Monday, 14 May 2007

Response to China's anti-satellite missle test

Originally posted 22 Jan 2007

With all of the political news in the past week the story of China's recent space missle test has been pushed to the backpages, but the significance of this issue should not be underestimated. In successfully being able to disrupt and/or destroy low orbit satellites, China has proven its an important step closer in bridging the gap in military and intelligence technologies. While I am never a fan of military buildups, I have to disagree with so many of the critics out there calling for the world to Unite and alienate China on this and other space related technologies. I am multilateralist through and through who feels it is counterproductive to global peace to alienate China as an enemy in any sort of way.

Regardless of what China does or is spending on defence right now, the US is still far and away the only global military power - something which will not be compromised anytime soon as they are spending multiples more. When analysing the situation from China's perspective, however, this anti-satellite technology is not just an offensive capability, but it is foremost a potent deterrent should anyone try to take them on as most advanced weaponries and intelligence operations are highly dependent on communications provided by such satellites. What they have recently displayed is a capability the US has demonstrated long ago, and they probably view diplomatic outcries of thier "hostility" as hypocritical as it is not fair for another power to have such technology (and it be globally accepted) and not them. Arms races in general are very scary things, and there are many of them going on in Asia right now of concern ... South/Central Asia is probably the most dynamic and evolving region on Earth, with an exploding population, important energy resources, and several nuclear powers in or nearby. Whether or not we feel China has apparent external military threats, they themselves believe they have many such threats and that is important to understanding why they are building up so aggressively. Such threats include but are not limited to:
- Enormous Japanese spending on Naval & Air force capabilities
- A rising North Korean nuclear status
- the US arms support of Taiwan
- The rivalry between India & Pakistan; China is fighting to keep ahead of India for regional political supremacy
- The instability of many former USSR states

It is not in China's best interests to engage in war against anybody and they know this. They cannot match the US militarily and they know this - but they are a major player in an exceptionally hostile region of the world and want to have their basis covered for any scenario that could unfold. I believe this weapons test is much more about defense than any potentially offensive action. There is a wonderful book that I can't speak highly enough of by Zbigniew Brzezinski, co founder of the Trilateral Commission and former National Security Advisor to President Carter - it is called "The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership" and looks from the perspective of US foreign policy what its strategic priorities should be if we are to work to creat enduring peace and prosperity in the world. Aside from an excellent analysis of most world regions, it makes an excellent case for multilateralism, for engaging in our preceived opponents/rivals to facilitate a much more cooperative and thus stable world where the economic/social/communication links between citizens/states become the foremost deterrent against the invasion of anyone.
Anyways, regarding China, it's not a containment strategy we need - alienating them and publicly gathering the allies to take agressive action against them will be the tipping point in putting more than half the world's population into chaos in a region that already has many potentially serious hostilities brewing. If peace is really our end game, then we (lead by the US) have to continue to engage China in a regional strategy for Asia that involves them being a leader in the process alongside their powerful neighbours (at least India/Pakistan, Russia, Japan). China has tremendous amounts of foreign assets, therefore economic sanctions cannot work without everybody suffering. It is in nobody's interest to engage in military action on this scale - everybody loses. Diplomacy is the only way - it must be smart, sensitive to the perspectives of the other side, and engaging of all parties involved.

No comments: