Red China’s grand strategy

The Moving Wall of China’s Red Dragon Empire

SFPPR News & Analysis
By Marek Jan Chodakiewicz

March 15, 2013

In case you haven’t noticed, post-Maoist China has been moving. Quite a bit. China’s ubiquity is jarringly palpable, for instance its demographic and economic presence in all major maritime chokepoints save for Gibraltar. This is the logic of a waxing empire. A growing economy demands raw materials; goods produced require markets. Supply and trade routes as well as sources of minerals necessitate military and diplomatic protection. Each outpost must be shielded: on land, sea, space, and cyberspace. Protecting entails securing neighboring space. Each new outpost requires further protection. Hence, we are witnessing multidimensional Chinese expansionism everywhere. It is not spontaneous but, instead, follows a grand imperial strategy. For now, China is ostensibly satisfied with a status of a regional empire in eastern and southern Asia, but its ambitions are obviously global.

However, most observers view China as stationary. Its serpentine land borders are supposed to be set in stone as is “the Great Wall,” but in fact they are increasingly porous and flexible as evidenced by Beijing’s robust meddling among its contiguous neighbors along the great crescent running from Vietnam to South Korea. The Chinese satellite system is sometimes referred to as “the Great Wall in space,” notwithstanding its dynamic, aggressive attributes. And the Chinese government’s muscular naval policy is, of course, dubbed a “maritime Great Wall.” This allegedly defensive naval feature has a capacity to project Beijing’s power well beyond the country’s territorial waters. Many observers seem to overlook the fact that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) with a modern war fleet – which includes its freshly acquired first aircraft carrier – is no longer just an ancillary to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with its primitively ruthless human wave attacks. A large navy is a sure sign of imperialism, or at least an ability to operate globally. So is a nation’s ambition to project its power into space via missile and satellite systems, both evident in Beijing’s growing arsenal.

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About Pawel Styrna

I am a historian with an MA in modern European history from the University of Illinois at Chicago; a Eurasia Analyst for the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research (SFPPR) News & Analysis Section; and a researcher for the Kosciuszko Chair in Polish Studies at the Institute of World Politics (IWP) in Washington, DC. I have written numerous articles on history and international affairs - focusing mostly, but not exclusively, on Central and Eastern Europe (Poland, the Intermarium, Russia) and Eurasia - and I have co-edited and contributed to an anthology on Polish-Jewish relations during the Holocaust entitled "Golden Harvest or Hearts of Gold? Studies on the Fate of Wartime Poles and Jews" (Washington, DC: Leopolis Press, 2012).

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