Tuesday, May 17, 2016
China and the East China Sea
There has been much heartburn lately over China's island building in the East China Sea. Just about everyone disapproves. I do not. I realize that in saying so I am rather like the editor of the Skibbereen Eagle, when he warned the Tsar, but what I think will happen generally does happen so what I have to say on the matter may be a harbinger of things to come nonetheless.
For a start, I think island building is a good thing in general. The climate of the area is a pleasant one and recovering land from the sea expands the human habitat. The Dutch would of course agree with that, though Greenies would automatically talk of endangered marine creatures. And China has an enormous population so needs all the living space it can find. So I hope that in due course there the facilities there will be greater than the merely military. Could there even be a tourist industry there one day? Stranger things have happened
Living space is of course not the motive of the island building concerned. The motive is a combination of military considerations and resource hunger. China has a huge need for resources, energy sources in particular, so the prospect of oil reserves in the general area is hugely motivating. And it could be argued that China deserves those resources in the light of its huge poplulation and that less populous nations have a lesser claim on them. That is of course a socialist argument but China is officially a socialist country and we live in a socialist world.
And the military argument is orthodox. Many nations have sought and supported buffer states and the worldwide network of military bases maintained by the USA puts it in no position to claim that China should not maintain bases at a distance from the homeland.
But in the end, the argument is over. China has clearly lost patience with the dithering and debate about ownership of the places concerned and has decided to settle the argument in its own favour in the traditional way, by conquest. And it has stated that it will defend its new bases so the message is basically "Up yours". The world would do well to accept the new status quo. It's not going to change. You don't argue with China
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).