New York Social Register. Until the end of the 20th century, African-Americans and Jews were not allowed to be members. Membership is $150,000 plus $18,500 dues. (Also voted #2 Golf Club in the U.S.)

Congressional Country Club

11. Congressional Country Club (Maryland)

This is the famed Club where Members of Congress meet socially with businessmen. The Club also has a vast history of U.S. Presidents as members. The Congressional opened in 1924, and its Blue Course has hosted five major championships. Notable past members include William Taft, Woodrow Wilson as well as countless politicians and lobbyists. The initiation fee is $120,000 with a 10-year waiting list. (also voted #1 Country Club in the U.S.)

12. Ocean Reef Club (Florida)

This exclusive community located in Key Largo, Florida has its own 4,000-foot airstrip, school, museum, security force, and fire department. To live in Ocean Reef, a resident must be sponsored by two current members and purchase a charter equity membership for $200,000. A marina with 175 slips and docks for yachts up to 175 feet are also offered in one of the most secure developments in America. (Also voted #2 in Country Club in the U.S.)

13. Sunningdale Golf Club (England)

Sunningdale Golf Club is located in Berkshire, England, 30 miles west-southwest of London. The Club was founded in 1900 and has two eighteen hole golf courses. Prospective members need support from six existing members, and they are required to play a round of golf with a committee member before their names are proposed for membership. Initiation fees start at over $100,000 to join with $8,000 in annual dues.

14. National Golf Links of America (New York)

A popular club for Wall Street tycoons, the invitation-only club is located on 285 acres of shoreline along Southampton, New York’s Peconic Bay. Developed by famed architect Charles Blair Macdonald, this course is known as one of the most perfect courses in the world. Initiation is $150,000 plus $10,000 dues, and guests can only play with members. (Also voted #13 Golf Club in the U.S.)

15. Boca West Country Club (Florida)

Boca West is one of the largest private equity-owned clubs in America, with 1,400 acres of lush tropical landscaping and magnificent private residences. The Club’s 54 private villages are bordered by four championship golf courses, 31 tennis courts, waterways, and wooded areas. The initiation fee is $70,000 for homeowners with annual dues of $12,000. (Also voted #4 Country Club in the U.S.)

16. Oakmont Country Club (Pennsylvania)

Oakmont Country Club is one of the oldest golf clubs in the country and has hosted more combined USGA and PGA championships than any other course in the U.S. The course is ranked No. 5 in the US by Golf Digest and has attracted the world’s best golfers for years. Established in 1903, its golf course is regarded as the oldest top-ranked golf course in the United States. (Also voted #6 Golf Club in the U.S.)

17. The Los Angeles Country Club (California)

Built on the most premium real estate in Beverly Hills, the Los Angeles Country Club is considered ultra-exclusive with a membership roster that is comprised of the oldest families in America. Despite being adjacent to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion, the club reportedly has a strict no ‘movie-star’ policy and famously turned down Hefner as well as Bing Crosby who lived on the 14th fairway. The country club once had a no Jewish member policy until 1977, and no African-Americans were allowed for years. (Also voted #9 Country Club in the U.S.)

18. Shanqin Bay Golf Club (China)

This course sits on the southeast coast of Hainan Island, a one-hour flight from Hong Kong. Hainan is home to several dozen courses, ten courses are located at Mission Hills Haikou, a mega-development which includes the popular Blackstone Course. Perched on bluffs overlooking the South China Sea, the extremely private club has only 20 members, with initiation fees that run as high as $1 million.

19. Seminole Golf Club (Florida)

The 18-hole Seminole Golf Club in North Palm Beach, FL is a private golf course that opened in 1929. The Donald Ross course is located along steep sand ridges near the Atlantic Ocean. With only 300 members, the club is so exclusive it even turned down golf legend Jack Nicklaus. Guests have included presidents like JFK and Eisenhower as well as royalty. The initiation fee is unknown and a well-guarded secret. (Also voted #11 Golf Club in the U.S.)

20. Winged Foot Golf Club (New York)

Winged Foot has two golf courses, and each is ranked among the best 100 golf courses in America. The more famous of the two, the West Course, is considered as one of the ten best golf courses. The club features the highest percentages of single-digit handicappers. Among the highlights is the stunning historic stone clubhouse with a slate roof and built in 1929. The club also offers up one of the best locker rooms with the best showers of most golf clubs. F amous members include President Donald Trump since 1969. Initiation fees start at $200,000 (Also voted #7 Golf Club in the U.S.)

21. Les Bordes (France)

This 1,400-acre estate is nestled in the Loire valley south of Paris and is one of the most exclusive and difficult golf courses anywhere in the world. Built by the multi-millionaire owner of the Bic pen and razor company along with a Japanese friend, Les Bordes is located in a stunning setting within the countryside. Future plans are to build a hotel, lodges and a second course. One of the highlights is the beautiful clubhouse with old, oak beams and a rustic vibe along with enormous fireplaces and deep leather chairs. Initiation fees are unknown.

Cherokee Town and Country Club

22. Cherokee Town and Country Club (Georgia)

Located in Atlanta, Cherokee Town and Country Club offer membership through an invitation-only policy. The exclusive club has two world-class golf courses, 16 tennis courts, and three swimming pools. Membership is by invitation only, and prices are kept under wraps but are considered to be $200,000 with $7,500 dues. (Also voted #5 in U.S. Country Clubs)

23. The Madison Club (California)

The Madison Club is within an exclusive private residential community in La Quinta. The club offers up a Tom Fazio-designed golf course that is the centerpiece of the homesites and includes a lounge, full-service spa, and complete fitness facility. There are also five private, one-bedroom suites located in the clubhouse. The Main building incorporates a full kitchen, private movie theatre, game room and main lounge that overlooks the 18th hole. Famous homeowners range from a Kardashian to a Stallone. Initiation is $200,000 with $33,000 dues for equity owners only. (also voted #22 in U.S. Country Clubs)

24. Whisper Rock Golf Club (Arizona)

The Whisper Rock Golf Club has two golf courses to choose from, the lower Course, was designed by Phil Mickelson and Gary Stephenson in 2001. The second, upper Course, was designed by Tom Fazio in 2005. The Whisper Rock golf club is for serious golfers only, and social membership is not available. The clubhouse provides golf support only, and there are no other facilities or restaurants located here. Membership is by sponsorship or invitation only and can run around $100,000.

The assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey will likely bring the countries ‘closer together’

Posted On April 02, 2018 09:43:51

The assassination on Monday of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey at an art gallery in Ankara is unlikely to fracture relations between the two countries as they work to improve their tumultuous relationship, analysts said.

“On the contrary, both Russia and Turkey will point to the murder as reason why they should cooperate more closely in fighting terrorism,” geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer, president of the political risk firm Eurasia Group, told Business Insider on Monday.

“Erdogan will surely express great regret to the Russian, and acknowledge that Turkey must do more in their domestic security environment,” Bremmer said, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “That means more crackdowns at home, but not a sudden blowup with Moscow.”

The death of the ambassador, Andrey Karlov, immediately prompted comparisons to the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 that led Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia, which ultimately sparked World War I.

But statements released by Russian and Turkish officials in the aftermath of Karlov’s death suggested Moscow and Ankara were determined not to let the incident derail their rapprochement.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said in a statement that the government would not allow the assassination to harm Russian-Turkish relations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a Russian press conference in 2014. | Russian State Media

Erdogan echoed Yildirim’s sentiment, calling the attack “provocation” aimed at damaging Turkey’s normalization of ties with Russia. He said that Turkey and Russia will jointly investigate the assassination, reiterating that “intense cooperation with Russia” over Aleppo was “helping to save lives.”

“I call out to those who are trying to break this relationship,” Erdogan continued, “Your expectations are wasted.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, called the assassination an attempt to “undermine” Russia-Turkey ties and derail Moscow’s attempts to find, with Iran and Turkey, a solution for the Syria crisis.

The Kremlin, which declared the assassination a terrorist attack, said talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, over Syria would take place as planned in Moscow on Tuesday.

“Ankara and Moscow will likely seek to avoid a diplomatic crisis over Karlov’s assassination,” said Boris Zilberman, a Russia expert at the Washington, DC-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Russia will, however, likely step up military actions in Syria and seek revenge against those connected with the assassin.”

The Turkish government, meanwhile, was apparently preparing to blame a domestic opposition movement, known as the Gulenists, for the attack. The movement is led by Turkish preacher Fetullah Gulen, who has lived in exile in the US since 1999.

The mayor of Ankara alleged in a tweet shortly after the attack that the gunman was a Gulenist and that his declarations about Aleppo were merely a distraction — a narrative that was repeated and expanded upon by Turkish media in the aftermath of the assassination. A senior Turkish senior official later told Reuters that Ankara’s investigation will focus on the gunman’s links to the Gulen network.

Mark Kramer, the program director of the Project on Cold War Studies at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, said he thinks Russia and Turkey are preparing to blame “certain forces — i.e., the United States— that supposedly are trying to derail the Russian-Turkish normalization.”

“This theme undoubtedly will become a staple of Russian (and maybe Turkish) propaganda in coming days to deflect attention from the egregious security lapse,” Kramer told Business Insider on Monday, “and to put pressure on the outgoing and incoming US administrations.”

Turkish-Russian relations had been precarious but improving since Turkey shot down a Russian warplane along the Turkish-Syrian border in November 2015.

Erdogan’s reluctance to sign on to certain European Union membership requirements and his increasingly authoritarian leadership over Turkey have also sparked concern among European leaders that he is not committed to a Western conception of human rights and civil liberties.

NATO has also expressed concern over Erdogan’s purging of thousands of Turkish civil servants — as well as military personnel, police officers, academics, and teachers — from their positions on suspicion that they were associated with the coup attempt.

“Ankara is going to use this as an opportunity to embrace Russia tighter,” Koplow said. “The analogy to WWI ignores the fact that there was a host of incentives, including entangling alliances and multiple competing great powers, that made war a more obvious choice for the parties involved. That is not the case here, particularly given that Turkey is hardly a proxy for the West these days despite its NATO membership.”

Dmitry Gorenburg, an expert on Russian military affairs at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, said that “a lot will depend on how the Russian government chooses to play it.”

“My initial guess is that the two countries will pledge to work together against terrorism,” Gorenburg told Business Insider on Monday. “But we will see soon enough.”


China-India border clash: Photo reveals brutal weapons used

As Chinese and Indian forces clashed on their border, soldiers were beaten to death with clubs, rocks and sticks, a new photo reveals.

At least 20 Indian soldiers have been killed in a “violent face off” with Chinese forces as the nuclear armed neighbours inch closer to all-out conflict.

At least 20 Indian soldiers have been killed in a “violent face off” with Chinese forces as the nuclear armed neighbours inch closer to all-out conflict.

Congress party supporters burn Chinese goods left on a flag in India following the border clash. Picture: Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP. Source:AFP

A photo has been shared showing one of the brutal weapons used in a border clash between Chinese and Indian troops that left at least 20 soldiers dead.

Indian defence analyst Ajai Shukla shared a photo of rods studded with nails that were purportedly used by Chinese troops.

“Such barbarism must be condemned. This is thuggery, not soldiering,” he said.

The image was widely shared on Twitter in India, prompting outrage on social media.

Indian newspaper India Today claimed some of the bodies of Indian soldiers killed in the clash were “mutilated”, but gave no further details.

The nail-studded rods — captured by Indian soldiers from the Galwan Valley encounter site — with which Chinese soldiers attacked an Indian Army patrol and killed 20 Indian soldiers.

Such barbarism must be condemned. This is thuggery, not soldiering pic.twitter.com/nFcNpyPHCQ

&mdash Ajai Shukla (@ajaishukla) June 18, 2020

Monday’s clash that killed 20 Indian troops was the deadliest between the sides in 45 years. China has not said whether it suffered any casualties.

India also denied reports that any of its troops were in Chinese custody. Both sides accused each other of instigating the fight.

The fight allegedly happened when 55 Indian soldiers came across 300 Chinese troops on a mountain ridge.

Bats spiked with nails and wrapped in barbed were reportedly used - with one Indian official describing the Chinese force as a �th squad”.

China and India have both called for calm and diplomatic talks took place between leaders on Thursday.

China’s Global Times described the recent clash as “regrettable” while a recent cartoon by the publication’s Tang Tang Fei depicted China and India in a boxing ring cheered on by the United States.

“With an undisguised glee, Uncle Sam is nudging India into further spats with China,” the caption read.

But China also reminded India of its commitment to defending its “territorial sovereignty”.

“Indian society needs to realise that China is committed to friendship with India and respects India as a strong neighbour and a regional power,” the editorial in the Communist Party mouthpiece read.

𠇌hina’s basic policy toward India is to keep China-India relations and the border areas stable. In the meantime, China resolutely defends its territorial sovereignty.”

“The Indian side should never think about pushing China to make concessions, because China won’t. Moreover, China’s countermeasures will never be late no matter the cost.”

The Global Times cartoon showed the US as a cheerleader for the fight. Picture: Global Times. Source:Supplied

In the thin air at 14,000 feet above sea level, soldiers brawled with clubs, rocks and their fists but no shots were fired, Indian officials said. Neither side’s patrolling soldiers can use firearms under a previous agreement in the dispute.

India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said both sides agreed to handle the situation responsibly.

“Making exaggerated and untenable claims is contrary to this understanding,” he said in a statement on Thursday local time. .

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, citing Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a call with his Indian counterpart, said that “mutual respect and support serves our long-term interests.”

�ter the incident, China and India communicated and co-ordinated through military and diplomatic channels,” he said at a daily briefing.

“The two sides agreed to deal fairly with the serious events caused by the conflict in the Galwan Valley, and … cool down the situation as soon as possible.”

Jagir Singh stands next to the burning pyre of his son, soldier Satnam Singh who was killed in a recent clash with Chinese forces in the Galwan valley area. Picture: NARINDER NANU / AFP. Source:AFP

But emotions were high in the south Indian city of Hyderabad, where thousands watched the funeral procession of Indian Col. Santosh Babu. He was among the 20 Indian forces who officials said died of injuries and exposure after the clash in the area’s subfreezing temperatures.

In McLeod Ganj, a city in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh with a large community of Tibetan refugees, demonstrators shouted anti-China slogans and burned the Chinese flag.

An Indian confederation of small and midsize companies called for a boycott of 500 Chinese goods, including toys and textiles, to express “strong criticism” of China’s alleged aggression in Ladakh.

The call for a boycott followed protests Wednesday in New Delhi where demonstrators destroyed items they said were made in China while chanting, 𠇌hina get out.”

The Himalayan clash has fanned growing anti-Chinese sentiments due to the coronavirus. India counts more than 366,000 virus cases and 12,200 deaths. But a broader boycott could backfire for India if China chose to retaliate by banning exports of the raw materials used by India’s pharmaceutical industry.

India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said all Indian troops at Galwan were carrying arms on Monday. But under 1996 and 2005 agreements between the two countries, they are not supposed to use firearms during confrontations, he said on Twitter.

He was apparently responding to criticism by opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi who wanted to know “why were our soldiers sent unarmed to martyrdom?”

Resident doctors light candles in tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives. Picture: Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP. Source:AFP

The clash has stoked anti-Chinese sentiment. Picture: Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP. Source:AFP

The clash escalated a standoff in the disputed region that began in early May, when Indian officials said Chinese soldiers crossed the boundary at three different points, erecting tents and guard posts and ignoring warnings to leave. That triggered shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights, much of it replayed on TV news channels and social media.

While experts said the two nations were unlikely to head to war, they also believe easing tensions quickly will be difficult.

China claims about 90,000 square kilometres of territory in India’s northeast, while India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometres of its territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in the Himalayas, a contiguous part of the Ladakh region.

India unilaterally declared Ladakh a federal territory while separating it from disputed Kashmir in August 2019. China was among the handful of countries to condemn the move, raising it at international forums, including the U.N. Security Council.

India on Thursday was elected to a seat on the Council.

Thousands of soldiers on both sides have faced off over a month along a remote stretch of the 3,380-kilometer Line of Actual Control, the border established following a war between India and China in 1962 that resulted in an uneasy truce.

China's Greatest Nightmare: Taiwan Armed with Nuclear Weapons

It would have been one of the greatest crises of postwar Asia: the revelation of a Taiwanese atomic bomb. For Taiwan, the bomb would have evened the odds against a numerically superior foe. For China, a bomb would have been casus belli, justification for an attack on the island country it considered a rogue province. Active from the 1960s to the 1980s, Taipei’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons were finally abandoned due to diplomatic pressure by its most important ally, the United States.

Taiwan’s nuclear program goes back to 1964, when the People’s Republic of China tested its first nuclear device. The test was not exactly a surprise to outside observers, but it was still Taiwan’s nightmare come true. Chinese and Taiwanese air and naval forces occasionally skirmished, and it threatened to turn into all-out war. Suddenly Taipei was confronted with the possibility that such a war could turn nuclear. Even just one nuclear device detonated on an island the size of Maryland would have devastating consequences for the civilian population.

From Taiwan’s perspective, a nuclear arsenal would be the ultimate guarantor of national sovereignty. Even if the United States split with the country, as it eventually did, Taiwanese nukes would keep the Chinese People’s Liberation Army at bay, a deterrent not only against Chinese nuclear power, but against conventional forces as well. In hindsight, this would have had a good chance of success, as North Korea’s own procurement of nuclear weapons has made the United States and South Korea reluctant to retaliate over the country’s various military provocations.

The Taiwanese bomb program began in 1967, using the Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology’s Institute for Nuclear Energy Research as a cover. In 1969, Canada sold the country a heavy-water nuclear research reactor as a prelude to what it hoped were commercial energy-producing reactor sales—none too soon, as the Trudeau government recognized the People’s Republic of China in 1970. The reactor, known as the Taiwan Research Reactor, went critical in 1973, and Taiwan set about creating a stockpile of weapons-grade plutonium.

Taiwan’s nuclear program was under careful surveillance by the United States, which recognized Taiwan as the rightful Chinese government and protected the country from the mainland. Still, Washington was afraid a Taiwanese bomb would unnecessarily enrage China, and by 1966 took steps to prevent the bomb from happening. Washington ensured that Taiwanese reactors fell under International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines, which would prevent diversion of nuclear fuel for the purposes of building a weapon.

But the entire point of the program was to build a weapon, and it was inevitable that Taiwan would be caught in the act. In 1975, the CIA reported, “Taipei conducts its small nuclear program with a weapon option clearly in mind, and it will be in a position to fabricate a nuclear device after five years or so.” At this point, the United States, Germany, France, Norway and Israel had all supplied assistance. The program had procured heavy water from America and uranium from South Africa.

In 1976–77, the IAEA inspected the activities at the military-run Institute for Nuclear Energy Research. The IAEA discovered discrepancies in the Taiwanese program, and in 1976, the United States protested the nuclear-weapons program. In response, the island government promised to “henceforth not engage in any activities relating to reprocessing.”

Despite the promise, in 1977 the United States again detected suspicious activities at INER. The U.S. State Department demanded changes to Taiwan’s research program that were more in line with peaceful research than nuclear weapons, but stopped short of demanding Taiwan cease all nuclear research and development. In 1978 the United States yet again detected a covert program, this time a secret uranium-reprocessing program, and forced Taiwan to stop.

After being caught in the act many times, Taiwan’s nuclear-weapons program went into a period of dormancy. In the mid-1980s, the program was started up again, and INER was detected building a uranium-reprocessing facility that violated the commitments Taiwan made in the 1970s. In December 1987, Col. Chang Hsien-yi, the deputy director of INER and a longtime CIA asset, defected to the United States with proof of Taiwan’s nuclear program. The previously top-secret material was used to confront the Taiwanese government, which ended its nuclear program once and for all in 1988. At the time of Colonel Chang’s defection, Taiwan is thought to have been just one or two years away from a bomb.

What kind of bomb was Taiwan attempting to develop? Two possibilities are low-yield tactical nuclear weapons and a higher-yield city killer. A tactical nuclear weapon would be useful to target the mainland ports, airfields and headquarters driving a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. While that wouldn’t initially be of much help on the invasion beachheads, it might bring the logistics supporting such an invasion to a halt. This tactical nuke would probably have been delivered by the Ching Feng, a.k.a. the “Green Bee,” a short-range tactical missile that bore an uncanny resemblance to the U.S.-made Lance missile. There are rumors the missile was actually of Israeli origin, having been drawn from stocks supplied by the United States, or developed based on Lance technology.

Another, far worse possibility is that Taiwan could have developed a larger, city-killing bomb. This could have been used to threaten Beijing directly, trading the destruction of one government for another, and would have been a more useful deterrent. Still, the 1,800-mile distance it would take to deliver a nuke on Beijing was at the time as insurmountable as the Taiwan Strait itself. Not even Israel had the technology to assist in developing long-range missiles or aircraft to deliver such a nuke.

Taiwan’s nuclear-weapons program, although understandable, was ill considered. A Taiwanese-Chinese nuclear standoff would have destabilized the entire region—ironic, considering Taiwan was seeking nuclear weapons to stabilize its defense posture. There was really no military dilemma that Taiwanese nuclear weapons would have decisively solved any strike would have only been made worse by the inevitable Chinese nuclear counterattack.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.

Joe Biden once joked about China helping him become president

Joe Biden once joked in 2013 about accepting Chinese help to seek the Oval Office, and the moment was caught on video still viewable on the Obama White House YouTube page.

The then-vice president made the remarks at the opening of the US-China Strategic And Economic Dialogue in Washington DC.

After Chinese President Xi Jinping assumed the top job in his country, “I congratulated him on his elevation, I asked if he could possibly help me,” Biden said to laughter from the assembled US and Chinese dignitaries.

“I’ve had the great pleasure and honor of spending a fair amount of time with President Xi when President Hu and President Obama thought the two vice presidents could – should get to know one another,” added the now-Democratic presidential nominee. “We ended up spending about 10 days together, five in each of our countries traveling around, and you get to know someone fairly well.”

US-China relations have deteriorated markedly since then, with President Trump slapping tariffs on the country to correct what he says have been years of one-sided trade agreements. Top intelligence officials have speculated that while Russia would prefer a Trump victory in 2020, both China and Iran would banking on Biden.

Such humor in today’s climate of foreign interference in U.S. elections doesn’t go over well.

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with then-Vice President Joe Biden. Lintao Zhang/Pool via Reuters

In 2016, then-candidate Trump faced intense criticism for saying Russia should hack Hillary Clinton’s emails — something the country ultimately did. The moment came during the height of the Hillary Clinton email scandal amid questions of why she deleted more than 30,000 emails from a private server.

“I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump told reporters in Florida at the time. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Trump later said he made the statement “in jest and sarcastically.”


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