South China Sea Disputes: Chinese Strategy

This is my analysis and prediction of Chinese strategy by applying the art of war, art for being an emperor, etc. that talented Chinese leaders who apply the same arts will adopt.

It has been proved by what Chinese troops did in the past, China is used to surprise attacks in war in accordance with the teachings of Sun Tze, Sun Bin, etc.; therefore, what the inner circle around Chinese leader has decided on its strategy is top secret.

I shall solemnly declare that I have no internal source to reveal such secret. If it turns out later what I describe here is really China’s strategy, it will just be coincidence.

However, there is really the following internal sources:

According to Phoenix Satellite TV, Canadian magazine Kanwa Defense Review does have access to internal documents of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The magazine said that in PLA internal documents, the US instead Taiwan is now regarded as PLA’s number one imaginary enemy and that the PLA has three ways to fight a war with the US if the US is involved in a war between China and other territorial claimants:

1. Quick actions. As the bases of US navy are far away from the war zone, especially if there is a war in the southern part of the South China Sea. Chinese troops shall take quick actions to destroy the enemy before the US has time to send its navy to the area of battle.

2. US bases shall be destroyed including its logistic and command centers.

3. US military personnel shall be killed so that due to the casualty, US people will oppose fighting a war with China.

Source: Phoenix Satellite TV “PLA internal documents; fighting and win quick decisive battles, the way to deal with US troops” (summary translated from Chinese by Chan Kai Yee)

I believe that PLA internal documents may say so, but those are certainly not Chinese inner circle’s strategy.


Because it is stupid!

The situation in Pacific-Asian Region now is to some extent similar to that three years before the Three Kingdoms in Chinese history.

As soon as we read the famous passage in Chinese history on Zhuge Liang’s longzhong dui (proposal made at Longzhong where Zhuge put forth the proposal), we  regarded Zhuge as one of the greatest strategists in China. Why?

Because Zhuge clearly pointed out the kingdom that was Liu Bei’s enemy but Liu Bei should not try to take any area from, the kingdom that Liu Bei should win over as an ally to counter the enemy but should not try to take any area from and which areas Liu Bei could take to establish his kingdom.

For Chinese top strategist, the first question is what country is China’s enemy and what country is China’s ally?

The United States is certainly not China’s enemy because China has no significant conflicts of interest with the US. True, the US has tried to encircle China, but that is because the US is not clear what China may do when it grows into a rival to the US.

The US has made clear that it supports Japan and the Philippines in their territorial disputes with China, but these are only gestures to prevent China from launching a war against any of the two countries. The US will never be so foolish as to fight a war with China for any other country’s tiny islands.

In fact, the US asks both China and Japan to act with restraint while it does not interfere when China drove away the Philippines from Scarborough Shoal.

There is no need for China to fight a war with the US in resolving its disputes with Japan or the Philippines.

Regarding the disputes in the South China Sea, China has always advocated joint exploitation of oil, gas and other resources with other claimants. The recent rapport with Vietnam on the dispute due to cooperation in exploitation of oil and gas resources in fact set an example for resolution of the disputes with other claimants there.

All other claimants have the intention to resolve the disputes that way with the only exception of the Philippines.

China has kept and even enhanced tension in its dispute with the Philippines and will keep on doing so as China will be benefited by such tension. That will be elaborated later.

A war with US, however, will create a long-term powerful enemy for China. First of all China’s trade lifelines will be in great danger. The PLA may be stupid, but China’s new leaders who are of the new generation of talented scholars that emerged during the Cultural Revolution are extremely shrewd.

China will regard Russia as an ally in countering the US. China shall fully support Russia’s efforts in becoming a world number one so that there will be balance of strength in the world. It shall not be afraid that a powerful Russia may be a threat because there is no conflict of interest between Russia and China. On the contrary, both countries will be benefited from cooperation in weapon development and development of Russia’s Siberia.

Even if Russia does become a threat, China can use the US to counter Russia.

China itself shall never try to be world number one. Number one means obligations instead of benefits. For example, the Soviet Union had to give North Korea and Cuba lots of aids to maintain their survival. What did the Soviet Union get in return?

The United States spent a lot of money in defending Japan and the Philippines. What has it got in return?

Certainly, China’s GDP shall surpass the US as it has a much bigger population. In order to enable its people to lead a life comparable to Western developed countries, it shall further substantially develop its economy. However, China shall always keep a low profile. When its GDP has indeed surpassed the US, it shall make clear its intention to refrain from being world number one politically or militarily.

By so doing, China will be able to focus its efforts on reduction of rich-poor gap, fairer distribution of wealth, human rights and democracy. Chinese people will be much better off if China has succeeded in such efforts even if there is no further GDP growth.

There will be two political and military number ones, the United States and Russia, and one economic number one, China, in the Asia-Pacific Region, a stable situation of long-term balance, stability and peaceful coexistence.

Does China have an enemy? Certainly, it has. That is Japan. Unlike Germany, Japan is not repentant for its war crimes during World War II and may try to rebuild its armed force. China shall maintain overwhelming military superiority over Japan. As soon as Japan has revised its peaceful constitution for militarization, China shall launch a thorough lightening attack at Japan and destroy all Japanese military facilities.

China shall learn from the lesson of World War II. When Germany began militarization, Britain and France failed to attack it so as to stop the militarization when German armed force was not strong enough to defend itself. If Britain and France had done so, there would not have been World War II.

In order to prevent concentration of US military near Japan that may help Japan when China attacks Japan, China needs the Philippines’ assistance.

The Philippines was very weak and only occupied eight small shoals that China claim sovereignty of, but China shall maintain great pressure on it and keep tension as high as possible in the disputed waters so that the Philippines and Australia will beg the US and even Japan to deploy their warships and fighter jets in the Philippines. By so doing China will reduce US armed force in the area near Japan.

As the Philippines is a long way away from Japan, when China launches its lightening attack at Japan to stop Japan’s militarization, US and Japanese warships and air force near the Philippines will not have enough time to move back to Japan to resist Chinese attack.

Related posts:

  • South China Sea Disputes: Encirclement of China dated July 6
  • South China Sea Disputes: Who Is Bullying Who? dated June 26
  • South China Sea Disputes: Chinese People’s Obsession dated June 24
  • South China Sea Disputes: Lucky China, Unlucky Philippines dated June 21
  • China’s Strategy on Recovery of Islands Occupied by the Philippines dated May 28

2 Comments on “South China Sea Disputes: Chinese Strategy”

  1. […] Another advantage for China in taking the island is that the US and even Japan may divert some of their aircraft and warships to the area near the Philippines, and thus enable China to deal with less Japanese and US aircraft and warships when there is a war between China and Japan and possibly the US in the East China Sea. (Refer to the last five paragraphs of my post “South China Sea Disputes: Chinese Strategy.” […]


  2. […] believe that China will adopt the strategy pointed out in my post South China Sea Disputes: Chinese Strategy, that will maintain good relations with the US while forming an alliance with Russia to help Russia […]