3

It's taken as an axiom that China wants America out of Asia. No American ships in the Western Pacific, no US military bases in Japan or South Korea, etc. Chinese-friendly governments everywhere.

I can think of one obvious benefit to China - without American influence in Asia, they can take Taiwan.

But are there any other benefits? Specifically, I'd like to know if the average Chinese citizen gets any wealthier in a world where China has achieved complete regional hegemony over Asia.

It seems that the Chinese are able to negotiate favorable trade agreements with other countries due to their economic clout (IE 20 trillion dollar GDP) - I don't see a connection between getting the US military out of Asia, and getting better trade deals. China's Belt and Road initiative will presumably help China export products everywhere, making the average Chinese citizen wealthier - but it's not like the US military is launching airstrikes against every country signing onto the BRI. China benefits from the fact that the US Navy protects sea lanes - why would China want to bear this cost?

And the costs of displacing the US from Asia will be enormous. Hundreds of billions of dollars in increased military spending, and the potential enormous cost of a war with the US (possibly trillions of dollars lost). If China wins a war with the US and the US vows to never have military assets in the Western Pacific, how is China any better off?

Or do the Chinese seriously think that America is going to invade China, a nuclear armed state? It seems that a greater threat to the CCP comes from American influence spread over the internet, rather than from US military assets.

5
  • 4
    This question relies on a lot of assumptions. None of them is really backed up. I'm not sure what you say is true, it may all be wrong and then asking for why might not make much sense. Maybe China doesn't want that.
    – Trilarion
    Feb 28 at 22:25
  • 1
    @Trilarion What would you take as evidence? Would this be the kind of thing? npr.org/2022/01/28/1076246311/…
    – Dan
    Mar 1 at 0:28
  • 2
    @Dan "What would you take as evidence?" Reputable external sources like China saying it for itself or analyses that conclude the claim from China's behavior. Multiple independent sources would be better, but I'm not picky, anything basically that gives the claim a bit of substance. For example your source does nowhere directly state the claim of this question. It seems to be concerned with Taiwan only.
    – Trilarion
    Mar 1 at 6:14
  • @Trilarion So you just ignored the link I gave. So exactly the kind of thing, China saying it for itself, isn't evidence to you. Very good.
    – Dan
    Mar 1 at 15:17
  • @Dan Before writing my last comment here I had opened the link you gave me, had read the text and did not find any statement that says that China wants to militarily dominate Asia. The whole text was about Taiwan only. Last time I checked, Taiwan was not the whole of Asia. Therefore I concluded that your source would not count as evidence. It was definitely not ignorance. It may have been my reading skills. In that case, would it be possible to cite the part of the link that says that China wants to militarily dominate Asia?
    – Trilarion
    Mar 1 at 16:16

2 Answers 2

2

Military dominance is never just about domestic security. War is a continuation of politics by other means.

Sooner or later, in some Country X, some dispute fails to be resolved diplomatically. At that point, if Country A has military bases, personnel, and materiel all around X, and Country B has nothing, Country B's sign-off on any proposed decision becomes superfluous.

The Chinese - or let's be more accurate, the Chinese government - think that the US might not always agree with all of their views on the region, such as the status of Tibet, Taiwan, the Nine-dash line, and others.

The importance of such agreement or disagreement is directly proportional to the extent of American military presence in the region.

A recent Congressional Research Service report outlines the competing interests in East Asia. Since it's government-produced and thus PD, I'll allow myself a full quote.

The chinese interest is the ability to:

 control fishing operations and oil and gas exploration activities in the SCS—a body of water with an area more than twice that of the Mediterranean Sea;
 coerce, intimidate, or put political pressure on other countries bordering on the SCS;
 announce and enforce an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the SCS;
 announce and enforce a maritime exclusion zone (i.e., a blockade) around Taiwan;
 facilitate the projection of Chinese military presence and political influence further into the Western Pacific;
 help achieve a broader goal of becoming a regional hegemon in its part of Eurasia

The US interests include the ability to:

 intervene militarily in a crisis or conflict between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan;
 fulfill U.S. obligations under U.S. defense treaties with Japan and the Philippines and South Korea;
 operate U.S. forces in the Western Pacific for various purposes, including maintaining regional stability, conducting engagement and partnership-building operations, responding to crises, and executing war plans;
 prevent the emergence of China as a regional hegemon in its part of Eurasia.

Note that this is a US-produced document. I'm sure Chinese papers differ in scope and language. Regardless, these outline the basics of the Chinese interest.

2

Not so much militarily dominate Asia, rather dominate SEA by whatever means, and to achieve the China Dream of being on center stage of the world, to be seen as a globally important nation.

Partly related to that is the need to fix what what happened to China in recent history, to reverse and correct the humiliation meted out to it by foreign powers when China was weaker.

China sees the idea of the 'face' as an important aspect of its culture, and that face has to be shown to be both strong, without weakness, and be shown to be benevolent to those lesser nations who seek its wisdom and help.

This idea of being important and dominant really ramped up with the arrival of Xi Jinping, though in reality it had already started in the South China Seas years before.

It was from 2006 that Beijing began using 'law enforcement' ships to expand its control of large swathes of disputed waters, withdrew from the dispute resolution procedures in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, started production of disputed offshore gas fields, and launched unilateral energy explorations and a campaign of coercion against rival claimants who sought to do the same.

However it is true to say that Xi Jinpng reinvigorated the China appetite for growth beyond its domestic limits, launching a new era of aggressive diplomacy globally and particularly in the South China Sea where before it had been dominated by the United States and to a lesser degree Japan. China has always felt that it was been humiliated by these and other foreign powers in its past and it seeks to swipe away the memories of these stains upon its history by seizing the opportunity to dominate the region in a post-Cold War land/sea-scape.

Delivered at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, October 18, 2017:

"The Chinese nation, which since modern times began had endured so much for so long, has achieved a tremendous transformation: it has stood up, grown rich, and is becoming strong; it has come to embrace the brilliant prospects of rejuvenation. It means that scientific socialism is full of vitality in 21st century China, and that the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics is now flying high and proud for all to see. It means that the path, the theory, the system, and the culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics have kept developing, blazing a new trail for other developing countries to achieve modernization. It offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence; and it offers Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach to solving the problems facing mankind."

"This new era will be an era of building on past successes to further advance our cause, and of continuing in a new historical context to strive for the success of socialism with Chinese characteristics. It will be an era of securing a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and of moving on to all-out efforts to build a great modern socialist country. It will be an era for the Chinese people of all ethnic groups to work together and work hard to create a better life for themselves and ultimately achieve common prosperity for everyone. It will be an era for all of us, the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation, to strive with one heart to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. It will be an era that sees China moving closer to center stage and making greater contributions to mankind."

The hallmark of Xi Jinping’s leadership is the China Dream, which he established when he came to power.

Xi Jinping refers to the dream as 'national rejuvenation'.

The way China pursues its dream changes its diplomatic system.

While the dream is not specific about the military’s revival, the China Dream has since emphasised it is based on the idea of a strong military.

Accordingly, China’s foreign policy focuses on national security issues, which provides a more influential role for the military to be involved in foreign policy-making.

While China’s foreign policy is considered aggressive under Xi Jinping, the strategy cannot be separated from Xi’s domestic interest and relates closely to the development of China’s military diplomacy, which has grown since the demise of the Soviet Union and the rise of China's economic power.

Xi Jinping's China Dream consists of the four pillars:

  1. Strong China (economic, political, diplomatic, scientific, and military),
  2. Civilised China (equality and fairness, rich culture, high morals),
  3. Harmonious China (friendship between social classes), and
  4. Beautiful China (healthy environment and less pollution) (Kuhn, 2013).

Xi refers to the dream as the nationalism spirit of China’s suffering in the ‘century of humiliation’ and China’s glory under party rule.

Xi Jinping sees the China Dream as both China's ‘national revival’ and as China’s 'world power' goal.

Xi Jinping’s insistence on ‘national revival’ sends a message that China resumes its place in the world.

If China does not become a world power, the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will be incomplete.

Only when it becomes a world power can we say that the total rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has been achieved.

In the Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs, 2014, Xi Jinping proposed to advance multilateral diplomacy by aiming to reform the international system and global governance and to increase the representation of China globally.

At The central conference on work in 2014, Xi announced a new development in China’s foreign policy, laying out a new shift in foreign policy, marking a transformation from Deng Xiaoping’s theory of ‘keeping a low profile’ to an ‘active and creative’ strategy.

In December 2012 Xi stressed a strong military is required for achieving national rejuvenation, following which the army confirmed that “the 'China Dream is the Strong Army Dream', the 'China Dream leads the Strong Army Dream', and the 'Strong Army Dream supports the China Dream'”

In 2015 China publicly revealed China’s Military Strategy White Paper, a change from China’s National Defence since 1998, revealing a strategy of:

  1. ‘active defence’
  2. ‘winning informatized local wars’ (information is an instrument in prosecuting and winning wars)
  3. goal of becoming a maritime power and a more significant Chinese naval presence farther from the People’s Republic’s shores.

If China is to succeed in these, it must dominate in the following domains:

  1. cyberspace,
  2. outer space,
  3. nuclear forces,
  4. the oceans.

if Xi Jinping wants to define his leadership by re-asserting and safeguarding maritime territorial disputes, particularly in the South China Sea and East South China Sea, these issues then become part of China’s foreign policy, meaning that China has to change its national defensive security strategy from what was only 'land defence' to 'active land and sea defence'.

For a long time, China projected its defence posture in the terrestrially-based strategy matching civilian status quo centred diplomacy with land neighbours.

As for its Navy it was always considered a coastal defence, never a blue water navy capable of power projection like the US and other Western and regional (such as Japan) nations employed.

The 2015 China’s Military Strategy White Paper stated that:

The traditional mentality that land outweighs sea must be abandoned, and great importance has to be attached to managing the seas and oceans and protecting maritime rights and interests. It is necessary for China to develop a modern maritime military force structure commensurate with its national security and development interests, safeguard its national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, protect the security of strategic SLOCs and overseas interests, and participate in international maritime cooperation, so as to provide strategic support for building itself into a maritime power.

China’s National Defence in the New Era, 2019:

“China’s military role has shifted toward safeguarding China’s overseas interest and international peace. China’s military modernization is primary to safeguard its territory and sovereignty, aiming to dismiss the ‘China’s threat’ allegation.

It acknowledged China’s need to protect its investment and citizens overseas in the new era”

The 18th CCP Congress has reclassified the South China Sea as a national core interest.

China has a preference for bilateral diplomacy, to be seen as having a ‘great power mentality’ that opposes allying with other nations since it is regarded as a policy taken by a small country. Meanwhile retaining Chinese ’horizontal link’ tradition, seeking treaties of alliances one by one with its opponent parties by using divide-and-conquer methods.

China uses military diplomacy (shown in aggressive military tactics in the SCS) as a key tool for advancing its whole diplomatic goals.

"China’s sovereignty and relevant rights over the South China Sea have been formed over the long course of history.”

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/pla-reforms-toward-winning-informationised-local-wars

https://www.npr.org/2022/01/28/1076246311/chinas-ambassador-to-the-u-s-warns-of-military-conflict-o

https://globalchallenges.ch/issue/1/a-sea-at-the-heart-of-chinese-national-interest/

https://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1014&context=cmsi-red-books

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/download/Xi_Jinping's_report_at_19th_CPC_National_Congress.pdf

https://www.brookings.edu/articles/xi-jinping-and-chinas-maritime-policy/

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .