Must-read stuff on China from StrategyPage. It’s an unsigned piece, so I have to guess it’s by Jim Dunnigan — but that’s just a guess. Here’s the gist:

The Chinese campaign of conquering real, or imagined, nearby “lost territories” by winning many little victories in battles none of the victims is willing to go to war over continues. This campaign is quite active in the South China Sea, North Korea and along the Indian border. China has, in the last few years, taken control of sizable chunks of India and large swaths of the South China Sea one tiny piece at a time. The victims are organizing, but have yet to come up with a workable defense against the Chinese tactics. Despite growing resistance by the victims, and their ally the United States, China keeps pushing and keeps making progress. Nothing any of the victims has done so far has stopped the Chinese, who apparently believe that ultimate victory is theirs because their opponents are too disorganized or intimidated to put up any effective resistance. Nevertheless, it is a risky game and there are constant minor crises that could go awry and become major problems.

We’ve discussed at length China’s similarity to Wilhelmine and Nazi Germany — the biggest bully on the block, but the other kids are collectively stronger. So far, Beijing has shown a lot more patience than Wilhelm II, and has far more modest goals than Hitler. Will their “salami tactics” get them what they want, without a major war? So long as China keeps taking small slices, that depends on two things:

• American willingness to act as ringleader of the nations along China’s rim.

• East Asia’s trust in America’s power.

As recently as just a year or two ago, I would have said both items were no-brainers. Now I’m not so sure.