Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Beginning of the Future of Pacific Foreign Affairs is Taking Place in the South China Sea

Hello China, Goodbye America

Despite politicians like Mitt Romney who declare America will be once again be the dominant world economic and military policy (if only those politicians are elected of course) the future of world politics and military might has been determined.  That determination is that America will be a military power in the Pacific, but not the military power in the Pacific.  The reason, China.

Every large major country regards the area near it as its own space as under its control.  Britain used to regard the Oceans as British territory.  The United States has the Monroe Doctrine, which nobody at least in this country would dare question.  For China the Asian Pacific area is their backyard.  They have not, however, had military control over the area because they do not have sufficient military resources to control the area.  But that is changing.

A critical political and military ‘game’ is being played out the in South China sea.  The Philippines and Viet Nam and other countries are all in a dispute with China about ownership and control of parts of the South China Sea, as well as rivers (potential hydro projects) that flow into it. 

Tensions were high because a real mix-up between China and the Philippines was already taking place—over Scarborough shoal, a ring of mostly submerged rocks that both claim. On April 10th a Philippine warship found Chinese fishing boats inside the shoal with an illegal haul of giant clams, coral and live sharks. The fishermen called for help, and two Chinese civilian patrol boats blocked the mouth of the shoal to stop the Philippine navy from arresting the fishermen.

At this point in time the United States, while arguing it is neutral, is still a player in the region.

In this way, America keeps China guessing as to where the tripwire for armed conflict is buried. The Americans and Filipinos made the usual denials that the mock enemy in their annual joint military exercises is China. The Chinese muttered darkly that the exercises would increase the risk of confrontation. Its press was even more incensed, since joint exercises with Vietnam, another rival claimant to parts of the sea, also began on April 23rd. America insisted this was coincidental and that the exercises had long been planned.

Going forward though American influence and control will wane, and China’s will rise.  There are three reasons for this.

  1. China is beginning to have sufficient national income to devote large resources to its military and to develop military capability outside of mainland China.

  1. The U. S. no longer can afford to maintain a strong defense position in the western Pacific.

  1. The distance between the U. S. and the countries on the western Pacific is too great to economically allow the U. S. to maintain a strong presence.

So geography and economics are going to do what Japan in WWII could not do.  They are going to defeat the Americans in the farthermost regions of the Pacific Ocean.  Americans, get used to it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment