‘Winning without fighting’: China seen exploiting gains Obama failed to answer

FPI / May 5, 2021


China’s ongoing maritime activities are part of an effort by the communist regime of supreme leader Xi Jinping to control the region near its coasts by “winning without fighting,” an analyst said.

Chinese dredging vessels in the waters around Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. / U.S. Air Force

China’s taking of Scarborough Shoal in the Spratly Islands in 2012 and the Obama administration’s failure to confront Beijing established a damaging precedent, said Andrew S. Erickson, professor of strategy at the Naval War College.

China also used its coast guard and maritime militia forces to prevent the Philippine government from enforcing environmental regulations inside Manila’s exclusive economic zone, Erickson told told the newsletter The Wire China.

When then-President Barack Obama failed to take any action against the Chinese for the Scarborough seizure, it paved the way for China to launch a major island-building and maritime territory seizure campaign based on the Scarborough Shoal model, Erickson said according to a Washington Times report by security correspondent Bill Gertz.

“It’s a gradual process. But over the course of years, combined with the fortification of the PRC’s South China Sea outposts, something very significant is happening over time,” Erickson said.

Erickson noted that Beijing is engaged in extensive “gray zone” operations and its harassment of U.S. Navy vessels is a part of it.

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