China, the U.S. and Looming War

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…with its actions in the South China Sea, China is out of step with both international norms that underscore the Asia-Pacific’s security architecture, and the regional consensus in favor of a non-coercive approach to this and other long-standing disputes.

 

China’s actions are bringing countries in the region together in new ways.  And they’re increasing demand for American engagement in the Asia-Pacific, and we’re going to meet it. We will remain the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come.

That was a May 27 salvo that U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter fired at China, an aggressive assurance that the U.S. is continuing its “Asian Pivot” policy, an effort to contain China’s growing global economic influence.

The Obama Administration’s efforts to solidify the “Asian Pivot” — through increased military “flyovers” and naval patrols in the area, and attempting to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Congress — has just moved Beijing to public pronouncements of aggressive response. In fact, viewing the attitudes of both sides, it’s possible the growing feud could eventually lead to nuclear confrontation because both sides are showing increasing efforts at nuclear arming.

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Chinese military parade

For the first time, China has issued a military policy paper —“China’s Military Strategy” —  clarifying what actions it plans to take to strengthen itself globally. Through a decade of releasing these military policy statements, China’s offered only tepid reviews of numbers and statistics regarding the Chinese military. But last month, China changed that approach, obviously to show the U.S. it’s tired of America’s global military aggression to assure its “exceptionalism” and to control global markets and natural resources, primarily for energy.

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In the new century, the U.S. has continued to try controlling global markets militarily — and to aid its weapons sales by fomenting conflict, particularly in the Middle East and through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). China, meanwhile, has touted a foreign policy of noninterference in other nations’ internal affairs, and in stressing economic cooperation through trade and infrastructure-construction agreements globally.

China and its partners in BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa — have also over the last couple of years moved to challenge the dollar as the world’s ruling reserve currency. The economic threat from BRICS, Peculiar Progressive believes, is at the center of both the Asian Pivot and TPP (against China), and supporting the revolution in Ukraine and expansion of NATO (against Russia).

When a nation is suffering economically, it looks for an enemy and potential conflict to try to deflect attention from domestic problems and unite the public. The U.S. has tried that with Russia, both fomenting the Ukraine situation and pushing the European Union to join Washington in implementing sanctions on Russia.

Now, Washington’s neocons also see a need to challenge China. But China isn’t Iraq or Afghanistan or even Russia. And China obviously decided to make that clear with its recent aggressive military white paper.

China’s Military Strategy Paper

Released on May 26, Beijing’s military strategy paper emphasizes maintaining the peace and cooperation with other countries, and maintaining a military based on defense and not aggression. It specifically mentions strong cooperation with Russia, as well as continued cooperative efforts with the U.S. and the Asian countries.

But it also notes it will “oppose hegemonism” which obviously means the U.S., because China’s President Xi Jinping has consistently alluded to America hegemony in speeches during his world travels. The paper’s strategy also repeats often that China’s military is preparing for combat, and for “winning”, whether the threat is by land, air, sea, or nuclear.

The paper sites major “strategic tasks” for the Chinese military:

— To deal with a wide range of emergencies and military threats, and effectively safeguard the sovereignty and security of China’s territorial land, air and sea;

— To resolutely safeguard the unification of the motherland;

— To safeguard China’s security and interests in new domains;

— To safeguard the security of China’s overseas interests;

— To maintain strategic deterrence and carry out nuclear counterattack;

— To participate in regional and international security cooperation and maintain regional and world peace;

— To strengthen efforts in operations against infiltration, separatism and terrorism so as to maintain China’s political security and social stability; and

— To perform such tasks as emergency rescue and disaster relief, rights and interests protection, guard duties, and support for national economic and social development.

There’s a lot of weight in these few words. For example, China has signed major trade agreements with Russia, India, and nations in Africa and South America. And President Xi has introduced his vision for a new Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, establishing modern land and sea trade routes linking Asia, eastern Europe and Africa. The two projects have become simply known as “One Road, One Belt”.

china-silk-roadSo, when China’s military paper stresses the “strategic tasks” of both safeguarding China’s security and interests in new domains, as well as the security of China’s overseas interests, to Peculiar Progressive this means Beijing is prepared to protect its global investments, even militarily if necessary.

Also keep in mind that China and Russia have recently cooperated in military operations, that China has closed major natural gas and oil deals with Russia, and offered to help Moscow if it hits an economic bottom due to sanctions. The point: in a war, China’s enemy could quickly become Russia’s enemy.

Their foreign policies have shown that the U.S. would rather fight a war than negotiate, and China would rather negotiate than fight a war. But these recent hostile words and efforts show a marked change. And we’ll close by looking at China’s view of nuclear force, because if confrontation gets that far, negotiation will join everything else in the incinerating mushroom clouds.

Keep in mind that China knows the U.S. has begun a plan of a 10-year, $1 trillion refurbishing of its nuclear arsenal. We wrote about that in our column “U.S. Activates Trillion-Dollar Nuke Buildup” last October.

Consider that as you read the next paragraph which further explains what Beijing means by its strategic task “to maintain strategic deterrence and carry out nuclear counterattack”:

The nuclear force is a strategic cornerstone for safeguarding national sovereignty and security. China has always pursued the policy of no first use of nuclear weapons and adhered to a self-defensive nuclear strategy that is defensive in nature. China will unconditionally not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or in nuclear-weapon-free zones, and will never enter into a nuclear arms race with any other country. China has always kept its nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for maintaining its national security. China will optimize its nuclear force structure, improve strategic early warning, command and control, missile penetration, rapid reaction, and survivability and protection, and deter other countries from using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against China.

Keep this in mind, too, if these two major nations increase hostilities through cyberwar, which might somehow set off nuclear war.

Don’t you think the two sides might be better off, instead of their current jabbing at each other — which George Washington warned of, cited in my recent column — to sit down and have honest negotiations to quell this growing conflict? This can’t wait until Xi visits President Obama at their scheduled September gathering. This should start now, before some “Concord shot” starts military war for real.