If China wins a war in the South China Sea, China will be the biggest bully in the Eastern Hemisphere of the Earth. Tension across the blue waters of the Southern Sea of China escalates as international exchanges between countries bordering the South China Sea turns ugly.
The possibility of war becomes imminent. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for China to make one more leap of faith to greatness.
Should war take place, and it may, China has the benefit of playing on its home turf. Not only they can they reclaim territory lost to them many years ago, but they can also reestablish themselves as one of the Big 3 of the international powerhouses. History points out, the United States of America has benefited from the wars of the last century and now, one of the leading arms providers of the world. From the start of the 19th century to the early 20th century, the world was once under the dominion of the English navy. Scores of nations littered around the globe, nations that were once part of the British Empire. The world’s largest empire in its peak. Commonwealth Nations today bear the hallmarks of the early British colonization, a testament to its former power and influence. Come World War 1, followed closely by the Second World War, the United States of America had ousted the British from their throne and rose to claim the seat of power of the world. Moreover, in each area that the United States flexed its muscles, nobody would defy the Big Brother of the World, lest he or she feel its wrath befall upon them.
Before President Xi Jin-ping steps into office, China was no weaker than it is now. Deng Xiao-ping’s low profile, Jiang Ze-min’s alleged corruption accusation, and Hu Jin-tao’s over cautiousness; China has been operating quietly behind closed doors, focusing mostly on trade and commerce, whereas the military grows restless. President Xi, on the other hand, is more interested in aggressive approaches. He prefers snapping his knuckles and allows the United States to experience first-hand what does China has up its sleeves.
President Obama, taking a leaf out of Confucius’ book, is more tolerant towards his Chinese counterpart. As China begins its monumental project of filling the South China Sea, neighboring countries grew irritated and were frustrated with the inactivity of the United States. China became bolder even with the United States’ protests and pressed on. It understands that the United States would not want aggression and put all mutual interests at risk. Moreover, hence militarization takes place and armaments such as HQ-9, and the Shenyang J-11 are all brought onto the chessboard. As much as China proclaims that most of its militarization are towards the defense of its sovereign territory, the objectives are clear: China is claiming the South China Sea and other nations are to keep off.
In the arm-wrestle that lasted three years, China has won most of the Scarborough Shoal and the Jackson Atoll. Valid claim or not, these are the few, if not only, islands that China has reclaimed without aggression. Despite protests by the United States, nothing concrete has been done to prevent China from successfully occupying the islands. All is far from ending. China’s stateside troops’ readiness are high. They are well prepared for amphibious assault operations. As the position of China’s military gradually solidifies, China will now turn its head towards a pain in its arse: Taiwan.
Certain parties believe the South China Sea is a significant economic benefit that endears the occupation of the area; reports claim the region is supposedly rich in resources and minerals. The reclaiming of Taiwan is a question of cultural and strategic importance to firmly grasp the control and wrestle dominance of the Eastern Hemisphere from the United States. More and more warships and planes come into the fray and China in every way it can, tries to deter the United States’ military intervention. The taking of the Scarborough Shoal will not only put Taiwan in a vulnerable position, even Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines are in imminent danger from its restless neighbor. With long-range strike capabilities and readied troops, the People’s Liberation Army of China is willing to mount offensive operations against the island of Taiwan. Recent drills conducted by the Liaoning has put Taiwan hot on its heels, scrambling its fighter jets when China’s first aircraft carrier passes into the Formosa Straits. Even though the carrier remains out of Taiwanese waters, their wary neighbors kept a watchful eye on its movements.
In the East China Sea, China increased naval activity in waters off the disputed Diaoyu Islands, called Senkaku Islands in Japan. Divided by a civil war in 1949, both Taiwan and China are governed separately under different ideologies. Since then, Beijing awaits a reunification under its “One China Policy” – even if aggression is necessary.
Although relations between the straits have warmed in the past few years, recent antics by newly elected President Tsai Ing-Wen of Taiwan has left Beijing fuming, backpedaling relations across the straits to the 1950s. Throughout the years, Mainland China displayed aggression behind Taiwan’s notion of approaching independence. Non-peaceful means will be employed should Mainland China believes efforts on peaceful unification are not going to deliver results. One only has to remember the failed endeavors of the nationalists in Taiwan who were anxious to pounce on whatever weakness the Communists exposed to retake Mainland China. In 1949, Acting President Li Zong-Ren of the Republic of China pressed negotiations with the Communists after the resignation of then-President Chiang Kai-Shek. Older generation Chinese might remember to this day, where the Republic administration was negotiating for the co-existence of both governments, where Communist and Republic, each will occupy and govern North and South of the Yangtze River respectively. The notion of separating China into two halves was disastrous: No Chinese would ever agree to it, nor will they want to be part of such abomination. Similar to the former, Mainland China will not accept Taiwan to be an independent nation. The Formosa Strait is not the Demarcation Line and nor is Taiwan the Korean Peninsula. It is nothing about democracy or communism. It is about culture.
History of China shows that the Chinese do not tolerate separation. Former President Jiang Ze-Min is remembered in infamy when Sino-Russian disputes of the northern borders of China settled at the end of 1999. Vladivostok, the Xing’an Mountains, Nerchinsk, and other lands and territories of the northeastern part of China. The Chinese will remember the day forever when they were sold out by their supreme leader. Former President Jiang allegedly gave away the territories to Russia for personal gain and advancement. The lingering pain remains to this day and the name of Jiang Ze-Min spoken of with contempt. Ergo, the cultural significance of reunification is high. The Chinese want Taiwan to be part of China. As long as Taiwan toes the line of the “One China Policy” and mainland China do not feel that Taiwan is a separate country, there will be no need for aggression. It might not have to be part of the People’s Republic of China. It might just have to remain as part of China, the status quo as it is. As far as the current Communist Chinese regime is concerned, Taiwan is a prodigal son who will return to the bosom of China, embracing its ancestry heritage.
However, restoring China to its former glory is part of President Xi’s manifesto and is what he currently does. Unlike his predecessor of 1999 who willingly gives away territories, President Xi intends to do justice to his people and stand firm on the decision to reclaim the South China Sea. He is hungry to prove himself on the international stage. The reclaiming the South China Sea is only the first stage of President Xi’s plan to expand China’s sphere of influence on the Pacific side of China. A war between both China and the United States provides no direct advantages to both nations; it is clear that both countries do not want war. China is prodding the United States, testing its patience, while China slow tries to gain more in the exchange. China knows a war far from its shores will not guarantee it a victory. The Peoples’ Liberation Army need support from its Rocket Force, and that support which the latter can only provide within proximity to the shores of the mainland. Whereas the lip service the United States give to its South East Asian allies only serves to embolden the Chinese to strengthen its influence in its region of power, solidifying its position as the Superpower of the Eastern Hemisphere. President Xi knows one thing for sure: China must be able to sufficiently stand toe to toe with the United States, lest China will not be able to rise and assume the power of the pinnacle of the international stage.
The many different trade and aid policies being pursued by China globally have been heavily criticised but can developing countries become more independent or will China’s policy reform?