Strategic Ambiguity and China
Board: Macro Economics
Last week's Economist featured the most recent in a series of reports about the recent history, present status and near and long range planning of the China military complex. "China has the ambition...to become a regional hegemon...is engaged in a determined effort to lock America out of a region that has been declared a vital security interest by every administration since Teddy Roosevelt's...and it is pulling countries in Southeast Asia into its orbit of influence "by default".
The article goes on to provide a wealth of interesting detail (and speculation) about China's military, its management, functioning and future direction.
I'm not reporting the details of the report, but highly recommend it to anyone interested, and post this only to point out issues about the positions taken on the future of Taiwan.
China is learning from America (a most sincere form of flattery). The PLA's Academy of Military Science in Beijing pays close attention to American military think tanks, like the CSBA, as well as the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment which issues white papers and recommendations to SecDef re. Projected efficiency of specific new project spending. General Chen Zhou, one of the most senior academicians, told the Economist "Our great hero was Andy Marshall at the Pentagon (the powerful head of the Office of Net Assessment, who was known as 'futurist in chief') We translated every word he wrote."
Which leads to the question They are listening and learning from us. Are we listening and learning from them?
China is vitally concerned with its control over territory within the "First Island Chain" (I think Doug presently resides this territory?
Doug, seeing many anti-missile catamarans these days?)
As a global power, America, with its nominal defense budget of seven times China's (also nominal), remains vitally interested in Asian matters, but US appropriate degree of interest within the First Island Chain is arguably less "vital" than China's. (Arguably does not mean "definitively" or even "most likely")
CSBA http://www.csbaonline.org/ in 2010 released summaries of its studies about the capabilities of China to deploy essential military components within ten years. Other than issues related to aircraft carriers, which at this stage of military decision-making aren't critical to questions re. The China Seas, there is no presently unreached decision than needs to be taken to reach the CSBA projections. And they're impressive, not least because they are heavily weighted in capabilities in which advanced technology counts for ever increasing percentage weightings over metal bending and non-advanged stage engineering.
In 2005, China passed the Taiwan Anti-Seccession Law, which commits it to a military response either in the event that (1)Taiwan ever declares independence or (2)The government in Beijing ever thinks that all possibility of peaceful unification has been lost. In the words of a senior representative of the Foreign Ministry, "The mainland is patient., but independence is not the future for Taiwan."
America is continuing a course of "strategic ambiguity" over how it would respond to an array of interim outcomes. The Chinese response is "We don't have any ambiguity. We'll use whatever means we have to prevent it happening." (I wonder if there is a correlation between the degree of ambiguity and the resources that will be spent if or when they seem to be called for?)
On the subject of resources, whatever one things about the advisability of Taiwan remaining an independent nation, it's useful to look periodically at the dollars America is directing to military effectiveness of the Taipei government.
Here's a recent update, one of a great many:
I have no way of assessing the validity of reports that Taiwan is less committed to independence from the mainland, other than I have a tendency to accept the premise that people who have been citizens of a free independent nation value their status highly, and don't want to join up with someone else's country.
Having read the Economist piece, with all the data it imparted about our friends in China,I just felt "bemused" by the ambiguity thing. Not that I have any well argued preference for a stated outcome. Just that I find it interesting to see the webs we "leaders of the free world" repeatedly weave.