September 19, 2015

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: The South China Sea is Not Beijing’s Next Battlefield: Think Taiwan Instead.

No one likes to admit they made a mistake, especially in Washington. But what if America’s top strategic thinkers have gotten China’s military buildup all wrong?

The definition of military deception is “actions executed to deliberately mislead adversary decision makers…thereby causing the adversary to take specific actions (or inactions) that will contribute to the accomplishment of the mission.” Could Beijing be using the South China Sea to this end? By creating a constant stream of provocations in an area it cares relatively little about, China has diverted attention from an area it cares a lot about. This could be leading the Pentagon toward bad planning assumptions and investments. . . .

Each of Beijing’s moves appears carefully calibrated to maximize foreign fear and minimize Chinese risk. Nothing has happened in this war of nerves that might result in a shooting war. China knows it would lose such a fight. But more important, and often missed by observers, the South China Sea is not a top priority.

China’s military buildup is about Taiwan, not the South China Sea. According to reports from the Pentagon and Office of Naval Intelligence, conquering Taiwan is the core mission that drives the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Why? Because China’s authoritarian leadership is deeply insecure. Beijing views the Republic of China (ROC, or Taiwan), which exists as an independent and sovereign state, to be a grave threat to the communist party’s vice grip on power. Taiwan is dangerous because it serves as a beacon of freedom for Chinese speaking people everywhere.


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