Trump’s Wisdom in Avoiding Military Conflict with ChinaPosted: January 31, 2017
SCMP says in its report “Tempest Trump: China and US urged to make plans for ‘major storm’ in bilateral relationship” yesterday that Trump’s candidate for secretary of state Rex Tillerson’s remarks on US blocking China’s access to its artificial islands has raised great concerts in the world as such a move may give rise to military conflict between the US and China.
If the US does block the access, it will fight a large-scale war with China. I have repeated in my previous posts that the US will not be able to win as China has more land-based fighter jets than the US can send from its aircraft carriers while F-22s are vulnerable as they have to refuel on the air before reaching the theater and their airbases are within the range of China’s intermediate ballistic missiles.
China simply has geographic advantages to win the war near its coast.
Knowing that, US new president Trump shall not openly support Tillerson’s remarks after his inauguration. If the US fails to block China’s access to the islands, it will betray its weakness and lost its allies’ confidence on its protection.
Then, there is the question whether Trump is so stupid as to start such a hopeless war.
I don’t think that Trump is stupid.
Therefore, Trump has so far said nothing about Tillerson’s remarks. He needs not say anything as Tillerson has not yet been really appointed US Secretary of State and is not in a position to speak for the US.
However, US reporters are worried about possible war if Trump does block China’s access and risk a large-scale war. According to Washington Post’s report “Is Trump ready for war in the South China Sea, or is his team just not being clear?” on January 24, they asked Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer whether President Trump agreed with his nominee for secretary of state.
Spicer says, “It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.”
That has displayed Trump’s wisdom. Trump certainly knows that those islands have been built on reefs claimed by China and other countries so that they are not international territories; therefore, he will find the answer of the question and does not block China’s access.
However, he has the vision to foresee that with such capabilities of building large islands on reefs, China is well capable of building large islands in the oceans as military bases to counter US navy’s dominance of oceans and protect its trade lifelines through the oceans.
People with common wisdom believe that China will build a navy with enough powerful aircraft carriers to prevent its trade lifelines from being cut by US navy. It takes China decades to achieve that, but it takes only a few years to build some islands as navy and air bases to protect China’s trade lifelines. Trump has to prevent that. That is why Spicer says “we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.”
It is what the US has to fight for because if China has built enough islands in the oceans, the US will entirely lose its world hegemony.
Moreover, with its most powerful navy in the world, the US can be sure to win a war far away from Chinese coast in blocking China’s access to the islands China may build in the oceans.
Trump is certainly not so stupid as to block China’s access to its islands in the South China Sea and begin a war that the US has no hope to win.
However, he is clever to prevent China’s construction of islands in the oceans.
Chinese leaders know that; therefore, they plan to build floating islands in the oceans. Such islands are much more expensive, but they can sail in the oceans and even move close to the US to attack US homeland.
Being a vanguard for freedom of navigation, the US has no justified grounds to prevent the freedom of navigation of China’s floating islands near US coast.
There will be real end of US hegemony when China has grown rich enough to build lots of floating islands and the US has declined further to lack financial resources to defend its homeland.
That will be the real trouble for the US. Trump is clever to place priority on recovery of US economy to avoid that. It is high time for the US to carry out a policy of America first instead of maintaining its so-called world leadership that no one obeys.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP and Washington Post’s articles, full text of which can respectively be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2065707/tempest-trump-china-and-us-urged-make-plans-major-storm and https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/01/24/is-trump-ready-for-war-in-the-south-china-sea-or-is-his-team-just-not-being-clear/?utm_term=.5b9ce0bac0c7.