Is China’s Pacific Strategy actually “fake it till you make it?”September 27, 2013
On one side are those who think China is simply using its full diplomatic arsenal to reassert legitimate and historic claims. On the other are those who see analogies to German and Japanese imperialism just prior to World War Two. But retired US admiral Mike McDevitt, currently a senior analyst at the private sector Center for Naval Analysis, thinks both positions are misapprehensions. As reported by Sydney Freedberg at Breaking Defense, McDevitt believes that “I’m increasingly coming to the view that China’s reputation as a brilliant strategist is misplaced, They’re very tactical [and] focused on whatever is in the inbox…. Their reactions in many places seem designed to shoot themselves in the foot.” McDevitt also believes that China has far too many internal issues to allow itself to be sucked into a serious international conflict, so that the views of the hawks are as wrong as those of the doves.
I think that McDevitt is correct, but only in the short term. Long term, the logic of Long Cycle Theory combined with China’s rapid ascent, the relative decline of the US, and the multi-nation Indo-Pacific naval arms race taken together indicate that just such a serious conflict is within the realm of possibility (if not, in fact, highly likely) within the next quarter century or so.