Chinese Dream: Beyond the First Island Chain

By Perry Diaz

Air-defense-identifcation-zoneIn an apparent move against Japan – and the United States — China established an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over a large portion of East China Sea, which includes the disputed Senkaku Islands. The “No-Fly Zone” took effect last November 23. In her announcement, China said that her military would take “defensive emergency measures” if aircraft entered the area without reporting flight plans or identifying themselves.

It is evident that China unilaterally imposed the ADIZ as part of her goal to eventually control the “First Island Chain,” which runs from Northeast China, thorough Japan, the Ryukyu archipelago, Taiwan, the Philippines, Borneo, Malaysia, and to the Strait of Malacca, and encompassing the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea. China could then break through the Miyako Strait between Taiwan and the Ryukyu chain or through the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and Luzon Island of the Philippines.

Pax Americana

Led by the huge Nimitz-class carrier, this year's AnnualEX 2013 war games brought together dozens of warships from both navies to test their ability to work effectively in a volatile region.

Led by the huge Nimitz-class carrier, this year’s AnnualEX 2013 war games brought together dozens of warships from both navies to test their ability to work effectively in a volatile region.

Currently, the U.S. operates six major air bases in Japan including the strategically located Okinawa Island, which is host to 25,000 American troops including 13,000 marines. Another 25,000 American troops are stationed on Japan’s main island, which is home to the forward-deployed USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group based at the Yokosuka naval base.

Recently, Japan deployed several units of surface-to-ship missiles on Miyako Island, which could control navigation through the strategic Miyako Strait. On the other side of Miyako Strait is Okinawa. Any attempt by China to break through the Miyako Strait would be difficult and could inflict heavy casualty to Chinese forces.

And this is where imposing a Chinese ADIZ could deny U.S. and Japanese forces from exercising total control of the Miyako Strait. If China exercises control of Miyako Strait, then she can make her next move, which is to dominate the Second Island Chain – a demarcation line from Japan through Guam to Indonesia – and bring China right to America’s doorsteps: Guam. And who would prevent China from declaring an ADIZ over the entire Western Pacific including the airspace over Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines? Outlandish the idea might be, but it is possible.

First-and-Second-Island-Chains.3By controlling the vast Western Pacific, China could establish herself as the sole superpower in the Asia-Pacific region and transform the entire Western Pacific waters into “Lake Beijing.”

The question is: Would China stop at the Second Island Chain? There are now talks that China is looking far beyond the Second Island Chain; that is, a Third Island Chain that would extend all the way to Hawaii… and ultimately to the shores of California. By then China would be the biggest economic and military power on Earth.

Pax Sinica

In my article, “Xi Jinping’s Pax Sinica” (November 3, 2013), I wrote: “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.

“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.”

But there is a stumbling block – America – who, since the end of World War II, had established herself as the unchallenged power in the Pacific with the First Island Chain as her first line of defense against, at that time, Russia or what used to be the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

Paper tiger

B-52 Stratofortress

B-52 Stratofortress

Three days after the ADIZ was imposed, the U.S. — in an apparent show of force — sent two unarmed B-52 Stratofortress bombers from an airbase in Guam to fly over the Senkaku Islands. Stunned by the U.S.’s quick response, China didn’t scramble her jet fighters to intercept the “intruding” aircraft. Evidently, China didn’t have any contingency plan to respond to the U.S. action. The Defense Ministry merely said that it identified and monitored the aircraft. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with all its past bravura, was caught off guard. This led some Chinese media to call the PLA a “paper tiger.”

The U.S. counter-action proved two things. First, it served as a stern warning to China that the U.S. would not take this sitting down. Secondly, the U.S. reassured her Asian allies that she remains committed to rebalancing 60% of her naval and air forces to the Asia-Pacific region.

No sooner had the B-52’s headed back to Guam than Japan and South Korea, in an act of defiance, sent their reconnaissance aircraft over the ADIZ. Again, there was no reaction from the PLA in both instances.

Chinese Dream

Admiral Liu Huaqing

Admiral Liu Huaqing

In an article in the Want China Times that appeared on June 27, 2013, Admiral Liu Huaqing, the mastermind of China’s modern naval strategy, was quoted as saying in 1982 that it would be necessary for China to control the First and Second Island Chains by 2010 and 2020, respectively. “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,” he said.

China has yet to control the First Island Chain, which put her three years behind her timetable. But by imposing an ADIZ over the East China Sea and planning to do the same over the South China Sea, China was hoping that U.S. would be shooed away from the Western Pacific. If China were successful in doing that, then the “Chinese Dream” is within her reach.

But there is one thing that prevents China from fulfilling the “Chinese Dream” and that is the United States’ intent to remain a Pacific power. And at the rate China’s neighbors are coalescing together to counter China’s aggression, she may have to find a friendlier and less threatening way of winning her neighbors’ goodwill and cooperation. Instead China is stoking fear among her neighbors in the same manner that Adolf Hitler stoked fear in Europe when Germany annexed Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland. Makes one wonder if history is repeating itself?

At the end of the day, China’s dream of going beyond the First Island Chain could turn out to be just that — a dream. Or it could be a nightmare nobody wants to wake up from.


8 Responses. Have your say.

  1. Romy Monteyro says:

    China simply played a game of “chicken” where she turned out to be the chicken! Her bluff was called first by the U.S., then followed by both Japan and Korea in deliberate defiance of China’s self-imposed “no fly zone” and China did exactly nothing! The U.S.’s quick reaction followed by Japan and Korea is the only way to treat a bully! The bully is this case backed down like a dog with its tail between its legs! In Tagalog there is a derisive term which aptly fits the Chinese’ meek response but it would not be appropriate to print it here. The Pinoys, however, would know what it is–“tigas ….” LOL!

  2. Jose Samilin says:

    The horror and perversity of war is immensely magnified by Chinese action of ADIZ war provocative strategy and the display of scientific weapons. Beware!!! Disagreements between nations are not really and radically healed. New approaches based on reformed attitudes must be taken to remove this infectious trap and to emancipate the world from its crushing anxiety through the restoration of genuine peace.

  3. Mariano Patalinjug says:

    Yonkers, New York
    02 December 2013

    Those who are interested in Geopolitical Affairs and, in particular, in China’s recent blustery move imposing an Aircraft Defense Identification Zone [ADIZ] over the East China Sea, will profit from a careful reading of this Article by Perry Diaz in GLOBAL BALITA.

    He succeeds in putting in clear perspective what China has been doing all these years–and makes it quite obvious that China is bent on imposing its Pax Sinica, or its China’s Dream, over even areas where those disputed islands which neighboring countries claim as their territory or as under their administrative control.

    China’s big problem as it pushes its Pax Sinica forward, drawing a new “10-Dash Line which is much longer and wider than its previous “9-Dash Line,” is not only Japan, South Korea, Viet Nam and the Philippines, but the United States of America.

    If China, flushed with spectacular economic success, considers itself an 800-pound gorilla now, the United States should be a 1,200-pound gorilla by comparison. Or bigger still.

    And the U.S. is not oblivious to China’s geopolitcal intentions. That explains why two years back, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta publicly announced a new US geopolitical policy of a “PIVOT TO ASIA.” Under this new policy, some 60 percent of the US’s naval forces are to be redeployed to Asia. this means at least six of the US’s present 12 Aircraft Carrier Strike Forces, each one of which, with its normal complement of cruisers, destroyers, frigates, minesweepers, tankers and a hospital ship, is a formidable force all by itself.

    There cannot be any question but that the US “Pivot to Asia” is meant as initial preparations for any eventually with China, including military confrontation. The US has made it more than abundantly clear that it has a vested national interest in keeping completely open those sea Lanes starting from the Middle East which pass through those Asian nations, and reach as far as the US West Coast.

    China must never forget that the United States considers the Pacific Ocean its American Lake.

    Mariano Patalinjug

  4. ariel gener says:

    This latest posturing of China is a good thing. Hopefully, this latest aggressive act made it crystal clear to the Japanese, South Koreans, Americans, and the rest of the world that China is not to be trusted with her new-found power and influence.

    America should be realising now that it was a mistake to build China’s economy minus the “safety features” and “controls” it put in place when it built Japan and Germany, post-WWII.

    It now behooves JPN, SoKoR,the US, and other major stakeholders in the region to address and control China’s growing expansionist ambitions.

    • M. S. Santangelo M.D. says:

      You are absolutely right. It’s about time US realizes that he created a monster of China by helping its economy. It’s not too late, we can still fracture their economic success by not patronizing their products. I have stopped buying things made in China. I now buy things made in USA or anywhere but China.

  5. Pons Tucay says:

    With its fast-paced industrialization with one modernized aircraft carrier from Russia as prototype and several in the making, in 2020, China will become an ‘Iron-fisted Tiger”, and not just a “Paper Tiger”!
    Watch out, World!

  6. Guy Guerrero says:

    China has tiny cojones. They’re testing the large cojones.

  7. perry says:

    The following article published today confirms my analysis on Miyako Strait and penetrating the First Island Chain.

    Beijing’s ADIZ allows PLA Navy to penetrate Miyako waterway >>


Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *