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June 15, 2005

Comments

Andy

Kissinger notes that China is wary of Japan, India and Russia, as well as the United States. China has fought two of these countries in the last 30 years (or so) and each of them at some point in the past 60 years.

Each of them will factor highly in Chinese military and geo-political strategy and, in my opinion, there is no way that China could or would ever allow its military forces to become significantly unbalanced by focussing on the reclamation of Taiwan.

It is clear that China places a high importance on reclaiming Taiwan, and I'd imagine that it does spend a higher proportion of its military budget on Taiwan related expenditure than it does on military expenditure related to any one of the above countries.

But all the same, even if China spends 30% of its military budget on Taiwan-related expenditure (and actually, given the importance of the other threats China faces I think that figure might even be too high), that is still only 30% of 20% of the US military budget - so about 6% of the overall US military budget.

Even if the US is militarily stretched, I don't think that China's Taiwan focused expenditure compared to America's is enough at the moment to get too het up about just now.

Bill Rice

Andy,

You raise some valid points. However, I think the border dispute issues between China and Russia are not likely to flair up again, unless precipated by China and this would likely be foolish.

With respect to Taiwan, China's aim militarily is not to defeat the US, which we all agree it cannot, but to stave off an American naval invasion. By taking Taiwan quickly, before the Americans can respond, China may make the price America has to pay for Taiwan's freedom too high.

China's military budget appears to me very much geared towards holding the US Navy at bay and being able to rapidly project force across the Taiwan Strait.

Kind regards,

Bill Rice
Dawn's Early Light

Andy

I'm curious - if you think the Chinese leadership would recognise the foolishness of sparking a conflict with a relatively weak Russia on their Northern border, why do you believe they would be prepared to involve themselves in a far more destructive conflict with the United States, Taiwan and possibly Japan in the Pacific?

Bill Rice

Andy,

I think that is an excellent question. My answer to that is two-fold:

1) Taiwan is a part of China and therefore has a strong emotional tie for the Chinese on both sides of the Strait to reunite (how this is done is open to much debate). China doesn't have territorial ambitions in Russia to any degree that compares to its desire to have Taiwan reunited.

2) Russia is a major supplier of arms and technology to China.

The US is the main Chinese rival as far as regional power is concerned. The US, by its economic position, forward base structure and naval presence is the most likely threat to China's ability to be a hegemonic Asian power.

I don't believe that the future is set in stone, meaning that the US and China will collide. However, I am very interested in chronicalling the steps each nation takes with respect to their neighbors in the Pacific and ultimately to each other.

I greatly appreciate your comments and any additional thoughts you have.

Kind regards,

Bill Rice
Dawn's Early Light

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