China's SCS Strategy Thread

Discussion in 'Strategic Defense' started by lilzz, Apr 16, 2007.

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  1. plawolf
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    Actually, I don't think China ever accepted American primacy but rather tolerated it. It may seem pedantic, but I think it's a important distinction.

    I cannot recall any official announcements from Beijing that could be read as China accepting American primacy in Asia.

    China chose not to challenge American primacy, preferring to bide their time and built their strength. But that is very different to China accepting American primacy for all time. I don't think any nation would ever agree to such a thing under any circumstance short of annexation.
     
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  2. Brumby
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    Given your clarification, I believe the focus of your initial post are along two key themes :
    (1) that historically (last 70 years) American military primacy as the basis of Asia's security order; and
    (2)that China do not accept such American military primacy going forward

    There are a number of issues pertaining to them but I will focus on only some to make it a more manageable discussion especially as it relates to the SCS.

    Firstly, in my initial comment I said that I do not agree that American military primacy is the underlying basis of Asia's security order and that remains my position even after your clarification. My view is that the causative conditions that are germane to such a security order does not rest solely on military power but an environment that is girded by an established order that adheres to rule of law. Military power is simply an instrument to constrain deviation when politics fail to achieve the necessary outcome. The peace that had prevailed in Asia in recent times is foremost a result of a transparent legal construct and conditions that has allowed commerce to both expand and prosper.

    Secondly, primacy is effectively multi facet with military being just one component. In recent times, it is not hard to argue that China has achieved economic parity if not primacy simply by being the key trading partner of many of the Asian countries. Economic prosperity is the key guardian of peace rather than military until such time that some nations might perceive differently when economic success is assumed rather than protected. As the saying goes, "blinded by its own success".

    Having outlined the basis of my view I now go to your second thematic point and that of China's role in Asia's security order. Let's assume that China achieved military primacy. The immediate question is what does that actually mean and more importantly, would such a prevailing condition result in order or disorder in Asia? is military primacy a condition that is accepted, coerced, or imposed? I believe, Asian countries have no issue trading with China or for that matter China's economic primacy but any acceptance of China's military primacy is entirely a different matter. The reason for that in my view are twofold. Primarily, the US security leadership is earned over many years through its actions and because of its political structure its policies are transparent, its values known and its actions are somewhat constrained. In order words, it is a devil you know. In contrast, China's political process is opaque, its policies are domestically weighted, the basis of its actions rather nebulous and its respect for the rule of law highly questionable. There is limited accountability in its political leadership and is reflected in the manner in which its policies are explained or they go into the indisputable domain. Frankly they are not conditions that are endearing to other sovereign states especially when they currently enjoy the conditions of a more open society. It is therefore no surprise that the Asian states are beefing up their military budget especially in light of what is happening in the SCS.
    That leads me to my final point. What would be Asia's security order if China has military primacy? Would the landscape still reflect any rule of law or it becomes rule by law?
     
  3. Bltizo
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    What you're raising are issues which concerns other Asian countries, not China itself -- from what I've read, Blackstone was merely saying that China was no longer willing to accept US primacy in the asia-pacific region:

    In other words, from what I understand, the subject at hand should be about China's perception and/or acceptance of US primacy, and seeking to clarify what Blackstone meant by it (and I think he's explained it quite well in post #1726).

    How a China-led security order in the Asia-Pacific region and how it may potentially discharge security in the region and/or how other regional states may perceive it, is potentially a worthwhile discussion, but it seems to be a separate discussion from actually understanding what China's concerns/issues/interests are, which seemed to be the actual area of confusion.
    I think Plawolf's explanation in #1731 is also a very necessary piece of information to consider.

    I think it's also somewhat debatable as to just how fairly the US has dispensed security and justice in the region over the last century, and that is very much a sensitive discussion in itself where there will likely be a lot of heightened opinions.
     
    #1733 Bltizo, Jan 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
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  4. Brumby
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    If indeed as you said that was Blackstone's point then that would really be no discussion needed. I thought it is clear as daylight that China does not accept US military primacy especially in the SCS.

    However his initial post #1715 in my view was denominated into simply about military primacy which I disagree because there are other important considerations besides the views and perception of the other Asian states.
     
  5. Bltizo
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    I can understand where you're coming from, but my interpretation of his post #1715 is that the subject is still very much about what China perceives as an issue, rather than what other regional nations may or may not want -- in other words, it is US primacy in Asia (AKA US influence in Asia) which China sees as a concern.
    That said, I also think the phrasing of his original statement such as "wants a say in Asian leadership" is a bit vague and inaccurate, and I think it should be better described as "China wants a greater share of influence in Asia and a reduced extent of US influence" -- which would have been a far more black and white statement less prone to misinterpretation in my view.
    I'll expand on this a little bit more below.



    To add my own two cents to Blackstone's explanation, I think "primacy" and "military primacy" should be recalibrated and reinterpreted as "influence" and "capability" in terms of political power, economic power and military power.

    That is to say, I think when Blackstone is speaking of the "US primary being the basis of Asia security order (which China opposes)," I believe it should be better described as "China opposes the extent of US influence and capabilities in Asia".

    Using the term "security order" makes it sound like there is something inherently ideological in the current order which China cannot tolerate, whereas defining it only in terms of US influence and capabilities I think is a far more accurate appraisal of the actual areas of concern which China perceives as a concern.
     
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  6. Brumby
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    In my view the suggested word "oppose" does project a negative tone in terms of conduct. If I were to defend China's actions, I would say that China intends to compete against the US for influence within Asia. I think competition is healthy and given China's rise economically and militarily any corresponding rise in influence would be a natural process. Likewise it would be naïve on China to expect the US to just vacate its position and not continue to assert influence to offset China's rise. Having said all of that, I am actually lost as to why Blackstone's originally post warrant comment if it is simply about influence.
     
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  7. Bltizo
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    True, oppose may be a bit of a strong word, however I do say "extent of US influence and capabilities". That is to say, it is the present balance of power which in my view they perceive as a security issue if not a threat outright.

    I don't think China expects the US to vacate its position of power or that China believes the US will not seek to deliberately oppose increasing Chinese influence and capabilities. All sides realize what realpolitik is after all.
     
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  8. delft
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    Those 70 years include a period, 1946-1975, in which US maintained war in SE Asia, first supporting the French colonialists and then a series of Southvietnamese dictatorships. This was no doubt because of the primacy of internal political considerations over international rules of conduct, a objection you direct at current China. A more important matter is that China lives in Asia and so has more interest in maintaining peace in the area than US that live thousands of kilometres away.
     
  9. PanAsian
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    I would add to the discussion that since WW2 there has been a draw in Asia among the expeditionary powers with primarily a streak of independence among the weaker states including China and India which continue to this day. Roughly in chronological order:

    - American occupation of Japan, preserving much of the local elite crushing political dissension and turning it into an ally.

    - Civil war in China, resulting in the PRC on the mainland and the ROC on Taiwan.

    - Civil war in Korea, US was the main force intervening on one side, China intervened on behalf of the other, resulting in the North and South.

    - Independence and civil war in Vietnam, France then the US intervened on one side, China and the USSR intervened on behalf of the other, resulting in an officially Communist country which behaves very much independently.

    - Many other peoples subject to colonialism were either granted or fought for independence, often a combination of both. All countries in Southeast and South Asia belong to the Non-Aligned Movement which was spearheaded by the most populous countries in the regions India and Indonesia together with Egypt, Ghana, and Yugoslavia.

    - USSR intervention in Afghanistan which was defeated by locals supported by Pakistan, pro-Western Arab countries, the US, and China.

    So I would say nobody had primacy over Asia, but certainly not for lack of contending by all sides, and much of this equilibrium persists to this day.

    The real change now is that China's development has gotten to a point where it needs and wants to change the international setup which has been an extension of the colonial system, not unilaterally but by inspiring and leading others also disadvantaged by it, therefore by default at the expense of the current setup's beneficiaries - the US being the main one by far. The US for its part has so far chosen not to accommodate China or others, though it arrived at this juncture due to its own development in its own unique circumstances as the primary world power particularly since the end of the Cold War and after the curveballs of the 9/11 attacks and late-2000s financial crisis.
     
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  10. plawolf
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    If you look at how events developed in Asia, especially from a Chinese prospective, an interesting pattern arises.

    America creates a problem for China, and then demands concessions from China to allow China to solve it.

    What China is sick and tired is this unfair situation, whereby when the US wants something from China, instead of offering something of value to trade for it, America instead creates a crisis and demand China make concessions (which tend to be what America wanted in the first place) in order for America to help China defuse the crisis America helped create for China in the first place.

    America is the undisputed economic and military superpower in the world. No one wants to pick a fight with it for poops and giggles other then fanatical loonatics, and China most certainly does not fall into that category.

    If given the choice, Beijing would much rather be using the money and resources it is currently investing in defense on more productive investments, as it was doing for the first 30 years since opening up.

    It is only arming up now because it has had more than enough.
     
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