I said in my post “China’s Space Era Strategy Overwhelmingly Superior to US Air-Sea Battle” on June 22:
There is no denial that the US regards China as its top potential enemy. Obama made it very clear that his Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was directed at China.
Obama’s pivot to Asia, in spite of his claim that it was not directed at China, was directed at China. That was clear to everybody.
The US is obsessed with military solution. That is why it maintains an excessive military budget in spite of its shortage of funds for its people’s welfare and its essential but dilapidated infrastructures. Obama’s major approach for his pivot to Asia was to deploy 60% of US military in Asia.
China follows its gifted strategist Sun Tzu’s teachings: Subdue the enemy with strategy is the best of best, with diplomacy the next best, with fighting the third option while with attacking enemy cities the last choice. Its approaches have been strategy and diplomacy.
I have mentioned China’s strategy to enhance its geographical advantages by its construction of artificial islands with three airstrips in the South China Sea and its weapon strategy to develop integrated space and air capabilities for both attack and defense. In addition China has subdued the US with diplomacy.
First, there is the question: Has China really achieved that?
Recently, we have well-known US media’s articles on US losing to China. They, though perhaps do not follow Sun Tzu’s instructions, know well in the conflicts between the US and China, diplomacy is preferred to war.
With such a perspective, they publish articles on US losing to China.
First, Foreign Affair published an article titled “The United States Is Losing Asia to China” by Ely Ratner and Samir Kumar on May 12.
As a senior fellow in China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Ely Ratner is quite an expert on U.S.-China relations, regional security in East Asia, and U.S. national security policy.
There has been no opposition to the article’s views from any heavy-weight experts.
That article was followed by WSJ article “The U.S. Is Losing the Pacific to China” by Ben Bohane on June 7, 2017. US loss is now much larger: not only Asia but the entire Pacific.
Ben Bohane is a photojournalist, author and television producer who has covered Asia and the Pacific islands for the past 25 years. His article shall be taken seriously.
However, the losses referred to in the articles means diplomatic losses not physical losses. Neither the US nor China have Asia or the Pacific as their own.
Mr. Bohane says in his article, “For more than 100 years, the US has viewed the Pacific Ocean as an ‘American lake’”. It is but US view instead of any US claim to the Pacific. China can regard a large area of the South China Sea as its lake as it has drawn a nine-dash line to encircle the area it claims and no one had opposed the line for more than two decades after it has been included in China’s map since 1947.
The US has never drawn any line whether nine-dash or ninety-dash to encircle the Pacific Ocean to support its claim to the Pacific. If it had drawn such a line, it would have encountered fierce opposition from lots of countries.
What Mr. Bohane means is in fact that China is establishing good relations with Pacific island nations while the US has neglected those nations. The island nations have not been US allies or spheres of influence. Nor are they China’s allies or spheres of influence; therefore, the actual situation there is that China has been making efforts to make friends there while the US has done nothing.
In Asia, what Mr. Ratner means in his article is but US loss of Southeast Asia to China. The US has kept Japan and South Korea as its allies. As for South and Central Asia, they have long been Russia’s spheres of influence. China has not substituted its influence for Russia’s. Even if it has, the areas have been lost by Russia instead of US to China.
As for the Middle East in Asia, the US does seem to have been losing it but not to China as China’s influence there remains very much limited.
What we have to discuss is how the US has lost its influence in Asia, especially Russia, Southeast Asia and Pakistan and how China has been gaining influence in Pacific island nations.
What is Sun Tzu’s teachings?
Sun Tzu says, “In the past, those who were skilled in war made themselves invincible first and then waited for the time when the enemy could be defeated. One relies on one’s own for invincibility, but whether one’s enemy can be defeated is determined by the enemy. Therefore, those who are skilled in war are able to make themselves invincible, but unable to make the enemy surely defeatable.
Therefore, those who are skilled in war put themselves in an invincible position and lose no chance of their enemies’ possible loss. Hence, a winning army fights after it has got the opportunity to win while a losing army fights first and then seek victory.
Let’s see what China has done to put itself in an invincible position. China had been improving its relations with Russia, its long-term enemy in history, For quite a long time since it began its reform and opening up it had been making efforts to improve its relations with Russia as it needed a peaceful environment for economic growth. At the same time, Russia had been trying hard to improve its relations with the West. In fact, at that time Russia adopted a political and economic system quite similar to the West. There was hope that Russia might be accepted by the West.
However, the West always has an intention to contain Russia in order to prevent it from becoming a superpower similar to the Soviet Union. After all, Russia is the major part of the Soviet Union.
China’s improvement in its relations with Russia put it in an invincible diplomatic position to prevent the West from sowing discord between Russia and China. However, though both of them felt the pressure from the US to contain them, there has been no breakthrough to establish mutual trust for closer relations, especially an alliance for that.
Then there was Obama’s pivot to Asia and later the West’s street coup that overthrew a pro-Russia Ukrainian government. China exploited the chances for the establishment of an anti-US alliance between China and Russia.
EU and US mistake in their street revolution to bring about regime change in Ukraine gave China the opportunity to entirely win over Russia and made Russia China’s close ally.
In East and Southeast Asia, China has developed economic relations with ASEAN, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand quietly till the relations become so close as to enable China to set up free trade areas with them. Moreover, China has made efforts to grow its market much larger and even larger that no other market can replace China’s.
China has thus established its invincible position in East and Southeast Asia. Its invincible position in Southeast Asia has been strengthened by its willingness to conduct win-win cooperation with other claimants in exploiting the fish and energy resources in the disputed sea areas. Still it could not defeat the US diplomatically there until the US made the mistake to give China the opportunity to win.
In fact, the US must have been very clear that due to ASEAN’s close economic relations with China, it is impossible for the US to make ASEAN join it in containing China.
Still the US made the mistake in instigating the Philippines to file an arbitration and helping it to win the arbitration without military support to impose the arbitration award. That gave China the opportunity to subdue the US with firm posture to defend its sovereignty and interests militarily while making efforts to win over the Philippines with the diplomacy by allowing the Philippines to fish in the area around Scarborough Shoal and promising win-win cooperation in exploiting the resources in the disputed waters.
China’s diplomatic victory in dealing with the Philippines has caused the US to lose the entire Southeast Asia.
The diplomatic victory in Southeast Asia has made the US unable to use any ASEAN member as its base to attack China. Together with the military control of the South China Sea has removed the threat of US attack at China from the South China Sea.
There remains the threat of the US cutting China’s trade lifelines through the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
For the west route, China has launched its Silk Road economic belt and 21st century maritime Silk Road initiative. It has set up land connections with Europe through Russia and Central Asia through the initiative and is now busy building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor for connection with the Middle East, which is vital for China’s energy imports.
However, in spite of China’s efforts to develop close economic relations with EU, China’s growing influence in eastern Europe has given rise to EU’s concerns as a result, China’s position though quite strong, cannot be regarded as invincible. However, US mistake in dealing with its relations with EU provides China with opportunity for closer times with EU. China owes its diplomatic victory in Europe to US mistake.
Now, China’s trade lifeline through the Pacific remains unsafe. China’s trade with Americas is much smaller than that with EU but American markets especially those in Latin America have great growth potential.
What shall China do?
According to Wall Street Journal’s article “US Is Losing the Pacific to China” on June 23, China has made multibillion-dollar investments throughout the islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia is offering critical infrastructure projects, sending lots of tourists there and providing access to financial inclusion, but the US “continues to neglect its treaty allies in Micronesia and ignore the rest of the region.”
The article says, “Palau is still waiting on US$216 million in funds promised in 2011 as part of its agreement to provide the US with exclusive military access. Similar frustrations may lead the Federated States of Micronesia to terminate its own treaty with the US next year, well ahead of its expected 2023 expiration.”
Again China is establishing invincible position while the US is making mistakes to provide China with the opportunity to win with diplomacy.
If such diplomacy is combined with the construction of artificial islands on some reefs or floating artificial islands, each of which is supported with two aircraft carrier battle groups, China’s trade lifelines across the Pacific will thus be secure.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Foreign Policy and Wall Street Journal’s articles, full text of which can respectively be viewed at http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/05/12/the-united-states-is-losing-asia-to-china/ and https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-u-s-is-losing-the-pacific-to-china-1496853380
SCMP says in its report “Beijing’s new Silk Road may extend to Moscow-led Eurasian union” yesterday, “China and Russia are working to connect their flagship economic diplomacy projects, a move that could potentially reduce tensions between Beijing and Moscow as they jostle for regional influence.”
China and Russia are now close allies in countering the US, but due to conflict of interests linking China’s One Belt, One Road with Russia-led Eurasian Union is difficult as Russia is afraid that China’s establishment of Silk Road economic belt in Central Asia might draw Central Asia that Russia regards as its backyard away from Russia.
That is why though China and Russian issued a joint statement on linking the two economic strategies in 2015, there has been no progress in that respect.
Now, China’s Ministry of Commerce said ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Russia visit, that the two countries would sign an agreement for a study on the feasibility of linking the two.
This blogger believes that no matter whether the study will find the linking feasible, relations between China and Russia will become closer as the strategy illiterate US is screwing up its pressure on both countries. Anyway, the alliance between the two traditional enemies would have been very difficult in the first place if Obama had not facilitated it with his pivot-to-Asia folly.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s article, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2100968/beijings-new-silk-road-may-extend-moscow-led-eurasian.
Foreign Policy published an article titled “The United States Is Losing Asia to China” by Ely Ratner and Samir Kumar on May 12, which this blogger finds quiet interesting.
The article begins with China’s One Belt, One Road summit and described it as “the latest manifestation of Chinese leadership at a time when U.S. commitment to the region is less certain than ever.”
The article mentions Senator John McCain’s proposal of a $7.5 billion “Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative” ($1.5 billion annually through 2022) that, though mentions making U.S. regional posture “more forward-learning, flexible, resilient, and formidable,” mainly focuses on the military such as improvement of military infrastructure, purchase of additional munitions, etc.
However, the article believes that for the near-term battle to resuscitate American power in Asia will rise and fall on economics instead of the military.
Trump seems to blame for withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) aimed at containing China to make China unable to replace the US as leader in Asia. However, Democratic candidate Clinton who lost to Trump in the election also opposes TTP due to its failure to benefit the US. The US is too hard up to afford giving economic benefits to Asian countries at its own expense.
However, China’s One Belt, One Road benefits itself while benefiting other countries. Why is the US unable to do so?
Perhaps the US is too obsessed with military approach in its relations with other countries. It maintains the most powerful military machine in the world to scare others but fails to make them subdue to its leadership.
Why does the US fail to conduct win-win cooperation with other countries like what China has been doing so as to benefit both itself and others?
It is simply unable to do so as it lacks wise leadership at home to put its house in order so that it will have a growing economy and market to attract Asian countries.
Its media has been busy for decades to demonize China in order to make Asian countries believe they need US military protection. The problem is that though China’s military has grown much stronger, it prefers peaceful approaches in solving its disputes with other countries. It does not use its military to threaten other countries to subdue to it and accept its claims.
The obvious example is its disputes with the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal.
Before Philippine former president Aquino sent Philippine navy to drive away Chinese from the shoal, China, though has a much stronger navy, does not drive away the Philippines from the shoal and allow the Philippines to fish there. China drove the Philippines away merely in response to Philippines’ hostile move. That is all.
When Philippine resumes friendship with China, China allows the Philippine to go there again.
In addition, China provides funds for Philippines’ construction of infrastructure. That will certainly benefit China as China can export its excessive infrastructure industries and materials but the Philippines will be better benefited. That is win-win cooperation.
What the US has done to make the Philippines switch to China?
It provides the Philippines with its retired warships that are regarded as rubbish in modern warfare as its military aids. Can such ships fight China’s modern navy?
The Philippines has to depend on US protection. However, the US refuses to perform its obligations to protect Philippines’ interests in Philippines’ disputes with China.
That has made the Philippines realize that US has forged alliance with the Philippines to protect its own interests and contain its own potential enemy instead of protecting its ally the Philippines’ interests.
The Philippines has switched to Chinese side first of all due to military factor instead of economic factor.
The article is right that the US loses due to economic factors but fail to point out it also due to military factors as the US military is strong only in weapons but has no financial resources to support it to win a war even in a small country such as Afghanistan nor the military wisdom to achieve its strategic goal in wars as proved in its wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Foreign Policy’s article, full ext of which can be found at http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/05/12/the-united-states-is-losing-asia-to-china/
Compared with narrow-minded India, China seems too broad minded. Just as described in Reuters’ report “India’s ‘new Silk Road’ snub highlights gulf with China” on May 20, China has failed to attract Indian leader to attend its OBOR summit.
India will certainly be much benefited if it joins China’s Silk Road economic belt and 21st century maritime Silk Road (One Belt, One Road or OBOR) plan by attracting Chinese investment and the establishment of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor.
China certainly will also be benefited by the connection to South Asia; therefore, it has tried hard to attract India into its OBOR. However, it depends on India’s willingness to put aside its disputes and conflicts with China and Pakistan and turn a new page in its relations with its two large neighbors.
India Prime Minister Norandra Modi attached great importance to India’s relations with China when he was just elected, but under the influence of popular enmity against China and fear of China’s rise, Modi has obviously changed his mind. He now seems to have regarded China as his enemy. It is certainly a stupid strategy to maintain instead of removing hostility with India’s large and strong neighbors China and Pakistan but narrow-minded India is too strategy illiterate to see the necessity in conducting friendly diplomacy with its neighbors. That is why Reuters mentions in its report some Indian experts’ view on India’s risk in being isolated, but Modi does not seem to realize that.
For China, however, winning over India serves its best interests. It has made great efforts to resolve its border disputes with India. Now, Reuters says in its report that China has tried hard in vain to have Modi and Indian high officials attend its OBOR summit.
However, supporting Pakistan has long been China’s strategy to reduce border threat from India. China loses nothing if it cannot win over India. On the contrary, India’s opposition will push Pakistan closer to China and facilitate the success of China-Pakistan win win cooperation to make both countries richer and stronger.
Perhaps, India is confident that it will grow stronger than China in the long run, but can it attain that goal in isolation?
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-india-idUSKCN18H01L.
China has to lend its massive foreign exchange reserve. Previously, it lent to the US by purchasing of US treasury bonds. To avoid the risk, Chinese President Xi Jinping switched to lending to infrastructure projects in his Silk Road economic belt and 21st century maritime Silk Road (OBOR) plan mainly to countries in China’s backyard.
In its report “Behind China’s Silk Road vision: cheap funds, heavy debt, growing risk” yesterday, Reuters says that the OBOR “lending program of unprecedented breadth,” “could also leave some banks and many countries with quite a hangover”.
Certainly, there are risks and even serious risks in OBOR lending but are there no risks in lending to the US?
The US is heavily in debt but still get good rating for its debts. However, as US government is making no efforts to reduce its debts and its politics are in chaos now, the risks in lending to the US are by no means small compared with the lending to the countries with poor rating.
Moreover, there is in addition the risk of the falling exchange rate of US dollars.
Reuters says that the interest rates of the loans to OBOR are low, but are the interest rates of US treasury bonds high?
The most important in Xi’s OBOR lending strategy is that the lending to the US helps the US to maintain its excessive military budget in building and developing weapons to attack China such as B21 bombers that the US is developing for bombing Beijing.
In fact, China shall not lend even a penny to the US to enable the US to have the funds to deploy its military near China to threaten China. China buys US treasury bonds because it lacks alternatives.
Xi is wise to use China’s massive foreign exchange reserve to lend to countries within its OBOR plan. The infrastructures built by the lending, even if giving rise to bad debts, will first of all strengthen China’s national security instead of weakening that as the lending to the US does.
The infrastructures built under the OBOR plan will facilitate development of China’s and other countries economies. When those countries have grown rich, their politics will be more stable. China will be benefited by such stability in expanding its trade and investment there.
The lending to the US on the contrary will enable the US to have funds to invade other countries or interfere with their politics and thus may give rise to losses in China’s trade and investment there. Libya and Iraq are good examples.
The amount of lending to OBOR projects, though large, is but a fraction of China’s lending to the US. In fact, China shall gradually sell all its US treasury bonds and spend the proceeds mostly in OBOR projects since it is difficult to make good investment in the US and other developed countries.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-finance-idUSKCN18B0YS.
Like Latin America for the US, Central and Southeast Asia can be regarded as China’s backyard. Chinese President Xi Jinping has the vision to see the importance in developing those areas. China has already had great influence in Southeast Asia through trade and its rich overseas Chinese there. The collapse of Obama’s pivot to Asia has now left China as the only dominant power there.
US long-term close ally the Philippines’ switch to China’s side is a clear indication.
To strengthen China’s dominance there, Xi invented his 21st century maritime Silk Road to include in his One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative Southeast Asia that has never had anything to do with China’s Silk Road. Chinese investment in the infrastructures there will benefit both China and the overseas Chinese there.
What about Central Asia, the traditional part of Silk Road that links China with the Middle East and Europe?
Reuters says in its report “China’s COSCO to invest in Kazakhstan border project as part of Silk Road drive” yesterday that Chinese state-owned shipping giant COSCO “will sign a deal on Monday with Kazakhstan’s national railway company to take a 24 percent stake in a dry port in the Khorgos Eastern Gates special economic zone (SEZ)”.
Khorgos exchange is an important transport hub for change in railway gauges for the railway link between China and Europe. Through the railway network 27 Chinese cities have already connected with 11 European cities including London and Duisburg.
On April 24, SCMP published Tom Holland’s article “Puffing across the ‘One Belt, One Road’ rail route to nowhere” stating, “Compared to sea or air, the Europe-China freight service just makes no economic or environmental sense, either coming or going”
Mr. Holland simply regards the railway link between China and Europe as stupid as it is not cost effective and has no market.
However, it is of great strategic importance for China’s national security as it provides an alternative land route for transport of important goods between China and Europe in case China’s sea route is cut by enemy navy.
In addition, Xi wants to make those poor sparsely populated Central Asian countries rich by helping them exploiting their natural resources and providing jobs for their cheap labor. When those countries have become rich and filled with lots of Chinese immigrants, China will be better able to prevent illegal immigration and drug traffic from there.
The railway link between China and Central Asia and between Central Asia and Europe will greatly facilitate the trade of those inland Central Asian countries.
Those countries were formerly members of the Soviet Union so that Russia has great influence there. Xi’s efforts in establishing de facto alliance with Russia enable China to invest in infrastructures in and have close economic relations with them smoothly. The economic development in those countries will, in fact, also benefit Russia. Why shall Russia hinder China’s efforts?
China is even investing in infrastructures in Russia and lots of Chinese have moved into Russia now.
China now almost has the entire Asia as its backyard, allies or friends except India, Japan and South Korea.
India should regard Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as its backyard, but has failed to do so. It lacks the strategic flexibility to turn its most important neighbor Pakistan into its backyard or at least a friendly neighbor. India’s enmity has turned Pakistan into China’s close ally.
It is interesting that the US regards Latin America as its backyard. It has set up a free trade area with Canada and Mexico that draw its neighbors close to it. However, it now wants to scrap the free trade area or revise the terms of the area and thus push its neighbors away.
Perhaps the US is too rich and strong to need friends. It is happy to provide protection to all its allies without any consideration that it needs real allies that may help it when it is in trouble.
China, perhaps, is too poor and weak and has to build up its backyard and seek alliance and friendship.
Comments by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters and SCMP’s articles, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-cosco-idUSKCN18A0KP and http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/business/article/2089507/puffing-across-one-belt-one-road-rail-route-nowhere.
By Ben Blanchard and John Ruwitch | BEIJING/SHANGHAI Fri May 12, 2017 | 12:10pm EDT
The United States warned China on Friday that North Korea’s attendance at a weekend summit on China’s new Silk Road could affect the participation of other countries, casting a shadow over what is Beijing’s biggest diplomatic event of 2017.
Two sources with knowledge of the situation said the U.S. embassy in Beijing had submitted a diplomatic note to China’s foreign ministry, saying that inviting North Korea sent the wrong message at a time when the world was trying to pressure Pyongyang over its repeated missile and nuclear tests.
China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside of working hours in China. The ministry said on Tuesday that North Korea would send a delegation to the summit but gave no other details.
Asked about the invitation to North Korea to attend, Anna Richey-Allen, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department’s East Asia Bureau, said the United States expected China to push its neighbor to return to “serious talks” on denuclearization.
“That includes taking steps to make clear to the (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un regime the political, economic, and diplomatic consequences of its reckless and unlawful actions.”
The United States did not think it would be appropriate for North Korea to play a prominent role at the Belt and Road Forum, according to one of the sources familiar with the U.S. concerns.
The United States will send a delegation led by White House adviser Matt Pottinger to the summit, China’s Foreign Ministry said earlier on Friday.
U.S. President Donald Trump has asked China to put more pressure on North Korea, and has praised Chinese President Xi Jinping’s role in trying to rein in Pyongyang.
A source with knowledge of the note said that some Western countries could walk out of the specific session of the summit the North Koreans were attending if they were given too important a role, but that no decisions had been taken yet.
“This has generated a lot of concern,” the source said.
It was not immediately clear which sessions North Korea would attend. There are several sessions happening on Sunday afternoon, including on trade, finance and people-to-people exchanges. China has given few details about attendees.
North Korea’s chief delegate may also appear on stage in a group photo with other participants, said the same source, who is familiar with the planning for the summit.
China has not announced who that chief delegate will be, but South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said Kim Yong Jae, North Korea’s minister of external economic relations, will lead the delegation.
CHINA SAYS SILK ROAD A WIN-WIN
Leaders from 29 countries will attend the forum in Beijing on May 14-15, an event orchestrated to promote Xi’s vision of expanding links between Asia, Africa and Europe underpinned by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment.
Some Western diplomats have expressed unease about both the summit and the plan as a whole, seeing it as an attempt to push Chinese influence globally.
They are also concerned at the presence of leaders from countries with poor human rights records.
China has rejected criticism of the plan and the summit, saying the scheme is open to all, is a win-win and is only about promoting prosperity.
Some of China’s most reliable allies and partners will attend the forum, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
However, the only leader from a G7 nation to attend will be the Italian prime minister, according to China’s foreign ministry.
Despite Chinese anger at North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests, China remains the isolated state’s most important economic and diplomatic backer, even as Beijing has signed up for tough U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang.
China has over the years tried to coax North Korea into cautious, export-oriented economic reforms, rather than saber rattling and nuclear tests, but to little avail.
(Additional reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING and David Brunnstrom in WASHINGTON; Editing by Mike Collett-White)
Source: Reuters “Exclusive: U.S. complains to China about North Korea’s attendance at Silk Road summit”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.