Dangerous Chinese Illusions
America’s political establishment—Democrats and Republicans, liberals and Conservatives—desperately want to believe that China harbors no malign intentions.
It’s easy to understand that hope. The consequences of facing the worlds’ largest population and second largest economy, a nation aligned directly with Russia, the planet’s greatest nuclear force and occupying the world’s largest national land mass—are truly horrifying.
That doesn’t make the reality any less substantial. There is almost no evidence that Beijing,
has any intention of acting in a manner that indicates anything other than belligerent intent. China is, indeed, acting “like a bully.” The evidence is abundant. Beijing’s military budget continues to soar. Its espionage effort is increasingly extensive. It has done nothing to rein in its North Korean client states’ nuclear brinksmanship. It continues its illegal expansionist activities, both in the development of artificial islands and its dominance of the offshore exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. Its military influence in Latin America and Africa grows.
Spacewar reports that,
Beijing has embarked on an extensive project to build a “blue water” navy and modernise its two million-strong military, the world’s largest. The country’s rapidly expanding military might includes a range of maritime defence capabilities, a fleet of attack submarines, and highly sophisticated anti-aircraft systems that prevent enemy vessels from nearing its coast. Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that ‘all must be done’ to improve the country’s battle capacities so it can ‘fight and win wars.
the Chinese are reportedly working on a handful of high-tech next-generation ships, weapons and naval systems. China has plans to grow its navy to 351 ships [the U.S. Navy only has approximately 276] by 2020 as the Chinese continue to develop their military’s ability to strike global targets, according to a recent Congressional report.
A Foreign Policy article notes that a,
confidential U.N. Report details North Korea’s front companies in China. …an unpublished U.N. report obtained by Foreign Policy …documents sophisticated North Korean efforts to evade sanctions … China has proved a fickle partner at best in Washington’s effort to stymie Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions…China, despite its apparent cooperation of late with international efforts to sanction North Korea, has instead served as Pyongyang’s economic lifeline, purchasing the vast majority of its coal, gold, and iron ore and serving as the primary hub for illicit trade that undermines a raft of U.N. sanctions that China nominally supports, the report’s findings suggest. As early as December 2016, China had blown past a U.N.-imposed ceiling of 1 million metric tons on coal imports, purchasing twice that amount. China then shrugged off a requirement to report its North Korean coal imports to the U.N. Security Council sanctions committee. When U.S. and Japanese diplomats pressed their Chinese counterpart for an explanation in a closed-door meeting this month, the Chinese diplomat said nothing, according to a U.N.-based official. North Korean banks and firms, meanwhile, have maintained access to international financial markets through a vast network of Chinese-based front companies, enabling Pyongyang to evade sanctions.
A Washington Free Beacon analysis notes:
Recent press reports that have received little attention in the West indicate that China is quintupling the size of its marine corps, from roughly 20,000 to 100,000 troops. We really should be paying more attention…You only need a large marine corps if you intend to assert yourself overseas. A perceptive piece last year in The National Interest surveyed this development… The article asked readers to consider “the potential ramifications of such a Chinese amphibious force maintaining a constant presence in, say, Southeast Asia,’or indeed that it “may routinely operate in the Indian Ocean as well—and, for that matter, even in the Mediterranean.’With such an increase in size that we now expect, such expectations are entirely reasonable. Considered along with Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative and its newly aggressive basing strategy, with naval facilities operating and/or under construction in Pakistan and Djibouti, it also seems that merely regional goals are not the extent of China’s ambitions…Far from a peaceful rise as a nation comfortable with existing international norms and reasonably concerned with its own security, China gives every indication of a desire to call the shots globally. If it achieves such a position, the world will come to miss American predominance—and so will Americans.
Originally published on the New York Analysis of Policy and Government.
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