China is rising and fast
C hina’s parabolic rise has been simply breath-taking. Millions of Chinese have been lifted out of poverty and China continues to expand at a pace that other big economies can only dream about. Xi Jinping’s One Belt One Road [OBOR] program binds the world to Beijing because all the roads and railways have but one destination and that is China. Washington has metastized into an epicentre of risk [Donald Trump refers] and talk of a unipolar US-dominated world have largely evaporated. President Putin refused to be rolled over by a Victoria Nuland inspired ‘’Colour Revolution’’ in the Ukraine and drew a line in the sand and one of the collateral consequences of that was to send President Putin into the ready embrace of Xi Jinping. In fact, far from being a unipolar world, we have entered a bipolar or even a Tripolar world [US, China and Russia].
Apart from a few half-hearted and timid FONOPs [freedom of navigation operations], China has established control over the South China Sea. It has created artificial Islands and then militarised those artificial islands across the South China Sea. It is a mind-boggling geopolitical advance any which way you care to cut it. China has advanced its footprint in Pakistan, where it has leased the Gwadar Port [giving China and Central Asia access to the Gulf region and the Middle East] for 43 years. Sri Lanka, which gorged on Chinese debt, has had to disgorge the Hambantota Port to its creditor. And recently, we saw China formally open a miitary facility in Djibouti. These moves taken together speak to a material Chinese advance. The pivot to Asia which was supposed to contain China is dead in the water and China has sprung that trap.
China is also in Narendra Modi’s face in the Doklam Plateau, which sits at the tri-junction region of Bhutan, China and India. It’s as if Xi Jinping is goading Narendra Modi, who would be seriously ill-advised to take on the Chinaman in that remote plateau.
The Financial Times carried an article last week which described China’s embrace of asymmetric warfare, which spoke of a ‘’revolution in military affairs’’ and described a new ‘’swarm’’ technology.
‘’With their tiny propellers buzzing, the fleet of Chinese aircraft, little larger than model planes, are flung into the air one at a time by huge rubber bands. Soon the sky is full of toylike drones flying in formations over unidentified mountains in China.... Each tiny aircraft — bought online for a few hundred dollars — is loaded with software and sensors capable of communicating with the other drones in the swarm. Developers are working towards a future where thousands could operate in sync, identifying and attacking targets’’.
“This goes all the way back to the tactics of Attila the Hun,” says Randall Steeb, senior engineer at the Rand Corporation in the US. “A light attack force that can defeat more powerful and sophisticated opponents. They come out of nowhere, attack from all sides and then disappear, over and over.”
Once upon a time, the Chinese built the Great Wall of China to keep the Barbarians out and President Trump and other ‘wannabe’ Wall Builders seem to have entered a worm-hole and are now following that ancient Chinese script, which China itself long ago jettisoned.
Meanwhile, China has jumped its wall and is advancing with a surety of purpose which is quite remarkable.