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Thread: China's Emergence as a Superpower (till 2014)

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    China’s Indian Ocean ‘String of Pearls’ Is No Military Threat — At Least for Now
    Ashley S. Townshend | September 20, 2011

    http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/opini...for-now/466367
    Has the statement from China herald the 'Now' and the threat that was imagined as exaggerated has finally arrived on the horizon?

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    The thing I don't get is that China has done very well out of America, including and especially use of the world's sea lanes courtesy of the US Navy. If it hadn't been for America, the Chinese middle class/apparatchiks would still be crawling around in the mud with the peasants.

    Why mess with a good thing?

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    All Navies have this mandate. Right?

    The Chinese want so much to be like the US. They aren't, and won't be.

    An interesting article. After reading through the thread I did a quick Google search to see what others had written about when the US Navy rose to challenge the British Navy that we had relied upon since the Monroe Doctrine to protect the rise of US power. Interestingly, the article most on point was written by the Chinese...

    http://cjip.oxfordjournals.org/content/1/1/83.full
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    When did this happen? After the War of 1812 the American Navy never even came close to the Royal Navy until after war between the countries was acknowledged by both sides as being well nigh inconceivable. To my knowledge, after the heavy frigates got bottled up we never challenged the RN.
    Read what I wrote. I said "...about when the US Navy rose to challenge the British Navy that we had relied upon since the Monroe Doctrine to protect the rise of US power."

    It is a matter of history that the US was able to focus internally to develop a Continental nation and build our global commerce under the protection of the British Navy. Perhaps you place the wrong meaning on the word "challenge"? Not challenge as in head to head battle, we were allies and competitors. But rather challenge for the status as we climbed to "near peer," to "peer" and ultimately to surpass as the premier navy on seas.

    China too has benefited from a powerful US Navy as they established themselves on their continent. The Chinese article lays out that it is now their turn to similarly rise to take their place some day in that role as top global naval power, and that the US should see and accept their rise in the same light that the Brits viewed ours.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Dayuhan:

    Both the RN and the USN created and maintained oceans free on any real threat to anybody's commerce. The system they established and maintained made it look as if there wasn't any threat out there. There wasn't any threat out there because if any had started to arise it would have been crushed. The primary purpose of the systems was/is to insure free commerce for all countries that ultimately benefits both countries greatly. It was not to gain short term advantage.

    That is what makes China's apparent naval ambitions so scary. There is no real reason for it. The system as it exists benefits everybody and doesn't cost the Chinese anything. Does anybody believe that a repressive police state that runs the biggest espionage operation in the history of the world and for whom pirated intellectual property is a significant part of their GDP, does anybody believe they would set up and run as benign a system as the RN and USN have? I sure as hell don't.

    It should be observed that China will have a very hard time getting to be a really important naval power. They don't have a real naval tradition. They aren't an island nation. Their geographic position is lousy. I don't get the "Woe is me. The Chinese are coming and can't be stopped." subtext I sometimes detect in various publications here and there.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Default Moderator contemplates

    This thread has moved with speed into matters of historical naval strategy and the use or misuse of naval power. I am thinking of a new thread for these posts, so leaving the Chinese Navy with it's own thread; a cross reference will be added.
    davidbfpo

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    Default New, parallel thread

    I have created a new thread, moving x31 posts and copying x3, it is 'Naval strategy, naval power: uses & abuses' and is on:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=14735

    Please keep discussion on this thread to developments in Chinese naval power.
    davidbfpo

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    Default Casino sails, sorry aircraft carrier

    A commercial satellite reports it has spotted China's first aircraft carrier was at sea a week ago:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16190926

    Casino? Comes from this:
    As other Soviet warships were cut up for scrap, a Chinese company with links to China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) bought the Varyag, claiming originally that it would be turned into a floating casino.
    davidbfpo

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    I recommend this blog for the purpose of keeping an eye on what's getting published about the PLAN:

    http://china-defense.blogspot.com/

    Example:
    http://china-defense.blogspot.com/20...nd-future.html

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    Empire may or may not be the right word. But we are doing something that may edge close to it. The question is why are those places important enough to fight for. Some of them aren't really allies in the two way street sense of the word but they are still important. There may not be a continuous perimeter on land but if you look at it from the ocean there may be something approaching one.

    There isn't a potential enemy out there that has unfettered access to the oceans. Japan was one but we turned them into a friend that holds part of a perimeter. China may or may not become one but they are hemmed in by islands that are friendly to us. Even the former enemy communist Vietnam may end up back on or in the perimeter depending on what happens in the next 20-30 years.

    I don't know if we have an empire or not but we support and maintain what looks like a perimeter manned by allies whose primary value is they stay friends.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    If China is "hemmed in", why are so many people so concerned over what China is up to in Africa, or Central Asia?

    I'd suggest that the traditional idea of geographical containment is no longer particularly relevant, and neither is the idea of a sort of physical "perimeter" on a global scale.

    The question of why we would or would not fight in any given place or case is always interesting, especially since it largely depends on domestic politics at any given moment. Again, though, I don't see how it relates to this idea of an empire, nor have I seen any credible definition of "empire" that would accommodate the US.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  12. #352
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    If China is "hemmed in", why are so many people so concerned over what China is up to in Africa, or Central Asia?

    I'd suggest that the traditional idea of geographical containment is no longer particularly relevant, and neither is the idea of a sort of physical "perimeter" on a global scale.

    The question of why we would or would not fight in any given place or case is always interesting, especially since it largely depends on domestic politics at any given moment. Again, though, I don't see how it relates to this idea of an empire, nor have I seen any credible definition of "empire" that would accommodate the US.
    Excitable I guess. I don't see what the big deal is about the Chinese in Africa. China has a land border with Central Asia. They are hemmed in by islands seaward, not landward. One reason people are concerned about Chinese activity in the South China Sea, I think, is that is a push against the perimeter. (Alert for David, this may call for another thread jump.)

    Why is the idea of containment no longer relevant? Why is not a global perimeter relevant?

    Maybe it has nothing to do with what an empire is or isn't. It is interesting though. It looks a little like a grand strategy.
    Last edited by carl; 12-17-2011 at 02:52 AM.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    It's been a long time since we were seriously worried about anybody's navy.
    That is the whole point.

    I think we were worried about the Russian Navy during the Cold War, judging by the ink spilled writing about it, the steel fabricated and the oil burned in various exercises conducted. And it takes a long time to build up a big proficient navy with all the things that go with it, to the point where it can can fight another big proficient navy. All kinds of things can affect that so it just doesn't happen very often in history.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Is anyone, anywhere, trying to "penetrate our perimeter"? For that matter, what is our perimeter?
    The Chinese may be. That is what worries people.

    I already said what appears to be driving much of our definition of the perimeter: making sure that no potentially hostile nation has free access to the oceans. So if China were to become seriously hostile, the perimeter might be South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, then the Malaysian peninsula and the Indonesian islands.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Possibly that was the intention, but American economic hegemony has substantially declined since that time. Economic hegemony is seldom a product of conscious choice or intent: it emerges from superior economic performance.
    Economic hegemony also has to do with history. Everybody but us was thoroughly wrecked by WWII. All that destructive fighting was well away from our shores and we tried hard to keep it over there.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    The purpose of the first assertion shared here is to establish perspective. Yes, as American Pride points out, many agonize over ability of the US to maintain its Cold War position regarding Taiwan in the face of a rising China, just as many Britains certainly agonized over their ability to retain effective control over Suez. Of the two, I would posit that Britain's concerns then were far more rational than our own now. Britain's were along the line of "we must have access to the canal for our economy to function"; while the most honest assertions regarding Taiwan are so some form of "we can't allow China to do something we don't want them to do."

    To me that always sounds a bit like a petulant child. Yes, the Asia-Pacific region is vital to the US economy, but a reunified China is logical, probably inevitable, and in no way offers the same type of show-stopping issue envisioned by the Brits. And even the Brits were wrong about the loss of canal control being a showstopper.

    Control is hard to relinquish, but at a certain point many issues long managed through control are better managed by a transition to influence. The more we focus on the former, the less we possess of the latter. Better to transition on ones own terms, and not cling so long as to have transition forced upon you.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl
    After Suez, Britain faded away militarily. If Red China took Taiwan, I think John Lehman or his ghost would finally see a 600 ship US Navy.
    That may be true, but given the gross inefficiencies in America's defense economy, what would be the cost? The war on terrorism, frequently diminished as a "small" war, has itself drained much of the wealth and energy of America in general and the military establishment in particular. I very much doubt America's ability to effectively to defend its interests abroad against an aggressive great power, specifically China, with defined national interests and an ostensibly coordinated whole-of-government approach to foreign policy. When does the downward trend stop, and what measures are necessary for its reversal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob
    Control is hard to relinquish, but at a certain point many issues long managed through control are better managed by a transition to influence. The more we focus on the former, the less we possess of the latter. Better to transition on ones own terms, and not cling so long as to have transition forced upon you.
    You and I agree on this point.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  16. #356
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    I think the Suez is very much the wrong analogy. Historical analogies are only a little bit useful and sometimes less than that if people get wrapped around the axle debating if the analogy is the right one or not; but I think the rise of the rise of the German navy before WWI is more appropriate one as far as real threats are concerned.

    If Taiwan were lost it would be a serious naval defeat. Preventing Red China from taking the island means keeping control of the Taiwan Strait and that is a naval task. If we could not help the Taiwanese do it, it would be because our Navy was weak relative to a hostile navy. We would then build it up so it was strong again. Since the start of the 20th century that is what we have always done. I judge we would do it again.

    It would be expensive. Navies always are. But it may not be as expensive as feared. We could afford all the contracting fol-der-al in the past. A serious naval defeat tends to concentrate the mind of nations and things tend to get done more better.

    But the best way to avoid that expense is to keep the Navy strong enough, and our alliances strong enough so that the Red Chinese aren't tempted to try it. That would be expensive too, but only a tiny fraction of my above listed alternative. Taking, holding, crossing and continued holding of the straits is a pretty tall order and the force needed to frustrate that isn't nearly so big as the alternative listed above.

    We wouldn't have to spend anything if we just told the Taiwanese too-da-loo of course; but the long term consequences of abandoning a free nation with whom we are formally allied to an expansionist police state may be rather bad.

    The reason for concern here is the nature of Red China. India is a large country and it is strengthening its' navy. We don't mind that a bit. If the Australians decided to build some aircraft carriers and 20 nuke boats we would stand up and cheer. The French could decide they needed a balanced 200 ship fleet and we would be sighing with relief. But Red China is a concern. It won't be forever though. I am optimistic that it will eventually turn into something considerably less scary. So our task, in cooperation with allies, is to keep them from yielding to the temptation to embark upon a glorious naval adventure until they get to that less scary state and they don't want to anymore. We can do this best, in my view, by maintaining a strong Navy and system of alliances; not yielding to angst, throwing up our hands and deciding we are doomed and we'd better get used to it.

    That may be viewed as trying to control rather than trying to influence, but I think that is a distinction without a difference in this case. If you want to influence a potentially aggressive nation with a strong navy, you had better have a strong navy too.
    Last edited by carl; 12-21-2011 at 04:06 PM.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  17. #357
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    The real question is "what would be the affect on America the day after a reconciliation between China and Taiwan"?

    Answer: Little to none.

    The best the US can hope to do in efforts to control this dynamic is to reset the conditions of failure. Worst case we engage in an "Air-Sea Battle" over the matter and lose hundreds or thousands of lives, Billions in hardware, and an unmeasurable amount of regional and global prestiege and influence. We should not play a game that can only at best be tied, but never won.

    Britain waited until they got thier nosed rubbed in the Suez issue. I recommend we get in front of that occuring in similar issues that we cling to beyond their expiration date as well.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Mr. Jones:

    Agreed, a reconciliation would not affect us at all. But the word reconciliation means something peaceful arranged with the consent of both parties. I am not talking about that. I am talking about a Red Chinese conquest of Taiwan, against the will of the Taiwanese. That would be a very different matter.

    I read your second paragraph as meaning if the Red Chinese tried to take Taiwan by force, we allow them to do so and abandon the Taiwanese. Is that your position? If it is, I believe we would lose all global prestige and influence.

    I don't know exactly what you mean by your third paragraph. It is a bit amorphous. I take it to mean we should find out what Red China wants and give it to them. Is that correct?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    carl: My use of 1956 Suez Crisis is not to illustrate the military impotence of a declining imperial power. Instead, its important to acknowledge that the event (1) demonstrated British acknowledgement of its own decline and (2) illustrated the role of economic and political power in undermining military capabilities. I do not think a Taiwan conflict will see the direct engagement of US and PRC forces. Rather, the Chinese would likely deter direct US participation through economic leverage. This would mark the start of a new dynamic in international security as well as demonstrate the utter uselessness of US military power and investments.

    Alternatively, Japan's defeat of Russia in 1905 might prove to be another useful analogy in demonstrating how imperial hubris leads to total shock and failure. But, as I said, I believe direct US/PRC conflict to be very unlikely.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  20. #360
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default "Very Different Matter" for whom?

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Mr. Jones:

    Agreed, a reconciliation would not affect us at all. But the word reconciliation means something peaceful arranged with the consent of both parties. I am not talking about that. I am talking about a Red Chinese conquest of Taiwan, against the will of the Taiwanese. That would be a very different matter.

    I read your second paragraph as meaning if the Red Chinese tried to take Taiwan by force, we allow them to do so and abandon the Taiwanese. Is that your position? If it is, I believe we would lose all global prestige and influence.

    I don't know exactly what you mean by your third paragraph. It is a bit amorphous. I take it to mean we should find out what Red China wants and give it to them. Is that correct?

    Certainly it would be very different for the people of Taiwan, but the end effect for the US is the same. Many also like to play the "we must stay loyal to allies or our other allies will doubt our resolve." Here is a news flash: They already doubt our resolve, and by clinging to positions they all see as largely senseless causes them to doubt our intelligence as well.

    We should not fight wars or even battles over things that are not important. If things are important, than we should fight them at any cost.

    Any conflict that when it is over and one has not achieved their desired ends, but can walk away from it with a casual "wow, that sucked" attitude to simply continue business as usual, was a largely senseless conflict to begin with.

    Vietnam falls in that box, as too likely will Iraq and Afghanistan. A defense of Taiwan would reside there as well. We are too easily led into senseless conflicts by Chickenhawk politicians, bad intel, and poor strategy. All of those factors will always be out there, but we don't have to keep making the same mistakes of following blindly where they lead.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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