Monday, August 07, 2017

Don't Let China See the Big Board!

I don't see inviting China to RIMPAC as signaling the loss of American influence in the Asia. But it is a mistake.


The late June 2017 confirmation from the Pentagon that the People's Republic of China (PRC) has been invited to participate in the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise is a seminal event in the history of U.S.-PRC relations. It appears to establish a policy of permanent and uninterrupted RIMPAC invitations to the Chinese. Unfortunately, the invitation will someday be remembered as the formal beginning of the end of U.S. influence in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

The argument is that the invitation should be based on good Chinese behavior and that inviting them now breaks that linkage.

The author has a point. But my opposition is on a more practical level: letting the Chinese watch our military close up just helps them believe they can figure out how to beat us:

We are officially in favor of these [mil-to-mil exchange] missions because we believe that if the Chinese see how powerful we are, they won't try to fight us.

This is a crock. The Chinese know we are technically more advanced. What they think is that we are too pampered to fight them. And seeing our nice barracks and PXs with Chanel No. 5 won't convince them that we are hard warriors able to absorb high casualties. Seeing our military up close will simply give them insights into fighting us or at least cause them to believe that they have insights into fighting us[.]

Keep the Chinese at arm's length. At least make them work to gain insights into our military.