BEIJING’S NEW WORLD ORDER

Wall Street Journal on September 24, 2015, published an editorial calling for a more forceful response by America to China’s aggression. Excerpts below:

Like wedding anniversaries, state visits by foreign leaders are occasions to celebrate the positive, and that’s what the Obama Administration will stress as Chinese President Xi Jinping tours the U.S. this week.

These columns have rooted for China’s emergence as a major U.S. trading partner and responsible global power since Deng Xiaoping became the first Chinese Communist leader to visit the U.S. in 1979.

But it is now impossible to ignore that China is attempting to redefine its relationship to America and the rules of world order. Under Mr. Xi, Beijing sees itself as a strategic rival rather than a partner. Its foreign policy is increasingly aggressive, sometimes lawless, a reality that’s become clear even to the Obama Administration. The U.S. needs to show that it will resist this behavior—even as it seeks to steer China’s leadership back toward global norms.

China’s lawlessness is most obvious at sea and in cyberspace. Since 2010 Chinese leaders have claimed “indisputable sovereignty” over most of the South China Sea, covering an area more than twice the Gulf of Mexico and among the world’s most heavily trafficked commercial waterways.

Beijing’s leaders have used this map to assert maritime claims against Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. They also make claims against Japan. Their aggressive island-building, which has created 2,900 acres of new land, is the most visible example.

But China has also cut the cables of a Vietnamese oil-exploration vessel, harassed U.S. Navy ships in international waters, and declared an air-defense identification zone over Japan’s Senkaku Islands. This is what Sun Tzu meant when he said that “supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

China has also developed cyber-warfare capabilities that could cripple U.S. infrastructure. This threat can seem abstract, but think of what would happen if, without warning, the U.S. electricity grid went down, air-traffic control systems froze, and U.S. banks lost customer data.

All of this amounts to perhaps the greatest theft in history. It has been compounded in recent years by China’s attempts to require foreign firms to hand over proprietary technology as the price of doing business in China, a price those firms are increasingly reluctant to pay. The truism of 30 years—that China is a profitable, open, investor-friendly market…the regime has too often become an economic predator.

That’s a tragedy—for the Chinese as much as for the world. In recent years efforts by Chinese firms such as technology giant Huawei to expand overseas have been slowed by fears that those firms are infiltrated by Beijing’s security apparatus.

For decades the U.S. has tread lightly in response to Beijing’s nationalist aggression while attempting to integrate China into the global economy. The goal was to coax it to become a responsible “stakeholder” in the post-Cold War order. But it is increasingly clear that China has perceived this restraint as weakness it can exploit.

The U.S. needs a more forceful response befitting a rival that wants to be a regional hegemon and eventually the world’s dominant power. This doesn’t mean setting on a path of hostility and war. Both countries have much to gain from cooperation. But this does mean pushing back firmly against predatory behavior, especially on national security.

One response would be for the White House to let the U.S. Navy sail within 12 miles of the artificial islands in the South China Sea, which are international waters. China sees the U.S. reluctance to do so as an implicit recognition of its territorial claims. The U.S. should also sanction Chinese companies that steal American data. More broadly, the next U.S. President needs to focus on reviving U.S. economic growth and rebuilding American defenses, with new Pacific deployments.

The goal is to reduce the chances of Chinese miscalculation by drawing clear lines against lawless behavior. The sooner Chinese leaders see there are costs to their aggression, the more likely they are to pull back. And as their own economy slows, they may reconsider Mr. Xi’s quest for dominance. The challenge for U.S. policy makers is to hasten that reconsideration before it is overtaken by crisis and confrontation.

Comment: This is a very important editorial and the new US administration in 2016 will have to take the proposals by WSJ very seriously as it should also further consider the strategic advice of ancient Chinese military geostrategist and tactician Sun Tzu. The later is studied in great detail at Chinese military academies. Here China is working to find a way to victory over its superior American adversary by using assymetric warfare which includes political warfare. This type of warfare is the logical application of Carl von Clausewitz’s doctrine in time of peace. In its broadest definition it is the employment of all means at a nation’s command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives. For Soviet geostrategy Lenin synthesized the teachings of Marx and Clausewitz to make the Kremlin’s conduct of political warfare the most refined and effective at the time of the Cold War. Now China is refining and making its assymetric warfare more effective by studying Sun Tzu. The West too much believes in military activity outside of political context. There is, however, a perpetual rhythm of struggle, in and out of war.

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