In an article by Panos Mourdoukoutas published in the International Business Times on December 28, 2022, our colleague Paul Bracken provided his comments on the Chinese South China sea land grab.
“China’s recent move to reclaim reefs in the South China Sea is brilliant, as the U.S. is distracted by other issues like the war in Ukraine, inflation and Taiwan.
“That’s according to Paul Bracken, professor of management and political science at Yale School of Management.
“He thinks Xi Jinping’s strategy adheres to Sun Tzu and “The Art of War”: Take small moves to outflank the enemy, which he will see as threatening once it’s too late. “The Chinese have been playing the game 10 times longer than the United States has been, so they’re highly experienced, to say the least,” he told International Business Times.
“Bracken believes Xi is building a de facto Monroe Doctrine for control of the South China Sea by asserting control over more islands and reclaiming reefs. “It’s like the U.S. Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which told European colonial nations to stay out of building any new outposts in the western hemisphere or else they would be driven out. While the Monroe Doctrine is 200 years old next year (in 2023), Sun Tzu wrote it over 2,000 years ago,” he explained.
“Moreover, he thinks that Beijing’s move is more than just symbolic. It will help China achieve an overwhelming military superiority in the South China Sea and win a future conflict. The U.S. won the Cuban missile crisis because the confrontation occurred in an area where Washington had overwhelming military superiority — the Caribbean.
“There was no way the United States could lose a showdown in the Caribbean because of a large military presence in the area,” Bracken said. “Xi wants this for the South China Sea with the roles reversed, i.e., to have such an overwhelming Chinese advantage in the South China Sea that the U.S. knows it would lose in any confrontation like Moscow did in the Caribbean in 1962.”
“Furthermore, Beijing thinks Washington is unlikely to start a big crisis over some nameless reef that’s far away. “They are seen as worthless pecks of sand, certainly not worth starting a big diplomatic or military confrontation while Ukraine fights the Russian Army,” Bracken added.”
Featured Graphic: Close-up of Mao Zedong on a 1 yuan Chinese banknote on top of a map showing the South China Sea