Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Diayous Gnomes?

China is playing the long game in the East China Sea? Perhaps. But don't mistake lack of opportunity and patience for long-range planning.


Beijing plays long game ...

From Beijing’s perspective, the East China Sea resembles a lake – with the Chinese coast on the west side, the Japanese Nansei Shoto (Ryukyu) islands and Japan’s main islands on the east side, Taiwan on the south edge and Korea at the north end. ...

Beijing’s strategy: Ratchet up the pressure with more ships and aircraft in more places and more often than the Japan Self Defense Force, or JSDF, can handle – and eventually absorb the Senkakus, which China calls the Diayous, by osmosis.

Just what is that Phase Two "osmosis" process that bridges the Phase One increased pressure and Phase Three absorption of the Senkaku islands?

That's a vague Phase Two, isn't it? Can China escalate pressure enough? Won't Japan react in other ways?

And doesn't South Korea have something to say about that? Not to mention America and international law?

Doesn't China have to physically occupy the islands that Japan administers to control them? After all, Taiwan still owns Quemoy and Matsu, islands close to China. Chinese "pressure" included bombardment at one time.

I'm skeptical of the idea that China has unique long-range planning ability that allows them to play a "long game" against opponents. After setting out my objections to the notion and quoting a book that highlighted a total lack of long-term thinking in China, I concluded:

Chinese rulers unable to think about the long term and simply focused on the short run? Say it ain't so! The culture! The history! The vaguely worded fortune cookie pronouncements! Patience and perspective are in their effing genes, aren't they?

Apparently not.

The Chinese are people, like anyone else. What a radical idea.

Perhaps the Chinese are especially patient. Perhaps. But when you consider the Cold War, America displayed considerable patience in defeating the Soviet Union without direct combat. Perhaps the Chinese think they can't win a direct fight and so simply do what they can. No doubt in war the Chinese would try to take islands blocking their outlet to the Pacific.

But don't go crediting China with some magical ability to play a long game. If the Chinese acquire the Senkaku Islands, it will likely be by conquest (although one can't rule out Japan selling China the islands, as they could).