With the appearance of new classes of nuclear submarines and advanced warships in Hainan, many observers have concluded that China is building up its forces to thwart any attempts by powers to blockade its shipping lanes from the Middle East. The power in question is the United States, whose navy operates freely and with impunity in that part of the world. So it must comes as a shock that it wasn’t an Aegis destroyer but a fleet of low tech Somali pirates that has been constantly harassing Chinese cargo ships near these shipping lanes. If anything, the Chinese have been a beneficiary from the presence of US naval ships in those regions.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the strength of the US military is China. The focus on potential arenas of conflict between the armed forces of US and China misses the point, because it assigns the probability of conflict too high. While a conflict in the Taiwan could certainly break out in the future and the US navy could stop oil shipments to China, it’s undeniable that China has benefited from the presence of stable regimes in the Gulf states aided by the USG, from which her growing appetite for oil are satiated. Along the same line, it’s possible that growing American presence in South and Central Asia could jeopardize the long term interests of China and Russia, but who can deny that both have benefited tremendously from the relative stability in the nuclear South Asia and the diminished operational capabilities of Islamic fundamentalists in the region? And not to mention that the US has kept the lid closed on the Japanese, Taiwanese, and SK nuke programs.
The importance of these contributions are magnified by the fact that China lacks the power projection capabilities and influence to fully contain any of these situations. Except for direct conflict, China benefits from the world policing mentality of the US. After all, there are a lot of thieves and robbers around the world.