China has suggested arming Hawaii’s independence activists in retaliation for U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and recently threatened to challenge American sovereignty by making legal claims to the Pacific islands as its territory.
Chinese threats to back several groups of Hawaiian independence activists who want to restore the islands’ constitutional monarchy, ousted in a U.S.-backed coup over a century ago, has raised concerns that military facilities on the strategic central Pacific archipelago are threatened at a time when the Obama administration is engaged in a major shift toward Asia as part of its military and diplomatic rebalance.
Michael Pillsbury, a Pentagon consultant and author of the recent book 100 Year Marathon, said Chinese military hawks, known as “ying pai,” told him they are ready to provide arms to Hawaiian independence activists in retaliation for U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
“Beijing’s extraordinary sensitivity to American arms sales to Taiwan—even one bullet or a spare tire for a jeep—often provokes angry words,” said Pillsbury who has held talks with 35 Chinese generals in recent years.
“A favorite comparison the ying pai has made to me is ‘How would the Pentagon like it if we provide arms to our friends in Hawaiian independence movement?’” he said. “I was incredulous because I had never heard of such a movement in Hawaii, but, after checking I met a few of them.”
Pillsbury said Chinese backing for the independence movement would be a concern. Some U.S. archival material shows U.S. authorities acted on their own in the 1898 annexation, he said, something Congress later investigated.
Pillsbury’s book, published last week, reveals that Chinese hawks in the military and Communist Party are a key part of a 100-year strategy to vanquish and eventually overtake the United States as the world’s leading power in the coming decades.
Another indicator of Chinese interest in fomenting unrest in Hawaii surfaced in 2012, when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed Beijing had threatened to assert legal, territorial claims over Hawaii.
Clinton said U.S. ownership of Hawaii came up during talks with the Chinese after she pushed back against Beijing’s destabilizing territorial activities in the South China Sea.
“At one point in one of my long discussions about this, one of my Chinese interlocutors said, ‘Well, we could claim Hawaii,’” she said. “I said, ‘Well, go ahead, and we’ll go to arbitration and prove we own it. That’s what we want you to do.’”
The Hawaii sovereignty movement is made up at least 10 groups that are seeking some form of independence from the United States and the re-establishment of the monarchy ousted in 1893, with the support of the U.S. government and a company of U.S. Marines.
The movement is non-violent and its protests in recent years have been limited to temporary takeovers of government facilities.