Peace Projection?

Chinese troops march during the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015. © Rolex Dela Pena

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

China, East Asia’s predominant military and economic power, has just celebrated its 70th anniversary of victory in World War II – formally titled, the “Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggressions and the World Anti-Fascist War.” This celebration in Tiananmen Square boasted a somewhat intimidating display of Chinese military might and capabilities, Vice News reports, including a parade of 12,000 armed and decorated troops and 500 assault vehicles (fully equipped with the nation’s “most advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles”), all whilst fifth generation Chinese J-15 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and “sophisticated” Z-19 attack helicopters flew overhead. Furthermore, in attendance were numerous high-profile representatives, such as Russia’s very own Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as well as foreign dignitaries of 49 countries, including the Central Asian Republics. Surely, one would perceive such a superfluous exhibition of regional power and influence as an act passive aggression, suggesting that China’s neighbors “should bandwagon with Beijing rather than seek to preserve full sovereignty through modernization, intra-Asian security cooperation, and alignment with the only real counterweight, the United States.”

These developments have come amidst a rather politically, economically, and militarily-sensitive climate, as China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is set to reduce its manpower by an approximate 300,000 personnel as part of an extensive military modernization program designed to increase the nation’s power projection beyond its current land and sea peripheries. This represents a cause for concern, according to the Pentagon, “as China’s global footprint and international interests grow” so too does the potential for confrontation, whether it be naval standoffs in the Pacific or territorial annexation of Japan’s Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands) in the East China Sea. The various issues and conflicts involving China of late have certainly left the international community, particularly the United States, with a feeling of apprehension – might a shift towards a model of power projection inevitably lead to armed hostilities amongst the global powers?

Nevertheless, heightened concerns are understandable, especially when considering China’s intentions in the midst of a massive military mobilization effort (despite “over-the-top declarations of peace” from Beijing). Perhaps, China does, in fact, want “everyone to watch while it flexes its big peace muscle”, taking into account that the PLA is also fiercely committed to multilateral cooperation and development efforts, such as “emergency rescue and disaster relief, [as well as] international peacekeeping and international rescue [operations].” However, China has been steadfast in defense of its Cold War Era-style festivities, ubiquitously remarking, “If someone says this is flexing anything… it is a flexing of the spirit of peace by the Chinese people” (Zhang Ming, Vice Minister of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Whatever China’s true intentions may be, its current “coercive” activities are representative of the theoretical Security Dilemma wherein its power projection platform has only served to elevate the level of insecurity in the region (as well as globally) and is therefore not in the strategic interest of the nation.

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7 thoughts on “Peace Projection?

  1. Thank you for sharing your post.

    I believe China tried to draw South Korea as their strategical ally. Current South Korea government is not showing the clear position between US and China. I assume that South Korea is taking an balance policy between US and China. China and South Korea both share the pain of the Japanese colonial period. However, US take a side on Japan due to the military issues. Current US government is trying to reduce the armaments by allowing Japan rearmament.

    It is pretty sensitive issue for South Korea that US is allowing Japan to rearm. Also, its rearmament target will be China, North Korea and Russia. So, in the China’s situation, they would like to be friendly with South Korea. Also, premier Xi Jinping in China and President Park Geun-hye in South Korea were friendly each other before they became a leader of each countries. The US will definitely dislike this situation.

    I believe military balance in Middle East Asia is important, so US and other nations should do a good diplomacy in this area.

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  2. I also agree with the military balance in SothEast Asia. The future of those countries in this region are design by their position and to what political system side they lean to. China had control culture and political most of the SouthEast Asia countries. Countries like Singapour had become 1st world countries with the help of United States and China combined.

    The same way I see UnIted States grwoing there way to combat and becoming stronger nation, For me China those had ambition to continue recieving rewards. Between now and one day in the future china probally can change the face of the game, by becoming more influent in other countries society in a worldwhile level. The pourpuse of other countries of increasing military force is to maintain their interest and their safety in a 100 Percent.

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  3. First of all, I just want to say that this is a fantastic topic you chose to write about. I think China was just showing the world that in the East, they are a powerful force to be reckoned with. The United States power projection can be seen across the world with our embassies, bases, and naval routes. China’s true intentions are unclear. But just like we all discussed in class, when one nation seeks its own security it challenges the security of the other nations as well.

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  4. China has very rapidly become one of the most powerful nations in the world. The amount of growth they have achieved is impressive. That being said, are any of these exercises that different from the flexing of muscle that the U.S. has done over the years? It could simply be that China wants to let everyone know that they are powerful enough that they can hold their own if there ever happens to be another global conflict. Hopefully the U.S. can maintain a decent relationship with them and prevent another arms race.

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  5. Theodore Roosevelt is famous for his quote “Speak Softly but carry a big stick.” The Chinese government seems to be making an attempt to emulate this idea. However China’s aggressive attitude towards Nepal, Taiwan and Tibet certainly void the thought of speaking softly. What a projection of power of this scale can do is try to show any real military action in attempt to stop China’s aggression would be a long drawn out war, one no one would want.

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  6. I am very afraid of China’s growth recently that it show high rate of improving on economy and military. I cannot imagine that China would be the strongest country in the world. The world is always in uncertainty then If China and Russia get team together, balance of power would be different with current, more conflict and dark.

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  7. Tactical decisions always seem to ignite an uproar. military development in any country could always be taken the wrong way or be misconstrued. many nations especially ones attempting to rise to the top in international relations find that military advancement is one of the best ways to increase status,.

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