With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continuing, China is proceeding with its plan to become the hegemon of the Pacific Rim by 2049.
The plan, referred to as the Great Rejuvenation, is a not-so-secret plan, fully analyzed by the Department of Defense, that calls for all of the U.S. partnerships and alliances in the region to flip in favor of China.
Of course, many of the countries of the region, notably Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia and many others are not likely to acquiesce willingly to China. The Chinese Communist Party, likewise, will learn from Russia’s recent experience using brute force, and will not proceed using Russia’s method. The Chinese have likely thought this as a poor method. Now they know it.
Since the pandemic and Russia’s Ukraine fiasco, China has continued its methodical pursuit using elements of diplomacy (including a subtle strong-arm version), various forms of information, an obvious military build-up, and coercive economic tactics.
In its more obvious action that started before the war in Ukraine, China is bulking up its nuclear arsenal. It undoubtedly learned from the NATO nations’ reluctance to put troops into Ukraine due to Russia’s threats of the use of nuclear weapons, and China will speed up its efforts. It does not appear China is imminently preparing for combat but putting in place a policy of issuing big threats are being coupled with an ability to deliver, if necessary.
In a relatively small, but focused, diplomatic action, China may sign a so-called security agreement with the Solomon Islands. This is a curious action, and one likely steeped in payoffs to political officials, because Australia already has troops in the area to provide … security.
The Solomons are just 1,000 miles from Australia, and use of the islands in the future could be a launchpad by China to intimidate Australia’s and New Zealand’s military. Australia is urging Solomon Islands prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, not to sign.
In its information program, China continues to provide for full-scale propaganda in multiple languages. China’s Global Times publishes a professional-looking newspaper, and purports to come across as a source of balanced information, including sports and cartoons. Despite this look, it is merely a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, and its well-written articles are nothing more than a more sophisticated version of Joseph Goebbels’ products in Nazi Germany.
Recent efforts include backing bogus Russian claims that NATO, and especially the United States, will deploy biological (and by implication, chemical) weapons into Ukraine. The United States long ago eschewed biological and chemical weapons capability, and both Russia and China are fully aware of this. China is in full support of pushing this fake story, using instruments of media and social media.
In social media, China still maintains platforms that Russia lost or had blocked, by spouting claims about the phony biological U.S. program, and equally bizarre claims about neo-Nazis bombing a Ukrainian hospital and connections between President Volodymyr Zelensky and billionaire George Soros.
China has embarked in recent years on significant military advances. It continues to build naval assets that could improve its expeditionary capability (something it would need to wage battle with Taiwan). Its improvements include near-term launch of the country’s third aircraft carrier.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is also examining the use of space to fight. It is likely satellites for intelligence purposes and the development of weapons launched from space are on the drawing boards.
Economic actions are more prominent and long-lasting, from building and managing (effectively owning) strategic ports, to mining rare-earth materials, to maintaining solid relationships with major U.S. companies.
Many of those relationships with U.S. companies include a willingness on the part of leaders and notable figures serving as talking heads in praise of China, or at least refusing to speak out against obvious Chinese human rights transgressions as recently seen by Coca-Cola’s reluctance to speak out about China’s egregious violations against the Uyghurs.
It is clear China holds sway over large swaths of Western countries’ economies by providing the labor, factory space and means of delivery of millions of goods of Western-owned companies.
Some actions cut across multiple lines of effort. For example, China recently delivered sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons to Serbia, an ally of Russia, in an auspicious way. It delivered both the equipment and a message to the West that China has the willingness, capacity and technology to act on its interests.
Every action of China must be watched and countered where possible. The Chinese Communist Party is no friend of the United States or its NATO partners. If anyone doubted this before the war in Ukraine, today it is obvious.