China’s Maritime Silk Road through the Pacific to South AmericaPosted: June 15, 2017
I had a post yesterday on Foreign Policy’s article “The United States Is Losing Asia to China”, making analysis of the reasons why the US has lost Asia to China.
However, I have to point out here that in fact, there is no conflict between China and the US for Asian leadership. China has done nothing to drive the US away or grab from the US its Asian leadership though the US has tried its best to contain China. China has only succeeded in resisting US containment but has gained nothing.
FP’s article believes that ASEAN switch to China’s side due to their economic dependence on China, but China has given them no special preferential treatments to win over them or undermine their relations with the US. On the country, China’s economic relations with them first of all benefit China and has been a factor that has enabled China’s fast economic growth in the past few decades.
The article mentions China’s One Belt One Road initiative, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, etc. as China’s efforts to grab leadership from the US but those are all China’s schemes to benefit China itself and by no means exclude the US.
The US has lost its Asian leadership due to its declining economic strength. China is only the article’s scapegoat for America’s own faults.
That is very interesting and worth further commenting here.
What is more interesting is Wall Street Journal’s article on June 7 titled “The U.S. Is Losing the Pacific to China”.
The article says, “For more than 100 years, the US has viewed the Pacific Ocean as an ‘American lake’”.
That is really absurd. When is Pacific America’s? Who has given the Pacific to the US as its private lake? The United Nations? In fact no one has the authority to give the ocean to the US. It is the US that regards itself as the owner of the ocean because its world strongest navy dominates the ocean.
That is quite different from the South China Sea that can be regarded as China’s lake as China has claimed it for centuries. In 1947, it drew an 11-dash (9-dash now) line on map to reflect its claim. No one including the US opposed it until rich energy resources were found there and until the US wanted to contain China for fear that China will grow too strong to replace the US as world leader.
Now, China has built large artificial islands in the South China Sea with three airstrips that can be used as air bases for hundreds of advanced fighter jets. China has firm control of the South China Sea so that it can to some extent be regarded as China’s lake.
The US, on the contrary, has never drawn any line on map to indicate that the Pacific is its lake! How can China take the Pacific from the US since the Pacific does not belong to the US?
There must be some grounds for the article’s worries as it says, “While China woos the Pacific islands with diplomacy and investment, there is little evidence America is putting any significant resources into the region.”
The US has been putting lots of resources into its navy, which has effective control the Pacific Ocean. Why is there the worry about China’s diplomacy and investment in Pacific islands?
Perhaps, due to global warming some of the islands may be buried by the sea due to the rise in sea level caused by the melting of ice in South and North Poles. An island state may trade its island with China’s land area to move its people there.
China can use its island building equipment to heighten the land on the island it has got from and island state and turn the island into a military base.
China has succeeded in establishing alternative land routes through Russia, Central Asia and Pakistan for its trade with the Middle East and Europe, but its trade routes to Latin America through the Pacific Ocean may be cut by US navy. If China has built military bases in the Pacific Ocean like it has done in the South China Sea, it will have secure trade routes to Latin America, a market with very great growth potential.
We cannot be sure that China can build enough military bases on islands but if not enough, it can build floating island to supplement its maritime Silk Road to Latin America. The US will not be able to cut China’s trade lifelines due to China’s Silk Road economic belt and 21st century maritime Silk Road efforts.
That may be the article’s real worry.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Wall Street Journal’s article, full text of which can be found at https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-u-s-is-losing-the-pacific-to-china-1496853380.