|China is well aware that while all eyes are on North Korea, it’s maritime strategy is advancing across the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. What’s more, the rise of China’s economic investments and culture is not only becoming an accelerant for the Arab and African world, but it’s making headway into Latin America and the Caribbean. Meanwhile, it’s also offering an alternative strategic partnership to Western imperial ambitions, achieving unity through trade instead of military expansionism.
You Can’t Cross the Sea Merely by Staring at the Water
Met with a flag raising ceremony and naval-military parade, China just formally opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti. This will not only grant China more access to the oil rich Persian Gulf region via the Indian Ocean, but China plans to participate in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia. Along with initiating talks between Israel and Palestine, it’s also active in many Muslim nations, knowing that radical Islam is bad since it brings the U.S. military closer to their shores.
Other links are planned to import/export goods, services, and raw materials between China, Africa, and the Arab. Don’t be surprised if China succeeds in assisting with the Dubai Ports World land bridge with ports on either side of the Isthmus of Kra, connected by rails and highways. The Malaysian government is interested too in an east-west pipeline that will link up ports in the Bay of Bengal and the South China Sea. The Thailand canal would surely grant China easy access between the Pacific and Indian.
Awaiting an Exhausted Enemy
With China’s investments at play in Africa‘s heartland, including Iran and Central Asia, and with the West appearing exhausted through decades of war, China’s presence is heralding the end of Western dominance in the Indian Ocean. It’s also challenging the United States in the Atlantic, specifically Latin American and the Gulf of Mexico. Indeed, and though met with resistance from environmentalists, China’s 137 mile canal through Nicaragua is proceeding, giving it easier access between its Pacific and Atlantic shipping lanes.
And again, while all eyes are on China’s Nicaragua canal project, it has vastly expanded its seaport infrastructures in several Caribbean nations and with Corpus Christi, Texas’ burgeoning port city on the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, a triangular super-linked shipping route now exists between Nicaragua, the Caribbean islands, and the port of Corpus Christi. It will be a shipping route that will not only see more Chinese goods exchanged, but raw materials transported back to China, like natural gas and oil and steel.
Clamor in the East, Attack in the West
For decades, it must have been humiliating to have observed U.S. naval fleets off the coast of China’s Pacific rim, specifically the South China Sea. But just as China is challenging America’s military lakes in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, it’s also been challenging American military might in the Pacific-actually for quite some time. China’s newly launched “big deck” Liaonging aircraft carrier, that just sailed into Hong Kong waters, is only the latest sign of the rise of a maritime giant’s shipbuilding craze.
China’s production and acquisition of submarines and destroyers is actually several times that of the United States. Given that China is also in the process of building islands in the South China Sea, armed with ballistic missiles and runways, don’t be surprised if China someday dominates the Pacific Ocean. What’s more, China’s Mega-Container port city on the Pacific side of Mexico will not only give it an economic advantage, but an excuse to establish a naval and military shipping lane that will eventually link up with its canal in Nicaragua.
Fool the Emperor to Cross the Sea
With China’s maritime rise and its three-ocean strategy, the legends of Zheng He’s voyages from 1405 to 1433 are no more. His celebrated Treasured Fleet expeditions that oversaw thousands of ships and China’s commercial and political influence extend as far away as East Africa-and even the America’s according to Chinese scholars, are now once again becoming a permanent presence in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. It will, to be sure, make the arrangement of future global and maritime power of great interest.
So too will North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions.
Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John‘s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.worldnews.com.