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Chas Freeman Counters the Growing Rumblings About a Possible U.S.-China Conflict

Aug. 12, 2017 (EIRNS)—An interesting article by former U.S. Ambassador Chas Freeman published in The Globalist is well worth reading today, when the level of the heightened political and strategic rhetoric is threatening to lead the world into a conflict by miscalculation.

Focusing on China, Freeman details how the Chinese policy in military matters has always been characterized by strategic restraint.

“China clearly prefers to use measures short of war to protect itself but has shown that it is fully prepared to go to war to defend its borders and strategic interests,”

Freeman writes.

“Chinese uses of force have been notably purposive, determined, disciplined and focused on limited objectives, with no moving of the goalposts. During the Korean War, China settled for an agreement that left the Korean Peninsula as it had existed before the outbreak of hostilities. In their 1962 conflict with India they advanced far into Indian territory before withdrawing again behind the border again just in order to show to the Indians what they could do if provoked. In their conflict with Vietnam in 1979 they ceased fighting when they had convinced the Vietnamese that their moves for regional control in Southeast Asia together with the Soviet Union would not be acceptable."

Freeman also notes that China did not start construction on the islands in the South China Sea until well after other claimants had already started construction on islands to assert their claims. In addition, China

“has not attempted to dislodge other claimants from any of the four dozen outposts they have planted in Chinese-claimed territories. China has been careful not to provoke military confrontations with them or with the U.S. Navy, despite the latter’s swaggering assertiveness.”

In their conflict with Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, China has sent patrols of coast guard cutters rather than heavy Naval destroyers. They have also, Freeman writes, resolved all of their land border disputes with all of their northern neighbors.

“These interactions between China and its neighbors demonstrate a high degree of Chinese competence at managing differences without armed conflict,”

Freeman says.

“They provide grounds for optimism. War, including accidental war, between China and its neighbors—or China and the United States as the ally of some of those neighbors—is far from inevitable.”

This has also been the case with regard to Taiwan, perhaps the most sensitive of China’s territorial claims, Freeman writes. But they will do everything to entice the island with ultimately accepting the ultimate goal of unification with China.

“The bottom line is that, while Chinese warnings must be taken seriously, Chinese aggressiveness should not be overestimated. China tends to act militarily with prudence, upon warning, not rashly. Its wealth and power are growing, giving it an incentive to defer confrontations to the future, when its relative strength will be greater and new opportunities to win without fighting may arise. The record shows that China adheres to limited objectives, limited means, and limited time scales,”

Freeman writes.

“On the other hand, it is characteristically determined, once the die is cast, to invest whatever level of effort is required to achieve its objectives.”