Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good day to you fellow global citizens!

In previous articles, this analyst articulated on Chinese bullying of its neighbors over disputed territories and the rise of the ultranationalists within the Chinese state and communist party. I will add the matter of ‘blue water’ navy to the discussions, as the ultranationalists are now working triple time to transform China into a naval power.

In order that an emerging economic power must be recognized as a world power—which includes politico-military power at its zeneath—it must be able to build a powerful military. Since the heydays of the maritime powers of Southeast Asia and Venice, which grew almost simultaneously though independently of one another, it was demonstrated that politico-military clout can be had by building a ‘blue water’ navy in order to be regarded as a world power.

Navies don’t make for world power alone, but they are decisive in bringing a country to that state. The challenge for any emerging economy is to build ‘blue water’ navies that can maneuver in the vast oceans outside of its territorial confines for long periods, thus enabling that country sustained military engagements in case of conflicts with competing powers or adversaries.

But before that can happen, the emerging economy must first build a navy that is strong enough to defend its territorial confines. ‘Brown water’ navy in present day parlance, that is where both China and India are situated today. Both countries have territorial disputes with their neighbors, and such disputes served as impetus for military build-up by India’s neighbors, a reaction that could spill over to Southeast Asians.

For now, China is able only to send teams of frigates and submarines to maritime zones to its east and southeast. It still doesn’t possess aircraft carriers, which could decisively enable the shift towards ‘blue water’ capabilities.

China is building an aircraft carrier right now, which is an open secret. But expert observers better not rely on open secrets, as China could be secretly building aircraft carriers and state-of-the-art WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) in top secret sites.

What China and its love-hate nationalist partner Russia have perfected to date is the production of anti-aircraft carrier weaponry. This weapon is fearsome enough, which can disable even the USA’s military forces if applied to the max.

China still lacks an effective anti-missile defense system and anti-submarine weaponry. For as long as these systems are not in yet, there is still time for China’s neighbors to maximize the resort to international institutions to drumbeat their complains and make China yield to international pressures to show civility and respect international law.

As for an unsolicited advise to China’s neighbors, please maximize on diplomacy to pursue your territorial claims. Stop the ‘cry wolf’ reaction to the ‘China syndrome’ of ultranationalist bullying. China is no world power yet as far as politico-military criteria are concerned, it doesn’t have a ‘blue water’ navy yet, so calm down and take the rational route to redress international grievances.

[Philippines, 16 June 2011]

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