By Guillaume A. Callonico, Geopolical Advisor
If tensions are rising between the United States and Russia, the biggest geopolitical issue for the U.S. in the foreseeable future is China. Why? Because Beijing has adopted a comprehensive strategy with the intent to destroy the American superpower and we call it: de-Americanization.
China's rise to the top of power raises concern in Washington. Everything indicates that the U.S. will be soon downgraded by Beijing. Militarily, China already has the world's second highest budget, which experts suspect to be two to three times higher than the official figures. During the last 10 years, the country has acquired offensive weapons, including an aircraft carrier, submarines and electromagnetic pulse weapons, in addition to supersonic and anti-ship missiles. All this in order to impose its sovereignty throughout the China Seas from the Diaoyu islands to Singapore in targeting the U.S. military weaknesses -- aircraft carriers and satellites.
Economically, China's GDP has increased 30 times since 1985 and could dethrone Washington in 2015 as the world leading economic power. The People's Republic is also the largest U.S. foreign creditor, having acquired since 2001, 10 per cent of the total debt of Washington, which represents $1.5 trillion in U.S. T-bonds.
A U.S.-Chinese confrontation seems inevitable. The 2012 U.S. defense strategy reasserts Washington will have to prevent and fight the re-emergence of any potential rival threatening its leadership. And for many, China has become this rival. That is why Obama announced in 2012, despite budget cuts in the army, the strengthening of the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region and the creation of the now famous U.S Asian pivot around countries directly threatened by Beijing, like Japan. By strengthening their presence in the region, the United States tries to contain China and the growing threat posed by the PLA Navy on its neighbours and on maritime trade.
For its part, China will not necessarily be looking for confrontation. If it develops its armament, it is essentially to defend itself from its belligerent neighbours and the increased presence of the American military power on its maritime boundaries.
Thereby China will not successfully free itself from the U.S. as long as Washington continues to forge alliances in the region. A face-to-face conflict would be a lost battle for Beijing because most of the fights would take place on its coastline, which includes all of the country's major urban, cultural, political and economic centers and almost 80 per cent of its population. Aware of its fragile geopolitical location, Chinese military experts have, therefore, conclude that it was necessary to "bypass" the American threat. According to Sun Tzu the best way to win "is to submit the enemy without fighting". Hence, the strategy is to force Washington towards isolationism by undermining its plans and reducing its capacity for action. The goal is to de-Americanized the world.
A multifaceted strategy
Diplomatically, while criticizing U.S. commitments in the world, China promotes a vision of international relations diametrically opposed to America's interventionist foreign policy. According to Beijing, non-interference is a strict founding principle of its policy which is merged into its historical peaceful rise realm. By complaining about Western neocolonialist claims, Africa and South America are listening to Beijing's speeches. In April 2014, Carlos Lopez, Deputy Secretary General of the UNECA, encouraged African governments to follow the Chinese model of development, forgetting to precise that authoritarianism is a big part of that Chinese model.
Strategically, China is very dependent on commodity imports. Seventy-five per cent of its domestic consumption is derived from imported oil and gas, mainly from MENA countries which are strategically controlled by U.S. fleets and military bases. In this context Beijing has sought to diversify its supply sources by investing in sanctioned countries (Sudan, Iran, Angola...) and creating its own energy corridors along the Indian Ocean coastline through "friendly" states such as Cambodia, Myanmar, or via its northern big and wealthy neighbour, Russia, with which the largest gas contract in history has just been signed last year. This demonstrates the multiple ways Beijing is securing its hydrocarbon supplies and avoiding the U.S. military machine.
Economically, China is the U.S.'s greatest threat as it is its first creditor. In December 2013, the Chinese government was more than a little irritated by the repeated crises in the Lower House over raising the public debt ceiling and a real shutdown. This brought Beijing to implement a threat made some months earlier by selling 50 billion $ in T-bonds. The goal here is to de-Americanize the Chinese central banks funds, which had the largest dollar reserves in the world until this summer... Simultaneously, Beijing warns that the world's second economy does not trust the U.S. currency anymore and that it will no longer finance the abyssal American debt. If China continues to sell its U.S bonds, the Fed argues that this could lead to raise interest rates by as much as 50 basis points. Eventually, last June, 50 countries signed the legal framework agreement to establish the $100 billion China-led AIIB which symbolizes both its new financial power and its will to counterbalance the U.S.-led World and Asian Development Banks. Ultimately the goal is for the yuan to become the next international reserve currency and rival to the dollar.
What we must remember is that China did not build a powerful comprehensive arsenal over the last 15 years to stay motionless. Beijing bets on the constraining defense principle which seeks to constrain the U.S. to withdraw. Then, Washington should expect that China will surely seek to diminish the power of any rivals by strengthening its navy and air forces, to enhance her own by extending her dominion in the China Seas. This is to hinder the cooperation of other states by modifying the international rules (maritime law, AIIB...), and ultimately to break up and supplant the U.S. If this comprehensive and multifaceted strategy works, the U.S. will not have the means for their Asian ambitions and will no longer have direct strategic control over China. Despite U.S. pressure on its borders, Beijing can break its primacy and containment strategy without a fight.
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