Beijing's Grand Strategy: Implications on Belt Road Initiative and Taiwan Security
accessed Nov 18, 2019
“Beijing's Grand Strategy: Implications on Belt Road Initiative and Taiwan Security”
Keynote Speech, 2019 International Conference on PLA Modernization November 14, 2019
From 1949 to 1979, China waged six wars across its borders. From 1979 to 2019, the number of wars it waged beyond its borders is zero.
■If you say that the world became more peaceful since 1979, and that is why. It is not so!
■During the same forty years since 1979, the U.S. launched seven wars abroad and occupied two countries. Meanwhile, the former Soviet Union and Russia, fought five wars abroad and occupied three countries. Yet, on both scores, China’s is zero.
■During the first 30 years, as China was poor, backward and struggling, it was prone to war-fighting. In the following 40 years, as China began to rise, it has become war-aversive.
■“War is an instrument of ill-omen, use it only when left with no choice.” So said Laozi, a Chinese sage in the sixth century before Christ. As China gradually becomes prosperous, war as a foreign policy option falls to the last priority.
■In strong contrast to the West, Sun Zi -- the most influential Chinese strategist over more than two thousand years -- said, “ Winning without fighting is the optimal strategy.” In other words, in war or any form of contest, violence is best to be avoided. The underlying spirit is to seek the approach that encounters the least resistance. As a result, to achieve victory with minimum casualties and bloodshed is the most desirable.
■Whereas, Karl von Clausewitz, the equivalent of Sunzi in the West, said “War is violence pushed to its utmost bounds.” In other words, in war, violence is maximized and unavoidable. Crushing the enemy with overwhelming force is the best, regardless of casualties and bloodshed.
■Deeply rooted in Chinese strategic tradition, Beijing’s grand strategy in the 21st century is “dominating Europe, Asia and Africa or Eurasiafrica without war”.
With what then？
■With extra-military instruments such as economy, diplomacy, and culture on the front, but supported by China’s rapidly advancing military capabilities as the backbone. The idea, seemingly self-contradictory, is reminiscent of Teddy Roosevelt’s adage, “Speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far.”
■“Extra-military” differs from “non-military” in that it transcends, but not excludes, the military.
■The purpose is to minimize resistance for Beijing to expand its geopolitical influence.
■The decision for Beijing to go west first – over the World Island and Africa, --instead of east -– over the Pacific, -- also reflects choosing the route of the least resistance to avoid immediate confrontation with the U.S. and Japan.
■In this context, Beijing’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI) visibly manifests its unsaid grand strategy.