21/10/2018 by socialistfight
Discussion article by Dov Winter
The series of photos shows the Chinese warship performing what Washington called an “unsafe” maneuver during an encounter with the USS Decatur in the South China Sea on Sunday. The U.S. military said that the Chinese ship came within 45 yards (40 meters) of the American vessel’s bow, forcing the Decatur to maneuver “to prevent a collision.”
In this article I outline the figures and the dynamic behind China military’s might, and the military tension between the US and China over world domination. In this article I am illustrating that China is indeed an imperialist power.
China is challenging the US’s attempts to dominate the South China Sea. The tension between the two imperialist powers in the South China Sea almost led to the war between them:
“The latest freedom of navigation operations by the USS Decatur and its close encounter with a Chinese destroyer in the South China Sea – when the two vessels came within 41 metres of each other – have ratcheted up tensions between the United States and China. And those tensions were already high. Recently they have included US sanctions on a People’s Liberation Army research unit for procuring Russian weapons, the announcement of a US arms deal for Taiwan, 
If China is only an “advanced” semi-colony, it would not dare risking a war with the mightiest imperialist power. But China declared that it is willing to be in a war with the US to defend its imperialist “rights” for the South China Sea:
“For one, the South China Sea remains an international medium through which the global community at large enjoys freedom of passage by sea or air. Thus far, there has been no attempt by any party to impede civilian passage. That would amount to an act of aggression on international economic well-being, since an estimated one-third of the world’s shipping passes through the sea.
“This is, however, not the same for military passage. Beijing has challenged foreign military aircraft flying close to its garrisoned South China Sea features – much as, in this latest case, its destroyer’s manoeuvres challenged those of the [US] USS Decatur.
“Hence, both China and the US will most plausibly not roll back on their respective activities. The latter will continue to conduct ‘show of flag’ presence operations, including warship manoeuvres and military overflights such as a recent one by B-52 strategic bombers. Beijing will continue to militarise the sea, including staging frequent air, naval and amphibious exercises. It will continue to couch all such moves as ‘self-defensive’ responses to US military activities. 
Since the South China sea is much closer to China than the US, China can deploy a large chunk of its navy in the South China Sea (According to new estimates by bourgeois experts China has at this point a bigger navy than the US’s navy) Historically, this kind of posturing in the South China Sea can lead to a real full-scale war. While China tries to avoid such a war, it refuses to back down its military present in the South China Sea. So, tension is escalating in the South Pacific Sea. The US made it clear that it is willing to risk a war with China:
And China is as unyielding as the US. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said:
“’We will take necessary measures to safeguard our sovereign and security interests [in the South Pacific sea],’ he warned”. 
China’s firm stand in regard to the South China Sea, increases the tension between the US and China to the point that rule out any “collaboration” between China and the US for the foreseeable future:
“The Americans’ oblique salvo of sorts coincided with the beginning of the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), a five-week multilateral naval drill from which the Chinese navy was ejected as a form of protest from Washington against Beijing’s military build-up in the South China Sea.” 
So, the two imperialist powers are locking horns in the South China Sea. China is clearly not afraid of the US. It has plenty of lethal weapons to confront the US navy. The US can deploy only a fraction of its navy in the South China Sea (unless it is willing to abandon its imperialist bullying in places such as the Middle East), while China can deploy most of its navy that because it stations around China. China has not as of yet spread its the army widely throughout the world to defend its investments. Although this is changing. For example, China is increasing its army personal in Africa.
The economic and military conflicts between the US and China are not confined to the South China Sea. Chinese imperialism is aggressively expanding its influence in many semi-colonies. For example, China does not only speed up its investments in Africa, it has dramatically increased its military present in Africa to the point that worries the US:
“The Pentagon and US State Department are reinforcing their commitment to African security and influence amid numerous reports of stepped up Chinese military and economic incursions into the region.
“Having established a military base in Djibouti on the coast as recently as last year, China is expanding political and military influence in the region, inspiring substantial concern among US officials and prompting discussion of a stronger commitment.
“According to US senior leaders and independent think-tank assessments, China’s fast-expanding military presence [in Africa] is designed to fortify substantial political and economic influence. This phenomenon, fast on the rise, is already undermining the US presence and greatly influencing political institutions and strategy across a wide array of US-allied African nations, senior officials say.
“The Djiboutian government is about $1.5 billion in debt to Beijing, General Thomas Waldhauser, Commander of US AFRICOM, told Congress earlier this year.
“ ‘We have strategic interest there, and the Chinese have built a base just outside our gate. So it is important that we are there, that we’re present, and the African people see our commitment to their overall desires’, Waldhauser told the House Armed Services Committee this past March. ‘The African continent is a very interesting question because, first of all, there they are involved primarily all over the continent, for minerals, resources, and the like.’ 
If you think that China’s increasing military present is confined to Africa and not to the rest of the semi-colonies, think again! The US is very worried about China increasing military present in the semi-colonies. And despite the efforts of the two imperialist countries to avoid an all-out war between them, things can get out of control. History teaches us, that at this stage of escalating tension, a war can start, even though the capitalist politicians on both sides know the horrible consequences for the human race and the planet.
The US and China know perfectly well, that an all-out “conventional” war between them is likely to accelerate into a nuclear war. This is the main reason why the military conflict between the two countries is limited to small skirmishes, and “accidents” (and it is the reason why there was no all-out war between the US and the USSR during the cold war era). The US also has to worry about the increasing strong military alliance between China and Russia. The US sanctions against Russia strengthened the alliance between China and Russia. As a result of the alliance, Russia is sending heavy and sophisticated weapons to China.
Massive push by China toward military modernization
In the past (First and Second World Wars, the Vietnam war) the sheer number of persons who serve in the army, played a big role in wars. These days the machinery of the army plays the decisive role. This is why the big imperialist countries reduce the number of people in the army with the so-called “modernization” of the army. Below is a graph of China’s modernization:
Congressional Research Service
As one can see from the above graph, China’s army has had a significant modernization since capitalist restoration in China. But this only made China more powerful. China still has a huge army even though the number of soldiers has shrunk. The machinery, however, combined with the sheer numbers of people in the army, makes China a powerful imperialist country that can stand up to the US. Below is a summary of China’s different army branches:
China’s army troops are still almost twice as big as the US army troops:
“With a population of 1.3 billion to draw from, more than four times as much as the population of the US, China has over 2.3 million in active service, with an additional 1.1 million as reserves and military police”.
“The US military has about 1.4 million active service members, which represents a much lower total number of personnel, but a much higher percentage of the population engaged in the military.” 
“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Communist Party of China (CPC). The PLA consists of five professional service branches: the Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, and the Strategic Support Force. Units around the country are assigned to one of five Theater commands by geographical location. It has is the world’s largest number of active duty personnel at 2,035,000 and has the the second largest defence budget.” 
Billed as the world’s biggest maritime war game, the biennial exercise near Hawaii and the western Pacific Ocean features US navy vessels patrolling alongside warships from 25 countries.
It is not an accident that China has the second “defense” budget in the world. This is so, because China is the second most powerful imperialist country. If China was only a subordinated semi-colony, it could not and would not stand up to the US pressure. The US is trying to have strong military presence in the South China sea for the simple reason that boil down to its attempt to stop the growth and threat from the second biggest imperialist power: China. And the American news media is completely open about it:
“The proposal [for how to defeat China in the South Pacific] for now focuses on a series of [military] operations in the Pacific, near China, but they could stretch as far as the west coast of South America where China is increasing its investments.” 
In one paragraph, CNN, a mouthpiece of US imperialism, blatantly describes the growing economic and military tension between the two imperialist countries! Yes, the growing military tension between the US and China is about plundering resources, and exploiting the masses in South America and the rest of the semi-colonies. China is a rising imperialist power that threatens US domination. China is not yet a military power to match the US’s domination, but it gets closer to match the US with every passing year. This is why the risks of war between the US and China is on a rise:
“Two superpowers eye each other uneasily across the Pacific—one well established after decades of Cold War conflict, the other a rising power eager to reclaim regional hegemony. . .
“Still, history shows that there is often a risk of war when a rising power challenges the ascendancy of an existing one.” 
I am trying to convince the comrades in Socialist Fight that China is indeed an imperialist country. In my previous article I dealt mainly with the economic and political aspects of Chinese imperialism. In this piece I dealt mostly with the military aspects of Chinese imperialism. I believe that the combined military, pollical and economic aspects, make China without a doubt the second most powerful imperialist country. Sadly, Trotskyist groups tend to trail behind objective developments. This can lead to bad political mistakes. I hope to open a serious discussion on China to avoid a continued mistake in regard to the ascent of the second most powerful imperialist power.
 South China Morning Post, 02 October 2018, America accuses Chinese warship of ‘unsafe’ manoeuvres after near collision with USS Decatur in South China Sea, China insists its actions were in accordance with law after PLA Navy warned US vessel to leave disputed waters near Spratly Islands, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/2166565/chinese-destroyer-nearly-collided-uss-decatur-after-trying-drive
 South China Morning Post. COLLIN KOH, 6 OCT 2018, US-CHINA TENSIONS: IS WAR THE ENDGAME IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA? A close encounter between a Chinese destroyer and the USS Decatur may have been an attempt by Beijing to keep tensions from crossing into an outright armed confrontation for which neither side is ready, https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/2167154/us-china-tensions-war-endgame-south-china-sea
 South China Morning Post, BHAVAN JAIPRAGAS, 1 JUL 2018, SNUBBED IN WORLD’S BIGGEST WAR GAME, WILL BEIJING MAKE WAVES IN SOUTH CHINA SEA?, Twenty-six nations are engaging in the massive US-led naval exercise known as RIMPAC. And China isn’t one of them, https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/geopolitics/article/2153118/snubbed-worlds-biggest-war-game-will-beijing-make-waves-south
 South China Morning Post, Ryan Pickrell , Oct. 18, 2018, 40 US B-52 bombers tore through the South China Sea in a power play ahead of a sit-down between the US and Chinese defense chiefs, https://www.businessinsider.com/b-52s-tear-through-south-china-sea-ahead-of-us-china-military-meeting-2018-10
 SNUBBED IN WORLD’S BIGGEST WAR GAME, https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/geopolitics/article/2153118/snubbed-worlds-biggest-war-game-will-beijing-make-waves-south
 The national Interest, Kris Osborn, August 15, 2018, The U.S. Military Is Worried About China’s Moves in Africa
The Pentagon and US State Department are reinforcing their commitment to African security and influence amid numerous reports of stepped up Chinese military and economic incursions into the region.
 Business Insider, Alex Lockie, Aug. 5, 2016, How the world’s largest military stacks up to the US armed forces, https://www.businessinsider.com/chinese-us-military-comparison-2016-8
People’s Liberation Army, From Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Liberation_Army
 CNN Politics, Narbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent, October 4, 2018 , US Navy proposing major show of force to warn China, https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/03/politics/us-navy-show-of-force-china/index.html
 The National Interest, Sebastien Roblin, June 10, 2018, Superpower Military Showdown: China vs. America (On Land, Sea and in the Air), Which nation would win a war?, https://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/superpower-military-showdown-china-vs-america-land-sea-the-26217