But the sea also remains in dispute, with China and five other countries having claims to some or all of its islands, rocks and waters. It is also a cause of superpower rivalry. America asserts its own “national interest” in the freedom of navigation in the sea, and, like the South-East Asian claimants to the sea, sees China as the threat. For that, the ambiguity that shrouds China’s own position has much to do with it.
THERE IS NO AMBIGUITY ABOUT CHINA’S POSITION
a) It is strategically possible to cause china to surrender militarily through blockade of the south china sea (See Stratfor) because the country would rapidly both starve and economically collapse.
b) China is an empire with significant internal frictions that would have vast internal consequences if the government was seen to fail, or even if it was seen to be weak. They are aware that fomenting rebellion would not be difficult.
c) Chinese tactics (per Kissinger) are to delay, mislead, lie, and mollify until they have the advantage, then use the advantage to conquer either explicitly or by eliminating all possible options. All chinese culture is predicated on avoidance and deception until the opportunity presents itself (this was a cultural consequence of their geography). All western culture (Per Keegan) is predicated on quick resolution of disputes (likewise a consequence of geography, inferior numbers, and technology.) We cannot judge their actions by western standards ( the same is true of islam). We cannot judge their values by western standards. We cannot judge their strategy by western standards. Deception is the primary tactic in chinese strategic thinking because it is the primary tactic in daily life. (Sun Tzu)
China is set to restore itself to middle-kingdom (the center of the universe around which all asian cultures revolve) in part to preserve itself as a political order, in part to preserve the privileges of the party members, and in part to assuage the vast chip on their shoulders for their repeated failures to adapt to modernity which is an affront to their self perception of superiority.