Wall Street Journal in May 2015 published a report on China’s territorial expansion plans. It was a review of Jonathan Holslag’s new book, China’s Coming War with Asia, 176 pages. The Communist Party’s major aspirations have set it on a collision course with free and democratic Asia. Anyone seeking an explanation for China’s recent headline-making belligerence in the South China Sea might do well to pick up a copy of Jonathan Holslag’s new book. Excerpts below:
The professor of international politics at the Free University of Brussels has produced a crisp and lucid overview of China’s disputes with its neighbors dating back to the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. He offers clear explanations of the Goliath of Asia’s recent attempts to advance its political aspirations without overt conflict through a combination of diplomatic, economic and military manipulation.
…the Chinese Communist Party has four great aspirations. It wants to keep control of its border regions, and Tibet and Xinjiang’s natural resources in particular. It wants to keep itself in power by buying off domestic opposition with the creation of a high-income economy. It wants to gain and maintain international recognition of its right to rule. And it wants to recover its supposedly “lost” territory. Mr. Holslag claims that failure in any of these areas weakens the Party’s grip on power.
The Communist Party likes to speak of its foreign policy as if it were a force of nature that can’t be controlled. Any attempts by foreign powers to resist it are bound to result in violent conflict.
Setting aside the Communist Party’s history of towering indifference to public opinion, the problem with Mr. Holslag’s argument is that it fails to acknowledge that such statistics are never independently verifiable in China. They always say what the government wants them to say and are only evidence for what it wants you to believe.
…China’s cooperation with neighboring member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has amounted to little more than distracting talks about naval piracy as it increases its military occupation of disputed shoals and reefs.
Despite being a signatory to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and a 2002 agreement with its Asean neighbors to resolve territorial disputes without the use or threat of force, Beijing has since comprehensively breached both agreements by the occupation of new territory, the creation of artificial islands and the unilateral declaration of exclusion zones. And in 2002, after promising Japan that it would shelve its claims over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, Beijing promptly passed a law asserting its exclusive ownership of them.
As the book’s title makes clear, Mr. Holslag does not see the future as being bright, and this is mainly the result of a domestic political system “that makes China almost pre-programmed to crush the existing liberal world order as soon as it has the means to do so.”
Rising powers often become more nationalistic and dangerous when their growth stagnates, Mr. Holslag warns. Either way, war in Asia has become more likely.
Mr. Neville-Hadley is a Vancouver-based writer.
Comment: The American answer to rising China should be to prepare in the Pacific Ocean for further aggression by the nationalist communist party regime. Strengthen Hawaii, Guam and other strongpoints.