Trump and China

Secretary of State nominee Tillerson stated in senate that U.S will use force in the south china sea to protect international waters. He even stated that if the artificial Chinese islands are found in international waters they will be reclaimed.  Tillerson's position is also Trump's position. Going by the record of Trump's promises and swift implementation by executive orders so far , Tillerson's  threats are not idle threats. U.S under Trump will have two major issues with China. One is the well known trade issue. Trump is expected to bar Chinese MNCs specifically in Telecom further operating in China. In addition he is going to apply pressure on US high tech MNCs to move the manufacturing from China to USA. China will probably counter these with counter economic measures as illustrated in the article Trump and world order.

But South China sea is issue is a much serious issue. U.S considers South China sea as a strategic issue. $1.2 trillion of U.S trade passes through South China sea.  This is out of the total of $5.3 trillion of world trade.  South China sea is vital for China for many reason. All the imported oil for China comes via South China sea. In addition entire Chinese  trade with Africa, Middle east and South Asia is via South China sea. In fact the new silk road is via South China sea.
In a nutshell both U.S and China consider South China sea as vital for their trade and strategic. U.S being the number one  economic power and China being the number two economic power in the world this contradiction assumes  gigantic proportions. U.S through Philippines and Vietnam has been shadow boxing in  South China sea. However China has tactfully neutralized both Philippines and Vietnam.  What will happen in the event of an armed confrontation in South China sea.

U.S is a military super power. It can project it's military power in any part of the world. China is a regional power. It can only project its military power only around it's region including South China sea. However China as per brilliant strategist Sun Tzu   can project its regional power immensely.  China after the past clashes with U.S over Taiwan straits in 90s where it's aircraft was shot down , has been building it's regional strength. The artificial islands which are being built in South China sea are "unsinkable air craft carriers" in conventional sense. PLA  military doctrine is based on having sufficient anti aircraft carrier missile destroyers  and batteries whereas US military doctrine is based on aircraft carriers.  China has been slowly converting it's technical capability into military capability.  Last years PLA display is a clear evidence of this qualitative change.  In the region,  both U.S military and Chinese military are evenly balanced. Chinese military is more than capable of defending the islands and supplying them. Any U.S military effort will be based on air craft carriers which can be countered by Chinese missiles. In reality Chinese may be even welcoming a confrontation in South China sea to inflict a strategic defeat on U.S in South China Sea.

U.S is preparing for a confrontation in South China sea for long time. U.S  specifically considers China as the main threat economically and to it's super power status. That is the rationale behind Trump trying to neutralize Russia by offering acceptance in Middle east and  even in Eastern Europe. Trump still have to fight Islamic state, Al Qaeda  and islamists including Muslim brother hood in Middle east and North Africa. Trump expects a quick victory over islamist fundamentalism. But it is going to be a grinding process as seen in the high civilian casualties and U.S fatalities in the recent operation in Yemen. U.S is targeting both Syria and Yemen for safe zones under the guise of protecting refugees. Yemen does not have a serious refugee problem as compared to Syria. But Syria is the main base of Islamic State and Yemen is the main base of Al Qaeda. It is clear that under the guise of safe zone massive number of U.S ground forces are going to be committed to these countries to fight the two threats. But this will be slow process with mounting U.S casualties.

Any confrontation in South China sea will be a strategic defeat for U.S in that region. U.S will forced to give up it's present leverage in the region. It is also possible that Russia may emerge as the peace maker between the two powers in South China Sea.
Current crisis in North Korea too is a proxy battle between US and China as China will not allow North Korea to be occupied by US.

Date: 30/01/2017

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