War In Asia

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There is a class of pundit that lives to talk about various war scenarios, almost always involving the United States. In the Cold War, this was a lucrative profession as most people thought war with Russia was an inevitability. Back then, the scenarios were all built around a chain of events that would lead to a nuclear exchange. The big set piece battles in Europe would give way to one side or the other deciding to launch their ICBM’s. In retrospect, the only way that was going to happen was though human error.

Today, the focus of the great game is usually on Asia, particularly China. That’s because the formerly dirt poor Chinese are suddenly rich and spending tons of money on their military. That means they have started to bully their neighbors, most notably Japan and Taiwan. As the patron of North Korea, they also can push the South Koreans around a bit too. The Chinese also have a strange way of being unnecessarily hostile to the US by letting it be known they are ready for a fight, just as soon as they can start one.

The assumption in the West is that China has plans to displace the US as the regional hegemon. That’s not an unreasonable assumption. A civilization with a billion people and 5,000 years of history should swing a big stick in its own neighborhood. The mistake is in thinking they are in a big hurry to confront the US in order to take control of the Pacific Rim. That’s a Western way of looking at things and it ignores a lot of history. China has always taken a long view. They don’t have to rush into anything. Instead, they can wait and let nature takes its course.

There’s also the fact that the Chinese have never been a naval power. They are not a naval power now and even at their current investment rate, they will not be a naval power anytime soon. There’s also the fact that the Japanese can become a naval power by next week if they wish to do it. There’s also the Russian fleet headquartered in Vladivostok and a big naval base in Avacha Bay on the Kamchatka Peninsula, with a major submarine base located at Vilyuchinsk in the same bay. The Russians are a serious naval power.

All of this means that the Chinese are a long way from dominating the region and even further away from confronting the US military on the high seas. Even if they launch a first strike against US naval assets in the Pacific, The US sub fleet is beyond their reach. That means a counter strike that eliminates Chinese naval assets and closes off Chinese sea traffic. It also means the remainder of the conflict happens on Chinese soil. That’s a high price to pay when waiting probably gets the same result.

An important thing about China that Western thinkers ignore is that the Chinese leadership worries far more about internal threats than external ones. The “iron rice bowl” has been a fact of life for a long time in China, despite efforts to break this cultural practice. Closing off sea traffic and access to world markets is the ultimate breaking of the iron rice bowl and no one knows what would happen. There’s also a lot of wealthy Chinese who would suffer if trade is disrupted. Pissed off rich people is always bad for the state.

The bigger threat is from North Korea. They combine the worst elements of a rogue state, a paranoid dictatorship and East Asian technical savvy. Most of the crazy regimes in the world rule over low-IQ populations incapable of sustaining modern economies and the technological products that result from it. The Arabs are a nuisance, but they cannot project power without Western help. The North Koreans are smart and they are building a serious ballistic missile program to go along with their nuclear program.

The best intelligence suggests the regime is fragile. Kim Jong Un is still consolidating power and that is always a dicey proposition in an authoritarian country. There’s always the threat that those who fear being purged will move against him first, but that just makes him more paranoid and more dangerous. It also means the people around him are not the best and brightest, just the least threatening. It’s also possible that Kim Jong Un is crazy, or at least on his way, so the set of plausible outcomes is very large.

Here’s where China and her zeal for stability probably keeps things under control. There are thousands of North Korean escapees in China. The Chinese government repatriates many of them, but not all. The numbers are small now, but any serious instability in North Korea means millions of starving Koreans heading north. That’s a big incentive for the ChiComs to keep a lid on the North Koreans. That means financing whoever promises to keep the place under control and not launch a nuke against the US.

There’s also another factor working against war in Asia. All of these countries are getting old and they have very weird demographic imbalances. Japan is the most well known example of low TFR, but China is undergoing a similar transformation. A very rich country like Japan can manage through this sort of demographic transformation. Relatively poor countries suddenly getting old is a different matter. Chinese per capita GDP is $6500, while Japan’s is $39000. That’s a huge challenge for China that will take priority over military adventurism, assuming any exists.

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45 thoughts on “War In Asia

    • Beat me to it, Drake. It would be good if we allocated some serious resources to internal threats, particularly the criminal Cloud People conspiracy to displace the native American population with hostile foreigners, most particularly those from Moslem failed states. I don’t see how Trump or anyone else crushes ISIS if we’re going to let them ‘flood the zone’.

      Think about it: If we did crush ISIS there yet let them come here in the aftermath, I’d say we’d be far worse off than if we just let them kill each other in the ME. And we know that once the ISIS infiltrators get here (and some are here already), the Left does and will do its best to hamstring our security forces in dealing with them. My conclusion: The American Left must be defanged before we spend a lot of time and money worrying about China.

      • The real threat to us is not Jihadist terrorism but rather the Hijrah which seeds millions of Muslims into the West whose sole purpose in life is to usher in worldwide Sharia — at whatever pace deems most productive.

  1. In WWII my father was stationed in China. He was very impressed with the people. It’s truly a shame what bad government can do to an entire nation.

    • China is a good example of how culture and civilization are not the same thing. The Chinese culture is tough and resilient. Chinese civilization is often fragile and temporary. Just in my lifetime the Chinese state has gone from Mao’s communism to Peng’s mercantile fascism. That may be giving way to a form of isolationism.

      • I’m not so sure their culture is tough and resilient as you might think. It just has more people, which has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with numbers. It also has the big advantage of being homogenous, unlike the west which has every possible form of multi-culti what-ever going on which ultimately ends up dividing a country in ways we are now starting to see across all western countries.

        I will give it to them, they do have the history. But like most of Asia (including India and the Middle East), it took the influence of the west to push them where they are now – gun powder, herb remedies and acupuncture only go so far. Do you really believe they would have become the super economic power if they had to still depended on their own technology and industrial prowess? America and Europe have lead the entire world when it comes to cultural and industrial development. Classical music and art? – not from China. Science and technology? – not from china. Religion and philosophy – again, not from China. The Chinese, like most of Asia, have simply tagged along and built on everything the west developed.

        There are no serious advancements coming out of China in medicine or technology that didn’t first exist in the west. No one is buying Chinese designed cars, Chinese designed commercial aircraft or Chinese designed consumer products. The only reason anything is coming out of China in the first place is no thanks to the west and their desire to cut domestic costs by shipping it all to China where resources are dirt cheap. America can’t build an iPhone in America – why? Because they lack the technical capability? No, Apple simply lacks the willingness to pay American citizens a living wage with benefits.

        When you have lots of cheap labor, plenty of land and no restrictions on how much you can devastate your own environment by polluting your rivers and air, you get what America and Europe were 100-years ago and it took us that long to figure out it’s a high price to pay in the long term.

        For China, their economic development is not exactly a cultural revolution, it’s just following the leader.

        • China actually has its own diverse cultural mix, and Beijing has tried for centuries to get the outlying areas to “toe the cultural line” with the core area. America and Europe have valued and cultivated the skills and talents of individuals for centuries, not for the benefit of the state or the ruling elites (at least directly), but for the benefit primarily of the individual, his family, and his community. That is something the rulers and elites of the rest of the world have not allowed to happen, they are more grasping and less generous. China is just the latest example of this. The upper-middle-class and above Chinese understand the problem, and their wealth and children migrate West.

        • I think underestimating China, “they can’t innovate”, and the like is a severe mistake. Their culture was more constrained than ours because of their government. What if their government pushes innovation? The Chinese have had some very significant breakthroughs. They has mass production of iron well before the West in massive tonnage quantities. Have you ever see the technicals of Chinese junks? Very stout, water tight compartments. Air pockets with drain holes in the bottom in the front of junks acting as shock absorbers. Their sailing systems were far superior if you wanted ease of handling and less crew. They have magnesium cements that are far superior to portland cement. I think people that underestimate them will be surprised.

  2. There’s kind of a fascinating history of Korea and the divisions between “north” and “south” that goes back thousands of years. An old acquaintance of mine at work was a South Korean immigrant, and she told me about the differences, why South and North aren’t a modern “38th parallel” invention, and China’s closer ties to the Norks.

    The topic came up back in the mid 2000’s during a period of heightened tension surrounding another flare up. I had made an offhand comment that reunification ala East/West Germany was needed. She told me it’ll never happen. “It’s like saying Spain is South France. The name is misleading. They’re two different cultures and countries.” Even the border of N. Korea and China is relatively new as the “Third Korea” included Manchuria hundreds (maybe 1,000+) of years ago. The Chinese people migrated and took over Manchuria, dominating the population there today. The Korean Peninsula was ruled by Japan for centuries until WWII, hence the natural distrust all three have for each other.

    By no means am I super knowledgable about it, but it’s an interesting read if you’re out surfing the web, plenty of good online historical resources to sift through and compare/analyze.

    As far as US-China relations go, China is developing 10-warhead MIRV nukes. We dismantled ours as part of START II (unratified, but we pulled them out of the hole in 2005 anyway). This was the Peacekeeper/MX missile from the 70’s and 80’s. Dick Cheney referred to nuclear weapons as our “ticket to the game”. You’re not one of the Big Boys without them. You can be pushed around the playground without them. I suspect the US will spin production lines back up if the Chinese deploy a 10-MIRV ICBM as a deterrent.

    Economically-speaking, the Chinese still depend on American consumers, and it is geologically poor (oil, natural gas, coal) compared to the US, Russia, Canada, and Iran. In addition to the oil-rich offshore possibilities, there are parts of Russia they wouldn’t mind owning. That’s why Putin treats his customer so nicely. About 1/5th of Russia’s oil and gas are sold to China alone. It’s not simply that China lacks sea power. They could be quickly cut off from energy supplies, and their entire economy would grind to a halt. The US, in contrast, is one of the most energy-rich nations on earth…even more so than Russia because we have the economic horsepower to “go get it”…not spread across 10 time zones.

    What China has to worry about is that the North Koreans have gone crazy from lack of food. I could see them launching an ICBM into Tokyo or Seoul or Honolulu or LA just to make a point. A crazy point. Then they go hide in their tunnels underground while we sit around dithering about it, and China protects NK with their own 10-MIRV nuclear umbrella.

    At the end of the day, though, and this is why they’re so vocal about Trump, they need us more than we need them.

  3. The New Silk Road initiative is actually pretty enlightened. But just about everything else the Chicoms are doing sounds like if was dreamt up by a Party hack or a PLA hack. Every island those guys fortify in the South China Sea is on less surface combatant or sub for the USN to deal with.

    • Yes, I wonder what tonnage bomb or missile would cause those man-made islets to simple shake like jello and disappear into the ocean from whence they came?

  4. Some thoughts: We are China’s number one customer. It is not good to make war on your best customer. There is a huge imbalance of males vs females in China. They can afford to lose a few million men in a war. As noted the Norks could cause problems for China through their rogue behavior. Perhaps it would be in China’s best interests if KJU were deposed and eliminated and a friendlier leadership put in place?

    • I read an article recently that made the point that the birth restrictions that the Chinese have had in place have had the unintended consequence of making Chinese children just that much more precious to their families, which in turn makes losing children through military actions just that much more odious to the citizenry.

      If you have seven kids, losing one, though tragic, is not as big a deal as losing one when you only have one.

      As Mark Steyn has long said, China will get old before they ever get really rich.

      • You seem to neglect the numbers though. It is the middle and upper class, or about 300 million out of 1.3 billion that have the one child policy applied. Of course their status allows them “privileges” others can only dream about. That is why many other Chinese leave the mainland for other countries where they can have many children. The “other” one billion are the ones who will be asked to fill up the ranks of the army and they won’t have much choice about it. But there are ways to motivate that kind.

  5. My major at university was Chinese Studies back in the days just prior to Nixon’s visit, back when the professors were old China hands and the program was demanding. One of the profs had taught a man who was the PRC’s first ambassador to the UN and later foreign minister; another had been Gen. Marshall’s interpreter/translator during his talks with Chou En-lai (Zhou Enlai in the new transliteration), both had grown up in China, both were serious scholars, as were all the others in the department, save for the youngest, who was a Hong Kong Chinese and always referred to the Senkaku islands as the Diaoyu islands even back then in the early 70s, giving us our first taste of an emerging Chinese jingoism. There were no students of Chinese ancestry in the major back then, so it was something of an eye-opener for the Euro-descended white kids who made up the small group of students in the major.

    The culture/civilization comment by our host is spot on: China’s remarkable culture is one thing, its civilization another.

    Historically, the Han Chinese were not an expansionist, empire-building people outside their traditional area and have never been a naval power, although this iteration (post-1949) of their civilization seems to be contemplating a certain degree of expansion, at least by means of economic warfare if not as yet military. As has also been pointed out, the Chinese are very patient and always inclined to wait out troublesome “barbarians” who come and go. It’s incumbent upon us to take a page from their historical book and put our own house in order before contemplating any armed hostilities.

    The Chinese have made great economic inroads in South America, so it would also be wise, sez I, to remember the Monroe Doctrine and begin to look south rather than west.

  6. “The bigger threat is from North Korea. They combine the worst elements of a rogue state, a paranoid dictatorship and East Asian technical savvy.”
    Not even close. N.Korea lives at the sufferance of China, because China doesn’t want US missiles and radar on its borders, and quite reasonably so. The 19th century Opium Wars, in which tens of millions of Chinese died so Britain could import opium into their country, have left China rightly suspicious of the western powers. But if tiny N.Korea ever launches any of their primitive atomic bombs at anyone, China will wipe them off the map, and they know it…Not that N.Korea could do any serious damage to a western power with such weapons.

    • There’s no negotiating with a fat dwarf in a bowl haircut who purportedly fed his own naked, screaming uncle to 120 starving feral dogs in a stadium for his enjoyment. Even if not true, that’s the public relations image he wants out there.

      For now, the Norks provide the Chinese a buffer of crazy from the west.

      But when he becomes more of a liability to them than an asset, I concur that the Chinese will merely grease all of them.

      God knows there will be no rehabilitating the Nork population. They’ve been so calorie-deprived for so long that some have suggested the population is fundamentally retarded now.

      • I know the South Korean official party line is that there is only one Korea and they all yearn for reunification, but I can’t imagine the South’s government actually wants to integrate 25 million or so starving North Koreans into a modern, high-tech society. It would be an absolute calamity.

    • Kokor, I don’t understand why you mention the Opium Wars in your comment. And then, I don’t know that it is factual. Just like the drug problem in the US, Cartels are getting drugs into our country but you can bet the powers that be not doing anything, until now, about the problem is the same thing that happened in China. Corruption. Business and political leaders took bribes, paid bribes to get the Opium as part of a business deal. It was a good business. For them. To hell with the Chinese people. It was all for the money. We have the same problem with rats not wanting laws upheld. laws already on the books.

      I would say the Norko’s are more of a distraction tool than a serious threat. Any time the Norko’s are acting up, instead of paying a lot of attention to Kim Ill Chum Un, we should be looking more closely at what the ChiComs are up to.

  7. The Chinese birthrate collapse is really something to behold. My husband’s family were all out of China before communism, so it wasn’t the one child policy that caused this.

    But my MIL and FIL are each one of six surviving children, and those 12 kids had there are 11 children between them, all of whom survived to adulthood. Nobody opted to have a big family in the next generation, and all the ones that had kids were all moderately well off professionals, so they certainly could have afforded it. My in laws look at us like we’re bonkers when we say, yeah, we’re aiming for a half dozen or so children.

    Being the only child of two high achieving Chinese parents with high expectations seems to be a very, very, very high stress way to grow up. The poor kids never get a break. But I don’t see parents and grandparents risking their only child and only grandchild on an expansionist war. It’s too fraught. Even with the reversal of the One Child Policy, I don’t see mainlanders having appreciably more kids than their SIngaporean, Taiwanese or other diaspora counterparts.

    When Americans were fighting big high casualty wars all the time, people had extra kids. In fact, if you dig around in history, you’ll see that the military often deliberately exempted the last surviving son in a family from conscription. Civil War folk music references this, “I thought they would spare a lone widow’s heir/but they drafted him into the Army.” It’s STILL official policy to shield the remaining children from combat if a family has already lost one child in battle:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sole_Survivor_Policy

    Also, readers here will appreciate this singer’s nineteenth century American folk music youtube channel:

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO4MuhOvZXx6qSJpMB3uSGA

  8. Good point on the Chinese navy. Though the PRC has been spending money like mad, we forget that China is still less than tens years past the first real blue water operation in the Indian Ocean One or two sorties does not a well oiled naval machine make. On the other hand, adventurism in the back yard of the South China Sea is always an attraction, especially if economic growth is not coming through at home that way the people expect. Just serve up the modern equivalent of some “running dog lackeys” sabotaging the capitalist revolution. The US Navy is at risk in a confined littoral combat scenario and we don’t want to back into a situation where massive retaliation is the only escalation option. This one is a difficult read. Capitalism acts against the tradition of Chinese patience by creating expectations more in line with the world economy. If you gauge risk by the amount of real estate being snapped up by Chinese or Chinese nationals stopping by to drop the calf on the U.S. soil, the Chinese are very worried.

  9. The trouble with all these logical reasons why conflict won’t break out is that conflicts seldom break out for logical reasons. Hitler’s motives in WWII were at best wildly unrealistic. Every combatant in WWI had good reasons to keep the peace, but they all rushed headlong into a war which crippled their civilization. The Southern leadership in the American Civil War knew that the North could crush them given enough time.

    Wars break out because people deny reality. They persuade themselves that a desperate gamble is better than submitting to the inevitable tides of history. An aging China might see its last chance to grab the brass ring. An unstable North Korea might decide chaos and gotterdammerung are better than watching the population starve.

    • This is worth keeping in mind. People aren’t rational actors. They’re rationalizing actors. We rationalize why our choices are good ideas.

    • And wars break out because the people declaring them believe they are immune to the pain and hardships that war brings. Sometimes they even see an upside in getting rid of unwanted angry young males, or in the expected economic stimulus. Denials of realities of sorts, but very specific and mentally defendable ones for those who think them.

    • What appears to be irrationality, is rooted in something. The South waging war with the North did so from cultural motives that pre-dated the founding. The Great War was a continuation of the conflict that dated back to the collapse of the Western Empire. China’s culture suggest that their mistakes will be toward isolationism and internal strife.

      • I think the leaders of the South were not crazy to think that if they made it too expensive to win, the North might have just given up and let them go. If Buchanan had been President a few more years, they would have been correct.

        • If they had just left Fort Sumter alone and not started armed hostilities they might have been correct. Until Sumter, a very large portion of northerners had the attitude “good riddance” to the seceded states. Most of the rest just didn’t care.

      • The Chinese have an awful lot of excess males the result of their one child policy. These excess males set up societal tidal stresses that must be dealt with on a mass basis. Are there enough excess N. Korean brides ? Otherwise these internal politics will and must be dealt with and the easiest way is a nice war negotiated in backrooms prior to the commencement of hostilities..

      • Zman (or any of the esteemed commenters here), do you think Xi Jinping senses an impulse toward isolationism and protectionism and is warning his own and other countries about it?

        From his Davos speech (Jan 17, 2017):

        “We must remain committed to developing global free trade and investment, promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation through opening-up and say no to protectionism. Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room. While wind and rain may be kept outside, that dark room will also block light and air. No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war.”

        “China will foster an enabling and orderly environment for investment. We will expand market access for foreign investors, build high-standard pilot free trade zones, strengthen protection of property rights, and level the playing field to make China’s market more transparent and better regulated… China will keep its door wide open and not close it. An open door allows both other countries to access the Chinese market and China itself to integrate with the world. And we hope that other countries will also keep their door open to Chinese investors and keep the playing field level for us.”

        From his Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) speech (Nov 20, 2016):

        “[We] should build up an equal and universally beneficial framework agreement, as isolation and exclusiveness are wrong.”

        The way he talks, he never seems to be seeking war; rather, warning against it in favor of development of sovereign nations the way each sees fit for itself. He always sounds to me like he wants to spend time developing his country via trade, not wars and without meddling in other countries’ affairs. I’m sorry to say that it is my own country that seems fixated on wars, from what I read and see. I wish we’d heed George Washington’s warning to avoid all foreign alliances and focus solely on trade. Now that we’ve been entangled abroad as long as we have, it’s not that simple to just do trade, is it?

        Davos: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/01/full-text-of-xi-jinping-keynote-at-the-world-economic-forum

        APEC: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2047588/chinas-xi-jinping-warns-apec-leaders-against

        • The way I read his statement, he is trying to use “concensus” against Trump who has said he “wants to make the playing field level for the US.” Trump says China has been “playing” the US and he is right. What Xi is wanting is to keep things the way they are. When he says “we hope that other countries will also keep their door open to Chinese investors and keep the playing field level for us” the “keep” is the operative word. No change. Keep things the way they are. Any change will be an act of aggression. He is putting the US in the position of being the agressor even if we have a justifiable claim.

          Don’t trust these guys for a second. They have learned a lot, especially from the Vietnam war about how to manipulate public opinion and the media. They are clever Chinee.

          • “…Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room…”

            Exactly. They have been practicing Mercantilism for decades now. Using every lever they have a d blackmailing us like Japan did with the dumping bonds threat.

    • Tri: I thought for a minute there you said logistical not logical reasons. Both are reasons for caution in dealing with China.

      While it would be foolish to argue against human illogic, wars often DO break out for logistical reasons that seem logical at the time. For example WWII: the US and the Brits were squeezing Adolph, particularly about oil supplies, and we were squeezing the Japanese using oil and steel cut-offs. These peacetime economic blockades of hostile powers we were not actually at war with proved to be grand strategic blunders that the respective leaderships pushed down the memory hole. They were blunders because our leaders at that time badly underestimated their opponent’s options and their own capabilities, thinking that both Japan and Germany would have to ‘come to reason’ and capitulate.

      In the case with Hitler, they underestimated Stalin’s cupidity and Hitler’s flexibility. Once the Hitler-Stalin pact was concluded in 1939, Hitler had all the oil he needed. And the French Army, although formidable on paper proved no match for the Wehrmacht.* Re Japan, our leaders actually supposed that a few dozens of B 17’s would hold the Philippeans against the Imperial Japanese Navy. We completely underestimated the IJN’s capabilities, hence Pearl Harbor.

      By analogy then, we should beware of lightly supposing that we can squeeze China’s hazelnuts with impunity because our Navy is superior in numbers, particularly of fierce female sailors, all of whom know that sudden pregnancy is an unimpeachable escape from uncongenial sea duty. Not to mention senior officers who are apparently fine with this situation. Once again, our focus must be on cleaning up our own house first.

      *The British Royal Navy, however, was obviously a match for the 1930’s German Navy in symmetrical naval warfare but barely prevailed in asymmetrical air and submarine warfare. So, what kinds of naval warfare have the Chinese invested in_? A: asymmetrical missile warfare. The new islands make all the sense in the world as missile platforms_!

  10. If you go to the golf course at Clark Field in the Philippines there are plaques on a wall commemorating holes in one shot there since the PI took it over. It is a mixture of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean names. These guys fly in direct from their nations of origin and play there amongst each other on a regular basis. It is actually cheaper to fly from Japan to play golf for a weekend than it is to do the same in Japan. There’s tons of Chinese money hidden away in the PI, Korea, and Japan as well. Why do you think you see ads for BDO on American TV? These guys have no intention of going to war with each other any time soon.

    • You are absolutely correct Doc! The new Macau is in Manila with all the new money launder … I mean Casinos being built there.

  11. I have no idea what China’s future will be, or even should be. In recent years the Chinese themselves have been looking to the later Tocqueville opus for inspiration, so we know they are actively looking. At last the US is looking again as well.

  12. Western pundits do ignore the internal threat in China, but the Politburo is acutely aware of it. Around 2010 or so, the Chinese equivalent of the Coast Guard got politically uppy, made demands and the result was the sabre-rattling towards Paracel Island and the Spratlys. Their Coast Guard got their face-saving and China put itself against a few neighbors, Japan, Korea, other SE Asia countries.
    Western economies can have recessions, increased unemployment, etc. and the elites still survive (maybe this will change, maybe not). But the Politburo knows they wouldn’t survive a big economic downturn, so they manipulate. There are about a billion or so Chinese who have not participated in this Chinese boom, and they regularly demonstrate. We just don’t hear about it. China is now displacing upwards of 150 million peasants who had migrated to the big cities seeking work. They lived in hovels, were clearly second- or thrid-class citizens (poorer schools, poorer healthcare, etc, than that of the licensed citizens of the city where they toiled.

    Western analysts also miss China’s regular, consistent belligerent attitude towards all of its neighbors. It has managed to seriously piss off everyone in the region. Vietnam, for instance, takes this Paracel Island issue to be a major threat to their sovereignty. Myanmar, a relatively nasty regime, cuddles up with the U.S. as a ballast to the Chinese threat. The Russians every so often announce with the pomp they love they they have made some kind of deal or rapprochement with China, but both side know they hate each other and it is all showboating. I’d bet that even the Norks view China with some jaundice. The rest of their neighbors positively hate the Chinese. Ethnic Chinese in those other countries are always a little nervous about the mainland ticking off the country where they reside, lest the native citizens go ballistic on them.
    We are correctly appalled at how our State Department meddles and screws up globally. It is just the Chinese DNA to totally, perpetually antagonize everyone in their region.

    • And surprisingly, Vietnam is the only country to seriously pushback on the Chinese. They are buying more arms and they are building their very own reclaimed islands for defense purposes in the South China Sea. You are correct that this goes way beyond just Japan and the Philippines. It includes navigation and territorial rights of many countries bordering the South China Sea. The fact that China pulls out some map from the 16th Century that shows some islands as part of China means diddly squat in today’s world but the Chinese try to use anything as part of their argument. They want to control access to one of the world’s largest ocean going traffic routes.

      And we have Chuckie above blaming the US, again, as being the war mongering imperialistic monster that has conquered the world and whose flag waves over two-thirds of the world’s populations.

  13. Zman, you’ve hit so many key points that make sense in the real world. My personal favorite is the myth of their, the Chinese, military might. We have seen a lot of press the last few years about their first stealth fighters, their first submarines, their first aircraft carriers, and satellites, but what is seldom mentioned is battle hardened troops and proven supply capabilities. Logistics is key to any modern battlefield and having a few stealth jets or carriers does not a strong force make. Then there is the issue of trained, experienced and hardened troops. There is no doubt about Chinese warrior character but when unproven against a US military with years of recent experience in the sandbox, although significantly degraded by previous admin policies, much of their bluster is just that … sabre rattling and they know it.

    When it comes to internal politics, you hit the nail on the head. A lot of the current activities against Japan and the Philippines is a show of force aimed at building nationalistic pride “reclaiming past Chinese territories!” and trying to make the current leadership look strong. (They said the same things about Tibet and Inner Mongolia). When you combine those actions, the blatant disregard for the Hague ruling on access to the South China Sea, clamping down on internet content inside China and the reverting to Maoist dogma and calling each other “Comrade”, the restrictions on movement of money out of the country via Macau money laundering, etc., the writing is on the wall for those who can connect the dots.

    The upcoming Communist Party elections will be very interesting.

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