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U.S., China, and EU Issues

Gertz’s column from the Washington Times, briefly noted here, needs further attention. It is surprising that it has received so little analysis from the blogosphere thus far, or perhaps we are all just focused on other issues. And speaking of other issues, it seems we are rather quite on yet another significant China related issue, the EU and arms sales to China.

First thoughts.

It is clear, as Gertz covers the contents of the Energy Futures in Asia report, that China has taken significant steps to ensure their supply of oil from the Middle East. Earlier this year there was speculation that China’s increased oil purchases were perhaps hoarding, as it outpaced the expected demand, and Chinese demand has continued to beat expectations. As Gertz points out, China has taken steps to create a “string of pearls” between the Arabian Gulf and the South China Sea, to ensure that their supply is not interrupted. From the Chinese perspective, we are to believe that it is due to U.S. pre-emptive action in Iraq, and China’s concern over our unpredictable government that seeks to encircle China. The map belies their validity of their version of the story.

Gwadar, Pakistan, is the home of a new naval base and listening post for the Chinese navy. This, the most western of ports discussed in the report, gives China the reach to monitor naval traffic through the shipping lane from the Arabian, or if the Mullahs insist, Persian, Gulf to the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent.

To monitor the Bay of Bengal and down through the Strait of Malaaca, China has bases in Burma. They’ve also given extensive military aid to the military regime holding reign over Burma.

To lessen the necessity of the Strait of Malaaca, China is said to be considering a canal through the Isthmus of Kra in Thailand. Given the enormous amount of traffic through the Strait, and the waters bordering Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, this would at a best be a measure to reduce risk in the narrow shipping lane or more likely, to provide an alternative path more direct to Chinese controlled waters.

In the southern portions of the South China Sea, China has increased its military establishment on the island of Hainan and improved its military airstrip on Woody Island. Woody Island is interesting due to its location in the Paracel Islands and the extension of China’s eyes and ears farther out into the South China Sea.

Here’s a map, from David Rosenberg of Middlebury College, of the shipping lanes through the region.

In conjunction with the Chinese efforts to develop greater military projection capabilities, the report also points to the concern China has for a military response from the U.S. should China invade Taiwan. We don’t say it often enough. The U.S. would respond and defend Taiwan. Are they right to be concerned about such a response? Yes. Will it keep them from making the mistake of invading? Who knows? We do know that without the clear language that we would respond, we will be more likely to see such an invasion.

This all comes at a time when our naval forces are considered stretched and others are considering cutting weapons systems from the defense budget. Let’s be clear. It is, or would be, a great thing to see the military increase its ability to fight in a more netcentric and small unit manner. I believe the idea of eliminating heavier capabilities or programs that replace the heavy weight systems without adequate specialized replacements would be harmful, should we ever come face to face with the sheer girth of the Red Army.

EU Arms Sales

China wants the EU to end an arms embargo. Many European leaders agree that it is time to end the embargo. Their reasoning appears to be that it is a remnant of the Cold War. The U.S. has thus far stood resolute against it.

We should all be boisterous in our support for the administration as it goes toe to toe with the EU on the issue. The administration has expressed "fury” over the possibility, yet many in Europe, including in the U.K. continue to promote the idea that it is time. This despite the EU’s vaunted claims to be advocates of human rights, of which China is among the most egregious violators, or the clear ramifications that such a move would have a significant chilling effect on U.S. – EU relations. Why then would the EU take up the issue at this time, aside from the fact that China is seeking such a move?

Money. As we know, Europe is aging, its economic outlook is not shining bright, and to maintain the incredible cost of failed social programs, new markets must be found. China is just such a market, as was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. What the Europeans have shown, as recently as today when they demanded Thailand purchase six A380 aircraft at a cost that is in the range of all the aid the Europeans have sent to Southeast Asian tsunami victims or face a fishing tariff, is that money is their primary motive. Not good policy. Not freedom. Not liberty. And not charity.

This, and other topics, will continue later. And now linked into the Beltway Traffic Jam.


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This page contains a single entry posted on January 19, 2005 2:35 PM.

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