China’s Choice

When veteran defense journalist and Pacific defense expert Richard Halloran pondered what path China might take in the future, he came up with four primary scenarios. Aggressive China would have its army march across neighboring borders to impose its will on neighboring states—a path that has much precedent, Halloran noted Thursday at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles. Benign China would focus on economics and come to respect democracy and the legitimacy of international organizations and agreements, he explained. Central/Middle Kingdom China would attempt to dominate its neighbors through influence and coercion, to the extent that nearby nations became “vassal states” that dared not do anything without at least getting China’s implicit permission, he continued. And Divided China would at some point splinter along political, economic, geographic, or ethnic lines. Unfortunately, Halloran views the quest for a new Middle Kingdom to be the most probable path for China’s government, based on events over the past few years that disturbingly parallel Japanese choices prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Still, much is still uncertain and as of today, Halloran said he considers China to be a “challenge” and not yet a “threat.”