China’s Defense Posturing Shields Its Economic Distress


China is facing an uphill battle on two fronts. At home, government prestige is waning as the economy falters with Chinese people sending their money abroad as the stock market stumbles amid a slowing economy and a deteriorating currency.

And as the bad economic news continues to drip out of China so do the dispatches about its military maneuvers in the South China Sea, known as the East Sea in Hanoi and the West Philippine Sea in Manila, where world patience with Beijing over this issue is again wearing thin.

It came to an embarrassing head earlier this month when surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) were discovered on a disputed, Chinese-occupied island in the Paracels as ASEAN leaders were sitting down for an unprecedented meeting with U.S. President Barak Obama in California.

“The decision to install the SAMs also appears timed to coincide with a two-day summit of ASEAN leaders, widely seen as an effort by Washington to gather support for its ‘Asia pivot’ policy intended to curb China’s assertive posture in Southeast Asia,” said Gavin Greenwood, an analyst with Hong Kong-based Allan & Associates.