Beijing is determined to turn the South and East China Seas into no-go areas as a prelude to forcing Taiwan to abandon democracy and embrace autocracy.
Ruling the waves and consigning American naval supremacy to history is crucial for China’s ultimate goal of being the only ocean-going military superpower.
Along the way, President Xi Jinping’s regime will impose its will on near neighbors before turning to perceived enemies from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
“China has determined that the United States is the only country that could interrupt its rise, [and] undermine national reunification [with Taiwan] … a strategic contest between China and the US is inevitable,” Chinese academic Shi Yuanhua warned.
“It would be America’s greatest misfortune if it were to turn China … from an imaginary enemy into its own gravedigger,” the Fudan University professor said as translated by Sinification on Substack.
Why this matters:
- On Monday, China’s PLA Navy was involved in a standoff with the USS Gabrielle Giffords around the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
- Twenty-four hours earlier, the Philippines deployed two coast guard vessels after an “alarming” increase in Chinese maritime militia boats around Whitsun Reef.
- Incidents like these are happening nearly every day with China claiming more than 90% of one of the busiest sea lanes in the world as territorial waters, flouting international law.
- At least US$3 trillion of trade traverses through the South China Sea, making it a vital economic lifeline.
Delve deeper: Still, Professor Shi’s extensive analysis illustrates the control the ruling Communist Party has on academia. Nearly a decade ago, Xi pledged to turn universities into “strongholds of the Party’s leadership.” That appears to have become a reality.
Big picture: At the weekend, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Q. Brown pointed out that the US “should” be worried about China’s threats to invade democratic Taiwan in an interview with Fox News.
Between the lines: Reuters reported on Sunday that the island’s President Tsai Ing-wen told a campaign rally that “voters should think of what had happened to Chinese-controlled Hong Kong when they cast their ballots next month.”
China Factor comment: Hong Kong was promised greater freedom than most Chinese cities following the British handover in 1997. But a catch-all National Security Law in 2020 after pro-democracy protests shattered that illusion and proved that Beijing cannot be trusted.