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Thanks Obama
PLA Report: Chinese Domination of South China Sea Complete

A leaked report from the People’s Liberation Army offers a rare Chinese admission of its strategy in the South China Sea—and the conclusion that it has established undeniable military supremacy there. ABS-CBN

The experts said that China’s massive land reclamation projects have helped it to acquire the PLA’s strategic advantage in military security in the South China Sea to a certain extent.

“Intimidated by the projects, related claimants and neighboring countries are unlikely to provoke any military conflict or escalate it into a war because they are too poorly prepared,” it said. […]

With regard to military confrontation with the U.S. military, the report said that while Washington is likely to maintain its seemingly neutral stance on the sovereignty issue of the region, it “lacks both the ability and will to engage in a military conflict or go to war with us.”

The PLA report confirms what honest observers already know: while Obama dithered in defining the exact boundaries of his pivot, the Chinese steamrolled him, moving assertively to create facts in the South China Sea that will long outlast his tenure. No matter how aggressively Trump moves next, the strategic balance has shifted decidedly in Beijing’s favor. Such is the sorry state of the last President’s Asia legacy.

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  • KremlinKryptonite

    Well, they certainly don’t dominate anything. Unless they’re willing to start WWIII by shooting at a US carrier then everything is as it has been, except for the Filipino fisherman unable to fish in their own EEZ.
    Tough guy Rodrigo isn’t going to do anything to help them either, poor boy.
    However, the use of force by the Chinese Communist Party to occupy islands, reefs, and other features has been going on since January, 1974, so it has been the failure of many administrations (and the Philippines) to not act.

    • Suzy Dixon

      1. It is a private military owned and operated by and for the CCP autocracy.
      2. Consequently, corruption is just as endemic in what is colloquially called “PLA Inc” or “The rank factory” everything from selling government property for personal profit to selling ranks, including the rank of major general. For example, Xu Caihou sold millions of dollars worth of officer ranks from 2004 – 2013 and was on the central military commission!!!
      3. Questionable training, corruption and reliance on hardware that can be purchased from Moscow or stolen from Washington = unlikely to win a fight except against pro-democracy protesters in Beijing or against some Tibetans.

      • Jon Robbins

        Wow, Suzy, with all that corruption and ineptness, it makes you wonder how they came so far in the last 25 years.

        • Suzy Dixon

          Now that’s a good question. Did they really? The evidence seems to suggest that it’s a facade.

          • Jon Robbins

            Wow–that’s a pretty good facade. I wonder if China’s position as the world’s most robust economy for 18 of the last 20 centuries was a facade too.

          • Suzy Dixon

            Not quite sure how that relates to this very specific issue, but clearly that’s been largely exaggerated, too. After all, the last 2000 years of Chinese (whatever that means exactly) history has been filled with civil strife and rebellions and dynasties and invasions, like the Manchus and their “Qing Dynasty” which KK brought up.

          • Jon Robbins

            Well, you seem to think China is a flash in the pan–a “facade” you said. The track record over the last two millennia suggests otherwise.

            Civil strife? Sure–we’ve all had strife. What has European history been but a litany of strife?

            But we’ll certainly get a chance to see whether you’re right about China being a facade.

          • Suzy Dixon

            You bet, I certainly think that about the Chinese communist party and PLA Inc. because that’s what the evidence suggests. And as for the rest, 2000 years of internal problems really just illustrates the point that its hard to even pin down what china or Chinese history even means. I see what you and KK are talking about. He makes a great point about the Manchus.
            Manchus weren’t Han. The Han hated them. Do you consider that 250 years Chinese history, or does it only count when Han are controlling things?

          • Jon Robbins

            Reference the CCP, OK, but just because the CCP gradually fades away–it’s hardly a Communist Party in any meaningful sense at this point–does not mean that the Chinese state goes with it. And the PLA–inc. or not–isn’t going anywhere either. I think you are engaged in wish fulfillment. China is scary and threatens our global dominance so you need to invent a comforting fantasy that it’s all going to collapse and then we can go back to the good old days of the 1990s.

          • Suzy Dixon

            Quite the opposite! In fact, I am so sick of this hysteria and the gross, symbiotic relationship between PLA Inc. exaggerating capabilities, on the one hand, and western defense contractors (along with their bought politicians) claiming they need billions more dollars because a picture of the “J20 Fighter!” surfaces on the other hand.

            To the more astute observer (including yours truly as well as corrupt western defense contractors and politicians) it is beyond clear that a regime struggling to produce engines for fighter jets and still buying Russian fourth generation planes like SU35s is NOT building real fifth generation planes.

            Oh yes, we need to dump many billions more into the military to counter a state with precisely zero modern carriers or anti-submarine warfare experience, and precisely zero fifth-generation planes or modern strategic bombers.

          • Jon Robbins

            The thing though, Suzy, is that it’s not terribly vital for China to be fully competitive militarily at this point. So what if they are struggling with fighters, submarine technologies, etc. They have no inclination to start a war. They are playing a long game and building the economic basis for a time when they WILL have a shot a being fully competitive militarily.

            I guess I agree that the US Navy would like to press its budget claims on the basis of the China threat–I think that’s what you’re saying.

            Bottom line: China needs to balance military modernization with a primary focus on other modernization and development issues.

            It’s frankly amazing what they have been able to do in 25 years. Over the next 25 years, we’ll have the chance to see whether your “facade” argument is true or not.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Suzy, while I agree with the sentiment of your last comment, just remember that the DoD budget accounts for the security of some 30 nations. That includes shared procurement processes, basing, the logistics to support basing, and the funds needed to take part in exercises.

    • Jon Robbins

      Why do you start with 1974? Why not 1959 in Tibet? Or…

      Of course, by way of context, it’s worth remembering that we seized the best parts of an entire continent. Which is more aggressive?

      • KremlinKryptonite

        This is an article talking about the SCS, so I naturally use the relevant date – January, 1974 – at which the regime in Beijing began using force against states in the region to occupy islands and reefs.
        I don’t recollect bringing up the 19th century, America, or the Manchus (Qing Dynasty).
        I also don’t see the current regime in Beijing buying land through something like the Louisiana Purchase, the Alaska Purchase, or the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

        • Jon Robbins

          OK, but do you see China’s moves in the SCS as somehow unique compared to other aggressive moves by other states to include ours?

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Of course it’s unique. What else would you call it? We’re talking about this unique situation that started in 1974…after china was admitted to the UNSC and had veto power, etc., which is used to stop Vietnam from pushing the issue in the UN.

          • Jon Robbins

            How is that unique? China claimed the Paracels back in the 19th century. France claimed them on behalf of its colony Vietnam in the 1930s (while claiming the Spratley’s for itself.) Why did we accept the Chinese seizure of the Paracels from our ally South Vietnam?

            Do you think it was aggressive of us to seize Puerto Rico from Spain?

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Didn’t read? I’ll repeat. We are talking 1974 not 1874. The comparatively young CCP assumed the nationalist government’s role in the UN, and used it’s veto power in the UNSC to block anyone from pushing the topic.
            For your benefit, Manchus conquered what you today call china from roughy 1650 – 1911. Do you not know this? For 260 years Han were subjugated by the Manchus and rebellions and civil unrest starting as early as 1850 finally brought an end to the so called Qing Dynasty.

          • Jon Robbins

            Yeah, but talking only about 1974 is arbitrary and self-serving. That’s the point.

            And your point in para two is that it’s the Manchurians, not the Chinese to whom we should attribute the historical aggression that some would assign to the Chinese state? I’m OK with that.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            If you’re not willing to acknowledge fundamental changes in what is acceptable, or even normal, in the global commons from the nineteenth century to 1974 then you’re being intellectually dishonest.
            You brought up the nineteenth century, not I.
            I’m helping you understand that if you want to talk about the nineteenth century “china,” you’ll be talking about vastly different norms as well as the Manchu invaders/conquerers, and the rebellions by the Han to topple the “Qing Dynasty”

          • Jon Robbins

            The only fundamental change is that we pretty much have what we want now, and the Chinese, in some limited respects, do not. The “it-was-different-in-the-19th-century” rationalization is one of our favorites. John Kerry used to use it all the time.

            China was weak in the 19th century and could not enforce its claims. Now it is much stronger, so now it is enforcing–or trying to enforce–claims from much earlier. We don’t have any irredentist claims. We took all the best parts of North America and a few other odds and ends like Hawaii. So our aggressive behavior takes the form of illegal attempts at regime change a la Iraq to sustain our global imperium. China’s aggressive behavior takes the form of asserting its dominance in its near abroad. China doesn’t accept our rationalizations which serve to mask the pursuit of our national interest, and why should they?

            The idea that China is somehow uniquely aggressive because they are unwilling to conform to our strategic desiderata is laughable. We may or may not be able to frustrate their strategic designs, but our hypocrisies about “aggression” certainly aren’t going to do the job.

            But again, if you don’t like 19th century examples, then take the illegal invasion of Iraq that I mentioned, which involved a full-scale invasion and tens to hundreds of thousands dead so we could impose a political-cultural reformation on the Middle East to suit our strategic needs. What is the aggression inherent in Chinese attempt to exert strategic domination of the SCS compared to that? Maybe in the future, Chinese aggression will equal ours, but not yet.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            A couple of genocides, two world wars, and the UN later – the world is most definitely different. General Secretary Xi agrees (at least with his words). Watch his keynote address this year at Davos.
            The mental somersaults you’re doing, friend, to try and change the topic are so unnecessary.

            To be clear let me ask, you are trying to compare the use of force in 1974 by the CCP against Vietnam to take ownership of territory to the 2003 invasion against Saddam, a dictator who was in violation of multiple UNSCRs, including those that ended the 1991 Gulf War, and in which America did not take ownership of Iraq?

            One does not need to condemn or defend either action to point out that they’re fundamentally different, and you continue to confuse Manchu history for Han history.
            You seem to have hit an intellectual wall here, friend.

          • Suzy Dixon

            I would call that checkmate, KK. Good show.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Well, thank you, Suzy. But I view this as less of a debate, and more of my helping a fellow netizen.

          • Jon Robbins

            >”To be clear let me ask, you are trying to compare the use of force in 1974 by the CCP against Vietnam to take ownership of territory to the 2003 invasion against Saddam, a dictator who was in violation of multiple UNSCRs, including those that ended the 1991 Gulf War, and in which America did not take ownership of Iraq?”

            Yes, of course I’m comparing them. Why would I not compare them?

            They were both acts of aggression. One was the unilateral seizure of islands in the South China Sea to which China has long laid claim and which incurred a small number of casualties. The other was an invasion of a sovereign state on a false pretext that has resulted in a follow-on series of fiascoes and many tens of thousands (at least) dead.

            It’s always some excuse with you. Oh, we seized Hawaii in the 19th century so it doesn’t count. Oh, Saddam was a bad guy so it doesn’t count. Trying to single out Chinese actions in the SCS, in the most patently self-serving way, isn’t likely to work unless they overplay their hand, and, right now, they seem unlikely to do that.

            Enjoy yourself in the echo chamber.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            That’s what I thought. What a pity. You’re committing a fallacy with each reply at this point; comparing unlike things is the fallacy of false equivocation. You’re also not a very artful evader. You may be bent on fallacious argumentation, but at least this thread will serve a purpose for later readers who happen upon it.
            There doesn’t seem much else to say.

          • Jon Robbins

            I guess you mean “false equivalence.”

            And what are “unlike things” anyway? No two things are utterly unlike because they are things. No two things are utterly congruent. So we are forced to compare that are absolutely “like.” The relevance and validity of the conclusions stemming from the comparisons may vary, but you are just using the “unlike things” gambit as another smoke screen.

            You’d be better off focusing on our options for dealing with China rather than persisting in a self-defeating, propagandistic attempt to convince yourself and others that what China does in the SCS and elsewhere is somehow uniquely bad. That’s just a dead end.

  • Nevis07

    And they’re going to keep going too. Expect them to push into the Western Hemisphere in the next several years.

  • RedWell

    They aren’t wrong about one thing: the US is generally unwilling to start a general war over that region. Obama’s “elegant dithering” was fundamentally no different than Trump’s … confused incompetence? Studied misdirection?
    Really, the message from VM on this topic is incoherent: the policy implications suggest getting involved in all kinds of confrontations and possibly wars to be tough against the likes of Iran, North Korea and Iran. Yet the general support for Trump implies a general nationalism that has no use for being the world’s police. Which is it?
    This Jacksonian bluster in the long run will leave the US engaged in all kinds of wars around the world or looking foolish for being all bark and no bite.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    If China thinks it has unsinkable aircraft carriers with these militarized manmade islands, it’s making a huge strategic mistake. The whole situation favors an American led asian economic and military alliance, to destroy these islands, establish a strategic blockade of China’s ports, and renege on the $1.3 Trillion in US Treasuries own by China (bought to manipulate their currency and gain a price advantage for their exporters), and sitting at the FED. This would destroy at least the 40% of China’s economy dependent on exports, leaving them with the tens of thousands of uncompetitive government owned businesses. Their economy would be cut by 50% overnight, making their logistical position desperate, at the moment when they get the war their own belligerence started.

    • Angel Martin

      China is one case where time is on the USA side. China is in a debt bubble that is typical of newly industrialized countries, but the scale is unprecedented.

      All debt bubbles eventually burst and when it does, the internal disorder in China will be extreme.

      PRC Insiders fear this, which is why they are buying cost-no-object bolt holes in Vancouver and other west coast cities.

      Trump should keep pressuring them, don’t give an inch on any issue, and be ready to move when it blows and they start fighting amongst themselves.

  • Tim Fairbank

    Then I propose that we escalate against the North Korean regime.

    This will have side benefits. The Chinese will notice that we are finally getting deadly serious.

    As they themselves like to say: kill the chicken to scare the monkey.

  • Jon Robbins

    The US has lacked consensus on a strategic approach to China since the early 90s, and we continue to do so. This is the real problem for the US, and China has astutely exploited it.

  • Stephen

    Such is the sorry state of the last President’s Asia legacy.

    Well, on the bright side, at least he wasn’t trying. Where he tried, i.e. MENA, Iran, and Russia, things are looking considerably worse.

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