ICYMI: China is Officially a World Superpower

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Riley Landowski, International Affairs Desk

As of today there is an estimated $5.3 trillion dollars worth of trade that flows through the south China sea. This accounts for ⅓ of all the world’s shipping, most of which goes through the strait of malacca. Within this area no less than seven countries have maritime claim in this area, each overlapping each other. China, making the most intrusive claim of them all.  

To help validate such ludicrous claims, China has gone onto build artificial islands, and since 2015 has reclaimed  more than three thousand acres worth of land on the Spratly islands. Most concerning of this is the visible airstirps, docks, radar, and surveillance that have been spotted via satellite imagery on these islands. After pressure from Washington further reclamation of these islands stopped, but arming the islands that were built continued.  Of all these islands Fiery Cross is the most concerning as of now, as it is the only island to have a deep water port, capable of holding large war ships and submarines.  

With this China’s new maritime silk road is slowly coming together. China has been opening loans to financially struggling countries, with this money the country would build a port. China would then have the country lease the port to them, from this giving China a new network of international ports and docks that help spread its influence in a region. Sri Lanka, an island nation below the Indian subcontinent has just finished an internal civil war that devastated the country. Taking advantage of their strategic positioning and building a dock with Chinese funds. Port Hambantota is now a Chinese lease dock, as well as Gwadar port in Pakistan, and Port Darwin. With several port construction projects ongoing in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Kenya. With all of these being backed by Chinese funding and most likely to end up controlled by the Chinese government.

 What one may not notice at first glance when looking at a map of these ports, but becomes ever more clear with the context of the geo-political stance of China and more clear with its relationship to India. As of today India is China’s more prevalent rival in the region, with these string of ports it becomes obvious that China is attempting to cut India off from the outside world and from their strategic location on the Indian ocean. With the Indian subcontinent being one of the most divided places in the world, China is fully aware that due to Pakistan’s and India’s relationship India is locked on land from trade.

Thus, cutting India off in a maritime setting would leave the country isolated. The islands in the south Chinese sea is for the purpose of securing its vital trade route, as in a time of war China’s imports could be cut off here, as well as with control of this region china could cut supply to Japan, the Philippines, and other U.S. allied nations in the region off. With this, observers definitely see China expressing itself militarily. 

In 2016, while the world was distracted by the drama caused by Trump and his election, China formed military corporations with the country of Tajikistan, building a military base and then stationing troops there. This being an alarming course of events for the kremlin in Moscow as there is now a Chinese base in a former Soviet controlled land.