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Winning the New Cold War

August 9, 2010

by  Robert Maginnis
Human Events
August 6, 2010

A new Cold War started last week. China and the
U.S. exercised their militaries while trading
threats like the old Cold War days with the
Soviets. But unlike the Soviets, Beijing’s
motivation is mostly economic, not spreading
communism. The U.S. needs a plan to win this war.

The U.S. and its allies conducted an
anti-submarine exercise in the Sea of Japan to
signal North Korea, China’s proxy, that its
recent provocative behavior that included the
sinking of a South Korean warship is unacceptable
and the U.S. remains ready to defend its ally.

Chinese General Ma Xiaotian, the deputy chief of
staff of the People’s Liberation Army, protested
that exercise, claiming it threatened Beijing,
China’s capital. The Chinese responded to the
perceived threat with naval exercises in the
South China Sea, hundreds of miles to the south.

The Chinese used those exercises to reiterate its
territorial claims to the South China Sea as
“indisputable sovereignty” and warned the issue
should not be “internationalized.” Then for the
first time Beijing elevated its sovereignty claim
to the level of a “core -- national interest -- a
category previously reserved for Tibet and Taiwan.

China’s "internationalized" comment was a
reaction to a statement made by Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton. She told the Association
of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) that “the
United States has a national interest in freedom
of navigation, open access to Asia’s maritime
commons and respect for international law in the South China Sea."

Control of that sea was supposedly settled by an
ASEAN declaration in 1992 which Beijing signed.
But that agreement was quickly violated by the
Chinese and now that Beijing is a superpower it
is demanding sovereign control of the sea through
which passes half of the world’s merchant fleet
tonnage and hosts rich fishing and oil reserves.

The problem for the U.S. and its Asian allies is
Beijing won’t stop demanding more territory. It
will extend its territorial waters from the usual
12 miles to include its entire exclusive economic
zone which extends 200 miles from its coastline.
That impacts Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and
South China Sea rim countries like Vietnam.

Apparently the intent to expand its sovereign
sphere of influence was prompted by China’s new
heady superpower status which influenced ordinary
Chinese who anticipated the new Cold War. Earlier
this year China’s state-run newspaper the Global
Times announced more than half of Chinese people
agree that "a Cold War will break out between the U.S. and China."

A Cold War, according to the Pentagon, is the
state of tension wherein political, economic,
military, and other measures short of overt armed
conflict are employed to achieve national objectives.

China’s national objectives -- regime survival, a
robust economy, and political control of its
sphere of influence—have created tension with the U.S.

Consider some of those Cold War-producing tensions:

* America’s decision to sell weapons to
democratic Taiwan raised political tensions. The
U.S. earlier this year announced its decision to
sell $6.4 billion worth of weapons to the island
nation, a territory China claims as part of the
mainland. “This time China must punish the U.S.,"
said Major-General Yang Yi, a Chinese naval
officer, in response to the weapons sale.

* China’s support for rogue regimes raised
tensions. Robert Einhorn, the U.S. State
Department’s adviser on nuclear
non-proliferation, testified that China is a
major obstacle to the success of U.S. sanctions
against Iran by taking up the slack left by
countries that have dropped business and trade
ties with Iran in adherence to the sanctions.

* China is creating tensions by helping North
Korea. Not only is China giving North Korea
political cover regarding the recent military
exercises, but last week a Chinese delegation was
in Pyongyang to sign an economic and
technological agreement. That agreement indicates
Beijing will continue its defiance of U.S.
attempts to reproach the wayward North Koreans.

* There are significant economic tensions. China
holds $2.5 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves
-- mostly U.S. debt. Some Chinese like Luo Yuan
with China’s Academy of Military Sciences
recommends using that debt to leverage American
cooperation on fractious issues like arms sales to Taiwan.

Recently China became the world’s second-largest
economy and could surpass America by 2025. That
success is attributable to Beijing’s guiding
principle for all policies -- do whatever grows
its gross domestic product (GDP). The 17-year
estimates for GDP per capita annualized growth is
12.13% for China, according to the United Nations.

* China’s economic guiding principle explains
growing tension over competition for limited raw
materials and the regime’s decision to keep its
currency under- valued. Beijing keeps its
currency, the Yuan, cheap to give its exporters a
competitive edge which undercuts American exporters.

   Beijing aggressively pursues raw materials
using every state means available. That explains
why it has monopolized material markets like rare
earth metals, which are used for high-tech
devices such as lasers and iPhones. The Wall
Street Journal reported last week that China
"already consumes one-third of the world’s copper
and 40% of its base metals, and produces half of the world’s steel."

* China’s rapidly growing military is creating
superpower tensions. The Pentagon’s annual report
on China’s military indicates the regime has been
on a top-to-bottom transformation campaign for
more than 20 years, fueled by annual double-digit
budget increases. Today Beijing fields a 3.35
million man force that is armed with
sophisticated anti-access capabilities for
targeting American aircraft carriers; a submarine
fleet that rivals America’s in number and
stealth; and an increased ability to project forces abroad.

Chinese Rear Admiral Zhang Huachen earlier this
year said, "With our naval strategy changing now,
we are going from coastal defense to far sea
defense." That view explains China’s use of the
military to enforce its territorial claims and
conduct high-seas bullying such as harassing
merchant ships and U.S. warships much as the
Soviets did in the first Cold War.

China’s militarization surge threatens U.S.
long-term interests in Asia especially given that
Beijing, according to that country’s 2006 Defense
White Paper, intentionally plans to use military
force to advance its economic interests.

Washington and Beijing should mitigate these
tensions but until that happens America needs a
plan to win the Cold War which must include three elements.

First, the U.S. must increase its military
presence in Asia by establishing numerous bases
that assure our allies and contain Beijing’s
expanding military. China is poised to expand its
military presence throughout the region and will
likely employ an asymmetric capability to advance its hegemonic ambitions.

Second, the U.S. must form a robust Asian
alliance. That NATO-like organization must
include military, diplomatic, and economic arms.
The Asian "NATO" must stand-up a credible, united
effort against China’s intimidation and hegemonic
actions much as NATO formed the backbone of our
defense against the former Soviet Union.

Finally, the U.S. and its Asian allies must
employ effective "soft power." China cultivates
influence across the globe vis-à-vis business
ventures- -- "soft power," irrespective of the
client’s radical ideology such as Sudan. The U.S.
and its Asian partners must engage peace-seeking
nations in the region using an all-of-government
approach working with global business partners to
provide governing and business alternatives to
China’s aggressive, no-holds-barred "soft power" intimidation.

The business side is especially critical.
Europe’s NATO was successful during the first
Cold War because the partners were economically
developed with U.S. aid over time. Countries like
Vietnam, Thailand, and India are ripe for
diverting U.S. manufacturing investment from
China. This approach surrounds China with
westernized countries at Beijing’s expense.

The U.S.-China Cold War may be driven by
economics but it could easily become a shooting
war. Both nations should cooperate to mitigate
their differences. But until that happens the
U.S. must implement a plan that defends American
and Asian ally vital interests against the
world’s newest and hegemonic superpower.

* Mr. Maginnis is a retired Army lieutenant
colonel, a national security and foreign affairs
analyst for radio and television and a senior strategist with the U.S. Army.
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