As the thoughtful discussion on ChinaFile notes, the upcoming military review is designed to serve several different purposes. The actual military purpose of the parade, however, should not be overlooked. Read more
In a new article in the China Brief, I show that terminology in the 2015 defense white paper indicates that China has officially changed its national military strategy. The goal of the new strategy is “winning informationized local wars,” with an emphasis on the maritime domain.
This marks only the ninth military strategy that China has adopted since the founding of the PRC in 1949 and will guide the PLA’s approach to modernization in the coming decade.
To read the article, point your browsers here
Last week, the Carnegie Endowment issued a strategic net assessment of the Asia-Pacific region that I and many others contributed to writing.
The report takes a long view, looking out over the next 5-25 years, and outlines five possible futures that range for more cooperative to more conflictual outcomes as well as recommendations for avoiding the most dangerous outcomes.
Chris Twomey and I have just published an article in The Washington Quarterly on Chinese military strategy.
Increasingly, journalists, policy analysts and scholars as well as selected U.S. government documents describe China as pursuing a ”counter-intervention” strategy to forestall the U.S. ability to operate in a regional conflict. Moreover, the concept of counter-intervention (fan ganyu) is attributed to the writings of Chinese strategits, as a China’s own version of an anti-access / area denial strategy
Nevertheless, as we show in the article, China does not actually use the term counter-intervention to describe its own military strategy, much less a broader grand strategic goal to oppose the role of the United States in regional affairs. When Chinese sources do refer to related concepts such as “resisting” or “guarding against” intervention, they are describing as one of the many subsidiary components of campaigns and contingencies that have more narrow and specific goals, especially a conflict over Taiwan.
This misunderstanding or misreading of China’s military strategy is consequential for several reasons: it overstates the U.S. role in Chinese military planning, it can divert analysis from other aspects of China’s military modernization and it exacerbates the growing security dilemma between the United States and China.
The article can be downloaded here
My contribution to newly published The Oxford Handbook of the International Relations of Asia is a chapter on territorial and maritime boundary disputes in the region.
The main findings from the chapter are:
- Since 1945, Asia has been more prone to conflict over territory than other regions in the world.
- Asia accounts for the greatest number of disputes over territory that have become militarized and that have escalated into interstate wars.
- Disputes in Asia have been less likely to be settled, accounting for the lowest rate of settlement when compared with other regions.
- Asia today has more territorial disputes than any other part of the world, accounting for 38 percent of all active disputes.
- When combined with the rise of new powers, which are involved in multiple territorial disputes, territorial and maritime boundary disputes are poised to become an increasing source of tension and instability in Asia.
Oxford University Press has recently published The Oxford Handbook of the International Relations of Asia, edited by Saadia Pekkanen, John Ravenhill, and Rosemary Foot.
The volume includes thirty-nine chapters, which cover all aspects of the international relations in the region.
I have a chapter in this volume on territorial and maritime boundary disputes in East Asia, which I will discuss in a different post.
I recently published a short policy brief for the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University that examines the evolution of U.S. policy toward the disputes in the South China Sea since 1995.
Here’s the executive summary:
U.S. policy toward the disputes in the South China Sea has four features. First, the United States has altered its policy in response to changes in the level of tensions in the dispute. Second, U.S. policy toward the South China Sea has been premised on the principle of maintaining neutrality regarding the conflicting claims to sovereignty. Third, as its involvement in managing tensions has increased, the United States has emphasised the process and principles by which claims should be pursued more than the final outcome or resolution of the underlying disputes, especially conflict management through the conclusion of a binding code of conduct between ASEAN and China. Fourth, U.S. policy in the South China Sea has sought to shape China’s behaviour in the South China Sea by highlighting the costs of coercion and the pursuit of claims that are inconsistent with customary international law. Looking forward, the involvement of the United States in seeking to manage tensions in the South China Sea is likely to continue so long as the territorial and maritime jurisdictional disputes remain unresolved and states take declaratory steps and operational actions to assert and defend their claims.
Read the full report here.
I joined the conversation over the Asia Society’s ChinaFile on tensions between the China, the United States and Japan.
Specifically, I addressed a question “will China attempt to take the Senkakus by force?”
Let me pick up on Isaac’s first question, “will China attempt to take the Senkakus by force?”
Iain Johnston and I recently analyzed data on the frequency of Chinese Coast Guard patrols within the twelve nautical mile territorial waters of the islands. Since September 2012, China has used these patrols to challenge Japan’s sovereignty and administration of these disputed rocks.
For the past six months, however, China has reduced significantly the frequency of patrols it conducts within the island’s territorial waters. Before October 2013, it conducted a patrol roughly once per week, on average. Since then, it has conducted a patrol once every two weeks. In sum, the rate of patrols has dropped by half—and is statistically significant.
The reduced frequency of these patrols is noteworthy for several reasons. First, as Iain and I suggested, China may be signaling limits on its willingness to escalate, at least for now. Second, by reducing the number of patrols, China is also reducing the opportunities for an accident or incident to occur between Chinese and Japanese ships. Such an event, especially if it involved fatalities, could spark a much more intense crisis and greater incentives to use force on both sides.
Turning to Isaac’s question, the reduction in the frequency of these patrols is inconsistent with an escalation of pressure that might culminate in a decision by China to use force. Instead, China appears to have adopted a long-term view of dispute that does not involve taking them by force. Last summer, for example, a meeting of prominent Chinese government analysts concluded that China should “avoid an incident that sparks a war” over the islands. They also assessed that the dispute would persist for a long time to come and that it was therefore urgent to reduce the possibility and risk of a collision at sea.
Finally, a broader point. If China seized islands by force, they would be nearly impossible to defend from a counter-attack, as Gen. John Wissler noted; Moreover, a counter-attack to retake the islands would risk a much wider war, which China as well as the United States and Japan want to avoid.China’s leaders have quite likely anticipated such a scenario, which explains the emphasis on a long-term effort to challenge Japan’s control of the islands and surrounding waters with its coast guard and not its naval forces.