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China, Taiwan, and the First Island Chain
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Owl 69/70/75 Online
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Post: #1
China, Taiwan, and the First Island Chain
I've got a topic I'd like to see if any of you have any thoughts about. As a retired Navy officer, I follow a lot of the professional literature and blogs on the subject of military and naval affairs.

One thing that keeps coming up is China's adventures in the South China Sea. If you're not familiar, China has been busy establishing footholds on some islands in international waters that technically belong to somebody else (like Scarborough Shoals which nominally belong to the Philippines), and where there weren't islands, building some. These steps violate international law, but China does not seem to care. There is some concern that China may be seeking to establish footholds in the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia (although quite frankly, homesteading on their territory may not be the best way to win friends and influence people).

I've been pretty outspoken that if we went into Afghanistan and Iraq, we should have killed everybody that needed killing (we still haven't done that), broken everything that needed breaking, told whoever was left that if they pissed us off we'd be back to kill them, and gotten TFO within about two years, and stayed TFO as long as whoever we left in charge behaved.

While we have been fighting no-win wars of occupation in those countries, China has been using its economic might to buy friendships by building infrastructure around South Asia and Africa, and is now stretching out to South America. We're getting outflanked, and badly, and we aren't even paying attention.

So here's my idea. Let's establish some sort of associate relationship with the British Commonwealth. UK needs a trade deal after Brexit, and badly. Bring them into NAFTA/USMCA. At that point, we would have 2 of the 3 biggest economies in the Commonwealth, and we could be pretty close to adding a 3rd fo the top 4 in Australia. So extend the deal to the whole Commonwealth. Do a reprise of the deal we did at the end of WWII, we will give you preferred access to our markets, and our military will protect you, you just have to pick up some of our world policeman duties. There has been talk of a unified Commonwealth military, like in the old Empire days. If that happened, it would be no worse than the 4th strongest military in the world and probably the 2nd strongest navy. That would be a force that could surely pick up some of our responsibilities, but even if they didn't unite militaries, the component nations could absorb a lot of our burden--UK in Europe, India in the IO, and others.

This may be good timing not only because of UK with Brexit, but also because I anticipate some pull back from China by US companies in the wake of CV-19. A lot of what moves will come home, but some of it needs cheap labor, which can be relatively unskilled, to make the economics work. So new Commonwealth partners India, Malaysia, and Singapore, among others, could be primo destinations. I would also consider extending a similar deal to Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Here's where that gets interesting to me. China depends on imported oil and gas for about 75% of its energy needs. About 15% comes from Russia, and they have added a new pipeline which may double that. That leaves 45% that has to come by sea, the vast majority of it from the Mideast. Until somebody figures out how to run a pipeline across the Himalayas, the only way to get Mideast oil to China is by tanker, through the Straits of Hormuz, around India, through the Straits of Malacca or otherwise through Indonesia, and into the South China Sea. If we had India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Australia on our side, we could threaten to shut down China's oil flow at any time. If China has to escort tanker convoys from the Persian/Arabian Gulf, that pretty much uses up their entire navy.

And China can't stand that. They are a country that has never held together very long, mainly because the people don't like each other. The warlike Han in the north don't get along with the commercial interests in Shanghai and inland along the Yangtze, and Hong Kong and the south have the good harbors and have always looked internationally. Not to mention that Tibet and the Muslims to the west don't like any of them. Right now, their whole approach is to export cheap consumer goods, take the cash that brings in to go way over-leveraged to finance internal projects that don't make any economic sense (the empty cities, for example) in order to keep the population too occupied to revolt. Take their energy supply out of that equation, and it falls apart in a hurry.

Moreover, if we have the so-called first island chain (Singapore, Malaysia Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Japan) on our side we can harass the devil out of those exports. Basically, we could put China in a very awkward position if we could form alliances with the members of the first island chain.

Right now, China desperately wants to avoid conflict with the USA, because they would lose very badly. Our Navy would pretty much sink their entire fleet. Their economy would crater. And if they tried going nuclear, it would be like a mouse going after a lion.

Given that, I think we could and should go very aggressively against curbing China's expansionist efforts in the South China Sea. The Commonwealth thing would form military and economic alliances with India, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia. Add Indonesia (I've never understood why we don't try to get along better with them), Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, and we already have Japan, and we'd be in an incredibly strong military and diplomatic position to deal with China. But no, we're too preoccupied with getting people killed for no good reason in the Mideast. And the truly crazy thing is that if we are protecting anybody's oil supply, it's China's. Let them deal with it.

The particular proposal that I saw on one of the sites today is that we start developing very close ties with Taiwan. Start with some Navy ship visits (we used to do that all the time, Kaohsiung was an amazing place to shop). Slowly pick up the pace, sell them some old ships and airplanes, while building relationships further south in the chain. Instead of doing the occasional one or two ship meaningless freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS), keep a naval and amphibious task force somewhere in the South China Sea all the time. While we can still impose our will on China, do it, instead of cowering and letting them have their way.

Of course, to do this, we would really need to get out of the Mideast. That's another reason for doing it, IMO. That $50B-$100B that we are spending there each year would buy us a lot more that could be useful to us in the first island chain.
(This post was last modified: 05-01-2020 07:40 PM by Owl 69/70/75.)
05-01-2020 07:37 PM
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OptimisticOwl Offline
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Post: #2
RE: China, Taiwan, and the First Island Chain
Sounds good to me. I like a proactive, strong foreign policy.
05-01-2020 08:51 PM
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tanqtonic Online
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Post: #3
RE: China, Taiwan, and the First Island Chain
New headline:
China Issues Stay-At-Home Order To Hong Kong To Prevent Spread Of Democracy.

Hong Kong is set to be a real **** show soon.
05-27-2020 11:18 AM
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OptimisticOwl Offline
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RE: China, Taiwan, and the First Island Chain
(05-27-2020 11:18 AM)tanqtonic Wrote:  China Issues Stay-At-Home Order To Hong Kong To Prevent Spread Of Democracy.

Same thing it does here.
05-27-2020 11:41 AM
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Owl 69/70/75 Online
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Post: #5
RE: China, Taiwan, and the First Island Chain
Cold War II has started and the enemy is China, not Russia. That is the reality, and the longer we ignore it, the worse we will be.
05-27-2020 06:05 PM
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georgewebb Offline
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Post: #6
RE: China, Taiwan, and the First Island Chain
"All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Hong Kong." -- No Western leader.
05-27-2020 06:08 PM
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Owl 69/70/75 Online
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Post: #7
RE: China, Taiwan, and the First Island Chain
Just look at a globe or map and figure out how China gets oil. Hints: it comes from the Mideast and there are no pipelines across the Himalayas. Now figure out how China gets oil if we pull out of the Mideast, and they piss off India (which they are currently doing), and we form alliances with Australia (already have that one), India, Malaysia, Singapore (Commonwealth countries), Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Their oil supply chain becomes untenable, and without that their economy crashes and their people starve.

We won the Cold War by ultimately beating the USSR economically. We can do the same with China. We just have to do it.
05-27-2020 06:22 PM
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tanqtonic Online
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Post: #8
RE: China, Taiwan, and the First Island Chain
(05-27-2020 06:05 PM)Owl 69/70/75 Wrote:  Cold War II has started and the enemy is China, not Russia. That is the reality, and the longer we ignore it, the worse we will be.

It started ten years ago, and was noted as only increasing friction, which was tolerated as 'lets look the other way to move forward'. In that sense, we overlooked Chinese trade policy, the use of trade policy to wipe out industries in other countries, the US not noting an increasing belligerence towards Taiwan, the US (Obama) accepting that Tibet is a part of China, and the studied ignorance of the militarization of the South China Sea 'islands'.

I think Hong Kong is the one step that has to be added to the others; and I hope we as country do not overlook the iron jackboot that the PRC has encased Hong Kong in, in fairly explicit renunciation of the 50 years agreement reached with Great Britain.

We are just coming to the very stark realization of the sheer scope of the reality of that Cold War 2 now.
(This post was last modified: 05-27-2020 06:53 PM by tanqtonic.)
05-27-2020 06:48 PM
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tanqtonic Online
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Post: #9
RE: China, Taiwan, and the First Island Chain
Well now that we are talking Chinese intrigue, I wonder how Hunter Biden's Chinese language lessons are going.

Funny how Lil' Biden keeps popping his nose into current cutting edge international affairs and world players (let alone snortfuls of coke and and plethoras of stripper g-strings, sometimes concurrently).
(This post was last modified: 05-28-2020 07:57 AM by tanqtonic.)
05-28-2020 07:55 AM
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