Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Many Dragons. One Fire

I haven't been comforted by the notion that China knows a war with us over Taiwan would cripple Chinese economic growth. China gets to define what is rational for them--not us.

Worse, the PLA could decide that provoking a war is in their interests.

And worse still, small actors separate from the PLA thinking of bureaucratic infighting could stake out aggressive stances at sea that drag in the PLA Navy to back them, and spark war that draws in America and our allies to oppose what the small "dragons" start:

Chinese maritime law-enforcement agencies operate and are organized in such a complicated manner that they appear embroiled in a turf war. ...

China has five maritime law-enforcement agencies and there is no clear-cut division of responsibilities or authority among them. The five agencies represented at the two-day meeting were (1) China Coast Guard belonging to the Public Security Ministry, (2) Maritime Safety Administration of the Transport Ministry, (3) Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) of the Agriculture Ministry, (4) State Oceanographic Administration of the Land and Resources Ministry, and (5) General Administration of Customs.

Each of these agencies, often referred to collectively as the "Five Dragons," has its own paramilitary units.

Just who in China gets to start a war? It may not be as clear as we'd like.