• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 6:18am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 January, 2013, 2:36am

There's good reason for China's bluster


Chief Asia correspondent Greg Torode is one of the most experienced reporters in the region. In his 20 years at the SCMP, Torode has spent 15 years as a correspondent, travelling extensively to report political, strategic and security developments. The way the region is adapting to China’s rise has formed a key part of his work. His exclusive stories and analyses are widely followed by regional and international media.

Our recent story outlining the strategic and historical context behind the statements from outgoing President Hu Jintao that China must "build itself into a maritime power" made interesting reading for anyone wanting to understand what is going on in the region.

While the political jockeying and post-Bo Xilai intrigue generated more headlines out of the recent 18th party congress, Hu's vision of China's maritime future resonated across the region's staterooms and strategic salons. On one level, few are contesting China's rights to naval power commensurate with its rising stature and broadening economic reach. Even hawkish US figures such as former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have acknowledged this.

The questions for many looking increasingly warily upon China's rise are instead how will it get to that point and what will Beijing do with its clout once its gets there.

Underpinning those fears is the fact that Beijing will face the tyranny of geography as it rises. The US and the former naval giant that was the Soviet Union were blessed by continental access to at least two oceans; older maritime powers from smaller states such as Britain and Portugal used their fleets to snare colonies that helped them to further project their reach.

The realities faced by Beijing's strategists are vastly different. Not only does China's long coastline offer access only to the Pacific Ocean, but it finds itself hemmed in by two chains of islands. The first runs in a line down from Japan - host to its US ally - and its southern islands through the Philippines into the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea, a grouping dominated by the many bases of rival claimant Vietnam. The outer island chain includes US holdings such as Guam, where Washington has recently expanded its submarine force and has long kept strategic bombers.

In the longer term, the fate of Taiwan could tilt the strategic balance back in its favour, providing the PLA navy with a strategic hub it can only now dream about.

China's bluster - and its increasing assertiveness across regional seas - is steeped in a fear of containment and it is not hard to see why. The test then for China, and the worried region, is to make sure that its rise is peaceful.


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80 maps identify that the southernmost territory of China is Hainan island;
50 maps show that Hoang Sa and Truong Sa belong to Vietnam’s territory;
10 maritime maps and ten maps featuring Asia and Southeast Asia indicate that Hoang Sa and Truong Sa lie in the territorial sea of Vietnam.
According to an Australian professor and expert of Asia Carlyle A. Thayer, the large collection of historical and international maps of Mr. Tran Thang shows “contradictions in China’s claim to indisputable sovereignty”.
The world leaders should recognize China’s claims are incorrect and have no merits, matter closed. Let’s China’s leaders to feel free to take to International Tribunal for arbitration.
Are European nations and the USA ready to live in the new China’s World Order? There is nothing wrong that China has more says in the world’s affairs as a superpower. However, can we live under the rule of the untrustworthy Middle Empire? Silence and appeasement approach to a dictatorial regime is only postponing the inevitable war. The current silence of the European nations and the USA is just like the Europeans’ appeasement approach and Munich accord with Hitler during pre-World War II.
You seem to be confused. Comparing China to the Third Reich is absurd. The current regime has been in power since 1949. Well over sixty years. In that time they have had some territorial disputes and battles with the likes of Vietnam and india but have not moved to annexe the whole country. Nor does China have some twisted ideology based on racial supremacy. The fact of the matter is that China is not a Western country intent on dominating all and sundry. Nor is it a country that has a population that will accept it to commit genocide on a mass scale.
Are European nations and the USA willing to live in the new China World Order? As far as European nations go they have shown, especially where Iraq was concerned, that they have moved on from the Cold War. So then China has to deal with the USA and the UK. The UK likely trusts Communist China and its people much more than it does Japan. If the new Chinese World Order is one where China plays a pivotal role in redefining diplomacy and respect to other less powerful nations then what can the USA do? Americans in general are peace loving people, not the war mongers that you suggest. If China succeeds then there won't be a new China World Order there will be a new prospect for peace and security in Asia and the World.
Why must everything be addressed from an outdated Western militaristic way of thinking. It's interesting to note that no nuclear armed nations have fought wars against each other. All the time we see the same arguments about who has more power than who. China is rising! Rubbish! Militarily China sat at the top table from the moment it exploded its first atomic bomb. The USA has built itself up as the only superpower on media hype. The USA, China, Russia, UK, France, India, etc can all inflict horrendous casualties on any nation that opposes them militarily.
The real superpower of the 21st century needs to be confident of its own strength and know that it is not necessary to use military force to reach a satisfactory conclusion. The USA and her lapdogs the British Gov't have consistently bullied and attacked less militarily powerful nations because they are unable to communicate with them because their thinking is not flexible enough to consider that other peoples may have a valid but different point.
China has a golden opportunity to show her super power status to the rest of the world now by not following the US/UK way of conducting international relations.


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