Sunday, April 30, 2017

China's Pivot to Asia

China's investment in Djibouti which includes a military base is part of China's naval power projection across the Indian Ocean to defend sea lines of trade with Europe. I sigh in relief.

The traditional land power China has gone to sea and plans to stay there:

The military base is part of Beijing's plan to continue with its "maritime military struggle," and to overcome conventional thinking that "land outweighs sea," according to its 2015 defense white paper.

But really, a focus to the west all the way to Europe really means a focus on land through the interior of Asia at the expense of the Pacific littorals and sea where America and our traditional allies are located.

And extending Chinese naval power all the way to the Horn of Africa runs into Indian aero-naval power, which may eat up the improvements in Chinese naval power that allows China to reach Djibouti.

We are not out of the game in China's new theater, mind you, where Kazakhstan is an American friend that would be happy to have our help to keep Russia and China at bay.

And we are still in Afghanistan, of course.

Basically, I love it when a plan comes together.

UPDATE: Here is a small taste of how focusing inland sparks some resistance and makes China spend more effort there:

China's plan to blast open more of the Mekong River for bigger cargo ships could founder on a remote outcrop of half-submerged rocks that Thai protesters have vowed to protect against Beijing's economic expansion in Southeast Asia.

Dynamiting the Pi Long rapids and other sections of the Mekong between Thailand and Laos will harm the environment and bring trade advantages only to China, the protesters say....

Such opposition reflects a wider challenge to China's ambitious "One Belt, One Road" project to build a modern-day Silk Road through Asia to Europe.

Yes, it is an engineering and local protest challenge. But more of China's attention will have to focus inland to overcome them.

Resentment will build along with economic growth. And more important, as value flows to China, China will need to spend more to defend that avenue of trade and investment at the expense of forces pointed east toward America's allies and our forces in the western Pacific littorals.