I find it interesting sometimes to follow the politics of other countries. While I don’t spend a great deal of time worrying about what other nations decide to do most of the time, partly because very little of what they do has any real effect on our lives over here, there are some events that grab my attention. Many times these events appear concerning on the surface, but in reality aren’t nearly as bad as the media tends to portray them. It is important to remember that news is no longer about truth, but click count.
The situation that sparked the writing of this article is China’s recent expulsion of a United States warship from Chinese contested waters. The country is making a big show of how they “intimidated” one of our vessels from the South China Sea, forcing the USS Benfold to retreat to safer waters. While the facts might be that China took up an aggressive posture and the warship chose to leave rather than start a war, the reality is far from the picture that China would like to paint.
The truth is that while China is certainly a world player, they haven’t reached nearly the technological and industrial power required to seriously challenge America in a head on fight. Sure, they have nuclear weapons and could certainly choose to use them, but I think that none of the major nations really want to go that route since we all know that no one really wins that fight. If it were going to happen, I believe it would have decades ago before it was truly understood what mutually assured destruction would look like.
If we set aside a nuclear apocalypse, then all that’s left is conventional warfare, and while China certainly has us outnumbered from a manpower standpoint, they simply don’t have the ability to conduct a sustained global war outside of their immediate area of influence. It is true that their aggression is focused on the areas just outside their nation and could put up a serious fight that would be very difficult to win, but ultimately China loses that fight; not because the United States will be able to truly defeat China, but because the nation will ultimately expend significant resources for territories it will ultimately be unable to hold onto.
When I consider these facts, it becomes much more difficult to take events such as these seriously. China’s true power in the world today is political propaganda. They truly have a powerful military compared to the nations within their own sphere of influence, but unless they’re willing to resort to global annihilation they don’t really have much muscle in a fight with the rest of the world. Their hope is that, just as in World War 2, the nations of the west want to avoid a fight badly enough that we will abandon our promises and allow China to expand at will.
Like any bully, all it takes is for someone strong enough to stand up to them and remind them that they aren’t truly as strong as they like to believe they are. The nation has several critical issues that are rapidly coming to fruition, including severe water shortages, an aging population and a housing based economy that has only a finite amount of time before it all comes crashing down. As much as they would like to play the long game to build up to a level to truly challenge the west, the ugly reality is that they’re quickly running out of time.
In the end, we will see a lot of aggressive action from China as they attempt to convince us that they are bigger and stronger than they are, but as long as we stand our ground the likelihood is that we’ll be able to wait them out to the point that they are forced to simply back down and retreat to a much weaker position. The real deciding factor in all of this is not Chinese military power, but the resolve of the rest of the world to refuse to allow an aggressive power to dominate them. It’s truly up to us.
What do you think about Chinese aggression? Is it a real threat, or is it all for show? What would a real confrontation between China and the west look like? Normal people fear war, and legitimate effort should be taken to avoid it. However, giving in to bullies in the hopes of avoiding a fight usually results in a redoubled effort by those who crave power. We see it here in America, and it’s no different anywhere else. As unfortunate as it is, sometimes strength is the only viable solution.