Friday, December 18, 2015

I Know What I'd Call It

China's initiatives to expand economic influence to the interior of Asia is not, the Chinese assert, a strategy. Call it what you will, but it will suck Chinese military power in that direction to defend the economic influence they create.

So China wants to speak softly on their western initiatives:

Many Chinese and foreign observers view the Belt and Road as a grand Chinese strategy to extend its economic and geopolitical influence in the Eurasian continent and beyond. But Beijing has explicitly refused to call it a strategy. ...

As such the Belt and Road Initiative probably should not be called a strategy. Besides, a strategy may smack too much of geopolitical ambitions, and Beijing has made it abundantly clear that the Belt and Road is a vision for “harmony, peace and prosperity,” not a geopolitical conspiracy. In other words, it should not be viewed as a Chinese scheme to counter the U.S. “rebalance” to Asia or to expand Beijing’s geopolitical influence in the Eurasian continent and beyond.

Please. The flag follows trade. Just as China's growing sea lines of communication give China an incentive to build a navy to protect those vulnerable trade routes, increased economic stakes in the interior of Asia will give China a reason to defend those assets.

So whatever you call this Chinese strategy, as we pivot to Asia and build up alliances to resist China, I call it good news:

While all this looks good for building an alliance to fight and defeat China, this is not playing the Great Game. This is making the best of a worst case scenario--war with China. Sure, if we must fight I'd rather win, but just going to war is going to cost us in lives and money.

One can say that we hope that by becoming strong enough we deter the Chinese but this is still only second best. A deterred China will always be on the verge of attacking, just waiting for the moment when we cannot stop them for one reason or another and so cannot deter them for even a short window of opportunity.

No, defeating China makes the best of the worst case and deterring China makes the best of the second worst case. We need to shovel the Snow back north. We need to play the Great Game in Asia to achieve our best case--a China pointed away from the south--Taiwan and the United States and our other allies--and pointed toward the north and the interior of Asia.

I won't say that this is the result of an active American strategy (but who knows?). But I will say I love it when a plan natural tendency comes together.

And yes, making Taiwan a harder target matters a lot to help push China's main interests away from the sea and to the interior of Asia:

A new U.S. arms package for Taiwan will help boost the self-ruled island's ability to inflict a bloody nose on China in the attempt of an attack, enough to make Beijing think twice before any military adventure.

Go west, young Han budding superpower.