Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tale of a Tiger, Part 3

Here are excerpts from US show of force in Asian waters a threat to China: magazine, reported by Xinhua News Agency and found in China Daily, dated August 14, 2010 (see also here):

BEIJING - Recent and planned dangerous moves of the United States in Northeast and Southeast Asia are manifestation of Washington's Cold War mentality and pose a threat to the security of China and the whole region, said the Globe magazine in a commentary.


The US-South Korean joint exercises at the end of July were no ordinary war games, said the signed article by Ju Wen. They were unprecedented in the past three decades both in terms of scale and weaponry. The resources involved were said to be enough for launching a full-scale war, it said.

With the participation of 8,000 troops, the games involved aircraft carrier USS George Washington and some other 20 warships as well as about 200 aircraft, including cutting-edge F-22 fighters.


While flexing muscles in the waters of Northeast Asia, Washington also showed a growing interest in the South China Sea and tried to come between China and her neighbors, said the magazine.

In a July speech in Hanoi, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed the United States takes as a "national interest" in resolving South China Sea disputes.

She also told Vietnamese leaders that Washington hopes to upgrade its ties with Hanoi to a new level and sees its relationship with Vietnam "part of strategy aimed at enhancing American engagement in Asia and in particular Southeast Asia."

The United States proposed a nuclear cooperation deal with Vietnam and most recently, conducted controversial joint naval training exercises in the South China Sea, involving USS John S. McCain and USS George Washington.

Washington said its recent military maneuvers in Asian waters were for peaceful purposes. But that contradicts the facts, said the magazine.


USS George Washington, which is said to be involved in the upcoming war games in the Yellow Sea, has a reconnaissance range that covers the entire North China region, thus posing a direct military threat to China, said the magazine.

The real intention of the US maneuvers in the waters of Northeast Asia, the commentary said, is to consolidate the US-South Korea and US-Japan military alliance and boost US military presence in the region, and therefore intimidate and contain China.

Washington's intention to contain China becomes clearer as it tries to interfere in the South China Sea disputes and strengthen its military presence in Southeast Asia, said the magazine.

To a larger extent, the US moves reflect the Obama administration's ambition to return to Asia to seek dominance of regional affairs.

Barack Obama claimed in Tokyo last year that he was the first US president with an "Asia-Pacific orientation." Clinton said in Hawaii early this year that the future of America is closely linked to that of the Asia Pacific and that the future of the Asia Pacific depends on the United States.

Obama says lots of things, and I doubt the leadership in Beijing is as foolish as the American people. Consequently, I can only conclude that anyone who thinks the Obama Administration is trying to militarily dominate any region of the planet is quite paranoid.


I couldn't find the "Globe Magazine" article cited, but I found this: Chinese missile could shift Pacific power balance by Eric Talmadge, August 5, 2010:

ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON—Nothing projects U.S. global air and sea power more vividly than supercarriers. Bristling with fighter jets that can reach deep into even landlocked trouble zones, America's virtually invincible carrier fleet has long enforced its dominance of the high seas.

China may soon put an end to that.

U.S. naval planners are scrambling to deal with what analysts say is a game-changing weapon being developed by China -- an unprecedented carrier-killing missile called the Dong Feng 21D that could be launched from land with enough accuracy to penetrate the defenses of even the most advanced moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 1,500 kilometers (900 miles).


Analysts say final testing of the missile could come as soon as the end of this year, though questions remain about how fast China will be able to perfect its accuracy to the level needed to threaten a moving carrier at sea.

The weapon, a version of which was displayed last year in a Chinese military parade, could revolutionize China's role in the Pacific balance of power, seriously weakening Washington's ability to intervene in any potential conflict over Taiwan or North Korea. It could also deny U.S. ships safe access to international waters near China's 11,200-mile (18,000-kilometer) -long coastline.

While a nuclear bomb could theoretically sink a carrier, assuming its user was willing to raise the stakes to atomic levels, the conventionally-armed Dong Feng 21D's uniqueness is in its ability to hit a powerfully defended moving target with pin-point precision.

The US Navy has been threatened by sophisticated antiship missiles for decades, and carrier battlegroups are well-equipped to defend against them. Still, any new weapons development is of interest, if not of concern.

The Chinese Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to the AP's request for a comment.

Funded by annual double-digit increases in the defense budget for almost every year of the past two decades, the Chinese navy has become Asia's largest and has expanded beyond its traditional mission of retaking Taiwan to push its sphere of influence deeper into the Pacific and protect vital maritime trade routes.

Here we get to the key issue. China's "defense" budget has been increasing; defense spending is increasingly building up China's naval capabilities, giving the "People's Liberation Army Navy" (??? PLAN - the Chinese Navy) an ever-improving ability to operate farther from shore. Still under cover of a large land-based air force (the PLAAF - can you guess what that stands for?), the PLAN might be able to successfully challenge the US Navy supremacy near China's coast if it could effectively neutralize some of the threat posed by our carrier battlegroups.

It is important to note that these increases in China's defense budget are possible due to nearly 10% annual growth in China's gross domestic product (GDP). From the introduction of China's Economic Growth 1978-2025: What We Know Today about China's Economic Growth Tomorrow by Carsten A. Holz of the Social Science Division, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, 2005:

The rapid economic growth of China since the beginning of the economic reforms in 1978 has captured the imagination of Western commentators and researchers. The responses range from outright pessimism about China's future to fear of a strong China. Lester Brown (1995) wonders who will feed China. Gordon Chang (2000) announces the coming collapse of China. Callum Henderson (1999) sees China as on the "brink," while Ross Terrill (2003) writes of the "illusory nature of the market in most of the Chinese economy" and that "a crash looms because the Leninist core of the regime is unchanged from Mao's construction of it in Yan'an six decades ago" (pp. 329, 313). Nicholas Lardy (1998) stresses the large economic problems and the unprecedented potential for social unrest due to ever more indebted state-owned enterprises, the extent of nonperforming loans, and a decline in government revenue.

At the other end of the range are those who project a strong China. Geoffrey Murray (1998) describes China as the next superpower. A number of authors view an all-powerful China as a threat (Bill Gertz, 2000, or Edward Timperlake and William Triplett II, 2002).1 News items imploring the "devastation Chinese competitors are inflicting on U.S. industries, from kitchenware and car tires to electronic circuit boards" and the "futility of trying to match the China price" have become common fare.2

What is undeniable is China's rapid economic growth over the past 25 years since the beginning of economic reforms in 1978, of, measured in gross domestic product (GDP), on average 9.37% per year. In economic size China is surpassed today only by the U.S., Japan, Germany, and France.3 Its share in global growth 1995-2002 has been estimated at 25%, compared to 20% for the U.S.4

China understands that military power grows from, among other things, economic power, and China has sought to become a hard-working creditor nation, gaining its share of the world market. In sharp contrast, annual growth of the US GDP is a fraction of the growth of China's. The difference? Chinese leaders aren't trying to tax their country into prosperity, neither are they trying to buy the votes of the Chinese people with the redistributed wealth of the Chinese people (though communists are good at redistributing wealth into the hands of the government and the elite running it).

So, now I question my previous assertion that Beijing is paranoid. The government there likely is, to some extent - paranoia is key to communist regimes staying in power (though Beijing's emphasis on business and profits seems to make it more fascist these days - ?) - but perhaps more so, Beijing is justifying a course of action long ago decided upon: becoming a world superpower, including challenging even US military power.

US show of force in Asian waters a threat to China: magazine concludes:

In today's world, whose theme is multipolarization, globalization and common development, no country or region can succeed in seeking global dominance through military power. The Iraq and Afghan wars serve as good examples, it said.

Both the United States and China are important countries in the world. They are tasked to safeguard world peace. Peaceful coexistence, mutual benefit and common prosperity are therefore the only choice for the two countries and peoples, said the magazine.

China lags far behind the United States in terms of overall economic and military powers, and has neither the intention nor capability to threaten the United States, it said.

Instead of posing any threat, China's rapid development is benefitting the United States. China's growing economic strength has helped the United States recover from the latest financial crisis.

Washington should discard its Cold War mentality and gunboat policy, and return peace to the Sea of Japan, the Yellow Sea and the South China Sea, said the magazine.

Yeah - the US should go home, and leave the far reaches of the Pacific to China.

And, I wonder how long it would be until there are calls for the US to go home, and leave Hawaii to China?

China is a great country, but it is very unwise to leave oneself weak relative to the communist government in Beijing.

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