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More Moves In The Great Game

Following China’s carrier launch last week, Taiwan and the US both responded: the Taiwanese military unveiled a carrier-destroying missile while the US showed off a shiny and advanced aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam.

China responds: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has just returned from a very successful trip to China. As the Asia Times reports today:

The Chinese promised Sri Lanka more investment in infrastructure projects and to enhance two-way trade and strengthen cultural and personnel exchanges.

More important for Rajapaksa was Beijing’s assurance of “fullest support in all necessary situations to Sri Lanka in international forums”.

This has India worried. New Delhi would hate to see a Chinese naval presence in Sri Lanka. The Asia Times article notes that

India is in a dilemma over an international probe of allegations of Sri Lanka’s war crimes…If Delhi joins the West in putting pressure on Rajapaksa in order to rein him in from his excessive pro-Chinese tilt, it could just end up pushing a defiant and isolated Colombo into a closer embrace of China.

And Pakistan, as we’ve mentioned, won a few brownie points by giving the Chinese a glimpse of secret American helicopter technology.

Meanwhile, the US has taken another step in the hopes presumably of keeping the Great Game from getting too hot too fast and reportedly has refused a Taiwanese request to buy 66 F-16 C/D fighter jets.  Cowardly retreat or masterful restraint?  Class discuss.

The Great Game over the future of Asia will do more than anything else to define the 21st century.  Geopolitically speaking, this is indubitably the main event of our times.  That makes no difference to the reflexively euro-centric, short term news media.  As of yet the media aren’t covering the Great Game as a connected story; until they do, you can read about it here.

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  • WigWag

    Cowardly retreat.

    On a similar note, the recent American outreach to Myanmar is also interesting.

  • Luke Lea

    The Great Game over the future of Asia will do more than anything else to define the 21st century.

    Especially if we refuse to play it. Asia for Asians!

  • Jim.

    There are a lot of decision-makers out there; we can hardly “refuse to play” en masse.

    Isn’t Blackwater already based somewhere other than America? If shrinking defense budgets lead to any kind of arms race, we will start seeing expatriate US defense companies popping up elsewhere on the globe. I know of at least two defense contractors who are looking at the current budget projections and are thinking of moving or have already moved abroad.

  • Jeff77450

    I think that not selling F-16s to Taiwan is a mistake. I’m a retired soldier who would like to see the U.S. *stop* being the world’s policeman. But if we do that then we need to be willing to enable our allies to defend themselves. It’s a win-win for our allies and the U.S. My $0.02.

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