Saturday, May 21, 2005

Great Game Possibilities

A little while ago I wrote that we need to redirect China from the sea where conflict with us over Taiwan is possible to the interior of Asia where conflict with us is less likely. Encouraging pipelines through Central Asia instead of sea lines of communication to the Middle East seemed like one way to make China think investing in a navy is pointless.

From my Janes email news tidbits is this:

China seeks to reduce its dependence on Strait of Malacca
Construction of the Chinese section of an oil pipeline from Kazakhstan to China began in March. It is only one of many strategies being looked at by Beijing to counter its serious concerns about the country's energy security and dependence on the Strait of Malacca. Ian Storey reports. [Jane's Intelligence Review - first posted to - 11 April 2005]

On the one hand, you might say that having China less vulnerable to our Navy and Air Force in case of war is a bad thing. But as I noted in the post linked above, defeating China in a war is our worst good option. I'd rather avoid that war by making it less likely that China will seek war over Taiwan or anything else in the western Pacific.

If China builds overland pipelines, then at best China will gain its energy needs via pipelines that can be bombed and from sources that our Army can occupy.

At worst, if China can't build sufficient overland capacity to supply themselves, China will simply have divided the source of its oil imports between a long land route and a long sea route, neither of which is sufficient to fuel their economy. Then China will find that it is splitting its defense resources between defending a long land route through central Asia and a sea route through the Strait of Malacca.

If China has a weaker navy since they must build defenses for the central Asia pipelines, then they will have less capacity to take Taiwan or challenge the US Navy or Japan at sea. Plus, the Chinese will find they need to win campaigns over both routes to keep their economy humming along.

My guess is that we will be capable of interdicting both routes. Naval and air power will cut of sea imports and land and air power will interdict or cut off land routes.

And China will find themselves in the terrible position that the continental powers the Kaiser's Germany and Soviet Russia had in challenging a sea power--they won't have enough money to be supreme in both realms.

Now that's a Great Game.