As China reemerges as one of the globe’s leading powers, just what type of actor it will be on the world stage has become a subject of intense debate among China watchers and the broader public. With tensions rising to what one eminent China scholar has called a “tipping point” in U.S.-China relations, the Chinese government released its first-ever white paper on military strategy just before the fourteenth annual Shangri-La Dialogue was held in Singapore this past weekend.
Since 2012, Beijing has indeed become more assertive in proximate waters, and the paper underscores determination to strengthen Chinese “strategic management of the sea.” Attention has rightly focused on expressions of Chinese resolve with respect to current points of contention such as China’s land reclamation on disputed features in the South China Sea. Most recently – following Pentagon predictions – China’s Coast Guard appears to be increasing activity near Luconia Shoals, roughly 60 miles north of Borneo in Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone. But the strategic thinking just published also reflects a much larger story of profound changes in Chinese foreign policy.
The story itself is relatively simple: China’s participation in globalization has catalyzed an irreversible explosion of overseas interests. It has also afforded China greater resources and capabilities with which to advance and defend them. This combination has drawn China inexorably outward to become “more willing and able” – that is, active in international security affairs. In fact in many ways, China’s first-ever defense white paper on strategy is official policy catching up to reality. Because this trend is likely only to intensify, U.S. scholars and policymakers must understand it if they are to shape policies that can seize the benefits and manage the challenges stemming from China’s new normal of increasing international security activism.
Read more: http://idrw.org/the-big-story-behind-chinas-new-military-strategy/