China’s Hubris on the High Seas
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China’s Hubris on the High Seas

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Hubris is a prime mover in human affairs. Those who yield to overweening pride hear what they want to hear. Herodotus, the father crazy uncle of history, relates how King Croesus of Lydia consulted the oracle at Delphi to determine whether to wage preemptive war against a rising Persia ruled by Cyrus the Great. The oracle’s reply: you will destroy a great empire if you march against Persia. Whereupon the doughty king led his army onto the battlefield…

…and lost everything in combat.

The empire destroyed was Croesus’ own. Lesson #1: Think twice before tangling with an enemy nicknamed The Great. Lesson #2: Nemesis requites hubris. Just ask any classical Greek historian, philosopher or playwright about punishment meted out by Fate. Pride goeth before a fall. Lesson #3: Beware of oracles. Better to heed the hardscrabble counsel of a Machiavelli. The Florentine philosopher admits that “fortune is the arbiter of half our actions.” We’re the arbiters of the other half. Those cursed with ill fortune can escape it through wisdom and resolve. Those who enjoy fortune’s favor can squander it.

China’s leadership appears prone to hubris. Whether that failing is mostly a Chinese thing, or a communist thing, or a Chinese Communist thing, is open to debate. Whatever the case, a parable of China’s inexorable rise appears to beguile folk in Beijing and other power centers. History, they believe, is on China’s side. It’s their oracle. For evidence of hubris, check out Reuters reporter David Lague’s story from last Wednesday. (David quotes — sniff, sniff — only the most eminent of sources. Call me Croesus of Newport.) The story details how China’s navy has commenced operating on the Western Pacific high seas. Task forces exit and reenter the China seas through straits offering passage through the Japanese archipelago.

A weird triumphalism courses through sea-power pundits’ words. The PLA Navy has scored a “breakthrough.” Its task forces have “fragmented” and “dismembered” the first island chain, which is “no longer existent.” Their cruises put Tokyo and Washington on notice that they can no longer “contain China within the first island chain.” The results of the 1894-1895 Sino-Japanese War — when the Imperial Japanese Navy thrashed its Chinese counterpart, wresting Taiwan and a big wad of cash from the Qing Dynasty — have been overturned. Take that, imperialist aggressors!!

Yet reports of Chinese naval mastery are greatly exaggerated. PLA Navy mariners have proved that they can … navigate through straits traversed by merchantmen and warships as a matter of routine. They have resolutely … operated a few hundred miles offshore for a short time. They have accomplished these great feats … unopposed. Yawn.

This hardly amounts to ruling the waves. Indeed, nothing China’s navy has done demonstrates that it can force the straits open should the U.S.-Japan alliance decide to close them. Shore-based anti-ship missiles already in the Japan Self-Defense Force inventory sport the range and accuracy to give any adversary a very bad day. Commentators such as myself and Toshi Yoshihara, T. X. Hammes, and a team of johnny-come-latelies from RAND have been urging the JSDF to expand its missile capacity. This remains a critical niche advantage for Japan over China, and one for which the PLA has no obvious answer.

You have to wonder whether Asians’ famed geographic consciousness, usually an asset to strategic thought, isn’t working against dispassionate appraisals of China’s high-seas progress. Observers on both sides of the Yellow Sea have taken to plotting the tracks Chinese task forces follow through the Miyako Strait and other passages, into the Western Pacific, and back home. Japanese maps depicting Chinese cruises show paths that look like ramen noodles spilling out into the Western Pacific. Or, applying a more sinister interpretation, they look like cables encircling and binding parts of the archipelago.

Sea-story time. There I was: as a junior officer I once acted as tactical plotter for a destroyer-squadron staff masterminding a wargame in the Baltic Sea. It was fun. I used colored pencils to plot position reports for friendly and adversary units every so often, then connected the dots to track their movements. When you look at such a map afterward, it does indeed look as though ships crowded every inch of waterspace in the battle zone. But that’s an optical fiction. Corbett reminds us that an uncommanded sea is the norm. Absolute sea control is illusory. No navy boasts enough ships, aircraft, and armaments to fill up a contested expanse, driving off an enemy’s flag forever.

No navy, then, can “encircle” a long, distended archipelago like Japan in any meaningful sense. Think back to grade-school math class. A track on the nautical chart is a line composed of an infinite number of infinitesimal points. A ship is only one of those points at any given time, lost in the vast emptiness of the ocean. And even if these pathways held some meaning, they would constitute a thin defense perimeter. It would be a simple matter for any defender to concentrate superior force at one point along the line — punching through this fragile barrier.

When asked about Chinese plans for naval bases in the Indian Ocean, some wits in India like to say a string of pearls makes an ineffective murder weapon when playing Clue. There’s strategic wisdom in that joke. Japanese commentators should take it to heart — and settle down about the PLA Navy’s rather modest achievements. For their part, Chinese maritime advocates should resist being taken in by their own hype. Oracular pronouncements have a way of returning to haunt those who act on them.

Just ask King Croesus.

Comments
48
mike
December 4, 2013 at 17:28

It is shocking to find a comment containing such a racist tone as “failing is a chinese thing” would get published in the Diplomat. It is similar to saying that Mr Holms is just like all stupid and fuzzy headed white guys. I am sure Mr Holms will find that offensive. Moreover, the hubris he described is an article in Reuters which has nothing to do with Chinese.

Anyway, Mr Holmes is simply igorant about China’s current status and its potential, otherwise, he will not take all the trouble to read old Greek stories.

Keys
December 5, 2013 at 11:03

Perhaps it’s because Mr. Holmes is a career propagandist. I have yet to read a single intelligent, well-reasoned article from this guy. But then, I have yet to read a single quality article from resident and non-resident writers at “The Diplomat”. I’m beginning to think that they should change the name of the site to “The Amateur Propagandist”

Wandering Ronin
December 4, 2013 at 11:42

He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger. ~Confucius

R.G.
December 3, 2013 at 17:31

China hubris? China is smart enough not to be confined to sea routes. The island chains will not stop her. But that’s not all. Don’t forget the Silk Road She’s rebuilding across Eurasia. Her oil flow will not be stopped, unless US dare to strike into the heart of Russia & against all the nations with their interest involve.

...
December 4, 2013 at 02:07

Shipping over land is vastly more expensive and inefficient compared to naval transport. In a conflict limited to economic embargoes, the US and Japan still have the naval superiority to cut the PRC off from the oceans.

They would find very willing allies to help enforce such a blockade to the south of China also.

serigala
December 4, 2013 at 12:00

Direct involvement of the countries around the straits of Melaka in a war against China? This is highly improbable.

Keys
December 5, 2013 at 10:58

LOL. Anyone with half a brain and a little basic education knows that land transport is far cheaper, faster, and more cost effective than sea transport. You must be America. (only American and lapdog propagandists can be this ignorant and stupid.)

Keys
December 3, 2013 at 14:30

Perhaps the author has been reading too much warmongering rhetoric and hypes manufactured by America’s neo-cons and right-wing fanatics in an attempt to maintain outlandish annual military spending. I have yet to read a single hype from China or Asia. On the contrary, discussions about PLAN has always been about how to break the hegemony of the US on the high seas. China has yet to build a carrier and 10K ton class destroyers (two defining characteristics of a blue-water navy). How can there be any hype from China? All the hubris I have been reading has come from the US and Japan. The author fails to cite any Chinese sources of hype and hubris to support his claims.

...
December 4, 2013 at 02:01

Does he even need to bother? Read any CCP media mouthpiece, you’ll see constant boasting, sabre-rattling, and open threats against all of its neighbours and the US.

Moron Economist
December 4, 2013 at 23:12

“Shipping over land is vastly more expensive and inefficient” surely is an innovative assertion; you mean you are smarter than all those people have been building pipelines to transport oil and gas? No wonder American can create global financial meltdown, because in their moron economics, financial destruction and ruin is an opportunity for creating new wealth.

Cyrus
December 5, 2013 at 02:30

Yes, you live up to your name. That was a moronic idea, he was talking about transporting goods via land routes. Like the big cargo ships traversing the seas. It takes so much man power to transport it via a land route using trucks, and railways than ships.

Drive by
December 3, 2013 at 12:34

This is one of Mr. Holmes’ worst pieces. Just look at the position of the so-called First Island chain: it’s only a couple hundred miles from China, while it’s at least 6,000 miles off the American shore. It’s obvious who is really full of hubris.

If Mr. Holmes really want to see China’s hubris, wait until the day China and Taiwan re-unit. It won’t be a long wait. BTW, Chinese generals had been consulting with Sun Tze while Croesus begged the oracle for an answer. People should know better before they teach history lessons to the Chinese.

Oro Invictus
December 3, 2013 at 15:14

What I love and abhor is that you appear to have written that absent any sense of irony, utterly unaware your comment only helps Dr. Holmes points by being a perfect example of what he is talking about. The sheer humour of your self-defeating behaviour is balanced out by how your comment serves as a sad reminder of how obdurate people can be; I imagine this is somewhat like how Theopompus felt.

Keys
December 3, 2013 at 18:12

@ Oro Invictus, the irony is completely on you and your posts. The failings of the author in the article are many and glaring to the experienced reader capable of independent critical thinking. Stop being so overly dramatic. The REAL audience aren’t as dumb as you hope or think they are. YOUR proper audience should be the brainless American neo-cons and right-wing fanatics because they are the ones who have been crying wolf and hyping China’s navy.

talking points
December 4, 2013 at 03:43

@Oro Invictus, yes he did sound paranoid. but you have to remember, we Chinese from mainland are thin skinned and doesn’t like criticism. so we tend to respond in dramatic languages.

we are new to the outside world, we didn’t even have enough to eat only few years ago. can you be a humanitarian and think in our shoes? in the mean time, we will do the same.

Oro Invictus
December 4, 2013 at 03:56

Let’s do this point by point:

1) Given how you used the term irony in the first sentence and given the nature of your whole post, I strongly suspect you don’t really understand the concept of irony.

2) I’m pretty sure, given your posts are almost entirely composed of the same parroted rhetoric which every other pro-CPC troll here issues forth, you’re not really in any position to lecture people on independent thinking.

3) Dramatic? Yes, because I’m the one acting like a sour grape here, screeching at others and tossing out CAPITALIZED words to EMPHASIZE empty PLATITUDES.

4) The last part of your post is, once again, parroted and inapplicable rhetoric (the exact rhetoric really taking me back to the days when John Chan stumbled around these comments’ sections).

5) Yes, because the PRC government has never hyped their navy; it’s not like they’d do anything such as yawp about their ability to nuke US cities. Oh wait: http://thediplomat.com/2013/11/state-media-boasts-of-chinas-ability-to-nuke-us-cities/

Oro Invictus
December 4, 2013 at 04:35

@talking points

And I appreciate such insecurity borne from exposure, but Drive By and Keys’ comments are borne more from deep-seated resentment and xenophobia (personally or by proxy) than that. Likewise, even if it was just insecurity due to new circumstances, does that mean we should still tolerate it?

Understanding why one does something does not make one’s actions more or less acceptable. I will provide support and try and assist others who seek to behave more sociably, but I will not tolerate hatred.

talking points
December 4, 2013 at 06:05

@Oro Invictus, please relax. but it is my fault that I don’t have the mastery of English so I can convey my meanings accurately.

I am in no part saying he is right. In fact people like him make me frustrated. Too many of my countryman are trapped in the rigid way of thinking. We are simply not trained properly to handle different opinions. We usually don’t see the complexity of people. that a person can be good and bad at the same time. I am not saying this is right, but it is the fact.

But people on your side (if you are on some sides) have the same problem. may be less so, but still.

One thing about China is, you might see a lot of fools, but people on top, or people on the driver’s seat, are usually very savvy and crafty. we are trapped in our tradition and political system, but we are getting better.

The other thing you should understand is, that we mean no harm. yes, we might think those islands are ours, but who in the world doesn’t think that way? It is exactly because of that, we see these heated discussion here.

Speaking of John Chan, I miss him. Due to my own humanly faults, I got pleasure when he drove some people nuts.

Oro Invictus
December 4, 2013 at 06:45

@ talking points

Relax? I’m perfectly calm now. I believe you may be mistaking disdain for discordance as agitation.

The thing is, once again, I’m really not (in this particular instance) taking sides here. As I’ve noted innumerable times before, I’m quite against the very concept of nation-states, such that the most I do is try and find the lesser offenders. As you’ve probably noted, I’ve more than a few times admonished those who profess hatred for the CPC (albeit, they usually were also attacking the whole of the PRC and its citizenry), such that I’m quite aware of the ubiquity of such spiteful behaviour.

Still, you actually raise a salient point here, that being the perception of leadership and their capacity for foresight. Are the actions of the PRC government several steps ahead of everyone else, or are they just bumbling through things?

James Fallows wrote a piece on this very topic recently, which I’d recommend reading; he, like myself, are firm believers of the “bumblers” camp (albeit, my perception of such extends to virtually every government), but the piece also included some links to those espousing the exact opposite idea. If anyone would like to discuss this, it would be a welcome change from these current exchanges.

http://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/12/chessmaster-or-pawn-now-its-chinas-turn/281949/

talking points
December 3, 2013 at 11:25

it is rather silly to say China can break island chain defenses. the deployment of Japanese ASM is a clear remind of that. let alone its submarines lurking right behind these islands.

I always thought the PLAN’s focus on the first island chain is meaningless. what do you do if you break it? there is nothing out there except US Navy. China is not thinking to fight US Navy at all.

The island chain only make sense when talking about strategic advantages over island chain nations. particularly Japan. China can not be boxed in by Japan, with some small islands, against vast Chinese cost line.

To really break the island chain, China has to control the sky above it. it is a daunting task, but less than using ships. because Japanese has advantage on/under sea geographically.

Using shore bases missiles, large number of fighters, UCAVs, China has a chance to control the skies over these islands. if without US involvement, it has a better chance than on the sea.

so China’s ADIZ is a first step, try to change the argument on the sky, when China flies its own fighter in the zone. without zone, China’s fighters is depicted as intruder. with zone, it is merely patrolling the zone.

So China’s ADIZ is a master move. makes a leveled playing field. yes, US and Japan can ignore it. but on the same level, China can ignore Japan’s ADIZ too.

Cyrus
December 4, 2013 at 05:15

The problem is China could not hope to implement it’s ADIZ against Japan and the United States. Much like the Ming helpless against the foreigners.

Repo
December 5, 2013 at 00:00

Why don’t you quote Qing’s incompetence and helpless to boast your hollow ego? At least Ming finally did cull those pirate ronins and scared the pirate romins to stay in Nihon for few hundred years.

BTW all civilian aeroplanes will comply with China’s ADIZ requirements (their insurance premium will skyrocket if they don’t), those aeroplanes do not comply China’s ADIZ requirements by virtue are not friendly, hence they are voluntarily identifying themselves as hostile and require special attention by the China’s ADIZ authority, their noncooperation makes China’s job to defend the ECS airspace covered by the ADIZ a lot easier.

China’s ADIZ is to defend its space in the ECS, not to win bragging right like the aggressive imperialist USA and fascist Japan are seeking for; the ADIZ has already helped China achieved its objectives, and it is not necessary to respond irresponsibly like the childish USA and Japan.

Cyrus
December 5, 2013 at 02:47

@Repo that would be to harsh, since the Ming was defeated by the Manchu and a peasant rebel should be enough.

To think Ming could have survived if not for the Provincial Governor who killed Li Zicheng’s comrades.

The fact stands, ADIZ is all hot air and when South Korea, Japan and the United States all United and violated the aforementioned ADIZ what did China do? Is doing nothing part of your “EMERGENCY DEFENSIVE RESPONSE”?

nirvana
December 4, 2013 at 22:47

@Talking point,
You said that China ADIZ is a “master move” because it allows China to ignore Japan ADIZ. I have difficulty to understand why China could not ignore Japan’s ADIZ before hand? What is the point to institute a law to be offended so that you can ignore another law?

In this game of “who is the most stupid”, the winner is lawlessness, the victim is misinterpretation.

Otherwise, I appreciate the exchanges between you and Oro Invictus. With Chinese of your intelligence, there is some hope for a solution.

Little Helmsman
December 3, 2013 at 08:15

Dictatorships usually have a tendency for hubris because the only voice allowed is its own voice. How can the ruling elite know there is a problem in a closed dictatorship when people who are exposing the problem are locked up in jail or killed for criticizing the all knowing ruler of the realm?

China will be no different. Over confidence and lack of reasonable voice will lead it to catastrophe in the making.

MYK
December 3, 2013 at 04:38

This is one of the best works by Holmes.

My concern is that ever since China’s PLAAF has been made a mockery by the B-52′s that flew right down Beijing’s ADIZ. Just what will China do next now that Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea are ignoring Beijing’s ADIZ as well?

For Chinese leaders it’s all about saving face now! The PRC can’t remove their ADIZ as it will showcase Beijing as totally weak in the eyes of the Chinese people, at the other possibility of Beijing upping the ante towards further tensions in order to save face, Beijing risks the very war that will doom the Chinese leadership anyway!

It’s too bad that the Chinese didn’t think about all the backlash from the international community, as the PRC’s best move would have been to avoid placing their ADIZ in the first place!

Sure, China wanted to create a fury with Japan over the Senkaku islands, but I seriously doubt that Beijing ever planned on damaging cross strait ties with Taiwan, or completely throw away the warming relations with South Korea in the process. Then of course, I guess the Chinese forgot the United States own determination regarding Freedom of Navigation in the ESC & SCS to boot!

Either way, China has boxed themselves into a corner on this latest fiasco, and we will have to wait to see what Beijing does next.

Plutarch
December 3, 2013 at 04:19

well as a Greek I must say I enjoyed this witty article and I always find Holme’s deep classical insights fascinating yet defining China’s naval operations in the first island chain as “hubristic” overextends the definition of the term. Had China argued that Tokyo is a Chinese city then indeed Hubris would be the correct term describing such behaviour. However China has only engaged in a strategic positioning in the area and challenged some islands whose legal status has long been intricate. It would thus make more sense to stick to classic IR terminology and say that there is a rising security competition in Asia Pacific inspired by fear and honour.

nirvana
December 3, 2013 at 07:51

@Plutarch,

“inspired by fear and honour”. Fear, yes. I don’t see where you find honour. Are you not strecthing this a little bit, like your “Life of Ceasear”?

TDog
December 3, 2013 at 03:45

Am I the only one to find it ironic that Mr. Holmes is lecturing China about the dangers of hubris when this entire article is just one huge serving of said commodity?

The implication in this article is that we are a latter day Cyrus the Great, lord of all we survey and inevitably victorious against all foes. But if one skips forward a few generations, two other monarchs whose title was “the Great” decided to invade Greece… and were stopped cold at Thermopylae and Marathon.

So much for the “great” always being great.

The lesson here should not be “look at how pathetic China is” but rather “let’s not get too full of ourselves.”

nirvana
December 3, 2013 at 07:41

How about the “has been great” wanting to defeat the “Greatest”, to be the “caid” in place of the “caid”, to be the center of the center, to have the mandate from Heaven to draw lines on maps, to redefine laws?

TDog
December 3, 2013 at 14:44

nirvana,

The objective of my post was not to say that China can or will defeat us. Mine was to point out the fact that it is the height of irony – and perhaps hypocrisy – to lecture others about the perils of hubris while ignoring it ourselves.

This piece was not meant to showcase China’s shortcomings so much as to reassure us that we’re still the fairest in the land. It’s kind of sad, really.

Cyrus
December 4, 2013 at 05:53

@TDog I believe the article simply puts that before China can bark to make sure it can bite.

Simply put, it challenges China to actually be strong enough to challenge the US or Japan before threatening or calling for war. Like how some people in China are calling for such.

Interlocutor
December 5, 2013 at 00:55

Cyrus, TDog has been saying that USA should not play China’s game by spending excessively to counter China’s initiatives and bankrupt itself.

China set up ADIZ over ECS by a piece of paper, while USA and Japan spend millions on fuel, hardware cost and salary to humiliate China’s a piece of paper. It seems James R Holmes can’t do the simple math, and he is encouraging his students to continue on this slow self-destructive course, no wonder American’s national debt is skyrocketing, doesn’t Holmes know China is playing a long game, and poking USA to walk the path of USSR?

Please think, what does China get to lose in real term by setting up an ADIZ? By spending irrationally to humiliate China on something it does own at the first place is mind boggling, it seems the American and its partners care about “face” more than China. Anyhow if TDog cannot help the American I wonder who can.

Cyrus
December 5, 2013 at 03:06

@interlucator I do not think the US would be stupid enough to really repeat how it triumph against the USSR albeit in the exact opposite side.

I would think, the United States studied the USSR fall in great detail not to repeat such a mistake.

The great danger of the Chinese ADIZ is it’s domestic audience. If such a pressure would move PRC to be more aggressive and a miscalculation happens then it could be a great war. Since US and Japan are allies and their combined Military Strength is simply outstanding. Not to mention other Allies of the United States namely, NATO.

Oro Invictus
December 3, 2013 at 16:47

I’m just curious, where do you think it does that? Could you post specific examples of such instances that you consider explicit ego affirmation?

Understand, this isn’t rhetorical; I’m just curious since, having read the piece, I didn’t see anything particularly egregious in that regard.

SSE
December 3, 2013 at 02:02

It isn’t too impressive an article. I don’t know of too many examples where Lydia can be applied to a major power(maybe Israel). But I’m certain that there were many seeming impenetrable walls that were penetrated throughout history similar to the Trojans.

Maybe James Holmes better consider history then.

mismael
December 2, 2013 at 22:48

First of all, Mr Holmes might get a better response from China by using a Chinese historical analogy. Secondly, Chinese communists have historically been extremely cautious, in Korea, India, and against the Soviets, Chinese Communists always aimed for less than the maximum strategic outcome. I am far less concerned with Chinese hubris as I am with American-Japanese conceit, that they can dominate the west Pacific in perpetuity with no consideration for Chinese security.

9 dashes, 4 dishes, 1 soup
December 2, 2013 at 22:04

“China’s leadership appears prone to hubris.”
————————-
Unbounded hubris and unbounded paranoia. That makes the PLA a dangerous, unpredictable and an unstable enemy. It’s best to prepare for a surprise attack. After all, China’s navy may not be much. But I do not second-guess its land-based missile forces.

This is one of your best columns, BTW Prof. Holmes.

talking points
December 3, 2013 at 11:33

Leonard R.? is this your new cyber warfare name?

there is propaganda and there is real clear thinking. it is hard to differentiate two from outside.

9 dashes, 4 dishes, 1 soup
December 3, 2013 at 16:09

@Talking Points: I was fortunate to have been a graduate student of professor Leonard R. And if you had taken any of his classes, you would know it is not difficult to distinguish propaganda from what you call “real clear thinking”. This is true even if the two intersect now and then by random chance.

But you are onto one thing. ‘Real clear thinking’ is the most dangerous enemy the CPC faces today. It is the most dangerous enemy the PLA faces too.

Fortunately for China, it has been pitted against muddle-headed Americans up unil now. But even Americans wake up eventually.

So do Chinese. They are not stupid. They know their government is built on false logic and lies. They know what they have today will not continue in perpetuity.

I don’t know what will replace The CPC. But it will be replaced. China is not immune to history – quite the opposite in fact.

YiJiun
December 2, 2013 at 19:54

Yes, Japan has placed anti-ship missiles to choke-off Chinese navy from achieving a breakthrough from its island chain…

They have accomplished these great feats … unopposed. Yawn.

the relation that relates itself to itself
December 3, 2013 at 01:35

This comment would only be relevant if the Japanese were beating their chests over their achievements and pretending that they were on an inexorable “rise”.

serigala
December 2, 2013 at 19:50

Whose hubris? I just wonder. My impression is that the Chinese know pretty well what their strength and weakness are. They are making calculated moves just like what they do in the weiqi board game. Of course, every move is risky and may alter the final outcome favourably or unfavourably. But until then we may never know what it will be.

jaques666
December 2, 2013 at 19:26

Good article Prof. Holmes!

I wonder though if there people both on the Japanese side and the Chinese side who are quite keen for the threat to be played up for domestic or political reasons.

Japan has many nationalists who are trying to play up the China threat (or even provoke a China-Japan incident) in order to justify certain changes to Japan’s military posture.

China meanwhile seems to be determined to play into their hands, motivated as it often seems to be by some kind of weird desire to have Japan as both a defeated adversary and an ongoing threat to the Chinese Dream.

Japan nationalizes some Islands (to stop an extreme nationalist buying them and developing them) but China decides this is somehow changing the status quo (the agreement not to develop them and not make too much noise about them).

mismael
December 2, 2013 at 22:42

From the Chinese perspective Japan has too many strategic advantages by controlling all those little islands. For China, this is tantamount to a blockade of its east coast. Chinese naval activity is designed to counter this threat. Obviously there is an elements of historical animosity, but you shouldn’t allow this to override legitimate security concerns.

nirvana
December 3, 2013 at 07:35

@mismael,
Exactly! This tiny islands control the exit lane of China nuclear subs to get to the Pacific. The same can be said about the islands in the SCS. That’s why Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines are in the cross-hair of the PLAN.

ImperiumVita
December 3, 2013 at 09:28

Please refer to a map. China is a large continental nation, Japan is an archipelago nation off Chinas coast. Yes, Japan stands between China and access to the broader Pacific ocean. One way to deal with this issue is to start a war and invade Japan. Another way is to not act aggressively in a region where no one else is currently acting aggressively… and so avoid war and promote mutual respect, win-win development and most of all peace.

Your argument is little different than suggesting a landlocked country is within its rights to invade its coastal neighbor in line with its legitimate security interests in coastal access.

Cyrus Tronco
December 9, 2013 at 07:44

Here here @Imperium, well said. China is a continental power and should remain so. Japan is a Maritime power and remains that way.

It is China who is trying to change the status quo vis a vis the high seas and rightly so, Japan is feeling threatened.

US has a stake in Keeping the first Island chain independent and as an ally of the United States they do not want a repeat of Pearl Harbor.

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