Xi Jinping’s ‘Pax Sinica’

By Perry Diaz

Senkaku islands

Senkaku islands

What started as a word war between Japan and China could lead to another world war, and perhaps the last world war – of the “Dr. Strangelove” variety — on planet Earth. And just the thought of a catastrophic nuclear war would deter China and Japan from starting a war. So, why then wouldn’t the two protagonists stop jabbing at each other and sit down to settle their territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands to China)?

But it is easier said than done. With no economic value that’s worth fighting for, it makes one wonder what do these eight uninhabited small islands and islets have that is making China go gaga over them? Could it be that there is something else that China wants that is of far greater value than these desolate specks of land in the middle of East China Sea?

If China gained control of the Senkaku group of islands, which is 114 nautical miles west of Miyako Island, she would be in a position to control or block the Miyako Strait, which connects the East China Sea to the Philippine Sea… and the Pacific Ocean beyond.

First Island Chain

First and Second Island Chains

First and Second Island Chains

Recently, China broke through the First Island Chain, which runs from the Asian mainland all the way to Vietnam by way of Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Borneo, and Malaysia. For the first time, her navy entered the Pacific Ocean from the North China Sea through the narrow Soya Strait between the Russian island of Sakhalin and the Japanese northern island of Hokkaido. After spending some time in Western Pacific waters, the ships sailed south to the Philippine Sea and then passed through the Miyako Strait on their return voyage to the home base of the North China Sea Fleet at Qingdao. Soya Strait and Miyako Strait are two of several channels along the First Island Chain.

China didn’t waste any time bragging about it. In an interview with China Daily during the 86th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Du Wenlong, a senior researcher at the PLA’s Academy of Military Science, said, “The Chinese navy has the capability to cut the first island chain into several pieces. Now the chain is fragmented.” He added that “the repeated passages show that the PLA navy is now capable of sending and supporting its warships to navigate and fight in channels far from the continent.”

Recently, China sent an observation drone over the Senkaku islands. Reacting to the intrusion into Japanese airspace, Japan immediately passed a law authorizing the military to shoot down Chinese drones intruding into her territory. Needless to say, China was infuriated. A Chinese spokesman warned that an attack against a Chinese drone would be an act of war and would “certainly attract return fire from fighters of PLA Air Force and Navy Air Force.”

In reaction, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned China against “forcibly changing the regional balance of power.” Consequently, Japan announced that her Self-Defense Forces (SDF) would deploy a surface-to-ship missile unit on Miyako Island, which would put all the waters between Okinawa and Miyako Island within its range.

It is interesting to note that during the summit meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama in California last June, Xi told the media that he and Obama were meeting “to chart the future of China-US relations and draw a blueprint for this relationship.” Then he added: “The vast Pacific Ocean has enough space for two large countries like the United States and China.”

Second Island Chain

Admiral Liu Huaqing

Admiral Liu Huaqing

If China succeeds in controlling the Miyako Strait and the Soya Strait, she would achieve her goal of breaking the First Island Chain and move on to the next step, which is to control the Second Island Chain, which stretches from Japan all the way to Papua New Guinea by way of the U.S. territories of Guam and Saipan. That would put China’s navy at America’s threshold.

In an article titled, “China to take Second Island Chain by 2020,” published several months ago in the Want China Times, it said: “In 1982, Admiral Liu Huaqing, the former commander of the PLA Navy and the mastermind of China’s modern naval strategy, said that it would be necessary for China to control the First and Second Island Chains by 2010 and 2020. The PLA Navy must be ready to challenge US domination over the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean in 2040. If China is able to dominate the Second Island Chain seven years from now, the East China Sea will become the backyard of the PLA Navy.”

Pax Sinica

Xi Jinping (Credit: The Economist)

Xi Jinping (Credit: The Economist)

Last October 31, 2013, China’s state-run Global Times published an article, saying that escalating tensions between China and Japan over territorial claims to the Senkaku Islands could ignite a war. It said that Beijing was preparing for a “worst-case” scenario of military conflict over the disputed islands.

It seems that China’s “worst-case” scenario is a deliberate attempt to fulfill Xi’s “Chinese Dream,” which is the revival of imperial China — or Pax Sinica (Chinese Peace) – that had maintained Chinese hegemony in Asia during the reign of the Ming dynasty. “The great revival of the Chinese nation is the greatest Chinese Dream,” Xi said before taking office in November 2012.

Pax Americana

Surmise it to say, China’s carefully orchestrated actions in the past two years are leading to war against Japan… and ultimately against the United States, with the goal of ending American hegemony – Pax Americana — in the Pacific.

The question is: Is China ready to go to war against the U.S.?

Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine

Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine

In a Want China Times article last November 2, 2013, Chinese Rear Admiral Yang Yi reportedly said that China needs at least 20 nuclear-powered submarines to defend its maritime interests. Yang said that the United States is now the only maritime superpower with both aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. He said that with 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, the U.S. has “the capability to wipe out a medium-size nation with 100 UGM-133 Trident D-5 missiles.”

Indeed, the only thing that’s stopping China from pursuing her imperialistic ambitions is America’s Trident II D-5 missile. There are 24 of these missiles with a range of 4,000 nautical miles in each Ohio-class submarine. It is estimated that 540 of these missiles will be built at the end of 2013.

Trident II D5 ballistic missile

Trident II D5 ballistic missile

But here’s the kicker: Each Trident II D5 missile is loaded with a “Multiple Independently Targeted Reentry Vehicle” (MIRV), which can carry up to 14 nuclear warheads. Currently, the U.S. Navy has 3,030 of these warheads in service.

At this time, it would be suicidal for China to launch a first-strike attack against the U.S. However, at the rate China is building her navy, she might be able to get closer to parity with the U.S. in 20 years; that is, if the U.S. doesn’t improve or increase her naval power, which seems unlikely to happen.

But if China is mad enough to pursue Xi Jinping’s Pax Sinica and attack the U.S., it could end in Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). And Dr. Strangelove couldn’t be happier.


8 Responses. Have your say.

  1. Mariano Patalinjug says:

    Yonkers, New York
    03 November 2013

    There is reason to believe, on the evidence, that China is serious if not dead-set on pursuing Pax Sinica not only in what it claims to be the China Sea, but also even the whole Pacific Ocean.

    If that is China’s true intentions, she must realize that she is on a deadly collision course against not only Japan, but against a real 900-pound gorrilla, the United States of America, which, she obviously needs to be reminded, considers the Pacific Ocean an “American lake.”

    The United States is not unmindful of China’s geopolitical ambitions or intentions. And that explains why some two years back, the United States publicly announced that it was pushing its new policy of a “Pivot to Asia.” It should be clear to all and sundry, to China in particular, that even as early as now the United States is making necessary preparations for the ultimate eventuality, which will be a military confrontation with China.

    That is a geopoltical event which China is not in a position to win now or even twenty years from now.

    If China gets reckless, drven by hubris and arrogance, it is almost certain that her major cities, and also her major infrastructure including the critical Three Gorges Dam, will be reduced to rubbble. In the process, millions of Chinese will of course be reduced to cosmic dust–and that will include China’s leaders!

    Not an inviting prospect for China. Thus Pax Sinica appears now to be a stupid dream.

    Mariano Patalinjug

  2. Any one who will foolishly attempt to wage war with the US, at this point in time, will surely lose its grandeur and stupid dream.
    Of course no one would like to stop China from pursuing its wild dream of making the Pacific Ocean as her swimming pool or lake, thus controlling its whole sphere, but the US will never tolerate that idea.
    In short, why think of accumulating all these grandeur that when we die, we can not bring them to the grave?

  3. Manuel F. Almario says:

    This is MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction. So I think that China and the US won’t go at each other’s throats. America is so clever it only goes to war against smaller states like Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan. It won’t take on the Soviet Union (remember the Cuban crisis)or China. Americans are not stupid, they will fight only to win.

    • perry says:

      Hi Manuel,

      Why fight when you can’t lick your opponent? Actually, you should heed Don Vito Corleone’s advice: “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”


  4. Pons Tucay says:

    Looks like the leaders of China are edging towards world domination. They have the Atomic weapons, they have the 1.4 Billion people to back them up and they have the #2 world economy,…and trying to push out the United States out of the # 1 position.
    Frankly, I am worried.

  5. perry says:

    China is doing the same to the Philippines’ Spratlys like she does Japan. She took de facto control over our Panatag or Scarborough Shoal while our leaders were “tulog sa pansitan” and we lost Mischief Reef in 1995. Do you think our leaders have learned their lesson? You asked why China would go after something that has no value. It might seem valueless on the surface but underneath these islands are rich natural resources. China does not care or respect the UNCLOS provisions but only care what she can get by bullying. She took our Mischief Reef and Panatag Shoal and is eyeing the Ayungin Reef as her next conquest. Usurping other countries’ islands is China’s geopolitical object of desire.

    Japan is ready and capable to protect what is theirs and the leaders are strong and nationalistic. In contrast, our leaders are naïve and gullible not to mention self-serving and UNPATRIOTIC. Look at how Malaysia which is a newly formed country even surpassed our military. They successfully modernized their military funded by the riches of Sabah which also belongs to the Philippines but lost control over it because of our leaders’ complacency and apathy. Our country is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources. Our leaders are remiss in their duty to capitalize these resources for the country but only for themselves. If Malaysia enriched the country with only Sabah’s natural resources, we can very well do the same with more natural resources at our disposal. We just need visionary and honest leaders to lead us to progress.

    Marlene Damolo Howe
    (Posted in Facebook)

  6. flacoloco says:

    It’s been years from the last comment and world has changed.
    Now, China wants not only the whole Pacific but Caribbean sea as well.
    China is going to build a canal in Nicaragua which connects Pacific to Caribbean.
    Then, take a look at the west hem of the Pacific Ocean. China is trying to control East, Central, West and South Asia by AIIB, and China/CELAC(Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) Forum in Caribbean…No more Pax-America, hello Pax-Sinica.

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