Sunday, October 06, 2013

Go West, Young Han

China continues to look to Central Asia trade routes to avoid the problem of having their sea lines of communication cut during war. I welcome China's attention to the Asian interior.

Stratfor highlights China's drive to improve relations and trade routes with Central Asia. Fear of hostile navies is the key driver for this effort:

Even if the large-scale development of trans-Eurasian transport links is ultimately constrained, Beijing's support for such projects is telling nonetheless and indicative of China's broader strategic concerns. As a transport corridor, Central Asia is unlikely to ever account for more than 5-7 percent of Chinese-European trade by volume, but it will support the Party's broader goal of curtailing, to whatever extent possible, China's overreliance on sea-lanes in the South and East China Seas. Similar to planned oil and natural gas pipelines that will run from the coast of Myanmar to Yunnan and like the prospective Gwadar-Kashgar transport corridor, overland railways could serve as possible lifelines for arms, munitions and energy in the event of a security crisis on the coast. However remote this possibility, China's leaders are not insensitive to it, especially given the modern legacy of war and invasion from the east.

Of course, if China has major land lines of supply and major sea lines of supply, China will need to split their defense dollars on both sea and land power (along with associated air power to support both) rather than focus on one type of threat. Indeed, I think we should encourage China's focus inland:

While I would rather defeat China in war than lose; and while I'd rather deter a hostile China from initiating a war against us or our allies than win a war; I'd much rather have China's attention focused on the interior of Asia where we lack significant interests to defend.

If China spends defense dollars on land and air power to project power into their own west and into Central Asia, that is money not spent on a fleet and supporting air power that threatens us and our allies in the western Pacific.

The fact that this would stick it to the Russians after what they did to us is a bonus, of course.

And if China sees an outlet overland as viable, they won't be as willing to fight at sea to keep open their sea line of supply.

(And yeah, I'm pretty sure I used that title before on the same subject.)