Summary: One oddity of major events — world-changing events — is that they are often unrecognized until long after the fact. So it is with China’s steps to becoming a great power. It’s happening slowly and quietly. Our response will likely be even more massive military spending, using funds borrowed from China (more broadly, Asia and OPEC). Few Pentagon reports note the insanity of this, or question why China funds this financially suicidal policy.
The US military dreams of an arms race with China. Of military confrontation — perhaps over Taiwan. The US military is structurally the world largest remaining communist organization (the internal similarities are many), and they hold tightly to communist doctrine.
“Every Communist must understand this truth: Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
— Mao’s concluding remarks to the Sixth Plenum of the Central Committee in November 1938
Unfortunately for us, China is no longer ruled by commies. They recognize the many paths to political power. Nor are they stupid, building a costly Empire with no tangible benefits (as we’ve done).
So, despite our generals’ and admirals’ wet dreams, China has chosen another strategy — deploying their vast capital to influence events and build alliances. Without telling their allies how to live, without meddling — as we do. They just do business, leaving the moralizing at home. That’s how they reunited with Hong Kong. That’s probably how they will reunite with Taiwan. And that’s how they have developed a strong alliance with Sri Lanka.
- “The dragon’s NIMBY concerns are central to its expanding orbit“, The Globe and Mail, 19 June 2009
- “China’s aid revealed in Sri Lanka’s victory parade“, The National (of the Abu Dhabi Media Co), 8 June 2009
- Other articles about the China – Sri Lanka alliance
- “How Iran Might Beat Future Sanctions: The China Card“, Time, 16 July 2009 — China’s next new ally (no questions asked about human rights)
- “String of Pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power Across the Asian Littoral“, Christopher J Pehrson (Lt Colonel, USAF), Strategic Studies Institute, July 2006:
- About our defense strategy
- Afterword and other relevant posts on the FM site
(1) “The dragon’s NIMBY concerns are central to its expanding orbit“, The Globe and Mail, 19 June 2009 — “Without China’s military supplies and diplomatic cover, Sri Lanka’s victory over the Tamil Tigers couldn’t have happened.” Excerpt:
For two decades, Chinese diplomacy has been guided by the concept of the country’s “peaceful rise.” Today, however, China needs a new strategic doctrine, because the most remarkable aspect of Sri Lanka’s recent victory over the Tamil Tigers is not its overwhelming nature, but the fact China provided President Mahinda Rajapaksa with both the military supplies and diplomatic cover he needed to prosecute the war.
Without China’s backing, Mr. Rajapaksa’s government would have had neither the wherewithal nor the will to ignore world opinion. So, not only has China become central to the global financial and economic system, it has now demonstrated its effectiveness in a region traditionally outside its orbit. On Sri Lanka’s beachfront battlefields, China’s “peaceful rise” was completed.
(2) “China’s aid revealed in Sri Lanka’s victory parade“, The National (of the Abu Dhabi Media Co), 8 June 2009 — Excerpt:
The unprecedented parade was designed to showcase the country’s armed forces that, over the past three years, have been transformed from a badly equipped, poorly trained and demoralised force into a well-armed, motivated and highly trained counterinsurgency outfit.
But the parade also demonstrated the extent to which Sri Lanka’s foreign allies had been instrumental in the victory – especially China. There were tanks and planes from Russia and mobile radar units from Israel but the majority of the hardware on display was Chinese made.
Defence analysts say China’s support – both diplomatically and in terms of arms sales – played a key role in Sri Lanka’s ability to secure a military victory over Tamil Tigers after many western countries stopped selling weapons to Colombo, citing concerns over human rights abuses.
But one of the main reasons China threw its weight behind Colombo’s war is located at the southern tip of the teardrop shaped island. It is here, near the sleepy fishing town of Hambantota, that China is constructing a US$1 billion deep water port that will provide docking and refuelling facilities for the thousands of ships that ferry oil and raw materials from Africa and the Gulf though the Indian Ocean to China every year.
The deal to lease the land to China was signed in March 2007, shortly after Sri Lanka announced its push to recapture the Tiger-held territory. Between then and now China has supplied the weapons, diplomatic support and aid Sri Lanka has needed to win the war.
(3) Other articles about the China – Sri Lanka alliance
- “Chinese billions in Sri Lanka fund battle against Tamil Tigers“, The Times, 2 May 2009
- “China-funded port project in Sri Lanka ‘commercial activity’“, People’s Daily, 12 May 2009
- “Chinese support crucial to Sri Lankan victory over Tamils“, The Times, 16 May 2009
- “Sri Lanka gets Chinese loan for coal power expansion“, 30 June 2009
(4) “How Iran Might Beat Future Sanctions: The China Card“, Time, 16 July 2009 — China’s next new ally (no questions asked about human rights! Excerpt:
Iran may have an ace in the hole as Western governments weigh sanctions in response to the often violent crackdown on opposition demonstrators. The card Tehran is likely to play? China.
… Iran’s ties with China, which have steadily grown over the past decade, have accelerated rapidly in the past 18 months. In December 2007, the Chinese oil giant Sinopec Group signed a $70 billion deal to begin drilling in Iran’s Yadavaran field, which has estimated reserves of about 17 billion bbl. In January of this year, China’s biggest energy producer, CNPC, agreed to develop a medium-size oil field called North Azadegan — a deal worth about $2 billion. And last month, while demonstrators were fighting pitched battles with paramilitaries on Tehran’s streets, Iranian oil officials flew to Beijing to negotiate a $5 billion deal with CNPC for the newest phase of Iran’s huge South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf. Pummeled by the drop in world oil prices from $147 per bbl. last July to about $64 per bbl. this week, “Iranians are feeling more and more of an acute need for capital,” Downs says.
And China is awash in cash. Furthermore, having invested tens of billions of dollars in Iran’s energy sector, China — a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council — looks almost certain to veto any new tough sanctions against the country. In contrast, in the U.S. and Europe, there are growing anxieties over Iran’s nuclear program as well as outrage over last month’s violence.
(5) The String of Pearls
Abstract of “String of Pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power Across the Asian Littoral“, Christopher J Pehrson (Lt Colonel, USAF), Strategic Studies Institute, July 2006:
China’s rising maritime power is encountering American maritime power along the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) that connect China to vital energy resources in the Middle East and Africa. The “String of Pearls” describes the manifestation of China’s rising geopolitical influence through efforts to increase access to ports and airfields, develop special diplomatic relationships, and modernize military forces that extend from the South China Sea through the Strait of Malacca, across the Indian Ocean, and on to the Arabian Gulf.
A question posed by the “String of Pearls” is the uncertainty of whether China’s growing influence is in accordance with Beijing’s stated policy of “peaceful development,” or if China one day will make a bid for regional primacy. This is a complex strategic situation that could determine the future direction of China’s relationship with the United States, as well as China’s relationship with neighbors throughout the region.
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the “String of Pearls” from within the context of the post-Cold War global security environment and propose informed recommendations for U.S. policy and strategy. Substantive, results-oriented engagement supported by pragmatic military hedging is the best strategy to influence and encourage China to participate in the international community as a responsible stakeholder. Bold leadership and prudent foresight will enable the United States and China to reap the rewards of strategic cooperation and avert the calamity of a hostile confrontation.
(6) About our defense strategy
“My, my, my! Such a lot of guns around town and so few brains.”
— Private Detective Philip Marlowe in the movie “The Big Sleep” (1946)
(a) “America’s Defense Meltdown” – Written by a team of our top defense experts, it describes how America’s armed forces are manned and equipped to fight, at best, enemies that do not now—and may never again—exist and to combat real enemies ineffectively at high human and material cost.
If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below. You may find answers to your questions in these.
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(7b) For more information from the FM site
To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp interest these days:
Some posts about America’s Grand Strategy:
- The Myth of Grand Strategy , 31 January 2006
- America’s Most Dangerous Enemy , 1 March 2006
- One step beyond Lind: What is America’s geopolitical strategy? , 28 October 2007
- How America can survive and even prosper in the 21st Century – part I , 19 March 2007; revised 7 June 2008
- How America can survive and even prosper in the 21st Century – part II , 14 June 2008
- America’s grand strategy: lessons from our past , 30 June 2008 – chapter 1 in a series of notes
- America’s grand strategy, now in shambles , 2 July 2008 — chapter 3
- America’s grand strategy, insanity at work , 7 July 2008 — chapter 4
- A lesson in war-mongering: “Maritime Strategy in an Age of Blood and Belief” , 8 July 2008 — chapter 6
- The world seen through the lens of 4GW (this gives a clearer picture) , 10 July 2008 — chapter 8
- The King of Brobdingnag comments on America’s grand strategy, 18 November 2008
- Is America a destabilizing force in the world?, 23 January 2009