Mon, Feb 21, 2005 - Page 8 News List

How to counter Beijing's strategy

By Lin Chong-pin 林中斌

Beijing's new grand strategy is "dominating East Asia without fighting." This strategy incorporates diplomatic, defense, cross-strait and domestic policies. As these policies become increasingly integrated, the total advantages are augmented by way of synergy (one plus one exceeds two). Although Beijing may never openly admit it, one of its ultimate goals is to gradually take over the US' domination of East Asia through economic and cultural means without war. Beijing is rapidly building up its already advanced military capabilities to strengthen the effects of its extra-military instruments, such as diplomacy, even though it prefers to keep its military force prepared but not used.

This new grand strategy comprises seven important elements:

1. Defusing China's domestic "time bombs" -- the most urgent task: Such as handling and containing the proliferation of protest movements.

2. Putting cooperation above contradictions with US policies: While being frank about differences, Beijing strives to expand bilateral communications.

3. Actively implementing the "policy on neighboring countries": To make them feel rich, secure and friendly toward Beijing, and to replace East Asia's "China fear" with "China fever."

4. Elevating relations with the EU as a potential counterweight against the US: EU trade with China has exceeded that with the US since 2003. Naturally, the EU wishes to lift its arms embargo against China.

5. Developing rapidly and quietly "acupuncture warfare" (點穴戰) capabilities (being able to strike decisively at other countries' strategic points) and acquiring a survivable nuclear deterrent: If one holds a big stick and speaks softly, who does not listen?

6. Preferring extra-military approaches on Taiwan and being prepared to wait: Five days after Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) took over the chairmanship of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Military Commission (CMC), he approved a new guideline on Taiwan policy, "strive for negotiation, prepare for war, and don't fear Taiwan's procrastination."

7. Entering Latin America to check US expansion and entering Africa to replace the US: Last year, about half of China's foreign investment -- much involved in oil diplomacy -- was in Latin America. Beijing has used oil diplomacy in Africa as well to fill a vacuum left by the US.

Only one link in the chain of this grand strategy focuses on Taiwan. Hu's tactics will be more creative and multifarious:

1. Being prepared to wait: Beijing now believes that "the US strategic expansion will slow down" in a decade, and haste over the cross-strait solution is unnecessary. This is the greatest distinction between Hu's approaches and those of Jiang Zemin (江澤民).

2. Emphasizing extra-military means: Apart from launching psychological warfare, legal warfare and media warfare on Taiwan, Hu may contain Taiwan on diplomatic, economic, cultural and even religious fronts.

3. Be harder on the Taipei government and softer on the Taiwanese people: Beijing denies the Taipei government opportunities to gain credit for alleviating cross-strait tension, as the current administration unambiguously rejects Beijing's "one China principle." Beijing seeks to exert pressure on Taipei indirectly through other means, especially Washington, to prevent Taipei from declaring de jure independence. Beijing, however, will be agile and pro-active in efforts to win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese people.

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