The essence of Communism is to not only keep a tight reign on a country’s population as far as their political leanings, freedoms and overall boundaries of education and religion, but to also have a robust territorial presence in order to obtain military and political dominance.
This philosophy seems to be in active form as far as China is concerned. In recent months, China has been actively working to gain control of territories and islands that reach out from its borders far into the South China Sea, which covers some of the most widely traveled sea transport lanes in the world. The implications of this “territory grabbing” are far reaching because on its face there ultimately will have to be a showdown or some kind of negotiation.
China does not fear a military conflict with anyone, as their navy and air force have reached new heights as far as numbers and technology. All of this at a time when the United States military is at its lowest levels in years. China has built military bases on some of the territories and islands where they have become a real threat to the 200 mile exclusive economic zone of Manila in the Philippines.
Surrounding countries such as Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines have all had their issues with China in the past, and the recent China moves have all put everyone on alert. All of these countries have islands that fall withing this area, even though the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have all had trade relations with China. So China is really playing both sides against the middle, where they are attempting to build trade relationships in order to solidify economic conditions with these countries, but at the same time expand its military presence into these areas.
There does seem to be strong relationships with China through economic ties that have been formed thus far, but the blatant grabbing of territory is certainly alarming to these nations, and to the world at large as well. The implications to the United States is very clear, in that we have treaties with all of these countries and are bound to come to their defense if they are ever threatened or attacked.
China has attended the summits in their successive meetings, and has made it seem as though they would be willing to go along with a status quo that would create an economic cooperation among all. However, China has also initiated a potential competitor to the World Bank. Called the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and being based in Beijing, the potential on the economic front is a possible threat as well.
While it is a fact that China does depend upon western products such as automobiles and trucks, food and petroleum, there is evidence that they are become more and more self sufficient in these areas. This is why China and its AIIB have openly proclaimed the possibility of using the Yuan as a replacement of the dollar for the measure for international currency and trade.
The Spratly islands are smack in the middle of the highly traveled shipping lanes and this location is a prime target for Chinese expansion. The islands have only recently fallen under the radar of Chinese and as each acquisition gives them much more bargaining power.
At the present time, the tension among the nations in the region are at an all-time high, as it is impossible to ignore the aggressive moves that China is making in the region, and this activity has caused all of the regional nations to become more and more vigorous in their military preparations.
The Philippines have taken a different course in that they have take their case to the International Court of Justice at the Hague. In an attempt to settle things through negotiation and arbitration, this would seem that this could be an appropriate path. However, given the history of Communist expansion, it is probably not going to be a long term solution.
Communist philosophy still seems to be more militaristic in nature, such as “Here I am, so just you try to stop me.” Given recent Russian military adventures in the Crimea, and its success, it seems the world is very reluctant to stand against such adventurism.
The Philippines, however has also stationed fighter planes in the Subic Bay region, which is the closest spot that is nearby to Scarborough Shoal which China seized from the Philippines in 2012. As this move by China was really a blatant act of war, further such incidents could gravitate into a shooting war in a very short time.
The challenging by China of Japan’s control of the Sekaku Islands, located in the East China Sea has also caused concern, even though Japan is the largest trading partner with China. Japan is now in the process of gearing up their military position that, even though it is at odds with the post World War II position that Japan was placed in, is more appropriate for the current situation with the recent activities of China in the region.
China is also now exploiting natural gas field located in the Japanese territories in the East China sea with offshore platforms. This is an illegal operation, and really has no other basis other than an overt military invasion. It is also the claim of Japan that China is constructing artificial islands in order to establish radar systems, platforms for drones and for helicopters in order to pursue patrols from the air.
China says that it fears the security of their interests because of the presence of the US Navy and because there are portions of the region that are very narrow in scope, and could be the targets of terrorists. Vietnamese vessels operating in the area have had cables cut by Chinese ships, and there have been new coalitions formed between Vietnam, India and Exxon-Mobil in order to form and continue to explore the Spratly islands. China vigorously opposes these moves and threats abound.
As usual, the only real opposition to these overt military moves by China will have to be made by the United States and its allies. That has been the only deterrent to military force in this world for the past 100 years. New regimes and new governments are prone to test the might of the USA in times when our attention is focused elsewhere.
While it is important for a potential US threat be openly displayed, there is a deliberate effort underway to forge a diplomatic dialogue between China and the countries in the immediate area. Whether or not this approach will ultimately be successful or not will depend upon how forceful China sees its interests threatened in the short run, and the economic impact that will result from such actions.
On the other hand, it is impossible to ignore the expansive moves by the Chinese military, and all of the other territory grabbing exercises that have occurred.