Saturday, August 04, 2007

Running the Gauntlet

China's strategic position is not enviable. While China's military power is greater now than it was thirty years ago, China's vulnerability due to heavy reliance on international trade and imported energy has outstripped the gain in power. Especially if America is the foe, since our naval and air power would crush the Chinese at sea.

China's position is tough even against India, which demonstrates China's vulnerabilities at sea far from China's coastal waters (via my Jane's email updates):

The Indian Navy (IN) is holding a series of month-long bilateral and multilateral manoeuvres, beginning on 9 August, with the navies of six West Asian states plus Australia, France, Japan, Singapore, the UK and the US to enhance 'constructive engagement' and expand 'domain awareness'. The exercises in the Bay of Bengal, the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf will concentrate on measures to counter multi-threat scenarios - especially from 'malevolent, non-state actors' - advanced air defence and anti-submarine and surface warfare, said IN Rear Admiral Pradeep Chauhan, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (foreign co-operation and intelligence), in New Delhi on 31 July.

The position of China versus India demonstrates the imbalance between more power and more vulnerabilities well. Once, China could push India on the land front with little to worry about. Now, any Chinese advantage in the desolate mountains of the northern border will be more than undone by India's ability to cut off Chinese oil imports from Iran and Sudan.

And if India initiates conflict by cutting China's sea lines of communication, what could China do? Take a glacier? Nuke India?

I just wonder if China's rulers truly appreciate their vulnerability?