China invokes ‘cabbage tactics’ in South China Sea


China is conducting ‘cabbage’ or a militarily overwhelming strategy and ‘salami-slicing’ – insidious land-grabbing tactics to strengthen its power in the South China Sea

By Huseyin Erdogan

China is following a long-term strategy with its so called “Cabbage Tactic” to increase its power in the South China Sea, said an expert from China’s Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, on Tuesday.

“At a strategic level China is expanding its territorial control over the South China sea and also securing the trade routes that are vital to its continuous economic development,” Ahmet Goncu, an associate professor at China’s Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, told The Anadolu Agency AA via email. He added that “to achieve its strategic goals, China is following very clever tactics that are difficult to counter.”

The South China Sea is a critical world trade route and a potential source of hydrocarbons, particularly natural gas, with competing claims of ownership over the sea and its resources, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, EIA.

The EIA estimates the South China Sea contains approximately 11 billion barrels of oil and 5.7 trillion cubic meters of natural gas in proved and probable reserves. Conventional hydrocarbons mostly reside in undisputed territory.

Goncu further said the “Cabbage Tactic” the Chinese navy follows. “Whenever there is a conflicted small island, the Chinese military and paramilitary forces are sent to overwhelm the islands and lay siege to the surrounding islands with military ships, fishing boats along with other kinds of paramilitary vessels.”

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