So where does China fit in exactly? “(Now), the Chinese would have to devote at least half the funds. What's in it for them? A new global role. This could be the spur to giving China a much larger say at the IMF. In fact, it might be necessary to make clear that Christine Lagarde would be the last non-Chinese head of the organization.”
Leading a rescue package for Europe would grant China a greatly enhanced global role no military advances or diplomat maneuvers could supplant, while helping to safeguard one of its largest markets would help underpin China’s economic growth.
Still, China is understandably unlikely to abandon its military advances in favor of diplomatic praise. With this in mind, though, it would be best served by focusing its military capital on further developing its Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) strategy. Dedicating massive financial recourses to second-hand aircraft carriers with limited capabilities, or creating new carries that will take years to develop, could eventually look like an expensive folly compared to an effective and focused A2/AD strategy. China’s resources would be better served further creating and developing capable and ultra quiet next generation Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) diesel submarines for deployment in and around Taiwan and the South China Sea and fully developing anti-ship ballistic missile technology like the DF-21D.
A focus on A2/AD tactics and weapons, combined with the natural advantages of fighting in its home territory, is already proving a challenge to U.S. strategists with naval forces invested in increasingly vulnerable carrier battle groups. With America looking to cut its military budget and still maintain significant forces in the Asia-Pacific through operational concepts like “Air-Sea Battle,” just being able to afford to stay the course may be China’s best military strategy.
All this is easier said than done. But steps such as reining in the country’s self-defeating propaganda machine, including jingoistic op-eds in the Global Times, would cost little – ifChina is to respond to international concerns, then it needs to utilize all means at its disposal, and that doesn’t just mean hardware or even diplomats. Catchphrases like “mutual interest” and “peaceful rise” are no longer convincing (if indeed they ever were) and need to be retired.
China has many potential tools with which to negate the U.S. strategy. Deploying and sticking to such a approach will be a challenge for sure, especially with the coming transition to a new generation of leaders later this year. China may or may not aspire to global leadership – the burden of leadership is never easy to bear after all. But if it wants to avoid being encircled by the United States’ deft pivot to the region in the long run, then it would be well-advised to undertake a comprehensive revamp of all tools at its disposal, however hard that might feel in the short term.