I take it such an arrogant action would surely drag the U.S. (and allies?) into a wider regional conflict, no? And with Kimmy still high after his swoosh with “envoy Rodman”, I can see the North adding condiment to the already well-stirred stool stew.
And what is this ‘restricted battle’ business all about? Do the Chinese really believe the world will stand by and let the catastrophe and poverty stricken Philippines be a sacrificial lamb to their annexation plans?? :dubious:
China has shot itself in the foot. It has involved its populace in the dispute by insisting that it owns the entirety of the South China Sea, (see any map of the Chinese claims, it’s preposterous), and no one else should get a drop of oil or any other resource from the entire area.
Making this a very noisy, very public, and very nationalistic ‘fact’, they have made it difficult for themselves to cooperate with anyone, thus effectively excluding everyone from utilising those resources.
Not clever thinking.
For a while, under Hu, there were low-key negotiations with the Japanese to bring about some tapping of those resources in cooperation and some talk of the boundaries drawn being flexible. However Xi, Hu’s successor, doesn’t appear to be the brightest button in the box and has brought the nation back to idiot-mode.
The recent bluff with the no-fly zone was called by the USA first, then Japan and South Korea, and now the Chinese administration is left shuffling from foot-to-foot looking rather foolish. It’s to be hoped they learned something from that, but right now it’s clear sense is lacking in the new administration.
The good news - maybe - is just as Hu, early in his period, was unable to push China into the modern world as far as he had hoped thanks to opposition from within the CCP, so Xi is finding it equally difficult to throw the nation into reverse. Reformists and reactionaries are in deadlock. The prognosis coming out of that will be slow - but steady - progress overall.
China’s choice is, and always has been, to cooperate and get something; to make loud noises and get nothing; or to take action and lose a very great deal. Let’s hope stupid doesn’t degenerate into way stupid though sadly, with decision-making in the hands of so few and those few not best noted for their intelligence, way stupid can’t be ruled out.
China would like to be the major naval power in their region, which, when you think about it, isn’t an insane aspiration, especially given the alternative of the US being Asia’s major naval power.
I expect we will express our disappointment and move on. A uni-polar world was fun while it lasted, but even Americans are losing their taste for American hegemony. Like it or not, we are going to have two superpowers. An toe superpowers who mostly get along is better than a new Cold War, where every previewed slight puts us on the brink.
Sucks that small countries lose out when superpowers play their games, but that’s how it’s always been.
It’s also worth noting that many of China’s actions are far more internally directed than we imagine. China is deeply divided along a half dozen potential fault lines- economically, geographically, politically, generationally, ethnically, etc. Major cities cooperate with Beijing now, but it’s really a tit for tat relationship and Beijing is constantly having to prove its value. Acts like this are more about building internal unity and appeasing the influential nationalist movements than anything to do with us or any other countries.
I would agree with this save for the appeasement of nationalist movements. They intentionally try to foster nationalism nationwide in an effort to achieve unity. I’ve seen several, quite intentional, anti-foreigner campaigns that have originated within the Party itself in my time here. That against Japan is ongoing and ceaseless.
These seem to be having a decreasing effect as time moves on and the Party increasingly loses credibility.
Yes and no. Nationalism can be a useful tool, especially when one needs a distraction, and it’s a good channel for youthful energy. At the same time, the full nationalist agenda is insane and politically impossible, and puts Beijing in a ver awkward position when it comes to things like Taiwan. I am sure that everyone involved wishes that while issue would go away, bit it can’t be dropped because of the nationalists. They’d have no problem at all turning against Beijing, so all the Party can do is throw them bones, give then outlets and keep them useful.
The problem with that argument is that not all the other countries are small, and in general this assumes the status quo will stay the same with no change other than China flexing some muscle. That’s not how things work.
Reality is that there are other countries that can devote more or less attention to building up their militaries, and can be more or less aggressive. Japan has lost one war in its history and has traditionally been a superpower in that neck of the woods. They disarmed after WW2, but to that was in the absence of any real threats to them. To the extent that China becomes more aggressive, Japan may feel the need to rearm. And the same goes, to a lesser extent, to South Korea and other countries.
In sum, what China is risking is setting off a regional arms race and raising the hostility level all round. This may or may not work out for them, but it’s a lot less simple than grabbing an island or two here and there.
I’m not so sure about this. I think you’re conflating China with Japan.
The Japanese nationalists are a relatively small group considering the nation as a whole, but influential politically. They tend to make a noise disproportionate to their number and need sops throwing their way by those who don’t want to be in bed with them. Every now and then they’ll get an administration happy to at least sit on the edge of that bed.
China is very different. There’s little opportunity here for ‘independent’ political thinking, the one thing that the Party seems to have successfully quashed. As I said before, they’re not so successful these days in pushing the Party line either, though clearly the impact is considerable. That said, overall, I think most Chinese are becoming increasingly apolitical rather than buying into what the party sells them.
The point being that the CCP is not in the position of the Japanese government in having to appease nationalistic sentiments arising from some outside source. Insofar as nationalism exists here, they fostered it, and quite deliberately.
Whether or not they were wise to do so is quite another question. However, it cannot be stressed enough, we’re not talking about some Machiavellian elite group of intellectuals in the Central Committee. We really are talking about a fractious and fractured Party often led by those not amongst the brightest just making it all up as it goes along, frequently rather badly.
Insofar as there is ‘opposition’, it is within the Party itself. There is no influential political force here beyond the Party, and the only thing that creates a political dynamic in terms of differing viewpoints is internal schisms.
The two models, broadly speaking, are American, (tendency towards nationalism, military and economic superpower); and European, (not so keen on nationalism, diplomatic and economic superpower). Jiang, before Hu, leaned towards the American model. Hu leaned towards the European, but in several areas was undermined very rapidly in trying to push things not too far, but too fast. That put the Jiangites back in contention and Xi is one of their ilk - back to the American model but he, too, has pushed the envelope to breaking-point and is having to rein himself in. (The American model is not the most intelligent for the 21st century, well as it may have played out in the post-WWII decades. It doesn’t play too well now).
Assuming the US is happy to sit by and do nothing (very unlikely seeing as how close an ally they are), would China actually be able to successfully invade? The Philippines aren’t have a superpower but have a decent US-equipped Navy, and those islands are a long way from China, and pretty close to the Philippines.
Were the action to be in pure isolation, theoretically, yes.
Globally, the fallout would be immense.
And once you’ve got it, you’ve got to hold it. At present, they can’t even keep Tibet and Xinjiang under reasonable control, and that’s having moved in so many Han Chinese that the indigenous population are made into an effective minority.
For all the talk about Taiwan, they’re not going to invade that - one smallish island.
For all the talk about Japan, they’re not going to start a war… and the Chinese have nukes while Japan, on many levels, is effectively demilitarised.
They’ve got all sorts of issues with North Korea.
Inner Mongolia threatens to be a mess along the lines of Tibet and Xinjiang.
They have border disputes with India and others.
In 1982 I think it was, they attempted an invasion of Vietnam. They didn’t get very far and withdrew, battered.
Finally, the world is about far more than China, the Philippines and the USA.
So could they invade the Philippines? Depends on whether you consider it as a mathematical question or one based upon complex realities. In the former case, maybe. In the latter, no chance.
I speak as one who lives in China, but whose favourite spot in all the world, had I but the chance to relocate, is Sabang, on Mindoro Island, in the Philippines.
We’re all of us just reading the runes. The only people who know are in the central committee, and I reckon they don’t even know what the others in their little group are doing. Indeed, I suspect many of them don’t know what they themselves are doing half the time. They’re certainly not aware of what all the local officials are doing.