[dehai-news] China's Strategic Savvy

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From: wolda002@umn.edu
Date: Fri Feb 06 2009 - 23:41:20 EST

 China's Strategic Savvy
Judah Grunstein | Bio | 05 Feb 2009
WPR Blog

I thought I'd follow up Richard Weitz's and JD Yuan's China twofer from
Tuesday with a handful of news items I've flagged over the past few days:

First (via DefenseNews), China doubled the amount of its attack sub patrols
last year to the (non-alarming) new total of 12. Still, in combination with
the modernization of its missile capabilities (also via DefenseNews), it
confirms China's strategic emphasis on theater denial:

What concerns U.S. defense circles is the increasingly flexibility and
accuracy of China's ballistic missile arsenal, including the introduction
of mobile launchers, maneuvering warheads, improved target sensors, and
command and control, [Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the
Arlington, Va.-based Lexington Institute,] said.

"The various improvements to Chinese missile forces means they will be
better suited for actual war fighting, for example by targeting U.S.
aircraft carriers," he said.

Keeping your potential enemies from reaching attack range, or making it
very costly for them to do so, is a cost-effective asymmetric approach to
conventional war. Add to that the diplomatic overtures to Taiwan and you've
got a pretty savvy strategic outlook that jibes more with a peaceful rise
than aggressive rival, but does a pretty good job of hedging both,

The real risk seems to be that of regional rivalry, which in China's case
mainly means India. (See JD Yuan's WPR feature article from last November
for more.) This case of an Indian sub snooping on Chinese frigates off of
Djibouti (via the Interpeter) shows the ways in which maritime stability is
as much a potential driver of conflict as cooperation, and should probably
be the focus of more energetic efforts to create institutional cooperation
rather than ad hoc flotillas.

Finally, Defense Industry Daily flags this UPI Asia report on how China is
furnishing not just light arms, but also high-end fighter and trainer
aircraft to African nations in return for rights to energy and mineral
resources, as well as fishing rights. And in yet another example (via the
Economist) of how China's cash reserves are reshaping the resource
landscape, Rio Tinto is negotiating a sale of an 11 percent stake to
Chinalco, above and beyond the latter's current 9 percent stake. (Another
beneficiary of Rio Tinto's fire sale -- driven by a recent, ill-advised
debt binge to finance the purchase of a Canadian aluminum firm -- is

Just another week in the global transfer of wealth and influence from West
and North to East and South, I suppose.

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